From Dubrovnik we headed into Bosnia & Herzegovina to visit the historic city of Mostar. Straddling the Neretva River, Mostar is most known for the iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), a beautifully reconstructed medieval bridge from 1566. The city suffered extensive damage during the Bosnian War following the breakup of Yugoslavia and a few sections of town are still abandoned and dilapidated. Walking from the bus station to our hotel, we saw many buildings with crumbling walls, bullet holes, and bomb damage. Walking further, we got to the area of Stari Most and saw a much more rebuilt version of Mostar, with loads of people wandering through the many cafes, shops, and restaurants. Most of this area is a blend of Ottoman, Mediterranean, and western European style architecture. The view from our hotel gave us a great view of all the styles. It was really cool to see the many mosques dotting the cityscape with their tall minarets poking out above the rooftops. Several times a day the Islamic call to prayer reverberated through the valley from the many loudspeakers perched atop the minarets. We instantly felt welcome in the city, with our hotel treating us to baklava and making us feel at home after sweating our butts off walking there. They even set up a free taxi for us back to the bus stop when we left.
After regrouping, we wandered through the center, dipping in and out of the many shops. Stari Most is the focal point of the city, rebuilt in 2004 after being destroyed in the war. It has come to represent reconciliation between the many diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious communities in the area. An old tradition involves young men diving from the top of the bridge and there’s now even a Red Bull sponsored diving event every year.
Overall, Mostar was a really interesting city and we would love to return and spend time exploring more of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Moving on from there, we headed back to Croatia to visit the capital, Zagreb. It was a nice city for a quick stop but nothing too special. We wandered the Old Town and visited some museums, including the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships. Afterwards, we went north to Slovenia and stayed in Ljubljana, the rather quiet and charming capital. We took a daytrip to Lake Bled from here as well to see more of Slovenia’s beautiful landscapes. We had a great time in Slovenia, and here we said goodbye to Chelsey as she flew home. For us, it was onwards to a tour of Italy with our friends Kevin and Jess.