After the crowds of Croatia, I wanted to head inland to Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took a bus from Split to Mostar. I sat next to a nice Italian woman who had been living in Spain for 2 years. She was also traveling alone and Couchsurfing her way round the Balkins. It was a nice bit of comfort to meet someone with the same outlook on travel and good will in people.
When I got off the bus, I didn’t have a map, my phones GPS which sometimes gives out a single on the maps app wasn’t working,and all I had was a street name and vague directions to get to a hostel I had read about. I looked wearily around, but I didn’t even know which direction town was so I took my best guess and started walking until I saw a couple to confirm my instincts. I went looking for a hotel or tourist information to get a map and on my way I crossed one of the many bridges in town. On the bridge, a young boy, maybe 5 or 6 years old stopped me and pointed to the river below. I couldn’t tell what he wanted until he made a gesture of a camera and a snapping sound. He was telling me to take a picture of the flowing river. Why? I didn’t know and I hated that I had a gut reaction that he wanted me to take out my camera so he could steal it. When this was my first thought I was saddened especially right after having a reenergized spirit from my conversation on the bus. So, I did it after hesitating and pushing my fear away, I took out my iPhone and snapped a few photos, and we both walked away, off the bridge in different directions smiling. Thanks kid for proving me wrong.
This city has a rich history, and a not such a positive one.
The destruction from the 1990’s is everywhere. Buildings and bridges bombed and left for a decade as reminders of the devestation that occurred.
When talking to the locals, I was shocked at the positivity and friendliness of their manner. It was such a contrast to their surroundings that I was unsure of the quality of their behavior. It was proved time and time how genuine the Mostar people are.
I ran into a couple of ladies enjoying their lunch at a small park while I was still trying to find a hostel. I walked up and they were eager to help, so much so they proposed driving me the few extra feet to the correct street because I looked exhausted and sweaty I’m sure.
When I arrived at the hostel, the owner’s spoke very little English, only HELLO and WELCOME. With gestures the wife pointed me towards the showers and cornflakes. Both were highly appreciated.
When I felt like myself again, I ventured out to find the famous Old Bridge that connects two parts of the city. It is an exemplary piece of Islamic architecture in the Balkins region.The Stari Most is hump-backed, 4 metres (13 ft 1 in) wide and 30 metres (98 ft 5 in) long, and dominates the river from a height of 24 m (78 ft 9 in).
The Old Bridge stood for 427 years, until it was destroyed on 9 November 1993 during the War in Bosnia. I was told that it took 60 shells to destroy the bridge. A temporary cable bridge was erected in its place until the completion of the reconstructed Stari Most in 2004.
Diving off the bridge is a traditional annual competition organized every year in the summer. Until 2013 it has been done 477 times. I was lucky enough to arrive just a few days after the competition when some divers had hung around to explore the bridge dynamics a little more intimately. Altough, at all times of the year, local men dive off the bridge as they collect money. They dive once they reach about 23 Euros in donations.
The incline getting onto the bridge, with its limestone slick surface makes for a perfect people watching destination. Especially when you run into the ice cream shop of the lady I met earlier who gave me a ride. The beach below is a good spot for a fast swim as the water is freezing cold and the rapids can take you hours to return to land.
I stayed in town for two nights. I thought it would be too long to discover this small city, however it was just right. The small city has a lot to offer in beauty and culture.