On the way to Mostar
Our first road trip together with our dog was last summer. Our plan was to spend three weeks on the road and one of our dream destinations was Bosnia, more specifically the beautiful city of Mostar. To be frank so little did I know about Bosnia and Mostar, the only thing I remember from my childhood was the war that was going on in the 90’s in that area.
We crossed the border to Bosnia by car through the mountains from Montenegro and there was a huge storm. We could barely see anything the rain was so heavy. A thick fog descended between the peaks of the surrounding mountain tops. I was secretly glad we had to stand in line to cross the border, the dog was so scared that I had to pick him up and he was shaking on my lap the whole time. As soon as we passed the control gate the fog disappeared. The rain was gone and a sight of a beautiful landscape unfolded in front of our eyes. Green grass, sheep and rivers, lonely stone cottages and small towns every now and then with Catholic churches and Muslim mosques. I cannot recall for how long we drove through this amazing landscape but by the time we entered Mostar it started to rain again.
The city of mostar
Airbnb and our first evening
We booked an Airbnb very close to the city center and we hoped that them being dog-friendly is not just a catchy phrase on their site. We called our host as soon as we entered the city and she advised us where to park our car and she promised to meet us in a small park. We had some time to kill so we spotted a tiny café close to the park where we were supposed to meet Jelena, our host. The middle-aged waitress didn’t speak any english but she was very very kind and helpful and somehow we managed to order some hot tea. After 10 minutes our phone rang and we had to head back to the meeting point. The lady was very friendly and she came to pick us up with her own dog, making us relieved that she really is an animal lover. Of course she was mesmerized by our puppy just like everyone else. The accomodation was very clean, an upstairs room in a little house where we shared a common bathroom and kitchen with other tourists who stayed on the ground floor.
We waited until the rain stopped and immediately went to the city center to have something to eat in a restaurant. We found a charming place right in the middle of town. They didn’t mind the dog so we had a fish platter for two but to be honest it was far from being the best we have ever had but at least it wasn’t expensive. After dinner we went to see the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge) the emblem of Mostar. The stone houses and streets, the evening lights and this breathtakingly unique little bridge bending over the river Neretva was absolutely worth the drive. This city has such a magical atmosphere with all the history: sad yet majestic. The mixture of Christian and Muslim culture living side by side.
Mostar in daylight
Memories of the war
From 1992 until 1995 a war devastated the lands and cities of this country. A bloody conflict among the Serbians, Bosnians and Croatians that led to the breaking up of the former Yugoslavia. I wish not to get into details about how brutal this war was and how many lives were taken. Here, safe in my room I don’t have to think about it, but walking on the streets of Mostar I had no other choice. The burned and bombed skeletons of living houses remind everyone who sets foot to this country of all the cruelty and grief of the war. Every country has its own sad history but here the ghosts of the past still live in the present among the living. It is not a bad spirit that is haunting painfully, but rather a lurking shadow, sad and broken but harmless. In a very weird way it is beautiful and unique while its turning your stomach in an uncomfortable way at the same time. While we roamed these half living half dead streets we couldn’t talk much.
We got so caught up with our emotions of sorrow knowing we were children at the time, we could have witnessed this. Walking among these abandoned buildings felt like we could travel back in time, and the now and then happend all at the same time right in fornt of our eyes.
Right across the bridge in a small stone tower there is a tiny little museum where one can see the photographs of the war and read about it on huge boards. It is a very nice little museum as much as it can be. There is an entrance fee but it is very cheap. There are amazing photographs not just of the fights but portraits of people.
Koski-Mehmed Pasha’s Mosque
This mosque was rebuilt in the early 17th century and it is a real jewel of the city of Mostar. This was my very first time in a mosque and I had a feeling that it will be pretty but I wasn’t expecting it to be this beautiful. This mosque is rather small with a very old graveyard around it. To walk around the garden is free of charge but if you want to enter the temple you have to pay a fee. I would advise everyone who visits Mostar to definitely NOT miss out on this mosque. It is breathtakingly beautiful and it is an important cultural heritage. They also keep an oldcopy of the Quran.
When we went there just a few other tourists were visiting it so we could quietly have our own tour. It is situated in the city center so it is also on the way to other sights.
Brave men at the Stari Most
We went back to the Old Bridge in daylight and I am glad we did! We were lucky enough to watch local guys jumping down from the bride into the river and asking money for their stunt from foreigners. Across the bridge there is a café with a terrace from where we could enjoy the view and the excitement of jumping men with a cup of cappuccino. This is the best spot since you can see every moment of the show while sitting in a very nice surrounding on the river bank. On top of it all it has a fantastic view on the river.
These boys are having their show during the day several times so if you go to Mostar during the season it is almost impossible to miss them. Not to mention down the river there are man-made cliffs with different heights where the younger generation is training to become the next brave men who jump down from the bridge. It was also a pleasure to watch them, how enthusiastically they practice to dive into the river gaining my admiration since I am afraid of heights. 🙂
Food, food and food
As I mentioned before the fish platter we ordered was a disappointment but seriously what could have we possibly expecting from a place where there is no sea close by. The fish was overcooked and they replaced our shrimps with fish fingers which was a bit odd. Next day we decided to go for local specialties which are very similar, meaning almost the same in most Balkan states. A big meat burger from mixed meat and buns and onions. Or, other shapes and sizes of the same kind of meat: sausages, balls etc. They also have salads that I found too vinegary so it is definitely NOT a paradise for vegans and vegetarians if someone doesn’t like to eat fries, bread and sour salads all the time. For meat-lovers on the other hand it is a place to be for sure even though there is not such a huge variety of dishes in the touristic places. We asked our host if she could recommend a nice place. The restaurant she told us to go to was outside of the city center. Food was excellent so I suggest for people with higher gastronomic needs to take the time to search for restaurants on the outskirts or ask the locals for good places to eat.
All together I am highly recommending Mostar, it has a rightful place on anyone’s bucket list for sure. It is truly a beautiful, yet bittersweet place to be and it is very cheap so it is reachable for almost anyone who wants to go.