Everyone tells me that while I am in Dubrovnik I must visit Mostar and Montenegro. We did not have school because of Croatian Independence Day (we were going to stay in Croatia to experience Independence Day, but we found out it is more of a sad holiday and is not celebrated) so we decided to take a day trip to Mostar. I thought Mostar was in Bosnia until a classmate explained to me that Mostar is municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We mostly decided to visit Mostar because we were told there is cheap shopping compared to Dubrovnik and we wanted to see the pretty bridges everyone talks about.
8 A.M. we board the bus to Mostar expecting to arrive back in Dubrovnik later that day….
Once we arrived in Mostar 4.5 hours later we went to the bus information to find out what time the bus home was at. We assumed there were buses back to Dubrovnik all day. We were wrong. The woman at the information booth told us that the only bus back to Dubrovnik today was leaving in 5 minutes. We knew going back wasn’t an option, so we walked away to analyze the situation.
Luckily a friend of mine suggested a hostel to stay at in case we were staying the night and the hostel ended up being only a 5 minute walk from the bus station. We turned down a street and found a small sign with the hostel’s name on it, Majdas Hostel. We opened the door to find an empty lot. Picture 4 delirious girls walking in what looked like an abandoned house. When we turned the corner we found a colorful garden with a bunch of people sitting at the table. We were so nervous that we were laughing uncontrollably. I saw a woman that looked like the owner and I asked her if she had 4 beds for one night to accommodate the “4 lost girls”. Without hesitation she said yes and brought us her mothers homemade iced tea. Hands down one of the best cups of iced tea I’ve ever had. She brought us out 4 slips of paper and told us to make name tags and then she asked us where our bags were. We had to explain to her that we were not planning on staying the night so we had no clothes or tooth brushes or anything really. She laughed and assured us that it happened for a reason and that we were lucky to stay the night in Mostar. Of course she was right. Her mother was speaking in Croatian and the owner translated to us that her mother was giving us one of the nicest compliments by telling us that we were all such pretty girls and that she could not tell who was prettier. Normally I do not like compliments, but this little old lady was so cute and so nice and her iced tea was just so wonderful. She came over to all of us and gave us kisses and pinched our cheeks. We knew everything was going to be okay.
There were 2 other travelers hanging out when we arrived so the 5 of us went and got some lunch then explored the city. We went to a local restaurant and tried their signature Ćevapi which was delicious. I have yet to eat a bad meal in Europe and hopefully it stays that way. After lunch we were walking to see the Old Bridge that was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. On our way to the bridge we passed through the old city and had to remind ourselves that we would do our shopping after we saw the bridge so we continued walking. We heard that people jump off the Old Bridge but we didn’t believe it…until we saw a man standing on the top and then we saw him jump and eventually heard him smack the water. The water in Mostar is much different than Dubrovnik. It is a much deeper turquoise, still beautiful, just very different. Walking through the city you can see all the bullet holes in the buildings from the war, but it is still very beautiful. We walked down to a garden below the bridge and while we were standing there in the serene environment we were able to hear the Islamic call to prayer. It was a feeling of peace that you can’t really describe.
After about an hour of taking pictures of the bridge from different angles it was time to go shopping! In Mostar they use a different currency called a convertible mark which made me really excited to add to my currency collection. We walked up and down the streets of the old town for hours and explored each little shop. It was the first time during my 3 weeks in Europe I actually went shopping, which is very impressive. After hours of shopping we went back to the hostel to relax. We then gathered a group of travelers and went to dinner at Hindin Han. I’m not exactly sure what I ate, but the plate was clear by the end. While we were sitting and chatting a girl came up and asked if she could sit with us because she was by herself. I’ve learned how amazing interactions with strangers can be. Traveling truly opens your eyes to the world and made me realize that most people are alike. We are just looking for an experience and we are looking to meet inspiring people.
Before we left to make our 10 A.M. bus back home to Dubrovnik (wearing our same clothes as the day before) the owner of the hostel called our names and had breakfast and hot tea waiting for us. It was a perfect end to our adventure.
Everything truly happens for a reason. It was a blessing in disguise that we were stuck in Mostar for the night. We learned that if you keep a positive attitude the journey, no matter what it may be, will be worth it. Mostar is a city of beauty and disaster. It has a rich history, with an unfortunate present, and a hopeful future.