War-torn Mostar, Bosnia

War-torn Mostar, Bosnia

I arrived in Mostar around noon. We came into the city, and I was less than impressed at first. It looked rundown and I didn’t see many other foreigners – quite the change from Dubrovnik. Upon arriving at the bus station, I said goodbye to my four hour friends and then headed south towards my hostel. Again, I had an idea of where it was, but didn’t have directions.
I walked what seemed like too far, so I stopped by a small coffee bar/pastry shop. I showed the guy behind the counter the address about where it was located and he pointed me in the right dierction. I know I could have printed out directions, but sometimes it’s fun to get lost and then have to ask for help (while getting responses in broken English).
I found my hostel about 10 minutes later. The woman running it was very welcoming and after she drew out the highlights of the city on a map, I ventured out.
I walked towards the Old Town – it seems like every European city had one of these, but each of them are different. I found a restaurant to eat lunch in that offered a terrace view of the Old Bridge.
View from my table

View from my table

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I was 8 KM for the Ćevapi, 12 for the four cheese pasta, and 3 for the beer. In total, ~$16 for two main courses and a beer with table service and a fantastic view – a great deal.
After lunch I followed the self guided tour in Rick Steves book. I walked down near the river and stopped in a mosque that is open for visitors. That’s a first for me.
After viewing the inside, I climbed the narrow minaret for a view of the bridge.
Looking towards the old bridge
and away from it
I then walked over the Old Bridge and then walked up the Boulevard. This street was one of the main fighting lines during the war in 1993.
Continuing up the road, I found the building they call the Sniper’s Tower.
Ground floor

It’s a 9 story building that used to be a bank. During the war, mercenaries would camp out at the top and shoot anything that moved. I walked up past some Bosnians sitting on the bottom steps. A woman was giving me a hard time, but I knew this place was open to travelers, so I kept walking when she tried to talk to me.

Like most abandoned buildings, it had it’s share of graffiti.
I kept exploring the top floor, and then saw there was a fire ladder to the roof. ‘Absolutely’ I thought to the myself.
Climbing the ladder was a bit challenging with a tripod attached to my backpack, but I made it up alright. My camera stuff is getting beat up on this trip, especially my tripod, but it’s worth lugging around.
Boulevard from the top of the sniper tower

 

Roof of sniper tower

Here’s a video I took at the top: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSz4Pb7X_7E

One of the things that is neat about the Sniper Tower is that there are still bullet shells up there from 20 years ago – I grabbed a few to take home.

On my way home, I passed by the same Bosnians at the bottom of the stairs, drinking. They asked me where I was from, then if I could give them any money. I said ‘No, sorry’ and walked away. They weren’t too happy about that, but I’m sure they’re used to people saying no.

After the sniper tower, I went back to my hostel and downloaded my pictures. As the sun was getting lower in the sky, I set back towards the Old Bridge.
This bridge was a symbolic link between the East and the West and was standing for 427 years before the war. On November 9th, 1993, it was shelled by Bosnian-Croat forces and fell into the river below.
Tires were hung from it to absorb the shock of the shells and reduce damage – 1993

I overhead a Bosnian tour guide saying, “I could talk for an hour and not tell you 1/10th of what that bridge meant to us”.

On July 23, 2004, they finished reconstruction on the bridge using the same material and techniques almost half a century before. As the sun began to set, I set up my tripod next to the river to capture it. Some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken so far on this trip.

I returned to the hostel and showed Majdas, the mom-like figure running the hostel I’m staying at. She was extremely happy and asked to add it to the hostel’s Facebook page, which was pretty neat.