The war is still present everywhere in Bosnia. Almost in every city and in every village one can see bulllet holes in some building walls. In almost as many places, one can see abandoned buildings, ideal for Urban Exploration. In Mostar this is legally possible in the so-called sniper building.
The bad weather on Thurday was followed by a bright sunshiny day on Friday. The weather was inviting for another photo-tour through the city. Since my plan was to have the opportunity to visit the city of Mostar, my aim was to take the 10 o’clock bus from Sarajevo to Mostar, to have some time to visit that beautiful city as well.
I lazily enjoyed my breakfast in the hostel before I took the tram (tramvaj) to the bus station. None of the four buses standing in front of the building was destined for Mostar, which irritated me at first. So I went inside the building to buy a ticket and to get some advise as to where from my bus would be leaving. The answer was platform 11, so I must have been missing something, as I had arrived in front of the bus station.
The bus driver was so kind as to let me know, that the seat indicated on the ticket did not matter. Since I have been traveling, the seat number did not matter, but on the ride from Zagreb to the Plitvice lakes this caused some irritation between an Asian and a local, since the Asian thought he had to sit on the indicated seat.
It comes as no surprise that Sarajevo hosted the Olympic Winter Games. The city lies in a valley in the Bosnian highlands and is surrounded by tall mountains. The drive to Mostar leads across an overpass and once that is crossed, it is all downhill from there. On the right-hand side of the road, dam is followed by dam. Apparently even better than the bus ride is the train ride, since the train tracks lay high on the hillside. Unfortunately, the train company does not have a traveler friendly schedule and the impending strikes made choosing the bus ride over the train ride a natural choice.
During the war in Bosnia, the front led through through the center of Mostar, along the Bulevard. One of the most important hiding place for snipers was a building of a former bank. The building today is a ruin, as it was left untouched after the war. One can still find cullets and even bank forms inside the building. The building thus invites to do some Urban Exploration, the investigation and documentation of unused and abandoned buildings. The motto of the Urban Explorers is “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints”. I followed that motto, when I climbed the stairs of that building overlooking the city of Mostar and the Neratva valley.
The main sight in Mostar is the old bridge of peace across the river Neretva. On either side of the bridge, one can find the small old town of Mostar. The famous bridge, blown up by the Serbs during the war and later restored, the many mosques and the beautiful old town lead to many tourist buses stopping in Mostar. The restaurants and cafés in the old town overflow with German and Italian-speaking tourists. And the prices around the old bridge are a very good indicator for the frequency of tourists.
Since I hadn’t eaten after the breakfast, I needed some energy to discover the city. Looking for a place to eat some sandwich or something comparable, I stumbled into a place called Velez (like the local soccer club). They serve delicious burek. Since the burek did not quite satisfy my hunger, I crossed the river and had some delicious Havana torta and an espresso. The second one in my life, for which I needed some sugar (adding sugar to the coffee finally became a routine in Bosnia).
Continuing my explorations of the city, I found more places from which I had a nice view on the old bridge. Everything in Mostar is about this one bridge. Even in the Hostel Majdas, where I stayed, the first information I received was how to get to the old bridge the quickest. Along with all the initial explanations, I also was served some self-made iced-tea. The nice hostess and the service could however not quite convince me, why the hostel had such good ratings on several websites, since it is lacking in other respects. What disturbed me the most, was the fact, that I could not start some normal conversation, since Majda for some reason kept blocking any discussion. After all, I was still happy with my stay at her hostel. The most surprising part was the gift from their garden, which Majda’s mother handed me upon my departure.
So it came, that at 10am, I headed back to Croatia, this time to the very South of the country, to Dubrovnik.