OUR DAY TRIP TO BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA
The idea of visiting Bosnia Herzegovina this summer came to us when we realized how close it was to our main destination, Croatia. And many croatian travel agencies seemed to have the same idea, as while we were in Split and Dubrovnik we saw more than a few banners advertising travel packages for daytrips to nearby Mostar or even to Sarajevo.
Prior to our trip though, almost everyone we told about our plans to, would give us a "why would anyone visit Bosnia Herzegovina?" look, with no further comments.
We, however, came back from that underrated yet beautiful country having laid our eyes on some of the most iconic landscapes ever and having been transfered back in time and space for a few hours.
Mostar was our first stop in Bosnia Herzegovina and we spent more time than planned in that unique yet tortured bosnian town. We drove for a couple of hours from Split, Croatia to get there.
Apparently the picture which made us want to visit Mostar in the first place, was the one with the stone bridge, connecting two parts of the town, which also happens to be part of UNESCO's Wolrd Heritage Sites list. So, there we were, on a hot August morning standing right under THE bridge with our own feet and watching it with our own eyes, right in front of us. We were in awe!
Apart from the old bridge (stari most actually means old bridge), Mostar also managed to charm us with its eastern character, which could be translated into good traditional coffee, colorful outdoor stands in front of old shops and warm, smiling people.
A few hours of (really) cheap shopping, aimless wandering and lots of photo shooting later , we took the road to Blagaj, which was only 10-15 minutes away from Mostar.
Once again, we were about to lay our own eyes on a postcard-like landscape and we were more than excited about that.
The small building you can see in the picture above is called Tekija and is a dervish house, open to public. It's located at the source of Buna river and attracts more and more visitors annualy, especially muslims due to its high religious importance.
During your visit you can enter all of its areas (kitchen, coffee room, guests room..) for a small entrance fee. A kind lady at the entrance of the house will provide you with scarves and skirts to cover your head, shoulders and legs. Keep in mind that you can enter the prayers' room only if you are a prayer yourself or at least when there is no praying taking place during your visit.
After our short visit to the Tekija of Blagaj, we hit the road to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. The city is a strong blend of Ottoman and Austro Hungarian architecture, and most important a deep mix of cultures and religions, a real gem of modern history, full of stories to be remembered or forgotten.
The old town of Sarajevo maintains a strongly eastern character, that makes visitors stepping out of Europe and straight into Turkey. We took advantage of that oriental feeling the city had to offer and tasted some really good baklava (traditional sweet pastry met in eastern cuisines), sipped traditional tea and bought handmade souvenirs and old fashioned cartes postales.
If you ever plan to visit Sarajevo (or Bosnia Herzegovina in general), don't forget to pack some extra layers of clothes even during the summer months, as temperatures can get pretty low. We visited it in mid August and the thermometre showed no more than 10-12 degrees celsius in the afternoon.
Also, remember to leave some extra free space in your luggage as you'll most probably find really high quality and low priced traditional souvenirs (like the ones seen above) that you'll want to take home with you. Compared to Mostar, the prices in Sarajevo were a bit higher, so if you visit both of them it's maybe better for your pocket to get your souvenirs from Mostar or Blagaj. Talking about prices, keep in mind that Bosnia's strong eastern charachter makes merchants willing to bargain the already low price, so give it a try.