Stari Most and the City of Mostar, Bosnia

Stari Most and the City of Mostar, Bosnia

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Bosnia, Europe, Featured

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If you are anything like me, Bosnia and Herzegovina never really ranked in your top 100 countries to visit. Before I went I didn’t really know where it was and certainly had no plans to visit. As it turns out, along with Albania, it is one of Europe’s little unknown gems. I honestly can’t express in words how much I loved it!

We had come from the ridiculously touristy Dubrovnik in Croatia, and reaching Bosnia was like visiting your long lost country cousin who had grown up while you weren’t looking and turned into something really lovely.

Driving from Dubrovnik to Mostar

We drove north out of Dubrovnik along the Adriatic sea. The coast was lined with beautiful little villages, dramatic scenery and oyster farms. Just a little tip: If you are planning on driving all the way up the coast of Croatia you will need to have your passport handy, as you need to pass through a 5km stretch of Bosnia and Hertzegovina before re-entering Croatia.

We headed inland towards Mostar and drove through little towns and villages. There were lots of little stalls on the side of the road selling beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables. We bought a large bucket of figs for $3 (AUD) and tried to save them but couldn’t. They were the best figs I have ever eaten in my life. I even dreamt about them they were that good. Eleven figs later I still loved my figs but may or may not have had a bit of a tummy ache!

The scenery really surprised me. I had conjured up images of a war torn country and a place that was barren and scrub like, however it was the exact opposite. We drove through the most beautiful countryside which looked remarkably normal and quite inviting

The Stari Most – Mostar’s Old Bridge

Mostar was listed as one of the top places to visit in our Lonely planet guide, so we booked a few nights in a little air BnB apartment in the middle of the best part of town. We could park close by and walk everywhere we needed to, and best of all we were about 150m from the beautiful Stari Most or ‘The Old bridge’. It really is a spectacular bridge. The streets surround it are lined with cobblestones and little market vendors and the whole town has a very medieval village kind of feel. We LOVED it! The kids could play safely in the pedestrian-only streets and the local people were by far the kindest and nicest we have encountered in Europe.

Women would come out from their shops to say hello to us (not in a pushy kind of way) and to cup our boys faces and then offer them a treat or gift from their stall. Everywhere we went they were smiling and so happy to see us. Whilst the town is very famous and touristy, there are locals everywhere, young boys playing soccer on side roads and kids running freely throughout the streets. The weather was warm and we felt like we had hit the jackpot of European towns.

Cheap City Hotel in Mostar

On top of all of this, it is dirt cheap. Like super super cheap. I think our accomodation was about $30 AUD a night, it was very spacious, light and airy studio apartment right in the middle of town, slept all of us comfortably and had a sitting area and a kitchenette. The owners were so lovely and left out figs and grapes from their family’s orchard which was located just out of town.

The food was also different to it’s neighbouring Croatia. There we had enjoyed lots of fish and calamari, while here we found a lot more meat and vegetable type dishes. It was all delicious and each day we delighted in trying more and more new things. Everywhere we went the restaurant owners would bring out extra dishes for us to try and offer the kids treats to keep them happy. One particular lovely man took our kids away to the front of the restaurant, sat them on little bar seats and gave them an ice-cream each so we could eat in peace! Did I mention that I loved this little town?

One of my favourite things in the world is Baklava and I was surprised to find it was a common dish in Bosnia and Hertzegovina. Bosnia is famous for many other tasty delights such as various salads, fried bread, fluffy and light flat bread, smoked meats, peppers, stuffed peppers and cabbage leaves, cheeses, rice dishes and sweet biscuits which are often used to soak with honey and coffee. My favourites were the stuffed peppers, vine and cabbage leaves (Sarma and Dolma).

