Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
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Following the River Neretva from Sarajevo to Mostar, its jade waters sparkling in summer or winter sunshine, winding your way by car or coach through the carved out cliffs and hills, you cannot fail to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of Bosnia/Herzegovina. If going by coach, you are likely to stop for a ‘comfort’ break at one of the most famous places for grilled lamb and perhaps enjoy some, along with a drink of wine or the very strong coffee which you can find everywhere in Bosnia. The hilltop location affords a beautiful view as you eat and drink, fresh mountain air filling your lungs.
As one approaches, Mostar sprawls elegantly either side of the green river, churches and mosques rising above houses and apartments, shops and industry. The Muslim call to prayer hangs in the air, blending with church bells, the muted sound of traffic, life and busyness. The Stari Most (Old Bridge) rebuilt after the civil war of Yugoslavia and re-opened in 2004 stands testament to the tribulations of this beautiful, hilly and troubled land, fortunately now at peace.
Many of the people speak some English/French/Italian but it’s as well to have a phrase book handy; however, expect your pronunciation efforts to be kindly amended…Serbo-Croat is not the easiest of languages to grasp, though the Bosnians/Serbians/Croats really appreciate the fact that one tries. As with Sarajevo, I find the people very polite, friendly, helpful and hospitable.
Summer-relaxing ‘over a glass’ in one of the terraced cafes/restaurants on the river, you can see teenagers jumping into the Neretva from the bridges, hooting and whooping as they do, and followed by much applause. There are sometimes young men, fit in their trunks, posing on the bridges for tourists’ photographs and waiting for enough donations to pay them to dive into the jade depths.
Cobbled streets are the norm in Mostar, so be sure to wear flatties or risk ‘ricking’ your ankles. Some of the shops are a little ‘touristy’ but in mostly decent taste, my opinion. The bars and cafes are clean, the food excellent and traditional. No McDonald’s or KFC here! Fish dishes are very popular here and very well done; trout is a speciality.
It’s pleasant to stroll through the streets, admiring the stone-work of schools, houses, businesses. Sadly, there are still a few reminders of the war, with shelled-out ruins, but most of the town is beautiful, friendly, hospitable and eminently enjoyable. There are more modern buildings and restaurants, not traditionally stone-built, but still elegant and cleanly built. There’s an airport in Mostar, but one hardly notices those coming and goings at all, somehow. There is really a calm and gentle energy to Mostar, a feeling of hushed peace.
The centre of the town has many decent hotels and bed and breakfast places, mostly family run and very comfortable, always clean. If all you need is a room it’s no problem, the breakfast element isn’t always compulsory. There are signs outside the houses indicating B and B/rooms to let. It’s worth walking about a little to find one you like the look of. With a waterfall running past its terrace, one of the restaurants is really a popular spot, renowned for its food and welcome. (Picture)
The Villa Jankovica, a riverside hotel outside town, has a wooden jetty and terraced restaurant where one can watch the sunrise before breakfast, or the sunset during dinner. It’s a wonderfully romantic setting and I’d highly recommend it for its elegance, comfort and quality and the great menu. It’s not too expensive, either. (Pictures)
A few kilometres outside Mostar is a monastery, cut into the hill from the riverside and providing sanctuary and refreshments for the weary traveller. It can be accessed from the river or road, as the traveller prefers. Another place worth a visit.
Mostar is a town I’d happily visit again and I’d hope to have much more time there than I had before.
Note; some of the toilets are not as we are used to in the west—holes in the floor! Usually the hotels/B and B’s have western style toilets and many of the cafes have both types.
47 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.