Any disappointment we felt by Dubrovnik was eliminated in Mostar. A lovely city most famously known for Stari Most -the Old Bridge, built in 1566, the old bridge was sadly destroyed during the Croat-Bosniak War in 1993. With the help of international aid, it was rebuilt in 2004 and now attracts many tourists (most of them day trippers from the Dalmatian Coast) and the Red Bull Diving Competition. It is tradition for the local men of the town to jump from the bridge into the freezing Neretva River. This tradition has now become a tourist attraction with the men asking for money to jump. Tourists are also able to jump for a relatively small fee but this more often than not results in the jumper sustaining injuries.
The bus ride from Dubrovnik to Mostar took about 4 hours and included 3 border crossings. From Dubrovnik you cross into Bosnia and Herzegovina, then back into Croatia and then back into Bosnia and Herzegovina. This does slow you down a bit, but overall the journey is quite pleasant and provides magnificent views of the Dalmatian Coast. Bus travel in this part of the world is dirt cheap, costing us approximately $40 total for the journey to Mostar.
Mostar of course has an Old Town. The cobblestone streets along the gushing Neretva River was very reminiscent of our time in Aguas Calientes in Peru. After dropping our luggage, we went in search of lunch and found a good restaurant that served huge mains and drinks for a total of $25aud. It was still early in the afternoon so we headed over to Stari Most. There is a couple of great vantage points on the banks of the Neretva River which provide great photo opportunities of the Old Bridge. We headed over and were lucky enough to see the locals dive off the bridge, which they do throughout the day, after collecting a bit of money from the tourists of course. After the dive he seemed to be yelling across the river bank at us but as we don’t understand Croatian (or bosnian, or serbian), we just stared at him blankly. It dawned on us later that it’s probably because we didn’t give him any money. We were quite full from lunch so we bought some snacks from the local Konzum and ate our way through olives, cheese, meat and crackers – the only thing you can buy at a Konzum.
The following day was spent exploring the city, buying Mary a new suitcase, and enjoying Bosnian coffee, Turkish delight and gelato. The western side of the river is still referred to as the Christian side by some. It is there that we found a small park with a statue of Bruce Lee. Even the Bosnians don’t know why it’s there. We also found quite an amazing department store, which rivalled our own in Australia. This was mostly surprising because just down the road you can see ruined buildings with bullet holes leftover from the war. The city is still very much in the recovery stage. The cuisine in Mostar was a great mix of Turkish and Eastern European. Mary tried the local dish, Cevapi, which are small sausages served with onion, chips and bread.
While busy during the day, Mostar gets quieter as the afternoon draws to a close and the majority of tourists head back to the coast. Mostar is worth more than just one day, with plenty to see in the surrounding region. We were very sad that we couldn’t have stayed longer to explore. The next morning we had an early start to catch a bus back to Croatia to the seaside town of Split.