After a good breakfast at our Sarajevo hotel, we checked out. We were driving to our next stop, Mostar. Kevin had done some reading about the road along the Neretva River, and we were really excited to see what it would be like.
The road was very good. There were farm stands along the road - selling fruit and honey.
The road is well signposted. The A-1 toll road was open, but we opted for a slightly slower, more scenic route. The first big town is Konjic. We parked at Restoran Han which overlooked a pretty river (Neretva). There we had Bosnian coffee for the first time.
We asked our kind waiter to show us how it's done. Each serving comes with sugar cubes. You place the sugar cubes in the little ceramic cup, and then carefully pour the coffee into the ceramic cup, stirring the coffee and the sugar. The extra hot water was to add to the coffee. Bosnian coffee is made to be sipped slowly. It is strong, but smooth. We loved it. The Turkish Delight candy is to be enjoyed afterwards. Do not put it in the coffee.
We continued along the road through the most amazing countryside. The river is the most amazing color. The mountains are dramatic and very photogenic.
Kevin used this opportunity to scout out and mark the spot for a photograph that he wanted to try and shoot- but for the next day.
We had booked a room at Pansion Villa Nur. Our room had a balcony overlooking the river. Pansion Villa Nur is located within Old Town Mostar. We arranged to call our host, whose father met us at the top of a very narrow, cobbled "street". He drove our little car down to the Pansion. Thank goodness he did. It was very narrow and challenging.
Our rental car is the silver one. As you can see you really need a small car. Do not get anything larger!
This (photo below) is our Pansion from the other side (the family lived on the first 2 floors.) We had a room on the top floor - and middle balcony. The minaret in the background is from one of the many mosques in Mostar.
The guide books talk about Mostar as being a good place to visit for a day trip (from Dubrovnik, Croatia especially). However, it is a good place to spend the night or two. We had two nights in Mostar, and I am glad we did. The most favorite times was early in the morning - having breakfast and watching the vendors get ready for the influx of day-trippers, and in the evening with the final Muslim call to prayer, and watching the moon rise.
The old town of Mostar, is famous for the Old Bridge (Stari Most.) This bridge was a most magnificent architectural relic from Ottoman times. The 1992 - 1995 conflict devastated the town (although reports of civilian casualties were low.) The defense of the city was left to Croat and Bosniak armies (long time allies) against the Serbs. It's a little hard to make head or tail of this, but the Croat and Bosniak allies ended up fighting with each other, and the beautiful bridge was totally destroyed by Croatian tank bombardment. Nothing like a bit of double crossing! In 2004 the bridge was reconstructed, as a symbol of unity. Again, according to my guidebooks Mostar still remains divided along religious lines.
This photo (below) is a view from the bridge.
Here are some views of the bridge...
and the old town - stone walls, windows bordered with flower pots...
Vendors getting ready for the day trippers...
We decided to travel to Blagaj Tekke. It was not far away from Mostar. Again we used our GPS and Google Maps to get there. It was built around 1520 was a monastery for Sufi Muslims. We wanted to see it for ourselves, and it wasn't far to drive from Mostar to it. On the advice of our hosts, we found a nice place to park, in the shade for a fee. We then opted to walk to the Tekke. We could see that this place could soon become overrun with tour buses and crowds.
It wasn't far to walk from our car to the Tekke. Although we were glad for some water, as it did get quite hot.
Even the roofs were made of stone.
The area where the Tekke (monastery) was located had a number of very pretty restorans.
Along the road towards the Tekke, vendors lined the street selling souvenirs, figs, water and cold drinks. We stopped off at the vendors to buy cold water, and the most delicious figs.
The Tekke, itself is beautiful. It seems to float on the water.
After some exploring we ended up having lunch of cheese, olives and bread at one of the many local restorans. It was very tasty.
After lunch, we walked back to our car, paid the attendant and then decided to continue to do some exploring.
We found the tiny medieval town of Pocitelj. Parking is free- and we parked in an available space just next to the main road. The town itself is amazingly quaint. You have to walk. Kevin found the most amazing frozen pomegranate juice that he bought from a local lady.
We needed the juice as the walk was up hill, and the weather quite toasty.
On top of the hill, overlooking the town (it's really a village) is the Sahat Kula - a fort that housed the watchman to guard against attack from the Neretva Valley. Apparently the old town used to be completely surrounded by a protective wall. We enjoyed wandering the maze of winding steps.
Shaded, secret places...
And pomegranate trees...
We did purchase some souvenirs while we were there. It was a delightful little village.
Then we decided to head back towards Mostar, and then north on the M17 highway to our special photo spot.
Again, we were blown away with how photogenic this area is. It reminded me strongly of Poudre Canyon, with a bigger river and higher mountain walls.
After 2 nights in Mostar, it was time once again for us to pack up and head onwards to our next adventure - Kotor, Montenegro.