Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Okay… so here is a map to show you where we now, well for this blog post anyway. We started at Budapest, traveled down to Belgrade, then onto Sarajevo and now we arrive at Mostar.

The map... just for information on where we are :-)
The map… just for information on where we are πŸ™‚

Our final destination for the day was to be Dubrovnik. We had already stopped at Jablanica, and for lunch we were to have a very special treat. Not only great food but a fantastic place to eat as well.
Facebook has a page called ‘Places to see before you die’ and I often see pictures of places and things that I think would be just amazing to visit and see with my own eyes. About six months earlier I saw a photo of a very high bridge and the surrounding town looked very old. I tagged Judy (my sister) on the photo and wrote β€œI wonder if we will get to see this place?” Well… Mostar was that place, and yes! This was our lunch destination. I was so excited and very happy. When you see the photos you will understand why!
The beautiful white stone bridge had stood since the Ottoman Turks had built it in 1566. In November, 1993, it was blown up during the Bosnian war, but as it was a World Heritage site, it was fully restored and finished in 2004.

The Bridge
The Bridge

At the top of the arch of the bridge two handsome and tanned men stood collecting money from tourists in the dare that if they got a sufficient amount, they would jump. The Neretva river is such that the deepest and safest place to jump was a very small area. So the excitement that the men would build before they jumped the 70 feet into the water, was part of their act and of entertaining the tourists. I think they hoped we would all pay more for another jump!

The two men seeinng funds for the jump
The two men seeking funds for the jump
One of the men about to jump
One of the men about to jump
On his way down!
On his way down!
Ans he safely lands and swims to the riverside
And he safely lands and swims to the riverside
View downstream
View downstream
Fabulous view upstream
Fabulous view upstream
The spectators/tourists on and beside the bridge
The spectators/tourists on and beside the bridge

The little town itself was spectacular enough. It would still be worth the visit even without the bridge jump! A narrow stone road led to the bridge which has the largest stone arch span of 28 metres. Along each side of the road were little shops selling colourful silks, weaved fabric, copper articles, souvenirs and lace.

Looking down the market street
Looking down the market street
A closer look at some of the shops
A closer look at some of the shops
A very Turkish man at his shop
A very Turkish man at his shop
Yep! We are good posers :-)
Yep! We are good posers πŸ™‚

We had so many restaurants to chose from but decided on one that overlooked the river. Eating our lunch while looking at the bridge and the amazing view the area offered was definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment. I couldn’t believe we were lucky enough to be at that very spot!

The view from where we had our lunch
The view from where we had our lunch
Look at those buildings!
Look at those buildings!
Closer up view!
Closer up view!
Love the pink buildings in amongst the other buildings
Love the pink buildings in amongst the other buildings

On a serious note though, the young girl who showed us our seats at our restaurant has lived in Mostar all her life, she was 17. I said to her that she must be delighted to live in such a pretty town. Her response was that there was no work available, only the tourist trade and she didn’t get full time work at that. She also said that it was very seasonal work and for much of the year they had no income. And she couldn’t get an opportunity to advance herself without money or education. Tugged at my heart strings I can tell you! The town also still bears the wounds from the Bosnia war and many buildings still needed repair.

A building by our bus stop. Still bearing scars from the Bosnian war!
A building by our bus stop. Still bearing scars from the Bosnian war!
I think this is just an old building on our walk to the bridge
I think this is just an old building on our walk to the bridge

I loved Mostar! I hope that you can get an idea of how amazing it is by the photos. If you click on the photo you will get a larger view. They take awhile to upload as they are very good quality, but worth it for a better picture.

Enjoy looking and feel free to leave a comment πŸ™‚

Jablanica – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Well Jablanica wasn’t our final destination for the day but was a great place to stop for a walk and visit through the museum.

From Wikipedia…

During the Battle of the Neretva in 1943, Jablanica was the site of a successful raid by a group of Partisans led by Josip Broz Tito. A rail bridge over the river was blown up while a train was in the middle of crossing. There is a park and monument commemorating this action at the site. The bridge section and the locomotive which can still be seen in the river gorge are the remains of a film set depicting the battle, from the 1960s.

We are standing outside the museum
We are standing outside the museum
Downstream from the bridge
Downstream from the bridge
Upstream :-)
Upstream πŸ™‚
Robin at the train
Robin at the train
Old war gun!
Old war gun!

As soon as we got off the bus we were met by Gypsy beggars. It’s very sad to see so many people that are really struggling to survive. Rubbish was never a problem in the past for this area but with society changing to using more plastic containers and bags, the gypsys have begun a trade as rubbish collectors. We didn’t see them doing this so much at Jablanica, but we did see horse drawn carts in other towns and being filled with rubbish.

Horse drawn rubbish collection carts
Horse drawn rubbish collection carts

Before we got back on the bus we all wandered through the local market. Fresh fruit and veges, cheeses and believe it not stalls like a families garage sale… used clothing and furniture etc., were all being sold.

Beautiful home grown fresh vegetables
Beautiful home grown fresh vegetables
Judy and Len wandering through the market
Judy and Len wandering through the markey

All too soon it was back on the bus and on the road to the next city. For those of us who had never been to Mostar before, we were in for a real treat. One amazing place I tell you!

Wait until you see the photos πŸ™‚

Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Now describing our time in Sarajevo is going to be very emotional for me! Talk about a city that has suffered so much destruction!

