Where to start? We are on a bus leaving Bosnia as I write. We spent the last week here and it has been lovely.
Just driving into the country on the seven hour trip from Serbia was beautifully scenic. Bosnia is incredibly mountainous and rife with clear blue streams running through it.
We had a quick overnight in Sarajevo, to break up the journey (where we had our first Cevapi, a.k.a. Cevapci, a.k.a. Cevapcici, a.k.a. Delicious grilled veal patties in a pita with far too many onions for a romantic getaway but extremely tasty nonetheless… but I digress), then onward the next morning (after yet more cevapi as we awaited our bus) to the old town of Mostar, most famously known for its Stari Most (old bridge) in the center.
We arrived on a Saturday and it was swimming with tourists. We were lucky to find a small restaurant just tucked out the way of the busyness, with a veranda that overlooked the river passing through the town. We soon became regulars and our kindly waiter even greeted us twice with shots of rakya (“cherry for lady, apple for man”). We even ordered things other than cevapi- though not exclusively.
Mostar is a beautiful town and thrives on tourism, but after a hike up the mountain (largely on paved road) and a few ice cream cones, we had seen the bulk of it, and decided to plan a day trip to the coastal town of Neum, where we could infuse our vacation with some much-needed beach time.
Unfortunately for us, what we did not realize was that the bus to the Bosnian coast passes through Croatia en route, which is not the only way to get to Neum, but, apparently, it was the quickest. And Jasper and I, being diligent little travelers, left out passports hidden safely away in our hotels. The border officer did not appreciate our sense of diligence nor did he find our confused misstep endearing. We were told, by means of a grunt and a nod, to get off the bus upon arriving at the Croatian border. We were then interrogated, by several officers, as to how we could be so stupid as to think that we would be able to enter a country without a passport. They demanded 300€ of us for our mistake, and, when we said we did not have that much money on us (“but half, actually” -Mr. Andrews, Titanic), they threatened to take us in to the station. At this point, I started to get watery eyed (which, both Jasper and I agreed, was a strategic play) and, eventually, one of the younger officers relented and allowed us to go back to Bosnia on the next bus through, claiming “we were just [stupid] tourists.” Okay, I added the word stupid, but, trust me, it was implied. We nervously awaited the next bus, avoiding eye contact with anyone who had the authority to change their mind on this verdict, and got out of there some twenty minutes later. We arrived back in Mostar three and a half hours after leaving, forty dollars poorer and beachless, and decided we may have booked one overnight too many.
The next day we attempted to go to the public pool, only to find it closed. We consoled ourselves over some cevapi and ice cream, meandered around the town, and stopped for many ‘drink and reading’ breaks. All in all, there are much worse ways to spend a work week.
We returned to Sarajevo the next day, where we planned three nights, 2.5 days. It was the right amount of time to take things at a leisurely pace. We made a couple of dinners in with some wine and movies, and explored all that we had flagged in the town. We had a couple of walking tours of the old town. We stopped on a rainy day at a hookah bar for shisha and Bosnian coffee (which looks much better than it tastes- though apparently tradition has it that you should flip over your cup when finished and then ‘read’ the grounds to see your fortune. My fortune looked like a velocitaptor, whatever that means).
We had nibbles and bites around town and met some friendly locals and we visited a haunting yet top notch exhibit on the genocide in Srebrenica. We also visited a comically small museum on Bosnia’s role in the lead up to the first world war, situated right outside the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was famously assassinated, along with his pregnant wife, Sophie. And to boot we were there for the start of Ramadan and each sundown was marked by the shooting of a cannon
Sarajevo is a beautiful city, with a mountainous backdrop and vibrant atmosphere. The old town is a bustling meeting spot for tourists and locals alike and brimming with small coffee shops and eateries and with outdoor sofas and lounge areas. Much of the city has been rebuilt since the war, though there are still relics of it, such as bullet -ridden walls and red paint-adorned fallout marks on the sidewalks, to remind passersby of what they have endured and how far they have come. ❤