Throughout my journey of the Balkans, Mostar was a city that kept being mentioned by travelers and locals alike. I had planned on going straight to Sarajevo after my trip to Hvar and Split, but after talking to a few travelers who had just come from Mostar and meeting Chip in Tivat (who lives in Mostar), I decided to book three nights in Mostar prior to arriving in Sarajevo.
Mostar is a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) with a population of just over 100,000 inhabitants and it is also a main city in Herzegovina (southern part of B&H). The city runs along the Neretva River and is named after the bridge keepers or mostari. When I arrived in Mostar it was the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre (1995). The mood in the city was a bit sad and down, but there also seemed to be signs of hope and happiness. My goal for both posts for Mostar and Sarajevo is to mention the war and the museums to visit, however my main focus is to express the renewal of both cities and share the joyful experience I had in B&H. I feel there is a new energy and a new generation that I absolutely enjoyed experiencing during my 10 days in the country.
Old Town Mostar
During my early morning walks I would walk up and down the old town streets of Mostar. My day would begin by having a traditional Bosnian Coffee at Nacionalni Restoran. I am used to having a few cups of coffee every morning but one Bosnian Coffee usually did the trick. The coffee is so good you will want to come back for more and now I am wondering why I would ever drink any other coffee.
I continued my walk along Brace Fejica street which leads directly to the old bridge. During the morning, the city starts to come alive around 8:00 a.m. Merchants start arriving and getting their shops ready for the tourist. Many of the streets are filled with shops, bars, restaurants, several mosques, and museums.
Near the souvenir shop and right before you get to the Old Bridge there is a free photo exhibit. Well, there weren’t too many photos so expect to see several books for sale and make time to watch the continues video about the war in Mostar. It is definitely worth your time.
After watching the video, I made my way to famous bridge of Mostar or Old Bridge, which is only a few feet away from the photo exhibit. The bridge was originally built in the 16th century by the Ottomans and it is considered one of B&H’s most recognizable landmarks. The current bridge was rebuilt 10 years ago and it looks as beautiful and charming as the original.
During the summer high season, I recommend getting up early to walk around the Old Town to get some good clear shots of the bridge and the surrounding area. During the day, the bridge is filled with dozens of people waiting for the divers to collect enough money to dive off the highest point of the bridge head first into the cold Neretva River.
Near the dive and souvenir shop, there is an amazing photo exhibit that cost around 2 euros to enter. I highly recommend visiting. The photos were taken by Wade Goddard during the war in Mostar. The photos are moments of a tumultuous time in European history which were captured by an amazing photographer. I am glad I had to see the exhibit.
After the exhibit I made my way through the west side of the city. There are dozens of restaurants and bars to choose from just like on the east side of the river. I walked north on Adema Buca Street which turns into Alekse Santica Street. I came across an abandon building with an interesting message.
From the abandoned building I headed south on Kralja Zvonimira Street and ran into a beautiful park. My map has no name for the park and the staff at the hostel I stayed at also called it, “The Park.” Therefore, the park has a very interesting statue. Locals say that during the refurbishment of the park, both muslim and christians couldn’t decide what monument to put in the park. After months of debating they came to a safe choice on Bruce Lee. I have no idea if this information is true or not, but it makes for a great story.
I took a few shots of Mr. Lee and of other areas of the park and then I continued North on Bulevar Street. I turned right onto Kardinala Stepinca street which leads you directly to the Hercegovacke Bridge. From the Bridge I took a few photos and made my way back to the hostel.
Where To Stay
I stayed at Hostel Majdas during my three night stay. The hostel’s environment is cozy and welcoming. During my stay the hostel was completely full, but yet it felt spacious. The staff are friendly and always willing to help out and offer advice on what to see and where to eat. The hostel also has a highly popular day tour of the surrounding area. I did not go on the tour but several people told me the tour was fun and educational.
Hostal Majdas/ Pere Lazetica 9, carina, Mostar/Phone: 00 387 (0) 61 382940
Where To Eat
I ate two dinners at Saray and was not disappointed. The food is relatively inexpensive and the owner is very friendly. Saray can be found on Brace Fejica Street (east side of town) and Osmana Dikica Street.
During my stay in Mostar, I took a day trip to Blagaj; which is only a 25 minute bus ride from the center of the city. Blagaj is known for its beautiful scenery and famous cave. It also has a castle that I tried to climb, but I got lost and decided to head back down the mountain due to bad weather.
How to get there.
There are several buses that will take you to Blagaj from Mostar. I took bus 12 which will drop you off three blocks from the main square of town.
My three nights in Mostar were amazing. I ate good food, drank amazing coffee, met some new friends, and learned more about Mostar’s history. I mentioned earlier that I did not want to post too much about the wars in the Balkans. I studied the Balkan War in detail for my masters degree in international relations and it was a very heavy subject and there were moments while walking around Mostar that I had a very heavy heart but I kept looking for light, smiles, and renewal. I will never forget the horrible events that took place in this city, but I will also allow the seeds that I collected in Mostar to grow and flourish in my mind. I hope we all do.
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