Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 26: Bosnia

After deciding on a whim to go to Bosnia, a small group of us walked over to bus station next to the port and purchased the tickets after the day on Korcula.  The purchasing process wasn't as bad as I thought it would be; the prices were good and despite the name on my ticket being "Calrck" all turned out well.  We arrived in the morning to a very crowded bus.  Croatians obviously don't care what seat it says on your ticket.  The three hour ride wasn't too bad.  There were three border crossings since you have to drive through the Bosnian coastline region to get to inland Croatia so you can pass into inland Bosnia.  I know it's confusing, check out a map.

We had a bit of a rough start on arrival to Mostar.  This was probably due to the lack of information since the only info I got was googled in the five minutes prior to meeting that morning.  After finding a helpful hotel we got a city map and were in much better shape.  The different feel of the city/country was very obvious from the time stepping of the bus.  As soon as we got off three or four people people came up aggressively begging for money.  With map in hand we walked over to the "old town" and (in)famous "old bridge."  The bridge isn't that old since it was destroyed in the war 15 years ago but was rebuilt and is still interesting.  The views are really neat and many local members of the "Mostar Diving Club" will dive off for a tip.  Around the bridge, there were a lot of people in a small space with tons of little shops.  Yes, I had to buy the pen made from AK47 shells.  There's such a mix of culture that the currently gets really confusing.  At one point I payed for something in euros and ended up getting change in Croatian Kuna and the local Bosnian Markas.  It was probably funny to see us stand there after each purchase and try to do mental math hoping the change was correct.  After eating an awesome lunch of "Cevapcici" (essentially Bosnian/Turkish meatballs) at a place nearby we decided to go "mosquing." 

"Mosquing" is a new activity we invented where you visit as many mosques as possible in a given time.  They could be found everywhere but we only actually went into two.  I've never been in a mosque before and it was really quite a neat experience.  Daniel, a religion and psych major, offered some good insight to a lot of the different places inside the mosques.  In one of the we paid to climb the minaret and it was worth it.  It was probably the most narrow and dangerous staircase I've ever climbed but the view from the top was awesome.  After we tired of mosquing, a few of us headed out of the old town to look at some other parts of Mostar.  We passed along the Bulevar Revolucjie which was the former front line dividing the Croats and Muslims.  Practically all of the buildings are bombed out, heavily damaged, or barely standing.  It was quite a powerful and sobering experience.  Throughout Mostar (and much of this entire region) there is a lot of war damage.  It's not uncommon to see bullet/missile damage in functional buildings and kind of surreal to see a brand new building standing next to a destroyed one.  Walking around we also passed many cemeteries and a number of memorials from the war.

After a quick snack we made our way back to the bus terminal.  The ride back felt a tad longer but we eventually made it back to Dubrovnik and the ship.  This is a really big weekend (a large festival and some political meetings) for Dubrovnik so we battled the crowds last night and saw a few fireworks before calling it a night.  Overall it was a really interesting and fun day.  I'm glad we decided to venture out and give Bosnia a try.  One last day in Croatia; I have a feeling it's going to be a little slower paced than the previous three.

No comments: