Is this bridge the (Stari) Most?

Days: 500 (7 November 2015)

Total distance travelled: 129,686.6 kilometres (80,550.66 miles)

It was dark by the time our coach pulled into the Autobuska Stanica Mostar, but whilst we had a vague idea (okay, so we had no fucking idea) where we were, we couldn’t get out heads around which direction our lodging for the night lay.

Eventually, a local family who spoke fairly decent English pointed us in what they thought the right direction, although they hadn’t appeared too confident, so neither were we.

Still, there was nothing else for us to do but trust their inkling, so off we went.

Now having earlier noted that it was already dark, don’t confuse that point with the hour being late, as it was somewhere around 6pm.

Eventually, we found our way to the right road (and the other bus station where we’d expected to be dropped in the first place), which meant the address we sought shouldn’t be too far away given that it was supposed to be right next door.

From this point it was in theory easy, but reality was a lot less kind.

Our address, once found, was actually a towering residential block, housing somewhere around fifty different apartments!

Unable to find individual house numbers, we eventually got lucky meeting a young English speaking girl, who in turn asked some patrons in an adjacent tavern and finally, after all of this, we were at last buzzing our way into the right address.

Our entrance into this hostel revealed that it was in fact a families living room, complete with said family all seated around their dining table.

We were ushered into our room, and after the initial awkwardness dissipated, we ventured back out into the night in search of dinner.

Eventually, after wandering our way through several sparsely lit streets and over some uneven and slick (well worn rather than wet) cobbles, we had our first view of the Stari Most.

If we thought that the approaches to the bridge were difficult, traversing the span was another challenge altogether, the local tenelija stone, despite much of it only in place since the post Bosnian War reconstruction (the original four hundred and twenty seven year old bridge was shelled by the Croats, with the new bridge only being twelve years old), worn smooth like aged marble, and serving like a sloped ice rink!

With this challenge survived, we found a feed, returned to our pad, and rose to another gorgeous morning.

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What a bitch (difficult task) it had been, finding a needle in this haystack in the dark (the previous night)!

Our aged hostess served us up a generous complimentary breakfast, but unfortunately for Sarah this consisted primarily of fried egg (after once upon a time having egg allergies, she has since struggled to consume them straight up) and burnt coffee, then we made our exit to make the most of this beautiful morning.

We detoured to explore the grounds of an old mosque, the keeper of the grounds perfectly at ease with us wandering around and snapping the odd picture.

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Mostar still bears many scars from the Bosnian War

Now in broad daylight, we were ready to fully appreciate this bridge and town, very possibly the most visited tourist destination in all of the country (many visitors are simply day trippers from Dubrovnik) and slapped with a UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Fortunately for us, this time of year meant that the volume of visitors would likely be smaller, but this would also later deny us something we’d been hoping to see… not that we knew that yet.

Making the descent down to the river, we passed a local who’d been testing the waters (we were soon to realise he was one of the local bridge divers), fresh as they must be at this time of year!

But down on the rocky shore, what a view!

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The reconstructed Stari Most

By now, a busload of tourists had indeed arrived, and after learning that the locals would not dive off the span above without receiving a thirty Euro fee (this was an event we’d hoped to witness, but as tight-arse budget travellers, there was no way were forking out that sum ourselves), we had hopes that they might be a little looser with their purse strings.

In a great position to watch, we settled down to watch the show and waited… and waited… and waited.

Eventually, after a few teasing moments where he looked ready to take the plunge, it became apparent that there wasn’t going to be any action.

Not now in any case.

Eventually we moved to a higher vantage point, our fresh perspective being offered from the shattered ruins of an old cafe or restaurant.

After a good hour or more of waiting, we gave up.

Given that we weren’t prepared to stump up the cash ourselves, it was probably no less than we deserved (but seriously, thirty Euros is an absolute rort).

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Bridging the Neretva (left) & At thirty Euro a dive, today there were no takers… (right)

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Our view from the ruined cafe where we waited in vain

We wandered this gorgeous little town, full of winding laneways, and small bridges that took us over channeled water courses and wondered how lively it must be during the summer months.

It was a place that could certainly warrant more time, but for now this wasn’t something we were going to allow.

Lunch was had, the day passed.

Nobody jumped from the famous span that bridges the river Neretva, and late afternoon saw us back at the bus terminal grabbing ourselves a ride to the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica.

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You wouldn’t know it from this view… (left) & …but the pain still lingers (right)

 

Notes:

* Our bus from Jajce to Mostar cost us 20.50 KM per person, plus 2.00 KM each for our luggage.

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