A few weeks ago, on our way from Dubrovnik to the island of Brač, we decided to take a little detour into Bosnia to the city of Mostar. We had already been traveling with my mom for about a week, first in Venice (and Burano), then in Istria. We showed her around Zagreb, popped down to Plitvice, and then finally made the trek all the way down to Dubrovnik.
Incase you were erroneously under the impression otherwise, let me just remind you, there is a lot of history crammed into those 500 or so miles. It is endlessly fascinating to look at the influence the various major powers had on their subsidiaries in this part of the world, and particularly interesting to examine the differences between those places that were part of the Ottoman Empire (like Bosnia and Macedonia) and those that belonged to the Austro-Hungarians (Croatia). Not wanting my mom to miss out on experiencing this contrast for herself, we decided a quick trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina was in order.
Despite the forced history lesson we planned to subject her to, we knew my mom would love Mostar because a) Bosnia is awesome and b) Mostar is very picturesque and charming (even when threatening to rain). So, we asked a few people for directions, and then immediately ignored them as we set out on some goat trail we found from Dubrovnik all the way to Mostar. The beginning of the road seemed ok (the part that was still in Croatia) but soon enough we found ourselves on a twisty one lane road winding our way through the mountains of Bosnia. Cars were flying by, and every few minutes we were forced to slam on the breaks and get over to the side. By the time we were in Mostar, we had been stopped by cows in the road, a nine year old driving a tractor, and finally by our own flat tire…
With our time available to explore Mostar drastically reduced by the necessity of first changing and then learning how to buy a tire, we stuck to the basics. We admired the old stone bridge, we went for cevapi at Tima-Irma (or Irma-Tima depending on which sign you’re looking at!) and strolled down Mostar’s main drag slurping on our ice cream cones. Even though it was located right in the center of the most touristy part of Mostar, the cevapi at Tima-Irma was the real deal (although the Macedonian in our group…ahem…can’t help but balk at the idea of ajvar–a tasty red pepper spread–served alongside these well-known and widely claimed beef kebabs). We also ordered a shopska salata. I don’t want to be a negative Nancy, so I’ll just say, it came with corn. Serves us right for trying to squeeze in a few vegetables while traipsing through the land of meat.
After lunch, we stopped by the Koskin-Mehmed Pasha’s Mosque. The mosque itself is simple, but beautiful inside and the grounds offer one of Mostar’s best views of the city’s famous bridge. We also enjoyed strolling down the (albeit very touristy) narrow stone streets lined with souvenirs, mostly from Turkey. In the end, we accomplished what we set out to do, but as usual, found ourselves wishing we had much more time.