Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 27 Mostar in Bosnia

We planned to drive to Mostar, not far across the border into Bosnia, but first we had to drive about 1 hour to get off the peninsula we were camping on. It was a pleasant drive through vineyards on the rocky hillsides. There seemed to be quite a bit of development going on, and I was quite interested to see that the vines didn’t have any structure to hold them up. Some of the vines looked quite old, but were cut back like roses might be in the winter. They had started to leaf up, but it was hard to tell what happened next, as grapes are quite vigorous in their growth. Every so often we would see the sea again – brilliant blue – such a gorgeous colour on a sunny day.

Finally we reached the end of the peninsula, and wound our way around the coast, until we headed off to Bosnia. The first border crossing turned us round for some reason, and we had to go to the other side of the river and through a bigger border post. Maybe they could only process locals at the first one? We followed a swiftly flowing big river all the way to Mostar. It was like the Waikato river except bigger, swifter, and much much bluer – like the water round Queenstown. It was hot when we got to Mostar – about 27 degrees, and nil wind. We managed to find parking really close to the old town (unusual), and went for a walk over the old bridge, which is very special in Mostar – originally built about 600 years ago, it was shelled in the early 1990’s war and damaged greatly. It has been fully restored using the same materials and methods as days of old, and now stands majestic again in its rightful place. It is a beautiful spot, with stone buildings with slate roves, pebble cobbled streets, and lots of interesting market type stalls. We watched people beating copper, and looked at lots of jewellery and belly dancing costumes. There were lots of different war relics you could buy, from helmets to medals etc. We went through a photographic exhibition of pictures of the bridge when it was damaged, then repaired, which was quite interesting. It is a real icon for the city. The woven mats etc were lovely, but it got so hot that I lost interest in shopping, even though we didn’t walk far.

We paid for entry into a mosque, which was a fascinating place to visit.Richard and the kids also walked up the minaret. Besides its height, it looked really narrow – a spiral staircase that Richard said in places was only as wide as his shoulders.

Mostar still has evidence of shelling with pock marks and damage to various buildings, though much of it has been fixed up already since the war.

After Mostar, we drove back along the river, and back through the border to Croatia again, and headed North towards Split, our destination for tomorrow. We have found a nice camping open by the seaside about 130km south of Split, and as it was getting late, we decided to stop here for the night.