Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the top places I wanted to visit in Europe and one of the reasons I decided to stick to more Eastern Europe countries. I had seen a lot of photos recently on Instagram of Mostar with the old bridge and town so I was very excited to be going!
I got an overnight bus from Zagreb which is Croatia’s capital city and in the North. We travelled all the way down Croatia and then entered into the South of Bosnia. I’ve done a lot of overnight journeys in my travels and I must say this was one of the worst! It was with ‘Croatia bus’ which is a pretty reputable company but the roads were so bumpy and windy, the seats had hardly any leg room (and I’m not even tall!) and there was a young girl snoring like nothing I had ever heard before! I got about 20 minutes sleep but I didn’t stress about it and once I reached the bus station in East Mostar at 7am I was picked up by Nina from Hostel Nina (if you go to Mostar you have to stay there!) she then took me straight to my room, ‘d booked a private double room as I knew I would be needing sleep and it only cost £17, she brought me some breakfast and I fell straight asleep for a few hours! The welcoming she gave me really started off my stay well despite how tired I was.
When I got up I headed straight into the old town and to see this bridge I had wanted to see for so long. The first thing that really struck me was the amount of souvenir shops in the small narrow streets but I guess it’s to be expected and after a while you get used to it. The other thing that I noticed was how I really felt like I was no longer in Europe (in a good way). Bosnia is hugely diverse in its culture and religions and in fact this is one of the reasons the war ended up being as bad as it was when they broke from Yugoslavia. As you scan the area you can see many mosques and the call of prayer sounds 5 times a day so you’re bound to catch it at some point. There’s also a huge Turkish influence which I leant came from when the Turkish Ottoman Empire first entered in around the 15th century (I think it was then!) so Turkish tea and Baklava (my favourite!) is sold everywhere.
When walking around the town especially the main streets outside of the cobblestone old town you notice the many many bullet marks in the walls of houses and the amount of abandoned buildings. Mostar was divided during the war and was a heavily bombed area. In fact the Stari Most- the old bridge was completely destroyed by the Croats during the war in 1993 and was only rebuilt and reopened in 2004, they rebuilt it as a replica of how it used to look when it was built by the Ottomans in around 1557!
Overall my first impressions of Mostar were great, it’s a very picturesque town, the river has the same beautiful emerald-green colour as I had seen in Slovenia and Croatia, the locals were extremely friendly and although my first day started a bit cloudy the sun came out as the day went on so I watched the sun go down behind the mountains which Mostar is surrounded by and was totally in awe of this place!
The next day I took a trip around the surrounding areas which I’ll detail in another post shortly and this was by far a highlight of my stay!
The following day I decided to go to Sarajevo which is the capital and 3 hours away. While I was there I did a free walking tour where I learnt so much about the war and the Country that I hadn’t known or couldn’t understand before.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the greatest day, firstly I got the train from Mostar which took 3 hours and went an amazingly scenic route (this cost a reasonable £4) but I was in the compartment with 5 local girls who were smoking (it’s so strange that smoking is still allowed on trains and in public places!) and just being loud.. too much for 7:00 in the morning! Secondly I got on the tram from the train station because it was so cheap- about 85p but I didn’t realise I had to validate my ticket and got fined £10.00 (not much compared to other countries but very annoying when travelling on a budget) and then to get back to Mostar because the train only leaves the city at 7pm and I didn’t want to wait that long I got the bus which runs hourly and normally buses are less than trains but no, this cost me double at £8.00. I know these prices aren’t that high but at the time it really frustrated me as Bosnia is a very cheap country and I’m on a budget so overall it ended up being an unexpected expensive day.
Sarajevo is an interesting city history wise but it’s also very commercialised now too and most of the locals I came across were very rude, it also has a totally different climate to Mostar as its higher up so if you don’t have time to go then I personally wouldn’t worry about it, just head straight to Mostar!
Overall I’m so glad that I visited Bosnia & Herzegovina and especially Mostar as it really is a beautiful part of the world and country.
It’s a shame that it still receives some negative comments because of its turbulent history but hopefully people’s views are changing and it becomes more visited (without being spoilt). I was also told that on average the country has had a war every 50 years, the last war was 20 years ago so I really hope in 30 years time there isn’t another one!!
The prices in the country are very reasonable, meals are just a few pounds, ice cream is from 50p (!!), my private room at Hostel Nina was £17.00 and then I moved to a dorm room for £8.00. I strongly recommend this hostel too as the family were so friendly and hospitable and this was actually the first hostel in the area!
After my time here it was time to head back into Croatia and this time to the coast!