A Travellerspoint blog

Bosnia And Herzegovina

Revisiting Past Journeys and Goodbye to Driving.

Day 47 and 48 Mostar, Sarajevo and back to Zagreb

sunny 30 °C

Jen visited Mostar and Sarajevo five years ago. She wanted to revisit these two places, which she holds very special, and show me around.

Mostar is a tiny town but hugely significant due to a tiny bridge and the war during 1991 to 1998.

It was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva River. The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's most recognisable landmarks.

It has been a tourist site for centuries, with daredevils diving off the bridge to squeals of delight from onlookers, provided enough coins have been collected from patrons in the restaurants and those below on the shore. It is still the case today. This diver was trying to drum up more by teasing the crowd that he was almost ready to jump, but needed a little more.

Lots of tourists and tourist shops but that did not bother us. The place has a mystic about it that is hard to describe.

You also need to have some understanding about the Civil War between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia - which is complicated and is as difficult to comprehend today, as we are sure it was during time.

The thing that gets you straight away is this beautiful bridge. A stop at the bookshop at one end of the bridge to watch a documentary compiling footage for the dark days of 1993 culminating in the majestic bridge finally crumbling into the river in November 1993, after steady barrage of mortar and artillery attacks, despite the efforts of Mostar's residents to protect it, is tremendously sobering. The history books speak fondly of the bridge, and during conflicts over the centuries, the bridge had been spared - as if the bridge had a higher presence. It leaves you shaking your head in disbelief or in tears. It goes through how the bridge and surrounding area was completely destroyed and then recently rebuilt. Jen commented how much had changed and still felt emotional towards it.

I have a look through her photos from that Balkans trip.

We could see the changes that have occurred in that relatively short time. War wounds have healed more but the scars, physical and emotional are still there.

To lift our spirits, its time for Icecream and we're on our way to Sarajevo. The scenery during the drive is spectacular.

Jen did a great job getting us to the apartment which was 1 km from the Old Town. We quickly made our way into the square and wandered the streets and the memories came flooding back for Jen.


There is a saying, famously proclaimed by legend, that whoever drinks water in Sarajevo - never leaves Sarajevo and is destined to return. Jen returned!

We stumbled across an exhibition dedicated to the images and stories of the Srebrenica Massacre, during the Balkans War. The exhibition went through and explained how over 8000 Bosnian people (mostly men and boys) were slaughtered and the efforts to find and identify the victims. So far investigators have found 100's of mass grave sites and there are still thousands missing. The movies and pictures in the exhibition left everyone we saw speechless including ourselves.

Sarajevo also suffered brutal periods, laid siege by the Serbian army, cutting off from the world, inflicting massive damage and loss of Bosnian people. The town was surrounded by the Serbs and the fighting and inhumanity was something that had not been seen since the Second World War. When I was here in 1985 you could feel the tension between all the groups and once communism ended and Tito gone, it opened the flood gates for a horrific and brutal period. The World said, after WWII that we must never let this happen again, but sadly the 1990s demonstrated it can.

With our World currently trying to deal with the challenges of IS, racism, displaced refugees, and America seemingly descending further and further into chaos, we despair for what the future holds.


After a spot of souvenir shopping and an espresso, Sarajevo style, we visited another significant spot where Prince Ferdinand, heir to the Austro- Hungarian empire, and his wife were assassinated in 1914 by Franz Ferdinand which was the spark that ignited the First World War.
Jen was also able to find the small bazaar she and her travel companions visited last time which gave her a fun kick! [Simon - do you remember this place?]

We continued to wander the many little lane ways with numerous shops bashing out amazing pieces of copper and also coffee grinders. It is especially poignant that bullet casings and artillery shells are used by metal smiths for pens, coffee grinders, and other "souvenirs".

The old part of town has been rebuilt and now has a different feeling and move forward. Many of the Sarajevo Roses have now faded away or been re-paved, the needs of a bustling city, overtaking the reminders of the painful past.

After procuring some delicious fruit to sustain us, we headed off for our 5 hour straight drive to Zagreb where we would fly out and onto to our next adventure. The drive from Sarajevo to the Bosnia border was along 2 lanes highways with lots of trucks and was pretty slow at times. Once we crossed the border it was back to 4 lane highway hurtling along 130 km / hr. Once again the BMWs and Mercedes flying past me at 160 km/ hr. We had travelled over 1600 km/s and sadly tomorrow morning we would be saying good bye to our little Ford Festiva buzz box.

All in all our adventures through Croatia and Bosnia has been amazing, diverse, spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and a very unique history although more recently very brutal. The people are friendly and helpful and the food has been mouth watering delicious. Big thumbs up from Jen and I.

Posted by tszeitli 14:18 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged history driving scenery old_town rebuild revisit war_scars don't_forget Comments (2)

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