We ride on through these beautiful but very dry hills and reach Mostar just as the sun begins to set. We descend from a hill on a nice twisty road. It was a lot of fun but I should've stopped for a picture, the view over the city in diminishing light was great. Mostar lies in a basin which gives it a special climate. While it has the countries highes precipitation it also has the most sunshine hours of whole Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Entering Mostar, I just follow some signs pointing me towards the city center. There is an unofficial looking Tourist information kiosk at the roadside on an intersection. The guy there stops us and asks if we were looking for an accomodation. We do, but this guy seems rather dodgy and so I wasn't sure if he is to trust. He calls someone and shortly after another guy appears that has an apartment he rents out to tourists. He seems like a good guy with honest intentions and after exchanging talking to him for a bit we decide he's trustworthy. After some bargaining we agree on the price of about 30€. I think it's a reasonable price for an apartment for two, three minutes from Stari Most.
View over the Neretva and Mostar from Stari Most bridge.
We follow 'the guy' in his car and after parking the bikes in his garage get into our apartment. It's simple but nice. While I take a shower a Muezzin begins to sing. It feels strange hearing it for real - I've never heard it 'live' before. The excitement is big and after the refreshing shower we soon hit the street.
Mostar is astoningly beautiful after dark. Many lights illuminate and highlight the bridge. This is the Stari Most
, unfortunately best known for being destroyed at the beginning of the Bosnian War in 1993. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2004 with stones recovered from the original bridge. Now it is back as THE landmark of Mostar, connecting the christian and muslim side of the city. On one side of the river bank there are church towers ringing their bells while on the other side a Muezzin sings from his tower.
The narrow alleys of Mostar feature many interesting gems. We are attracted by loud Balkan Techno (not that we like it that much) and end up at a disco in a cave. Looks very cool.
It features both modern lasers with a very good and loud soundsystem and medieval decoration here and there. Would have loved to enjoy a party here - but we are way early, the party only really starts long after midnight.
Very early, I think around 5:30 AM we are woken up by the singing Muezzin. It's not as cool as yesterday to hear him, I really don't like being woken up so early.
The signs of the war are probably most prevalent here (after Sarajevo I guess). Only few old houses still exist and many of them have bullet holes and even missing walls and ceilings.
The old town is laid out like a labyrinth (although rather small) and it's easy to lose yourself at the various stands that sell interesting stuff.
I'm not sure what I should think about the war memorabilia they sell though. Ranging from the first world war to the bosnian war a lot of stuff can be bought. In one store we find an original "Kauft nicht bei Juden!" (Don't buy from Jews) poster. Notice the toy tank made out of bullet on the right.
But in the end I'm only another tourist. I buy one of those Mostar shirts (the yellow one, but in red) because I really like Bosnia and Mostar so far.
Cat's dominating 'the hood'. They are half domesticated half wild. Only few let you come close to be petted.
Oh, so I'm not allowed to bring my gun into a bank? Well, damn! (probably not as staggering for americans as for europeans
We leave the town shortly before noon or at least try to do leave it. It is rather difficult to find proper signs that point me in a direction. A bit outside of Mostar I stop at a cop standing at the roadside and ask him which way to go. He is very helpful, although we don't really have a shared language. He's also very excited, welcomes us to Bosnia multiple times (WELCOME is one of the few english words he speaks) and wants to shake our hands.
When we ride off, I see him high-fiving a friend he had talked to before.
We take a nice pass road over the surrounding hills towards Gacko (pronounced gats-ko, not gako). We must have taken a wrong turn somewhere because we don't reach the town I had been looking for. The road gets worse and worse and suddenly around a corner the road is blocked. Blocked buy a couple of guys parking in the middle of the road, standing outside their cars and talking and laughing intensively. There is no traffic except for us, so what's the problem?
They point us to the right direction (where we come from) and off we go!
We've been seeing many of those ruins and wanted to check one out. Well, they're more or less like you'd expect them to be - full of broken beer bottles, stones and a bit smelly. A lot like the WW2 bunkers that are scattered around Switzerland.
Since we left the coast and headed into the much drier back country we've seen a few forest fires. This was the third in Bosnia, I think. As we will be told later by a local, they are left alone as long as they don't endanger people. It's simply too expensive trying to extuingish every forest fire.
I probably won't have to tell you that there is a lot of trash at the roadside. Sometimes after a few years of lying there some things become roadside attractions for the inquiring tourist.
Maybe he want's to change vehicle?
This sign is often seen along the road so I take a picture of it to translate it at home. It just tells you to not light a fire and throw your trash away.
I leave you now to guess what this could be. See you in the next installment.