Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

WOW. Better than expected. Mostar is not to be compared to Morocco... not to Istanbul either.
After learning Shanna wanted to go to Mostar (if we hadn't gone on this trip with the Wilsons, we probably would've missed this gem), we google-image searched it to see what it was about, what to expect, etc. The only pictures that pop up are of the Stari Bridge, this slightly pointed bridge that runs over the beautiful green/blue Neretva River. The pictures of this bridge alone made me want to go. Then you read about the bridge a bit, the city a bit, and you still want to go.  It was weird though, I could find no more pictures of Mostar.. none. So I just assumed, well, there's not much else there... maybe nothing, the war was recently, afterall.  And while that is partly true, there are not a lot of tourist attractions, the Old City itself is very cute, definitely worth the walk around... even in the 90F heat (yes, and we were lucky, today is 99F).

When beginning to research our day trip to Mostar, first thing I did was google maps direcitons from Dubrovnik: fail. Directions, according to google maps could not be calculated. Could this be a hint we should not be going into Bosnia? If so, we didn't listen. Surprisingly, the tomtom, after failing us so many other times (according to the tomtom, Greece is not even a country), pulled through! The drive took two and a half hours, exactly as anticipated. 2.5 hours could be a bit much for a day trip for some, but come on, it's our one and only chance to go to Bosnia. We also heard the driving time was dependent upon the hold up at border patrol, which you through four times on the way there, four times on the way back. Long lines happen, and apparently are quite frequent, but not for us. Easy peasy. On the way home, the Bosnian man checking our passports looked at the covers only, laughed, and said, 'oooh Americans! Hello and Goodbye!' Handed them back, and we were through! Security what?! Ha. We also read parking was a bi-atch IN Mostar. Again, not true. Easy as pie. We found a 'secure,' meaning guarded by two sixteen year old girls, parking lot two minutes from Stari Bridge. It cost us only five euros to park for the afternoon.... and when we returned, our car and everything in it was still there (that's more than I can say for Brussels!).

The major, and I mean major, (but only) disappointment was lunch. And we can really blame ourselves for that mess. We ALL FOUR read that the food in Bosnia was terrible. Terrible. What did we do right after we walked across the infamous bridge? Sat down for lunch. I mean, it was 90F and we were all sweaty fools. We found a shaded spot overlooking the river and ordered drinks... the only part of the meal that was not terrible (but really, Bosnian beer isn't awesome either). Then we all four made the mistake of ordering lunch. The boys got the Mostari special, a variety of local dishes. Shanna and I thought we were playing it safe by ordering salad. Fail. Epic fail. I mean, the guys ate their food. It looked SICK and it wasn't good. But they were hungry. It basically consisted of a tomato stuffed with minced meat, some nasty looking cottage cheese stuff, and a pepper stuffed with the same minced meat. No thank you.  I had one piece of lettuce in my salad, topped with already chewed up tuna. Seriously. So nasty. We did get bread which was OK... only OK. After lunch, a bunch of stray, malnourished, nasty, disease stricken cats swarmed us. I mean swarmed us. So we fed them. And caused a cat fight. But at least something appeciated the food. And they needed it more than us. After lunch, walking around a bit more, we risked our lives again and ate gelato. It was quite delicious and the cheapest gelato ever eaten. None of us, well scratch that, I don't know about Shanna and Chris yet, got sick from the food... so that's something?

The Stari Bridge is beautiful and definitly worth the trip, although super difficult to walk on! The tile is very slick. The old people were struuuuuuggling. The Old City surrounding the bridge is super cute, not trashy. The people selling the same trash they sell everywhere are not annoying, not pushy, not vocal at all really. That is quite refreshing. There are a ton of buildings just outside the walking/car-less areas that are still damaged from the war. Bullet holes are visible, obvious. And many of the buildings inaccessible, in ruins. There were other tourists there and at times a bit busy, but nothing compared to the Old Town of Dubrovnik.
I cannot wait to get a look at my pictures. Seriously, the lighting, the lack of clouds, the awesome views of the bridge from both sides of the river, from multiple bridges, the wide angle lens (love that thing)... these shots are going to be moneyyy.

Bosnia and Herzegovina... the last European country to be added to our list for a while. Sad.

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