I went for a run first thing in the morning. It wasn't a great one as it was all down hill in the beginning and all up end at the end, for which I simply didn't have the energy! We both had a refreshing wash and then we drove along more of Croatia's stunning coastline. We saw a Unimog camper parked in a campsite en route and we did a U-turn to go back and have a look at it. The owners, Charles and Christine were very friendly and let us have a look inside and we had a poke around in the engine and Michael asked all sorts of technical questions. There is a very efficient transit system for Croatian traffic crossing the small section of coast which belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It made our life easier and meant we could cross the border at Metkovic to head north to Mostar.
Entering BiH was no problem, but they didn't accept our insurance and we had to pay €20 for a week's Green Card insurance. They had a brief look in Nyathi and waved us on our way. They seem particularly friendly and the locals are quite interested in Nyathi! Mostar was a lovely town. It was badly hit during the war from 1991 - 1995 and clearly a lot of time and money has been invested on rebuilding the city (particularly the "old town"). We happened to park in the perfect spot up the hill and stumbled upon Kujundziluk - the vibrant market alley brimming with tourists, locals and all sorts of curio shops. The place had a distinct Turkish feel to it, but thankfully without the pushy vendors!
We stopped in at a photo gallery which has a small exhibition of photos
depicting the state of the town as the war progressed. Many buildings were
completely destroyed including homes, mosques, churches and large government
buildings, banks and hotels, many of which, sadly, still stand derelict ten
years after the war ended. We bought a little book with a record of all
The bit of architecture both locals and visitors seem to feel most strongly about is the Mostar Bridge which spans the Neretva River. It was slowly destroyed over a period of time despite efforts to protect it with tyre suspended over the edge. It has now been restored in all its glory and when it was reopened on 22 July 2004 nine men reinstated an age old tradition and jumped off the bridge as part of the celebrations. At one end of the bridge there is an old piece of wall with "don't forget' etched into it and an offending tail of what we think is a mortar round protruding out of it.
The view of the old town from the bridge is breathtaking and the stunning jade river gushing down below sets the scene perfectly. We wandered through the rest of the town, passing the 16th century mosque which was very badly damaged and has just been restored. One of the most telling things we saw was a beautiful cemetery, which, upon closer inspection, we saw all the gravestones were marked with deceased in 1993. The ages reflected on the tombstones reminded us that war is indiscriminate!
Then we drove north through breathtaking countryside toward Sarajevo. For most of the way the road mirrors the railway line - that must be a fabulous train journey! The hills and valleys were a brilliant lush green and people work hard to maintain acre upon acre of crops. In the background huge mountains towered overhead many with etchings of snow. Still, what was very sad to see was that no village was left unscathed by the war. Many people have rebuilt houses from scratch, while others have restored theirs or put a new finishing on the outside to cover the damage. Many houses still bear lots of bullet scarring and have large chunks of masonry missing.
We set up camp early about 15km south of Sarajevo. We followed a dirt track past a working quarry and parked next to a fast flowing river. Some ramblers wandered past and said hello, but other than that we didn't see anyone else. I did the vinyl country names for the side of the vehicle. I had to make ones from scratch for Macedonia and Montenegro from letters of other countries we had planned to visit, but didn't. It was incredibly finicky work and tested my patience! Still, we're up to date now - 52 countries so far! The other frustrating job was renaming about four hundred photos (I made an error when setting the time on the camera and changed it to read 2004)! We had to go into the properties of each photo on the computer and change the year to 2005 twice - what a waste of time.