Rebuilding the bridge in Mostar

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October 10th 2009
Published: October 10th 2009
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Mostar was described by a World Bank colleague as the most integrated Yugoslavian city before the war, and now is one of the most divided along a number of lines. The famous Mostar bridge, which we both vaguely remember being destroyed, has been fully rebuilt using local expertise and money from the international community. A great deal of effort was expended in getting the bridge to look something like its former glory of 1557, even to the point of using the same materials and building techniques, but nonetheless it looks a little too tidy nowadays.

Mostar was great though a bit more touristy than we have become accustomed to. We arrived on the morning train from Sarajevo after a spectacular trip through the mountains and above the mist. Great scenery, though it is impossible to miss the signs of modern warfare: mock-marked walls; partially destroyed buildings; and what we imagined were the detention camps on the outskirts of town. We walked from the station via the street that was the frontline around 1994, and one could imagine the horrors that occurred there. Our hotel was small and wedged into the narrow river valley close to the old bridge. Accommodation was comfortable, the satellite connection was just for show, and we really appreciated the Bosnian karaoke late one evening. Paid a little too much for dinner, thanks to a charming host - although the dinner of fresh cheeses and veal and chicken in 4 different styles was excellent.

Apart from seeing the town's sights, we hired a driver (Adis) and visited a few spots in the surrounds: Blagaj, where a Dervish mosque was built in the 16th century beside a strongly flowing spring; Pocitelj, where a medieval battlement has been fully renovated; and Kravice, which was like a mini-Niagara. We also ended up at a 300 year old winery (Podrumi Andrija) tasting reds made from blatina grapes, and a brilliant lamb spit roast restaurant. The lamb was a bit salty but great for $15 a full meal.

Taking the bus to Dubrovnik from here, and crossing the frontier twice in the process.

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