I’m currently at my family’s house, but I’ll still update the blog when I can.
I had passed through Bosnia while traveling between Split and Dubrovnik, and now it was time to actually stay there. From Dubrovnik my bus followed the coastal highway back towards Split but after awhile turned north and crossed into Bosnia. Since I had departed Dubrovnik in the late afternoon, it was nighttime when I arrived in Mostar. The rain was coming down and the ticket office had already closed for the day, so I would have to come back the next day to buy a ticket to Sarajevo. My hostel in Mostar was only a short walk from the bus station, but at night and in the rain it felt longer. The hostel itself was really nice and felt more like I was staying in someone’s home. Despite the rainfall I ventured back out into the city and walked down to the area around the old bridge. Hardly anyone was walking around that night; understandably so. I got a few photos of the old bridge before returning to the hostel, at which point I was thoroughly soaked. A few of the other people at the hostel commended my fortitude but also said I was crazy for wandering around in the rain with no umbrella (I was wearing my shell jacket, but that was the only piece of waterproof clothing on me). Perhaps they were correct, but I was only staying a single night in Mostar, so I couldn’t wait for the weather to improve.
The next day I had until the mid afternoon to see Mostar. Because I was only interested in checking out the bridge and the old town area around it, this wasn’t a problem. Certainly there’s more than that to see in Mostar, but it is the highlight of the city. I got some money from the ATM (in Bosnia the currency is called the Convertible Mark, and the abbreviation is BAM, which I found hilarious) and bought my bus ticket to Sarajevo. Back down at the old bridge I was able to find my way down to a better viewpoint than the night before, and while getting photos I got to see one of the town’s famed bridge divers take the plunge. Mostar’s bridge was originally built during Ottoman times but was destroyed in the 1990s during Bosnia’s war of independence. After the war it was rebuilt using the same stonework as before and is again a symbolic bridge between eastern and western cultures. The city of Mostar itself is something of a cultural melting pot, with Catholic churches, Eastern Orthodox churches, and Muslim mosques dotting the city. When I finished at the bridge I spent some time wandering around the old town. Along the way I made a fortuitous discovery of an ice cream stand that accepted Croatian kuna, so I got to use up all but one of my leftover kuna… and eat ice cream. I also walked through part of the more modern section of Mostar, which is much like other European cities, except some of the buildings were used as sniper nests during the war. With some more walking I eventually wound up back nearby the old bridge and did some reading there, and even talked with a British couple whose photo I took for them. I looked down at my watch and saw that it was time to head over to the bus stop. When I got there I sat down in the back (all the other seats were filled) and waited for departure. Just before the bus was about to leave an elderly man came running up to the bus and got on. He moved to the back and sat down next to me, and proceeded to hurriedly tell me something. Since I don’t speak Bosnian, I have no idea what he said, but I’m guessing it was a long story about what happened that caused him to nearly miss the bus. Part of me was flattered that he mistook me for someone who speaks Bosnian. Or, then again, maybe he was just being old and senile. Whatever the case, I just nodded my head and pretended that I understood. After a few minutes he calmed down stopped talking. All the while the bus was winding its way through the mountains and valleys of the Bosnian interior. Final destination: Sarajevo.