Mostar is one place I will never forget in my life. It taught me one of the biggest lessons of travelling. In fact, the incident happened in transit Zagreb, Croatia but the repercussions were felt in Mostar.
Lake Bled to Mostar via Zagreb
On the way to Mostar from Lake Bled, my wallet with all my money, cards and ID proofs was stolen. Just because it was almost 12-hours bus journey, I had put all my money in one place- in the wallet which was to be with me all the time. And that was the biggest mistake I made. Had I left it distributed as always, some would have saved but that’s a lesson learnt. Thankfully the passport was still with me.
Then as we reached Mostar East and got off the bus, I asked the driver if someone had given him a lost wallet but he couldn’t understand what I was saying so he took me to a lady who could understand English. I explained to her. In reply to that, the driver just shrugged off the whole situation and showed no concern at all. That broke me down and when I spoke to folks back home, I couldn’t help but started crying. This has ruined my mood and I just wanted to be back home. But then my parents consoled me on the phone and said its ok and my father told me he will figure out a way to send money for my trip. But still I had lost interest in the trip pretty much.
Our Apartment in Mostar
We came to the apartment – Pansion Villa Cardak much before the check-in time but our hosts were very sweet and accommodated us. They gave us a lovely room on the top floor with a city view.
Crisis Management in Mostar
After checking into the room, I, firstly, blocked all my cards but that turned out to be a big task. The customer care team, back in India, were quite unhelpful. Instead of facilitating customer, they were creating issues and kept asking unnecessary questions. I really hope they have an online system in place soon to block the cards. It took me almost two hours to block 4 cards. The biggest challenge was to cancel forex card. Finally, I had to ask my dad, back home, to intervene and get this sorted. He got his sorted and got money transferred to me in the backup forex card I had. This took full day though. But, well the God was on my side that despite such a jolt, things were falling in place again.
The other shocker was when I found out that my main Europe number wasn’t working in Bosnia. Again, had to use backup phone. Well some places are not meant for you. And this definitely seems to be one of those. And this was the day my habit of carrying backups came in handy and like how!
With miseries sorted, time to move on and explore Mostar. There were lots off tourists being a weekend. Mostar has a lot of Turkish influence. Main place of worship is mosques. There is a big mosque with minarets surrounding old town. Azan happens five times a day. It doesn’t feel like a part of rest of Europe. Also, there is lot of poverty around and kids begging.
Stari Most – The most beautiful part of Mostar
The most picturesque sight of Mostar is the old bridge – Stari Most. The historic bridge is made of white granite and iron rods. It was very important for trade back in time. The place was full of Europeans who seem to have come for a good sunny tan break. There were old as well as young people. It seemed like a fun party place for Europeans. Strangely not many Japanese and Koreans were there.
Cliff Diving from Stari Most, the Mostar Bridge
When we reached the bridge, there was cliff diving going on. There was a guy who was standing at the edge of the bridge planning to dive and the coach kept was prompting him. But he lost the nerve and backed out. Entire area was crowded with people to see him dive. They were disappointed.
Lunch at Sadrvan
After taking a small round of the place and bridge, we came back for lunch. We had lunch at Sadrvan.
It was nice and close to Indian food. We ordered risotto rice with butter parsley and mushroom in regular and vegan variations, rice with grilled vegetables and mussels. Grilled vegetables served with rice turned out to be a regular Indian gravy dish of Potato-eggplant and bottle gourd instead of something exotic. We were a little disappointed but because it was hot and spicy plus we were hungry so we finished it all.
Mostar Mosque and Market
Then we went around the Bridge in the market and the adjoining mosque but it was too hot plus wine during lunch and lack of proper sleep last night made me dizzy and sleepy.
I just wanted to come back to apartment and crash. The others too found it too hot after the cold weather of Europe that we had gotten used to, so we all came back except one girl who went on to explore the town further.
