Trip Log: Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 10/12–10/14

Bosnia-Herzegovina was in the throes of war in the early 1990's, but Mostar seems to be an up and coming tourist destination. It's pretty easy to find people who speak English, and those who don't know enough words to make communication not at all difficult.

There are a few pictures of Mostar in this post, and many more on the Mostar page.

The bus ride from Dubrovnik was pretty straightforward. We had gone to the bus terminal a couple days before to pick up our tickets, so it was easy to get there the morning we were leaving. To get to Mostar, you drive up the Dalmation coast a ways, but before you head east, you pass through a small part of Bosnia-Herzegovina (showing your passport as you leave Croatia), back into Croatia (showing your passport again), then you go east, where you show your passport one more time once you cross into Bosnia-Herzegovina for the remainder of the trip. Just after leaving Croatia for the last time, we had a rest stop were the driver could eat lunch.

We called the place we were staying after our arrival, so they could give us a ride. Ends up while the woman who came to get us didn't speak English, she did speak German, so Melody was able to talk with her (my German consists of only high school classes, and that was 30 years ago). It was hard to tell for sure, but we think the woman lives in Vienna but goes to Mostar to visit family. It was nice to have comminucation go well.

After we got settled in, we headed towards the streets to start looking at the sights, including a near-completed Franciscan Church and the future site for a Synagogue. We also wandered around a bit looking at the buildings, a combination of new, renovated, and ruins. We next headed towards Old Town and found it packed with tourists.

 Restaurant with view of Old Bridge

Restaurant with view of Old Bridge

 Old Bridge at night

Old Bridge at night

We knew there were many places to eat with views of Old Bridge, such as the one at the far left. We ended up eating dinner on the other side of the river, and as you can see we also had a great view of the bridge.

Paying for dinner gave us our first taste of being able to use multpile currencies in Mostar, where they accept Euros, Convertible Marks, and Croatian kunas. You can mix and match, merchants are usually very good at handling them all in one transaction.

It started to get windy and sprinkle a bit before we ate, but was a full-out downpour (with thunder and lightning as a bonus), about as hard as what we had in Dubrovnik. We lucked out and didn't go back to the room during the hardest rain, so we weren't too wet when we got back. The cobblestones were a bit slippery, and the smooth stone on Old Bridge (we doubled back to get some cash from an ATM after dinner) was even more slick. We managed fine, but earlier in the day we saw a woman in heels try to navigate the cobblestones. We didn't think she'd be able to handle the rain, too. And to think that not too long ago the stones were just loose, not cemented in.

The next day we did some more touring, including the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque, which is very accomodating to tourists (we saw several tour groups going through there later in the day). We went up the minaret, and had a great view of the whole city. We also saw several cemetaries which were devoted to those who were killed in the war during the early 1990's.

 Turtle at Turkish house

Turtle at Turkish house

We then went to the Bišćević Turkish House, which is typical of old houses in Mostar in that it blends the Oriental and Mediterranean styles. This house also had a pet turtle, which we found in the separate kitchen. We were the only ones there when we arrived, and the woman who took our admission fee waved to us that we didn't need to take off our shoes (even though the sign clearly said to).

Another woman showed up who spoke English and said that it was too cold so they weren't asking people to remove shoes. She then gave us a lenghty tourism survey to fill out. We went upstairs, looked around a bit, and started to fill out the survey. Just at that point, a large tour group of Germans showed up, so we rushed to look at the rest of the upstairs before it was invaded. Finishing just in time, we sat down again to work more on the surveys. Having completed them, we squeezed downstars and toward the front gate, when we were stuck going upstream against a flood of Japanese tourists. We timed that one pretty well.

Later in the day we went to a different Turkish house, the Kajtaz House (Kajtazova Kuća), a private house. The woman who lives there spoke a little German, and Melody could understand her while I was able to pick up enough bits and pieces. However, I also heard some Italian, and Melody said she also heard some French (as well as Croatian). We recognized many of the same elements as the previous Turkish house.

For our first lunch in Mostar, we had vegetables stuffed with a rice and meat mixture (mine was cabbage, Melody's was bell peppers). For dinner, we decided to have what was called an assortment of native foods, which ended up being pretty much the same (it also had a stuffed tomato which was very good).

 Cave-like dining room

Cave-like dining room

That last night, the waiter seated us in a completely separate room by ourselves, so he ended up having to run back and forth between the main room and ours. As you can tell, the room had square walls, but the ceiling looked like a cave. I decided to order a stew, but it ends up what that restaurant called a stew was the same stuffed vegetables with rice and cooked peppers on the side.

The next morning we walked to the bus station (the woman at the Tourist Information office said that would be far easier than trying to catch a bus) and waited for our bus. A couple of Japanese women (from Japan, that is) sat next to us, and they were on their way to Dubrovnik. A young woman sitting on the other side of us approached the two women, asking if she could conduct a tourism survey. She asked her questions (her English was quite good, but the Japanese women could only speak words here and there), then at the end asked them if we were relatives. It took a while, but after she figured out we weren't with them, she asked us the same questions. Must be survey season in Mostar.

Mostar was the only place we visited which uses Convertible Marks, so we wanted to make sure to use up as much of the cash as we could. We ended up with 1,50 KM (about $1.20), so we were happy with that.