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Mostar, Bosnia

overcast 62 °F

05 October 2015

Mostar is a place that we really wanted to see - it's a little off the beaten track but worth the trek. It was about a two hour drive from Trogir. We had good roads (mostly highway) on the Croatian side but once we got into Bosnia we realized things would be a little different.

One lane roads, many under construction, was the norm as we made our way towards Mostar. We came across an accident with a car that was entering the road from a drive way vs. a tractor trailer. It didn't appear that anyone was hurt but being a two (small) lane road - traffic was backed up for miles - thankfully not in the direction we were headed. We're really not sure how emergency equipment were going to get there.

We had been using our Garmin GPS with a Europe chip. It's really had been working very well..until we arrived in Mostar. It got us to the city but after the our initial entry - it was useless. Our only guess is that where there used to be roads there are now buildings, two way streets are now one way or pedestrian walkways (one of which I drove down) and what used to be goat paths was now a road - two way and almost (but not quite) big enough for one car but it was now a two way streets. Definitely made driving "interesting".

We finally resorted to texting our Airbnb host (Lamai) for directions. She was at work but contacted her sister, who called her cousin, who walked down, in the rain and guided us in. Without him, we would have never found our way and that would have been our loss.

Another twisty windy lane led us to Lamia's apartment which is located above her family home on a hill over looking Mostar. Her sister Tia greeted us with a huge smile. The apartment is a very nice two bedroom flat with a wonderful view of downtown Mostar. It looked very new and we asked Tia about it's history.



There is so much written about the recent history of Mostar. Here is a brief excerpt from Lonely Plant. Obviously, each side has their own "version".

Mostar grew from a simple crossing point on the Neretva River to an important crossroads settlement and provincial capital in the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman governors liked to set their stamp on their cities through monumental architecture, usually grand mosques but in the case of Mostar, the Stari Most.
The Austria-Hungarians further developed Mostar with a planned city on the western banks where the Gymnasium and City Baths are good examples of their fine architecture.
During the 1980's Mostar became an important tourist attraction centered on the old bridge and the preserved Ottoman quarter. Visitors from all over Yugoslavia flocked here in summer, especially for the July diving competition.
Mostar suffered greatly during the inter-ethnic wars from 1992 to 1995 that resulted from the collapse of Yugoslavia. Initially a Serbian force shelled the city from the eastern hills killing thousands and forcing even more from their homes. Croats and Muslims combined to expel the Serbs but shortly afterwards became adversaries. The Croat forces took over the western bank expelling Muslims and the city became divided along the river.
The Stari Most was a favored target for Croat artillery based in the western hills, and on November 9 1993 a direct hit collapsed the bridge into the river.
The Dayton Agreement established a unified city corporation, which concentrated on rebuilding the city center and culminated in the reopening of the new Stari Most in July 2004.

Tia told us that their house had been bombed and burned down back in 1990's. It's been rebuilt with love and care. During our brief one night stay, we were fortunate to meet Tia, Lamia, their Dad and of course their cousin.

We visited the Old Town and Stari Most (the cities iconic 16th century bridge). This bridge stood for 427 years before being bombed in November of 1993. It was reconstructed, using the same methods in 2004 and done so well that I couldn't tell that it wasn't the original.

Stari Most

Stari Most

This is the tourist area of Mostar with the Bridge being it's center piece. Bridge diving has been a tradition since the 1600's. The day we were there, a hat was being passed to raise money and encourage a man to dive. We never did see if he went over or not. We decided on early dinner at Sadrvan, which was recommend by Tia. Good local food and very plentiful. Brenda and I ended up sharing "The National Plate", more than just a tasting of local Bosnian dishes. It actually would have been enough for the three of us.

Having previously visited a country that had a large Muslim population, we knew that the call to prayer would come early. When we were in Cianjur last year, it was about 0400 and the chanting continued for hours. The call to prayer in Mostar began about 0600 (or at least that was the first I heard it) and seemed only to last a short time. About an hour later, I heard the bells chime from the Christian church. A mental note to self - maybe things are changing...maybe not.

One stop we wanted to make before we headed to off to Dubrovnik was a Bosnian coffee shop that was also recommended by Tia - Cafe de Alma. It opened about 10am and we made it over just about that time. It was a quiet day and we were introduced to the traditional way to drink Bosnian coffee by the cafe's owner Jaz (pronounced Yaz). He sat with us for a while and with great care familiarized us with intricacies and traditions. Jaz told us about the coffee roaster which takes prominence in his shop (It was originally his Father's). We talked about travel and his love of rock climbing and the fact that his family is in the tourism business. It almost seemed an after thought when he told us that his Mom knows Rick Steves and had appeared in his Bosnian segments.

Cafe de Alma

Cafe de Alma

Jaz (yaz) making us Bosnian coffee

Jaz (yaz) making us Bosnian coffee

Here is more info on their shop from a Rick Steves article but my suggestion is to go, meet Jaz and learn from his love of Bosnia.


Sadly, after coffee it was up the hill to get the car and head to Brenda's last stop, before heading home to the US - Dubrovnik.

But Mostar wasn't finished with us yet. It took us another 30-40 minutes to find our way out, finally asking a man walking along the road. His directions, "see the big orange building? Head towards that." And it worked - off to Dubrovnik!!!


Posted by pjburke 03:21 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina

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Bosnia, a very unique experience. We were on an adventure that day! Your driving skills amazed me on thy day.

by Brenda Rubacha

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