Mostar Lake and young Tourists
We rested for a while, lazed around, washed clothes and then left the apartment in the evening when the place wasn’t very sunny. We went to the other side of the bridge. The place was full of youngsters and was being set up for an event.
It looked extremely picturesque during twilight and sunset.
Dinner at Divans
We had reached Divans for dinner after checking out 3 places and sitting at the lake for a while. Two places didn’t have much veg food and one place that had options didn’t have good lake view.
I ordered cheese omelette but it was not good- too oily and smelly. I somehow had it but couldn’t finish it.
They had homemade fruit-flavoured brandy, so we tried a few. The cherry brandy was nice. The other I didn’t like much – it tasted like walnut. I like fruity and tangy flavours more. The others had Pizza and grilled veggie were ok.
Crisis Resolved.. or was it?
Finally, during the dinner time my card got loaded I got a message from dad. After dinner at divan’s I went to check the card and it was loaded. It was such a relief to have money after a day of being penniless and phoneless in a foreign country. Thankfully the backups were working otherwise it would have been such a nightmare. The second part of the misery continued in Dubrovnik though.
After checking money in my forex card, we went to departmental store to buy fruits and wine. Our room had a nice balcony so it was great experience to sit with a glass of wine, listening to nice music and see the colourful nightlife of Mostar.
Breakfast on Day Two in Mostar
Next morning, we all got up and got ready for day trip around Mostar.
Since Mostar taste buds are closer to India, the spices in food were what kept us going even if we were not too happy with the dishes that Mostar had to offer. We had breakfast near our apartment, as per our hosts’ recommendation. Instead of being too experimental, we stuck to basics – boiled eggs, poached egg, sandwich, toasts, coffee and juice for all. The lady at breakfast place was little slow as she was alone taking orders, cooking, serving, billing etc. Though it was a good breakfast but nothing to match the the breakfast at Cafe Slavia in Prague.
In the morning weather was sunny so we all decided to leave our jackets in the room but as soon as we stepped out for breakfast, we could feel the breeze so we all went back and got jackets.
Day Trip from Mostar
During the day trip, we covered Blagaj, Zitomislici, Pocitelj and Kravice Falls.
Post breakfast we started with Eneed, our cab driver and tour guide, for the day trip. It was a beautiful journey. It started raining too and the weather became colder.
Our first stop was Kravice Waterfalls. It was nice and scenic. And reminded of our trip to Bled Vintgar. On the way it started raining and cloudy. Nothing was visible. But then as we stepped out of the car at the location, the rain started fading thankfully and it became nice and sunny.
It is a beautiful sight and we could have spent entire day just sitting there. We put our feet in water but it was too cold. One girl went for the swim.
As soon as the sun came out people went in for swimming and boating.
Lots of people come to the waterfall. It is like a picnic spot. People were lazying around the beach, having snacks and coffee and clicking pictures.
We had coffee and then on the way back we tasted the local fruit brandy flavours. We picked up lemon and pomegranate flavour.
The Historic village of Pocitelj
Our Next stop was a small historic village – Pocitelj. Počitelj is a village in the Čapljina municipality, 30 km south of Mostar. The village is built in a natural karst amphitheatre along the Neretva river. The walled town of Počitelj evolved in the period from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Architecturally, the stone-constructed parts of the town are a fortified complex, in which two stages of evolution are evident: medieval, and Ottoman.
Eneed took us up the to the fort which was of historic significance but mostly in shambles niw. I didn’t go to the top of the tower with others. I stopped midway to enjoy the beauty of the place.
Shooting Time Lapse Video in Pocitelj
It gave a great view to the rest of the village and road in the front. And I made a time lapse video of the lovely clouds while waiting for my friends to come back.
On the way up to the fort from the parking, there were women selling fruits and local artefacts. They were selling some local berries which tasted like a cross of raspberry and gooseberry.
Caves of Blagaj
After Pocitelj, the next stopover was Blagaj. We had to park the car little far and then walk along the water till the caves.
