Here's the second part of my blog about my travels! Tim and I flew to Dubrovnik and travelled by bus to Mostar, Sarajevo, and Zagreb, spending a few days in each before flying back from Trieste. You can read part one, Dubrovnik here.
Having left Dubrovnik late, and then having to go through the border about 4 times, we arrived in Mostar in the dark. I don't really like arriving in new places in the dark, but that's how it worked out. Bosnia & Herzegovina isn't in the European Zone for roaming, so we were relying on screenshots of maps and took a slight wrong turn at first (due to a misleading sign to our hotel aimed at cars not people), but we soon found the correct way (which was basically a straight line). Maršala Tita was buzzing with people out for the evening, and we soon found our hotel, Hotel Pellegrino, where we were given a lovely friendly welcome and taken to the spacious dining area to be given a much needed juice and Turkish delight, maps of the city and a recommendation for dinner. We quickly dropped our things off in our huge room and headed out to investigate the dinner recommendation - Šadrvan. It broke our rule of not eating in places with pictures of food outside but it turned out those pictures are quite useful really. We sat at a table outside and shared a 'National plate for 2 persons', which consisted of japraka, dolme, bosnian cookies, cevap, duvec, boiled potatoes, rice and sour cream in a bowl made of onion - it was delicious and a great way to try lots of different things but the photo I snapped on my phone in the dark really doesn't do it justice so I'll spare you that. Another thing to note - I thought there were a lot of cats in Dubrovnik but there were way more in Mostar, a few dogs too, roaming the streets, but well fed from the al fresco diners.
After our initial 6am ish wake up from the call to prayer we got a bit more sleep before heading down to breakfast. It was off season so it was pretty quiet in the hotel and we wondered if anyone else was staying. I hope so because I've rarely seen such a spread for breakfast - we were truly spoilt for choice! Breads, pancakes, sweets, cheeses, meats, cakes - delicious!
We headed into the Old Town and did good ol' Rick Steves' self-guided walk from Rick Steves' guide to Croatia and Slovenia. It was a great way to get a sense of the city, learn a bit about the very difficult history and understand more about the town, with pointers on where to go to get more information within the town to get more in-depth insight. There is sadness, of course - it is such recent tragic history - but Mostar is a very relaxed, vibrant, positive place keen to grow but never to forget what came before. An important message for us all.
Neither Tim nor I had visited a Mosque before so it was great to have the opportunity to do so in Mostar. Most tourists go to Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque but that appeared to be shut, so instead we went to Nesuh-Aga Vucjakovic Mosque. We bought a ticket to visit the inside and to go up the minaret and left our shoes at the door. We were the only people in the main room and the very kind man looking after it told us all about the building, showed us elements that had survived 500 years and explained different features to us. It was beautiful and such a wonderful opportunity. We mentioned that we were travelling on to Sarajevo next and he told us the national food was "Ćevapi - little sausages. But I like pizza - old people like pizza too!".
We went up the minaret (I do like a good high view) but I'll warn you this was not for the faint-hearted. It was incredibly narrow all the way up and at the top, with a very flimsy looking wall being the only thing between us and falling. I managed a circuit round to get the shots but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a little wobbly.
It started to pour with rain so we looked for somewhere to go to try the famous Bosnian coffee and made a mistake by going to a river-side cafe called Bella Vista - I think this is the only place on the whole holiday that I do not recommend. They're onto a winner because they've got an awesome location with a great view of Stari Most, but they weren't friendly. See that reserved sign on the table? The waiter put that there after we'd moved us away from there because we were only having coffees at 11am and you're only allowed to sit there if there are more than 2 of you eating lunch. No one sat there or at 3 of the 4 tables on the edge the whole time we were there. Oh and the coffee was just espresso and not a nice one at that.
Stari Most is pretty slippery when it's raining and takes a while to master how to walk across. Cobbles are pretty slippery too, but they do have the advantage of lifting you slightly above the running water, so your feet don't get quite so wet.
On this trip we decided to choose hotels that were pretty central and I'm really glad we did - it was really nice to be able to escape the pouring rain for a bit, have a rest in the warm and photograph the decor.
We made use of the wifi while we were there and looked at where next - we decided on Biscevica Kuca (Biscevic House), a Turkish House Museum. It was a lovely place to visit off the beaten path - very calm and quiet. It's not a museum filled with signage or explanation, more an opportunity to look around a house as it would have been (or pretend it's your house for a bit) you can sit on the furniture and touch things (unless you've worked in a museum, like I have, and find that difficult to do). I think it was only 4km each (about £2).
We decided to have another go at having Bosnian coffee and went to Caffe Stari Grad, which was right next to Stari Most - an excellent choice as the waitress showed us the correct technique, and suggested a rather tasty traditional cake too. I love Bosnian coffee and the ritual of it too. I'm also a big fan of coffee coming with things as standard - just a glass of water is great, but this comes with Turkish Delight too. It was a great place for people watching too as the rain started to subside. We did some more wandering, the sun came out and we went down to get a great view of Stari Most, and Tim did his best 'thoughtful travel blogger pose', learning from the many people we saw doing it. We went to Caffe Bar Marshall for a couple of beers before dinner which was another great people-watching spot. Everywhere was quite quiet and we decided we'd go back to Šadrvan for dinner, each choosing the element of the traditional platter that we'd liked most, followed by a MASSIVE slice of baklava and a Bosnian coffee from a traditional set. We were upstairs inside this time and it was lovely.
There was glorious sunshine today! We had another lovely breakfast (there were more guests today, which was a relief to see), left our bags with reception and headed out to re-take our photos in the sun. We wandered around a bit further out of town, had a coffee with a great view at Labirint and generally made the most of being outside before the next leg of our bus adventure. We sat for a long time down by the river, watching the spectacle of the bridge jumpers, which was incredibly entertaining, and were there as the call for prayer sang out all around us - absolutely beautiful.
Then it was time to head for the bus! We picked up supplies from the supermarket (there are lots of great and useful shops in Mostar considering it's quite a small place - plenty of super/mini marts, a great choice of bars, plenty of chemists, a really great art/stationery shop).
Mostar was great! I hope you found the blog interesting and I'll be back again soon with my Notes from Sarajevo!
This post is not sponsored (it was just my holiday!) but I have included some affiliate links - if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These are all companies I have used myself, recommend and think will be of use.
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