25 Mar Mostar
What was supposed to be a short two day stay in Mostar, Bosnia, ended up being a 15 day mini vacation. A few days before going into Bosnia, we noticed another crack in one of our FSA crank sets and after notifying the manufacturer, because the piece was still under warranty, we decided to stay in Mostar to get another set mailed to us. Unfortunately–or maybe fortunately–the two-day delivery turned out to take 15 days.
However, during our time spent in Mostar we learned a lot about the town and the country, we met some very beautiful people, and we made a few new friends.
First thing we did after rolling into Mostar, was find a local restaurant to eat some locally made Cevapcici. All the climbing and fighting strong headwinds during the last few days, has left us to be two hungry cyclists and the delicious, huge portion of food didn’t stand a chance and was devoured quickly.
After filling our stomachs and checking out the Old Bridge, it was time to look for a place to stay. While I was watching the bikes, Ron walked back through the cobble stoned old part of town to scout out a place. Just by chance, a door opened right next to him and a very nice lady asked whether he was looking for a room. After stating her price they came to an agreement and shortly afterwards we settled into our new home for the next 15 nights.
During our stay, we explored the old part of town, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s hard to believe that the entire area was bombed out and destroyed less than two decades ago. We strolled through the cobble stoned, crooked, narrow alleyways, ate a lot of locally made meat filled pastries, and checked out a few galleries and bazaars.
Even the bridge, which was more than just a passageway for the citizen of Mostar, was destroyed. Our hosts, Suzana and Nedzad, who actually filmed the destruction of the old bridge during the war, told us that the bridge had a lot of meaning to the people of Mostar–in a symbolic way and in a survival kind of way. According to them, many people wept when the bride went down, because it also was a symbol of hope to build bridges among people again.
Not only did we get a lot of one on one history lessons in Mostar, we also got to spend some time going out to the local pub, “The Black Dog Pub”, which is conveniently run by another American, who happened to find the love of his life in Mostar. We didn’t just have a great time chatting with the owner, Stephan, but we also got to meet a few new friends, who we got to hang out with several more times as well. Unfortunately, we never got to take any pictures of our new friends but we do hope to stay in touch with them.
During our explorations of town, we could still see a lot of the scars the war has left on the town. There were several over crowded cemeteries, that were created out of necessity during the war in what used to be parks before the war. Bullet riddled houses were everywhere, especially along the old front line, which went straight through town. Some of the houses were only a few meters opposite from each other. It was hard to imagine the hardship the people had to live through during the conflict.
We also managed to go on a couple of hikes: one to another town to go to a local market, another one leading to a huge cross that is towering on a mountain over the city. The mountain was occupied by Croatian military during the war and still bares a few landmine fields and bunkers today. So be careful and do not go off the beaten path when hiking the beautiful mountains of Bosnia! But do not be too afraid though, nearly all minefields are well marked and you’d miss the beautiful views of the countryside.
The rest of the time, we just enjoyed hanging out, sitting on our balcony while soaking up the sun, drinking Bosnian coffee and listening to the calls of prayer from the more than 10 Mosques in town.
After 15 days of visiting Mostar, we finally got our bike part and it was eventually time to get going again. We are forever thankful for all the warm hospitality and help Suzana and Nedzad have given us during our stay. They made us feel like family and taught us so much about their home town and country. It was a sad moment having to say goodbye, but we are looking forward to staying in touch with them. Should you ever find yourself visiting Mostar look them up in their little Pansion Cardak and give their business a try, you won’t regret it.