After picking up a hire car in Dubrovnik to take one-way through to Montenegro, we crossed the border into Bosnia, our first proper border crossing in Europe. We first wanted to head to the Kravice Waterfalls which Ian had previously visited in 2006 but they were in flood at the time. Now when we visited, they were flowing beautifully! They are impossible to reach by public transport which meant there were only a handful of other people there. We spent quite a bit of time just sitting and admiring these beautiful falls.
On the way to Mostar we stopped at the Blagaj tekija where water flows out of an underground spring, through a cave and into a waterway which is the source of the Buna River. A really impressive sight but hard to capture in a picture…
It was our 6 month wedding anniversary in Mostar so we decided to stay somewhere a little nicer than the average below-budget guesthouse. This being Bosnia, your money goes a lot further than anywhere else in Europe, so for a few extra Euros we stayed in a nice boutique hotel called Shangri La B&B which was lovely. We had a fantastic anniversary dinner in the old town at a small family run restaurant, serving up traditional Bosnian dishes. We then headed back to our B&B which had a gorgeous rooftop terrace overlooking the town; a beautiful spot to end the evening.
Mostar was our first sight of the damage caused by the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. On the drive in (whilst we were lost) we drove down roads where nearly all the buildings were still scarred from mortar, bullets and shrapnel holes – and worse. In fact, the building beside our B&B sat derelict, yet to be rebuilt or demolished. We visited the Museum of Hercegovina and learnt about Mostar and its citizens under siege from the Croats during 1993, and the ruining of the beloved Stari Most Bridge and its reconstruction. The bridge is famous for the bridge diving from it into the river below by the brave locals.
Mostar was great,we wished we could have spent more time there.
Next stop on our little roadtrip with the car was Sarajevo, where we stayed for two nights in a great value for money hostel, Markal Hostel. The weather was showery and chilly while we were there which made an already fairly unattractive city even less easy on the eye… Sarajevo more than made up for it with its hugely interesting history. We did a free walking tour one day with a local guy called Neno who was so informative on everything you could want to know, from the arrival of the Turks through to the future for the city, including of course the siege of Sarajevo by the Serbs from 1992 to 1995, which he lived through at age 8 to 11.
We learnt a lot about this complicated war from Neno and his family’s accounts of their experiences. He showed us the “eternal flame” which burns as a memorial for those who died in World War 2, as well as the recent war. He also talked to us about the many war scars all around the city, including the “Sarajevo Roses” on the footpaths, where mortar craters have been filled in with red cement to symbolise where civilians were killed by mortars fired into the city.
Before we left Bosnia we went to visit the Bosnia and Hertozgovna Museum, and the “Tunnel of Life” Museum. This 800mtr tunnel was dug by civilians in 1993 to enable them to transport International food packages and ammunition from the UN controlled airport to the city– the lifeline for those trapped in the city
See next: Montonegro