A few words to summarize our stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Magical, intense, unexpected!
We fell in love within the first minutes ! It is so different from what we expected, far from the image of the war-torn country, even though it is obvious that this episode is still present in people's minds and in the landscape. A rich, bewitching past, people of extreme kindness and proud to share the treasures of their country.
1st stop: Mostar
The city lies about 130 km south of Sarajevo the capital.
To get there from Split in Croatia we took a bus. What an epic!
There is a big religious festival in Bosnia in the city of Medjugorje near Mostar that brings together many pilgrims in addition to tourists and locals. Consequence: the bus is full, so full that there is no seating for everyone! Never mind we will make a big part of the ride standing together against each other by 35 degrees!
We arrive in Mostar late afternoon and after dropping our bags, a few beers and a great chat with our new friend from Brazil met on the bus, we headed to the old town and the famous bridge "Stari Most". This bridge was completely destroyed during the war in 1993 and rebuilt in 2004. The bridge and the old town are now listed on the World Heritage list of Unesco.
On one side of the Neretva River is East Mostar, where the Bosnian (Muslim) community resides, and on the other side to the west is the Croatian (Catholic) community.
A fascinating atmosphere reigns over the Ottoman-inspired Old Town, with its bazaar, small shops and of course the mosques.
When the call to prayer is heard it is a very special moment.
The next day we booked a day tour with a local and family guide company . The tour was focused on the beauty of the landscapes and the different sites around Mostar, but also on the events that took place between 1992 and 1995.
We were able to enjoy a delicious breakfast on the banks of the Buna River, then we went to Blagaj, a small village surrounded by cliffs, where the water runs clear and extremely cold water in which the traders put the drinks to keep them cool! We continued the visit of the surroundings with a stop at Pocitelj, once again a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 14th century. Superb.
Finally we went to the Kravice waterfalls. It was raining, I did not swim but Thomas didn't hesitate to jump into the water.
The last day in Mostar, we could observe the locals jumping from the famous bridge from more than 23 meters. Spectators are invited to give some money and once the jar is full, the big jump is happening. The next day we took the train to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo.
2nd stop: Sarajevo
Here again, a really haunting atmosphere. The aftermath of the war are still visible, but Sarajevo is a modern city where you can find the major brands of clothes, cosmetics, shaded cafe terraces, clubs, trendy bars, etc ... There are also an old center with lot of Ottoman traces, with its small craft shack, magnificent buildings of the Austro-Hungarian era including the superb Vijećnica, a library before the war that was destroyed carrying more than 2millions of books in smoke, today it's the city hall
We took part in a guided tour of the old town. We have learned so much about the history of the city! For example, it was in Sarajevo that the triggering element of the 1 World War took place. (assassination of Archduke Francois-Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire) Afternoon part of the guide was focus on the Yugoslavia fall, this time rather oriented on the siege of Sarajevo which reminds for 1425 days. We went close to the airport where is located one of the entrances of the Tunnel of hope which allowed the inhabitants trapped on the wrong side of the city to receive food, goods, medecines and cigarettes but also to pass soldiers and weapons to defend the frontline.
We then went to the surrounding mountains close to the city, and could see an exceptional panorama offered by this viewpoint, we also saw the Bobsleigh track used for the 1984 Winter Olympics.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, then part of Yugoslavia received the winter Olympics in 1984. It is a historical fact because it is the 1st communist country which received the Olympics Games during the Cold War.
We leave Sarajevo to go south to Trebinje.
3rd and last stop: Trebinje
Trebinje is located in the Serbian Republic of Bosnia. Indeed Bosnia Herzegovina is composed of 2 distinct entities, following the Dayton agreement that ended the war. On one hand, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the other, the Serbian Republic of Bosnia. To take our bus to Trebinje from Sarajevo, we had to go from the Serbian side of Sarajevo to the bus station in Dobrinja (East Sarajevo).
After 3h of bus, 'Express Journey' through beautiful mountains and the Drina River gorge, we arrived in Trebinje. It is rather calm and quiet. We climbed up to the famous Orthodox Church on the heights of the city which offers a very nice panorama of Trebinje. The city is nice but there is not much to see.
We took this opportunity to take care of the blog, the laundry and prepare the next steps of the trip.
I have not talked about local gastronomy yet! We feasted on delicious bureks (meat, cheese, spinach or even potato pastries) that you can enjoy with a glass of yoghurt. A delight!
We also did a cure of cevapi (small sausages of beef / veal) served with bread (lepinja).
There is still so much to write about this beautiful country but I think the best is really to go there and discover those wonders by yourself!
Tops and flops
- Mostar old town, the atmosphere, and the tour we did
- Amazing food there! We gained the weight lost in Croatia !?!?
- The magnificent landscapes of Herzegovina
- Trebinje, without a car a little complicated, but it was convenient to leave on the Montenegro
We went to Bosnia to get back our money from our time spent in "expensive" Croatia, we could indeed recover some money! We spent 96 EUR per day on average for 10 days there. The accommodation was inexpensive, about 30 EUR per night for quality accommodations. So we were able to save 14 EUR per day (vs Croatia), without any limit on what we wanted to do! To summarize, our initial budget we planned to spend was 2200 EUR for 20 days in Croatia, and we spent 2254 EUR for 12 days in Croatia and 10 days in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Again the heat, a lot of heat, nothing extraordinary drinking beers, but very refreshing.
Also good to know, borders of the beers also exists in Bosnia. The beers of the Federation of Bosnia couldn't be found in the Serb Republic of Bosnia, and vice versa
Mostarsko - Mostar - Premium Lager - Details
Sarajevko - lager - Details
Nikisko - lager - Details
Jelen - Pale Lager - a bit bitter, but nothing comparable with the American IPA - Details
PS: the very fragrant and fruty Nektar !