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Posted by | Evil Kristos | June 11, 2011 | No Comments

Even though I liked the last couple of places I decided to hit the road. What better place to split with Croatia than Split. The biggest city on the coast is everything you expect; big, ugly and noisy. It is mainly a busy port. There is a small bit of old town, but I have no idea why anyone would go here except for getting out of the country by boat. I jumped on to a bus towards Mostar and waved Croatia good bye.

The first leg of the journey lead along the coast towards Dubrovnik. The landscape is absolutely beautiful. I almost regretted my decision.

The mountains drew nearer to the coast. They were dark, barren and hostile. In parts it got to a point where they were almost intimidating. We went through a small town – I didn’t catch the name – that was so beautiful I almost jumped off the bus. What a beautiful area.

The steep mountains, the blue sea, islands off the coast, green crystal clear bays and bright little villages nestled against the hills. It is quite picturesque.

Eventually we turned and headed inland. After climbing the first mountain we arrived at another beauty spot. Surrounded by mountains there are a number of beautiful lakes. It’s moments like this where you wish you would drive by car. You could simply stop and enjoy it for a while.

The bus ride took a lot longer than I had anticipated but finally we hit the border. No stamp this time. At least I found out what the Croatian currency is: Kuna. I heard it a load but so far I thought it means “Give me all your money stupid tourists”. Live and learn!

Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed me with sunshine and a smile. I liked it immediately. Everything looks little bit poorer but not too bad. Another couple of stops, we seemed to get nearer to my final destination. Finally we stopped in a small town in the middle of nowhere and the bus driver looked at me and said something. I didn’t get it.

I said to him: Mostar! He didn’t look happy and mumbled something about other bus or fucking tourists. My Bosnian is a bit rusty. He got out and went into the ticket office. He came back with a lady that explained to me that I should have switched busses on the previous stop. Apparently the bus driver had told us. Well, I replied, I didn’t quite catch that. She nodded. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time this happened.

She explained that there will be another bus going to Mostar and that the driver will pay for my ticket. That was awfully nice of him. Indeed he waited until a local bus turned up, went to the driver and then smiled at me, shook my hand and said something. I guess it meant no hard feelings. I thanked him and said no problem. And I actually meant it.

The local bus was … interesting. I guess it was built right around the second crusade. It made some rather unhealthy sounding noises but then, I’ am no mechanic. May be it’s supposed to sound like that. The driver seemed confident and so were the other people. Since I had no choice in the matter I decided to enjoy it.

I was the only foreigner on the bus and I had no idea where I was. For all I could tell we were high up in the mountains. It started raining. Perfect. Deep down in a valley I saw a town and I guessed this has got to be Mostar. It wasn’t. While we were driving down a narrow winding road in the rain I remembered that I forgot to renew my travel insurance. The good news. If we slide over the edge of that cliff I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

At least this driver was paying attention to the road. The other guy was constantly, shouting, smoking and texting on his mobile. At some stage it was actually quite scary. He was overtaking a bunch of cars on a hill, just ahead of a bend (as in he could see any potential incoming traffic) and he was still texting somebody so his eyes were off the road. That’s the kind of driving I expect in the Balkan. It was almost like Greece actually. Back to my local bus though.

We eventually got around the mountain and then I saw Mostar. Quite a view I must say. It is a surprisingly big city, in a surprisingly deep and narrow valley and from where I sat, surprisingly ugly. We descended further down and finally we entered the city. I assumed the bus would go to the bus station but for the second time this day I was dead wrong. Eventually the driver turned around and said: city center. I got up and there I stood; in the middle of a busy road, with no map, no local currency and no clue where to go. I was lost.

Since we didn’t pass any train or bus terminal I decided to follow the road and hope for the best. The rain had cleared and it was a beautiful day. 5 minutes later I saw a sign pointing to a train station and something with busses. I turned right and kept walking. After a few minutes I hit the river. Since the main attraction is an old bridge I was definitely in the right part of town. I crossed the bridge and began to realise what an astonishing area I was in. I hadn’t even reached the old town and I was blinded already by the beauty of that river and the general setting with the mountains in the background.

I was about to ask for directions when an old lady offered my a hostel room for 10 Euro. That was cheaper than the hostels I had looked up, and it was only around the corner. I agreed to have a look. The “hostel” was in fact her apartment but it was convenient enough. She gave me directions to the old town and I started exploring the town. I won’t bore you with details but I will say this much: Mostar is quite a looker.

The famous “Old Bridge” was in fact rebuild and completed in 2004 but holding this against it would be nit picking. It was rebuilt like the original and looks spectacular. Mostar is friendly and considerably cheaper than anything I had seen in Croatia. I believe I made the right choice.

Mostar - old bridge that isn't so old after all

Mostar - old bridge that isn't so old after all


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