MOSTAR AND SURROUNDS
Our itinerary seems to have us arriving late afternoon which is good because we can check into our accommodation. There is usually then a 2 hour walking tour of the city. Selmir enjoyed showing us around his town, especially the popular tourist area that is the old town with cobbled streets and little stone houses, now shops, and the famous Stari Most bridge. The beautiful arched stone bridge built in the 14th century and bombed by the Serbians in 1999. It was rebuilt in 2004 costing several million dollars. The old stones were too damaged but they used new stone from the same quarry from where the original stone was sourced. Selmir told us - he knows everything. It is a truly lovely structure over a lovely river and the thing that attracts most tourists is the local jumping off the bridge into the 7 deg water but only once they’ve got 1 euro from everyone watching. Must be lucrative! The tourist shops are sadly pretty much all the same and mostly junky. But they are colourful and fun to explore. This area is famous for coppersmithing but most of the good stuff seemed to be in Sarajevo rather than Mostar.
On our last day in Mostar we had an hour and a half shopping opportunity and maybe being Saturday there were people everywhere. Loads of tour groups! Maybe a sign of things to come in Croatia.
The second day, our full day tour out of Mostar was in full sunshine and 25 deg so a nice change from the 2 previous days. Of course this was the most active day!
First stop Blagaj (blageye). Here there is a cave from where the river Buna arises. No one knows where it comes from, they have even sent divers 9kms into the cave and they haven’t found the source. It’s also an emerald colour and comes out with such force it forms rapids - that is right now after some heavy rain. 43,000 liters per second! So it is currently flooding the lower stone terraces of the restaurants situated alongside. Tucked into the cave is the old Dervish house made of stone and lined with carpets.
The history lessons here are hard to take in there’s so much of it. There’s the Elyurians, the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians, Tito etc. That’s roughly the order! So this is a place with it all. Gorgeous old buildings, lush countryside, fertile soil where they grow grapes, citrus, pomegranates, cherries, stone fruit. They can’t grow bananas, pineapples or mangoes. They are close enough to the Adriatic coast to be influenced by the Mediterranean climate. They have a wine industry, manufacturing industry- trucks and planes, aluminum production and more. It seems Iike the land of plenty and our guide calls it the ‘pearl of Europe’.
Another stone village we visited (Pocitejl) is an old walled village with house all made of the local stone and flat stone roofs. Here we climbed a tower to improve the view. For some it was easy for some like me a little challenging and for one lady it brought on a panic attack.
At Kravica, the site of an impressive waterfall the serenity disappeared and there were tourists everywhere! Lots of locals and a mixture of many other nationalities. And normally we could have swum but there was too much water.
Interestingly we find ourselves just 4km from the town of Medugorje . A name most probably won’t know but it was all the rage in the 1980s among Catholics. There were sightings of the Virgin Mary by three teenagers in a poor and quiet little village in central Yugoslavia. Now that village has hotels, shops,and is the second largest pilgrimage site in the world - more than Fatima or Lourdes apparently. Those 3 teenagers now travel the world spruiking their message. Despite all that the Vatican have refused to endorse the sighting or recognize the event. Since the latest Pope made this proclamation tourism has halved but they still have 2 million visitors a year! It wasn’t on our itinerary however so we can’t report on what it’s like.
Our hotel in Mostar was very comfortable with beautiful views and a lovely swimming pool. Last night we ate in house and I had some excellent tortellini and Mark had stuffed quail. Accompanied by a pretty good house white. The prices there were inexpensive but not cheap. Wine was closer to our prices but at lunch in a local restaurant we had 2 glasses for $3. So it is possible to eat and drink more cheaply.A change from the local food and mainly because we couldn’t find anywhere to eat near the hotel because it’s ramandan and as Mostar is mostly Muslim, no-one was eating until after 8pm and we were too tired to wait.