After spending time at the cave, we decided to have lunch at Restaurant Fajic. Our host as well as Eneed had suggested this was the best place for fresh fish.
While we walked to the shack, two girls decided to check out the historic house that has been turned into museum.
Lunch at Blagaj
The only person who loved non-vegetarian and a fan of fresh fish truly enjoyed the trout fish for lunch. The vegetarian fare wasn’t too bad but very limited and explaining the veg order to the owner was a task in itself.
The other dishes we ordered were grilled veg plate, pasta and boiled potatoes and local beer sarajevska. Oh yes, and hot chocolate but got coffee.
Last Stopover of Day Trip – Zitomislici
After the lunch, we left for Zitomislici. It is 1 km long tunnel with smaller tunnels and rooms inside but no light so we had to check it out very carefully to see them. We decided not to get off the car. Took a round in the car and came back to apartment.
Back to Mostar
We came back to be greeted by our lovely host who was happy that we had a good time. As we came to room it started raining so decided to enjoy the weather with our local brandy, that we had bought Kravice Falls, to add to the beautiful weather and mood. To add to the ambiance, we played some old Hindi numbers, but actually spent more time thinking what songs to play. Hahahaha!
Sunset at Mostar Lake
Later we went down to the bridge to see the sunset from there. After that we decided to take a stroll again in the market and even fridge magnet shopping was pending.
Souvenir and Dinner Shopping in Mostar
As we were exploring, the shops started shutting down. Also, because it had rained in the day and not much tourists around, so no point keeping shops open till very late. So first we picked up the fridge magnet but disposing off the loose change in local currency was a task. The woman at souvenir shop was not happy but had no choice as we told her that that is all we had.
Then we went to departmental store Konzum to pick up stuff for dinner. We found soy food items so our vegan friend picked up soy milk tetra packs and some soy mutters which we were told to cook for 10 min in water and ready to eat. But it had no taste as we later found out. It was regular plain soya chunks in different shape.
Challenge of finding ready-to-eat Noodles
I went looking for the easiest meal while travelling – cup-o-noodles, only to realise that it’s not so easy in Mostar. Checked in multiple departmental stores but no success there. So, I just got bun, veg soup and pasta packet.
We cooked dinner at home. While cooking a family of mom-dad and daughter came out of another room and put their beer cans in the bin. Then a Slovenian couple came from dinner and we had a small chat. They were happy to know that we are from India and know of Lake Bled. The woman had travelled to Mumbai and Rajasthan and loved Rajasthan. They told us that we must go to Sarajevo and we are making a mistake by not going there so we told them that that’s going to be our reason to come back.
They wished us luck and went off to their room. Along with making dinner, we also made further bookings. Then we all had dinner but didn’t realise we had crossed the Limit of 10pm. So, the host came and politely told us so. We finished our dinner quickly and went to the room.
Another Beautiful Morning in Mostar
Next morning, we all got up to heavy rains and thunderstorm. By now I was feeling a little less sorry for myself though i had my low phases.
The weather was pleasant so the runners still went for a run. We all got ready, had breakfast in apartment- fruits and tea/ coffee. The fruits in Mostar looked nice but didn’t taste good.
Mostar has lot of old models of cars
While in Mostar, we saw lot of old models of cars in Mostar- as old as Maruti 800, one of the first Maruti cars to be launched in India in early 80s.
There seemed to be just too many cats in Mostar and bees in Blagaj. In fact, the bees made it difficult to eat in Blagaj. After being stung by one in Warsaw while having breakfast, I was being extra cautious on the trip anyways.
Time to hit the road for Dubrovnik
After breakfast and saying goodbye to our lovely host, we left with Eneed for Dubrovnik. On the way, Eneed collected our passports in the cab and got them stamped as we were crossing border. The passport was stamped 4 times to cross one border.
But overall the journey was good and comfortable and Dubrovnik seemed like a nice place as we entered.
More in the next blog!