the beautiful balkans: mostar

This post is much delayed, but I absolutely had to share our little adventure into Bosnia-Herzegovina that was part of our trip to the Croatian coast last September.  We hadn't planned on venturing into Bosnia at the time we were planning our trip, but we ended up with a few extra days in Dubrovnik (and although it's beautiful, you can only stroll the streets of the old town for so long), so we caught a local bus headed to Mostar.

The bus ride takes a few hours, and involves several passport checks, but was fairly easy.  One note for those who think they may ride the bus in the Balkans: you have to pay to put your luggage under the bus, it's a separate ticket (we eventually got it figured out).

As soon as we arrived we found our hostel (it cost 20 Euro/night) then immediately joined in the war-tour led by our hostel owner, Miran.  He was a teenager during the war and did an excellent job of explaining the history as well as telling about his experiences.  This was the second time we visited a country that has recently experienced war (the first was Cambodia) and it's a very moving experience.  The evidence of war is still everywhere in Mostar: buildings riddled with bullet holes, vandalism and bombed out buildings.  But as much as you can see the sad past, you can also see the rich history and culture.

Seeing Old Bridge (Stari Most) was amazing.  It's a UNESCO World Heritage site that was destroyed during the war and was rebuilt using the traditional methods and reopened in 2004.  The Bosnians we met spoke of Old Bridge with pride, as if it was an old friend.

We stopped for lunch while browsing the souvenir shops and ordered some burek, a regional specialty that has a thin coiled dough filled with meat or cheese.  It's delicious and I totally recommend trying it - it's especially good with some plain yogurt on top.  We also had some baklava...soooo amazing!  The flavours were so great with sweet honey, walnuts, a faint hint of rose water and crispy, lovely phyllo pastry.  It was seriously the best baklava I've ever had.

We asked some locals for a restaurant recommendation for dinner and we were directed to Hindin Han.  A little place a little off the beaten track, but still overlooking the river.  We sat at a lovely table on the patio and enjoyed the atmosphere.  The food was excellent, and the price was unbeatable.  We shared a grilled meat platter for two, and it was more food than we were able to eat - all for about 12 Euro.  Yeah, amazing (especially after the higher prices in Croatia).  We shared a dessert called "Hurmasica", which was a sweet walnut cake soaked in syrup - tasty.

While walking back to our hostel that night we found a little bakery that had a display case full of beautiful cubes of turkish delight.  We bought a pound of assorted flavours.  I loved the walnut flavour, pistachio-rose was really good too and sesame...okay, they were all amazing.

Mostar is really beautiful, and I'm so, so glad that we got to visit.  The people were so friendly, the food was delicious and the cost of travelling there was very affordable.  I loved the Middle-Eastern influences and I found the culture fascinating.  I really hope that we can visit again in the future.