The whole city is still covered in scars and those are the visual ones. I believe the people are still learning to live with the consequences of the war, and those scars that it left are not so visual! Our local tour guide Nera was only seven when the war started and she shared many of her experiences with us. She remembered eating only pasta, rice, and American rations, no salt or sugar for 4 years.

Many many buildings stand tall with the evidence of war firmly engraved in their walls. This is just one photo.... sadly there are many more buildings that can be recorded!
Many many buildings stand tall with the evidence of war firmly engraved in their walls. This is just one photo…. sadly there are many more buildings that can be recorded!

Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city is nestled within the greater Sarajevo valley of Bosnia, it is surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River. Unfortunately it’s position in the valley made it easy for the Serb forces to surround it, and very difficult for the people to protect themselves and also to get out safely.

The Bosnian War for independence lasted from the 5th of April 1992 to the 29th of February 1996. The city’s residents endured 175 artillery shells falling each and every day! During the siege, 11,541 people lost their lives, including over 1,500 children. An additional 56,000 people were wounded, including nearly 15,000 children. How extremely sad πŸ™

From our hotel window we could see the surrounding mountains and sensed a little of how vulnerable Sarajevo was.

We were quite high up so could see for quite a distance
We were quite high up so could see for quite a distance
If you look closely at the end of the building in this photo, you can see the scars from the shootings
If you look closely at the end of the building in this photo, you can see the scars from the shootings
Sarajevo is low in the valley. Thankfully though it has the river running through so it has access to water.
Sarajevo is low in the valley. Thankfully though it has the river running through so it has access to water, but only in the old town centre.

We commenced our Sarajevo discovery with a walking tour through the old city. Narrow marbled streets with little shops, cafes and restaurants, and churches of every denomination.

Some of our tour party as we wandered the little streets of the Old City
Some of our tour party as we wandered the little streets of the Old City
Discovering Sarajevo
Discovering Sarajevo

A Quote from Wikipedia…

“The city is famous for its traditional cultural and religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Judaism and Catholicism Orthodoxy, coexisting there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious and cultural variety, Sarajevo was sometimes called the “Jerusalem of Europe”or “Jerusalem of the Balkans”. It was, until recently in the 20th century, the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighborhood”.

I think this is one of the churches???
This is the Orthodox cathedral.
And I think this is a Catholic Church
This is the Roman Catholic Cathedral
This fence surrounds the courtyard of the Mosque
This fence surrounds the courtyard of the Mosque
The inside of the Mosque
The inside of the Mosque
The ceiling of the Mosque
The ceiling of the Mosque
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A model of the old Synagogue
The inside of the Synagogue
The inside of the Synagogue
Inside the Synagogue again
Inside the Synagogue again
A BIG book containing all the names of the Jewish people who died in the war.
A BIG book containing all the names of the Jewish people who died in the war.

Along the pavement through the city areΒ  plaques with red paint splattered on them to show the ‘rivers of blood’ that ran down the streets ! A memorial of lives lost fighting for this nation!

IMG_0111

We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch and sampled some of the local food. Little mincemeat sausages in a bread like a panini and served with a yoghurt drink. They were actually very nice.

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Waiting for our lunch πŸ™‚
Our lunch
Our lunch

We wandered further and then were given a Turkish coffee each to sample. It was very strong with all the coffee grindings at the bottom…. almost like sand!

We were given a tray with our little coffee pots and sugar lumps. You can see the coffee silt floating on top!
We were given a tray with our little coffee pots and sugar lumps. You can see the coffee silt floating on top!
Sitting at the Turkish Coffee house
Sitting at the Turkish Coffee house
Inside one of the shops
Inside one of the shops

During our stay in Sarajevo we also went out to the historic site of the Sarajevo Tunnel – Known as the ‘Tunnel of life’. Wikipedia describes this tunnel far better than I can…

“The Sarajevo Tunnel was constructed between May 1992 and November 1995, during the Siege of Sarajevo in the midst of the Bosnian War. It was built by the Bosnian Army in order to link the city of Sarajevo, which was entirely cut-off by Serbian forces, with Bosnian-held territory on the other side of the Sarajevo Airport, an area controlled by the United Nations. The tunnel linked the Sarajevo neighbourhoods of Dobrinja and Butmir, allowing food, war supplies, and humanitarian aid to come into the city, and people to get out. The tunnel became a major way of bypassing the international arms embargo and providing the city defenders with weaponry”

Our tour group outside the house where the tunnel was built. Notice the gun shot damage to the house!
Our tour group outside the house where the tunnel was built. Notice the gun shot damage to the house!
The map of Sarajevo
The map of Sarajevo
Close up of the map showing the tunnel position
Close up of the map showing the tunnel position
Our local tour guide describing the movements through the tunnel
Our local tour guide describing the movements through the tunnel
Equipment that helped transport goods through the tunnel
Equipment that helped transport goods through the tunnel
We walked through the part of the tunnel that is still open to the public
We walked through the part of the tunnel that is still open to the public

My niece Teresa, who was on the tour with us had just finished reading the book ‘Goodbye Sarajevo’ (by Atka Reid and Hana Schofield).Β  Everything we saw there just meant so much more to her as the events of the war are well described in the book. I was so impressed with her knowledge that I downloaded the book on my Kindle and started reading it straight away. I have finished reading it now and highly recommend it as a ‘Must read book’. Please comment this post and let me know what you think about it once you have read it too πŸ™‚ Of course a trip to Sarajevo completes it nicely πŸ™‚

We also experienced a meal with a local family….. but that is another story and a great one at that! Sarajevo part two will follow πŸ™‚