The road less travelled........
18.02.2009 - 23.02.2009 5 °C
After being delayed in Dubrovnik a day or two on account of all the snow, we finally managed to set off for Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Going to BiH (as abbreviated by the locals) is one part of the trip we’d both really been looking forward to, Glenn to see the bridge in Mostar and Bec to just get a general feel for the country itself. Given that pretty much all we know of BiH is war-related, we were pretty keen to see what else it had to offer.
We arrived by bus into Mostar mid-morning and, together with a British guy we met on the bus, took ourselves on a walking tour of the town. War damage is everywhere. Bullet-scarred and burned out buildings are the norm rather than the exception and although many of the shopfronts have been repaired, the upper floors the buildings remain largely derelict. Churches and office blocks loom abandoned.
A church and an office block await rehabilitation
War damaged buildings and houses are common
We were warned by well-meaning locals not to stray off well-worn paths for fear of landmines and many of the crumbling buildings sport warning signs. The locals capitalise on the sheer number of spent bullets and shell cartridges by turning them into elaborate pens and vases and selling them to tourists.
Mostar market stalls
Several new cemeteries can be found around town and it is very, very sad to read the headstones of so many young people all with the same date of death. (A bit by Bec: Initially I found it to be very overwhelming and very confronting, almost to the point of dizziness. I found it very difficult to look at all the destroyed and damaged buildings and not let my mind imagine the type of horror experienced by the townspeople. I found myself looking at women my age in the street and thinking that at 15 years old, when I was fighting with my mum about going to the Bundaberg show , these women were most likely experiencing sheer and absolute terror like we’ll never know. I’d also look at people in the street and wonder how many loved-ones they’d lost through the fighting and wonder how they can now go about their daily lives.)
The people of Mostar appear to be getting on with their daily lives and the reconstruction effort is continual. The Mostar bridge (destroyed during the war) was reconstructed and reopened in 2004 and dotted around town are signs that read ‘Don’t Forget’. Mostar has a beautiful and vibrant old town and is a magnet for summer tourists. We spent three days wandering the streets of the old town and exploring (carefully, on well-trodden paths) the area.
Signs like this one urge people not to forget and are found throughout the old town
Business as usual