Bullet Holes and Bomb Craters
Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
339Trip End Ongoing
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What I did
War Photography Museum
We pulled into the bus station and were approached by a woman looking to rent her room for 20 euros. It was close to the station, so we agreed to take a look without too much trepidation, and were relieved to discover it was more than doable for the night's stay. Despite the fact that we'd been running all day, we weren't in the mood to sit still, so hit the streets to do a little recon. The streets were absolutely deserted, but there were people glued to TVs playing the Euro qualifier match in every single bar, cafe, and restaurant that was open.
In an effort to avoid the crazy drivers tearing up and down the streets while flying the country's flags out their windows, we walked into the old town. The city's stari grad was a massive contrast to the wild area we'd just walked from: it was pretty dead and a lovely antidote to the near panic-attack inducing insanity we'd just left behind. We found a bar that was still open and treated ourselves to two icy Mostars before retreating to our home for the night and getting some shut-eye.
We were again limited by time, so planned to just spend the next morning/afternoon in Mostar before moving along to Sarajevo. We'd heard lovely things about the town, and were looking forward to checking it out in the daylight. The highlight was meant to be Stari Most, the old bridge, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The bridge was finished in 1566, and was considered one of the world's engineering marvels. It stood for 427 years before being destroyed in November 1993 during the appalling Yugoslav civil war. Our guidebook said that in 1995, the city looked like Dresden did post-WWII: all of the bridges (necessary because the Neretva River bisects the city) and all but one of the 27 Ottoman-era mosques had been destroyed. By 2004, the bridge had been reconstructed using 16th century building techniques and stone from the original quarry. So, while it's not the original bridge, they have done their best to recreate it and try and preserve the city's history.
By day, the city was far different: it was bustling and busy. Where did all these people come from? Were they all hiding in their hotels or were they from cruise ships? We wandered amid the throngs of tourists, then crossed the bridge and stopped off at the War Photography Museum. Inside there were many powerful black and white photos taken during the conflict, showing how the intense the devastation had been.
From there, we negotiated our way down to the river and admired the bridge from a new angle. It really was beautiful, and we could see why people came from such great distances to see it in person. After spending quite a long time snapping pics, we returned to the old town and finally found a delicious veggie dish to enjoy during lunch.
The rest of the time in Mostar was spent dashing through the old town and collecting souvenirs for ourselves (including some stellar football gear for Konrad). By the time we'd agreed to a deal on the sportswear, we were in danger of missing our bus, so ran back to our room, grabbed our bags, and then sprinted to the bus station (well, as much sprinting as was possible with my still tender toe). A few bus changes and some truly jaw-dropping scenery later, we were pulling into Sarajevo, our next port of call.