Jet lag caught up with us last night and of all the nights to do it! Both of us up until at least 3AM, our alarm went off a few hours later at 6:45 for this day’s adventure – a day trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (or as we later learned, just Herzegovina)
We made our way through Old Town and through the exit out of the walls where we waited for our bus in a torrential downpour. Despite the rain, it was fun to watch the people come and go. Periodically, a child would be dropped off and would join a group collected by a nearby building with their colorful umbrellas and galoshes and backpacks, I suspect, waiting for a ride to school.
I was intrigued by their clothing. They looked no different from kids in America. When I was a child visiting Switzerland, the kids looked very different in how they dressed, including what they wore to school. I remember seeing kids coming home for lunch every day with a valise/backpack combo in canvas, or maybe leather, I think?
The Croatian kids looked like any other kids though.
Our bus arrived and we were the last to be picked up. The bus seats 15 or so and only six of us were on the tour, including a quiet toddler of Indian decent who was so beautiful you had to try not to stare at her. Libby and I eventually made our way to the back of the bus and it wasn’t long before we realized this was a mistake. It may be a Mercedes bus, but no fancy bus can keep motion sickness away if you’re prone to it. I am, and took some motion sickness meds before leaving the house. Libby is not prone to it, but felt very green by the time we got to our first rest stop a half hour after we left the starting point.
Our tour guide, Ivana, was very friendly and helpful though, and as I got my coffee at the stop (super bitter coffee here!), I asked her if there was a pharmacy nearby. She assured me there was. When we stopped at the pharmacy, she helped us get what we needed from a very old-school looking pharmacy. Well, perhaps not old school, but the place didn’t seem to have what you might find in a typical pharmacy and they didn’t have Pepto Bismol or it’s equivalent. They have ginger pills, which I took one of as well (couldn’t hurt!), and some motion sickness meds.
Between the meds and getting out of the rocking van, Libby felt better quickly. I was relieved. I was worried she’d be miserable all day!
The ride was a long one. Driving straight there with no stops, Mostar is, I believe, about two and a half hours, but on this tour, we stopped at Kravice to take in the natural area which included a waterfall.
Two things; when driving from Dubrovnik to Mostar, you pass over the borders a few times, and every time you have to show your passports. Also, I am a bit confused about the country’s name. It’s referred to as Bosnia and Herzegovina, but when the Mostar tour guide spoke with us, she told us “Actually, it’s Mostar, Herzegovina”. She went on to explain that Bosnia is mostly trees and Herzegovina is mostly rocks. Sounds like a loosey-goosey distinction but if it works for them!
Our stop in Kravice (a park with a waterfall) was an opportunity to stretch our legs, take in some fresh air and check out a waterfall. The waterfall was beautiful, but in usual photographer form, it was not appreciated to much because it was backlit so what’s the point?
From time to time during this long bus ride, Ivana would come over the PA and provide us some facts, “over here is where they grow lots of oranges and pomegranates” She also gave us extensive history about the region which I could never in a million years be able to retell to you accurately. But, her knowledge was really impressive, assuming it was accurate and not just all made up. I’m quite sure it was factual.
I believe we arrived in Mostar around noon (the name by the way, comes from the combining of two words; “most” (bridge) and “star” (old). We were in a serious downpour, despite the parting of clouds we enjoyed during a section of a the van ride and during our time at Kravice. We were handed off to a young woman who was a local of Mostar and she gave us a 45 minute tour of the area, telling us about the history; how is was bombed and rebuilt and then bombed again.
She walked us to a view of the town’s most famous feature; The Old Bridge, which arches over Neretva River. It too but destroyed and rebuilt many times. The architect hired to design it was threatened with his life if the bridge was not a success, so before it’s construction was completed, he disappeared, and she told us, he never returned to learn what a beautiful success the bridge was.
It’s designed to rise very high up, and when it reflects in the water, it makes a look of a perfect circle. It was designed this way to represent the circle of life, the bridge section representing the unbreakable part of life, and the water the more fluid part.
There is also a Jumper’s Club, consisting of a bunch of crazies who jump off it for fun. With the rain we saw none of those shenanigans.
The tour ended at a gallery which included pictured of the city after it was destroyed in the wars in the early ’90s. I enjoyed our tour guide. It was nice to have a local show us around. I asked her if she was alive when the bridge was destroyed and she said she was born two months after it was bombed most recently, “But (my mom) told me she walked the bridge while pregnant with me so I think that counts”. The bridge was rebuilt in as close to the same manner as the original, and giant rock from the damaged one remains on the shore as a reminder to locals and visitors of what happened there.
We didn’t have a ton of time to explore after that which was fine since I’d just be spending money on souvenirs I won’t want, but we did find Tima Irma, the restaurant the MI couple had recommended to us the day before. We sat down in the cozy space and learned that our server was also the cook and also Irma herself! She advised us on what to order – two different lunches, and when it arrived we realized one lunch would have been plenty for Libby and I to share.
So take note, if you go to Mostar and order lunch at Irma’s with someone, just order one lunch – it’s plenty!
On our way out we asked Irma if we could take her picture. She obliged then offered us a giant beer as a thank you for coming.
This is not the first time we experienced incredible helpfulness and hospitality with the people in this region. Part-way through the day I got a text form out Air BnB host Vloho (pronounced “Vlog”), saying that if we want to extend our stay, we can do so for as long as we like, free of charge. “You are the last guest of the season so you’re welcome to stay” he said. We wondered if they needed a house sitter, but it was really nice just the same. He’s also offered to drive us to the grocery store, and his wife offered to dry our clothes for us because the drying in our place is apparently not so strong.
People really do go out of their way here. It’s a lovely place.
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