Mostar, BiH

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
August 21st 2010

(View from the Old Bridge)

Mostar is most known for its Old Bridge, a nice little cobble-stone bridge that was completely destroyed in the Balkan War. I got to see a video clip of the actual moment when a rocket fired by the Croatians destroyed the bridge. Tourists are plentiful in Mostar’s Old Town. Everyone paid a small donation to see a man jump off the Old Bridge (which is quite a long way down). I was disappointed he didn’t do it head-first, like an actual dive. He went in feet first.


The Old Town is much like most other Old Towns, full of tourist cafes/restaurants/souvenir shops. There’s a street in Mostar called ‘Bulevar’ which used to be one of the front lines of the war, where plenty of gunfire was exchanged between the Serbs and Croats. There are many buildings still left unrepaired, full of massive holes, standing next to fully restored buildings.

(Can you tell which one was reconstructed?)

Stayed a hostel that’s quite well-known in the backpacker community, Majda’s Rooms. It was like staying in someone’s apartment because it’s so homely and warm. Majda was a nice but weary-looking lady who employed a couple of other women to help out with operations, from picking people up at the bus station to cleaning. I was actually fortunate when I arrived. It was quite a long walk from the bus station but when I arrived, Ziyada (one of the staff) was waiting to pick up two girls from the same bus so I got a ride too. My nickname for them is “Majda and her band of Merrywomen”.

On the morning before I left, Majda made us a delicious breakfast consisting of bread with scrambled eggs on top, fresh fruit (including a home-grown delicious fig which was my favorite), and some coffee. Got to chat with some other hostel-mates and turns out, one of them (Megan) did some archaelogical research in Athens with a guy (Jack) I met in Salonica (Greece) when I was staying there for the night. Nice coincidence.

Mostar, BiH Pics

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Aug 19th, 20th 2010

I used to read about the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) in the news when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about them but when I decided to do my RTW trip, I had to visit BiH. I thought I’d be walking on the streets of a scarred city, full of buildings still shattered from the war, on frozen in time. I thought I would see a barren, empty landscape with grey, depressing skies. Instead, I was greeted by some of the most beautiful landscape in Europe. Mountains, lush greenery, beautiful bodies of water. I guess this is why Sarajevo was chosen in 1984 to host the Winter Olympics.

Imagine a bowl. The inside of the bowl consists of hillsides. At the bottom of the bowl is Sarajevo. Much of whatever was damaged has been reconstructed but whatever is government-owned has not been repaired. This is because the presidency of BiH is swapped every 8 months between 3 political parties (Serbs, Croatians, and Bosnians). So when one party decides to repair something, before things can be done, power changes hands and priorities are rearranged. The National Library is sitting there in scaffolding and looks like an abandoned building.

(National Library, pride of Bosnia)

(Mortar damage on a church)

(Famous drinking fountain. If you drank water from it, one of the beliefs was that you’ll meet a girl. I drank two bottles of it, no luck)

I stayed at a hostel that’s family-owned and located along the steps that were used by everyone to get up to the mountains for the ’84 Winter Olympics. Now, those steps are beaten to death. The son of the guy running the hostel took us around for a walking tour of the city, including a place to eat some good burek (5 kinds!) and drink some traditional Bosnian beverages. We saw the exact spot where Franz Ferdinand got shot, triggering WW1.

(The famous steps from the ’84 Winter Olympics)

(Franz Ferdinand was shot here)

Sarajevo, BiH Pics