Everyone swore by Mostar. I “had to go there” and “had to do Batas’s tour”. I was a little skeptical when the only site people talked about was a bridge in the center of town, but recommended destinations seldom do me wrong.
The town is very cool with a long history that tends to be masked by the Bosnian war (92′-95′). Any building not covered with bullet holes is new or has been repaired. One of the popular sites is an old shell of a building that was once a bank and is now nicknamed “Sniper Tower” because of its Croatian sniper occupants during the war (Sniper used loosely as they just fired at all things that moved, civilians or soldiers). Inside the tower broken glass still covers the floor along with bullet casings, graffiti, trash and used needles. It was an odd place to visit. Thoughts of how awesome the view from the top were constanly put in check with the appreciation that those same views enabled indiscriminate killing during the war. Moving, disturbing, but worth it.
BATAS! The emotional roller coaster continued with the legendary tour guide Bata’s. I feel guilty disclosing the secretes of his 12 hour tour (twelve…) so I’ll just use a few words to describe it; Turbo Folk (Music), disco ball, strobe light, waterfalls, swerving to music, history, emotional history, 20 backpackers fighting their way in to a moving van thats blasting, blasting turbo folk with strobe lights.
Bata and his sister Majdas run the hostel “Majdas” in Mostar and is worth a visit (one of the top rated in Bosnia) and it is especially worth attending his tour. Among backpackers his tour is legendary and people travel all over the world to Bosnia just for the opporturniy. Do it!
AND Lastly. The Bridge. The big question is; Will you jump off it it? I personally had a cold that day or would have totally done it. Right. At roughly 90 feet, it’s very dangerous and for 35 Euro you can be taught the proper technique by a local (on the practice platform, 30 feet) before your plunge. But be warned; The bridge took a life this year sponsored by bad judgment and too many cocktails.
(Below; Chazo and I on the practice platform. I kept the audio raw because 40 views later, the noise made from the camera guy still kills me.)
I am way off track. I am suppose to be in Ukraine right now. However, every city I visit I am met with tales of the city just beyond; First Belgrade, then Sarajavo, now Mostar (Bosnia). See the map above; where Ukraine is located, and what direction I’m supposed to be traveling.
Even though I’m off track, it’s been worth it. The Hostel I stayed in was destroyed during the Bosnian war then rebuilt. The owner and operator of the hostel was born in a Nazi concentration camp and lived in the camp for the first several months of his life. He not only lived through the Bosnian war, he was also an integral part of establishing the American Embassy (the largest US embassy in the Balkins, most of the floors are underground. It was a welcomed establishment in Bosnia, because if you lived near it during the war the Serbian army would make sure to avoid shelling it. Go US!).
For those who don’t know or understand the complexities of the Bosnian war; “More land please”. Serbs wanted more and the Croats wanted to make sure they got there cut. America didn’t jump in to stop the random shelling of civilians because Russia posed an unknown threat (would they support Serbia?). Fortunately Monica Lewinsky’s favorite boss put down the joint he wasn’t inhaling and said stop. Serbs, said okay.
Outside of war Sarajavo is a must see. It’s filled with quiet walking streets and it’s multi-cultural mix offers a variety of flavors. It’s also one of the first cities in Europe to have electricity, Trams, etc. Why; so they could test the technology before putting it in other European cities such as Vienna.
A good little side story: During WWII many Muslim families risked there own lives to protect the Jewish families living in Sarajavo. Think about it.