Aaaah Bosnia, it’s nice to be backpacking in a ‘real’ country again, one not covered in tourist hotspots and overpriced postcards. Croatia was great but I’m happy to leave.
Bosnia was involved in a bloody civil war just 20 years ago as they broke away from the former Yugoslavia and the country still bears the scars to this day. Mostar was a scene for many of those battles and as you wander the streets you see bullet holes strewn across buildings at every corner. It’s a sobering reminder about how lucky we are to have grown up in Western Europe, North America or ANZ.
My first stop in Bosnia is Mostar, a 4 hour bus ride from Split ($15). Despite it’s history, Mostar has flourished in recent years, partly due to its proximity to Croatia. The Old Town and Old bridge here are UNESCO listed world heritage sites and rightly so. The town itself is pretty small (100, 000 people) so you can traverse it on foot pretty easily. It’s found in a deep valley, with towering mountains all around, really quire spectaculat.
I spent 2 nights here, and really loved it. Spend your first day exploring the city, and make sure you check out the best things to see in Mostar:
1) The Old Bridge (Stari Most):
This is just asking for trouble. The UNESCO bridge was rebuilt after getting destroyed during the civil war in the early nineties but it’s back with a vengeance. It’s been rebuilt and is now ridiculously cute. What’s not cute however is the local tradition of diving off it, all 21m into the freezing cold river below. If you pay the local dudes who linger around there, they’ll show you how it’s done. Now are you man enough to do it?! (Note: I forget my swimshorts, so couldn’t do it, that was the reason, and that’s’ the end of it!)
2) Old Town:
Equally as beautiful as the bridge but perhaps without the drama of potentially diving to your death. The old town harks back to the Ottoman empire, with its Turkishesque bazaars, colourful narrow streets and impressive mosques. It’s postcard in reality.
3) The Mall:
If you’re on a short term backpacking stint, feel free to ignore this. If you’re a long-term traveler like me, you’ll love me for this. Mostar has just built a brand new mall, complete with 6 screen movie theatre in English, about 10 minutes walk from the Old Town. So get your home fix, hit up the mall, drink coke, eat popcorn and forget about where the next night bus is taking you to, or where you’re gonna be sleeping tomorrow.
If you’re in Bosnia, you can’t miss you on Mostar, It’s beautiful, and it’s only 40km away from Bosnia’s coolest sight – the Kravice waterfalls (article tomorrow). Happy travels!