As is often the case when I end up somewhere, I hadn’t planned on going to Bosnia and Herzegovina but the poor weather along the Adriatic coast convinced me to get away from the sea for a bit. The day we left Split was no better, the rain was hammering down. We caught the 10:55 bus to Mostar (kn125, appx 3.5hrs) with little fanfare. The border crossing was a breeze and the road was fully paved and in good condition. We did have an unexpected bus transfer in a town not far from the border, but other than that we had no issues.
The old town of Mostar is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The focal point of the city is the Old Bridge (Stari Most), built in the 16th century when the city was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The bridge stood for over 400 years in its original form until 1993 when it was completely destroyed during the war following the collapse of Yugoslavia. It was rebuilt with international help and completed in 2004. It’s a grand symbol of connecting the people and cultures of the east and west. Today it’s also a major tourist attraction.
For 25 euros, the Mostar Diving Club will train you to jump off the bridge. The training starts with a few practice jumps off a 10m platform in sight of the Old Bridge. Once they deem you to be ready you’re escorted to the top of the bridge to prepare for the jump. The police are notified and someone from the diving club is at the river’s edge ready to jump in and assist you should you have any troubles after landing in the water. Oh and did I mention it’s a 24m jump from the crest of the Old Bridge? I gave the jump some consideration but I decided that I want to live and keep travelling. Our Aussie mate Locky, however, decided to do the jump…
Thankfully, he survived. And so did this crazy lady who ended up in the hospital after this cringe worthy belly flop:
Mostar’s old town is very tourist oriented. But if you venture out a bit it’s easy to spot remnants of the war which claimed so many lives. Many buildings lie in a state of ruin, pocked by bullet holes or completely shelled. In some cases, there’s no funding to demolish and rebuild the ruins. In others, it’s not clear who actually owns the building and the property is stuck in litigation. Either way, it’s a stark reminder of what happened here 20 years ago.
I’m really happy that I went to Mostar. The people were absolutely lovely and I learned a lot about the city’s history, notably its recent history during the war. All the factories in the area were destroyed during the conflict so these days the major industry is tourism. And from the sound of it, people in Mostar are happy to have people visit. Our favourite place to eat was Tima Irma; we ate the delicious local food there at least once a day while we were in town.
Practical Info Mostar is located 2.5 hours from Sarajevo, 3.5-4 hours from Split and Dubrovnik. The local currency is the marka (KM), which is pegged to the euro (1 euro = 1.95 markas). Hostels cost around 10 euros, meals around 3.5 euros, beer at a bar around 1.5 euros.