Mostar cuisine is balanced between Western and Eastern influences. Traditional Mostar food is closely related to Turkish, Middle Eastern and other Mediterranean cuisines. However, due to years of Austrian rule and influence, there are also many culinary influences from Central Europe. Some of the famous dishes include ćevapčići, burek, sarma, japrak, musaka, dolma,sujuk, sač, đuveč, and sataraš. Famous local desserts include baklava, hurmašice, sutlijaš, tulumbe, tufahije, and šampita. Wikipedia

The Neretva river was crystal clear and very pretty. We found a few restaurants that we had to climb down to get to, where we could enjoy the magical view of looking back at ‘The Old Bridge’. We ate at Sadrvan and it was delicious. We didn’t swim but there were a few others who chose to do so. Apparently jumping off the tallest part of the bridge (20m height) into the river is a local right of passage for young teenagers (bit glad we didn’t have something like this where we are from LOL)

“The Old Bridge, or Stari Most as it’s called by locals, was built of 456 blocks of local stone in 1566 by the Ottoman Turkish architect, Mimar Hajrudin,” said Quora user Haris Custo. “It was the heart of our city for 427 years.” BBC

A monumental project to rebuild the Old Bridge, which was destroyed during the Bosnian War, to the original design, and restore surrounding structures and historic neighbourhoods was initiated in 1999 and mostly completed by Spring 2004. Wikipedia

One of the turkish customs that has been adopted here is carving pressed metal. It is really quite beautiful and very creative. I also had the pleasure of interviewing the son of the man who rented us the apartment and eventually I will type it up and pop it here.

Tom and I had an afternoon together and we visited  Muslibegovi house which is one of the oldest and best preserved Ottoman empire houses in the Balkans. It functions as a hotel and a museum and is an easy 10 minute walk from the Stari Most. It is considered as one of the most important buildings retained from the Ottomoan Period and is in fabulous condition.

The house is filled with vibrant turkish rugs. Tom and I enjoyed wandering around and looking in all the interesting rooms. At one point he ran ahead and I walked into the most beautiful room to find him curled up in a window looking down on the Neretva River below. It actually took my breath away as he looked so peaceful and happy. Luckily I had my camera out and managed to capture one of my favourite photos I have ever taken of him.

Afterwards we wandered through the streets and came across Koski Mehmed Pasha’s Mosque. We were allowed in, but weren’t supposed to take photos. I managed to capture one before we were told not to, and to this day, it also remains one my favourite photos I have ever taken.

The street life is lively and fun. There are little restaurants everywhere; All are very inviting and smell amazing. Upon recommendation from our hosts we went to National Restaurant Cevadbzinica Tima – Irma  for dinner and it was excellent, one of the better meals we ate in Eastern Europe.  The best thing to order is a giant platter of meat. We ordered one (below) and it came with Beef, Lamb, Pig, Goat, Chicken and Sausages. If I remember correctly it was about $12 AUD and included salad and bread. It was more than enough for the four of us and was delicious.

I loved the colours in all the merchant’s wares that lined the streets, it was all very interesting to look at and wander through. I bought a few little things that managed to make it all the way back home. It was nice to buy things other than food and wine. As we are travelling light, we don’t get to do that very often!

The beautiful Stari Most

The kids had a ball and we loved wandering around in the sunshine. The Mostar weather was glorious and perfect for the whole time we were there.

One our last night we were a little tired and also needed to buy contact lens solution. We found a shopping centre on Google Maps and drove away from the Old Town to find it. It was 5 floors and a lovely break from ‘cultural travel’. We found what we needed and on the way came across a movie theatre showing a movie that looked fun and light hearted. Both Scott and I sighed as we were both keen for some time alone and away from the boys. We walked away thinking that we were months away from that happening and the man behind the counter called out and said there was a creche/indoor playcenter next door if we were interested. Sure enough there it was, and for the grand total of $2 they looked after our children for 2 hours while we went and watched a funny movie! Best night ever! I can’t stress  enough how exciting this is after all being together 24/7 for a few months. I am fairly sure this experience contributed to my deep love for Mostar!

Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, encompasses mountainous terrain, medieval villages and Muslim and Christian landmarks. Its countryside is marked by deep gorges, turquoise rivers and lakes, and the Dinaric Alps’ forests and crags. It’s a popular destination for outdoor sports such as hiking, mountain biking, white-water rafting and skiing. Google Maps

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  1. We loved Mostar and your photos are fabulous!
    A great blog

    • Thanks Ruth! It was such a shame we never got to meet up in that part of the world as we were only a few days apart!

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