Through the Balcans: Plitvice-Sarajevo-Mostar

DAY 3 BIHAC-SARAJEVO

There is only a bus that connects Plitvice with Bihac (the first town you find once crossed the border line). This bus runs daily (except Sundays) and stops in Municke at 8am (50KN). To be sure about it ask at the info point in the park and write to the information center of Bosnia Herzegovina (tourinfo@bih.net.ba).

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Once you reach Bihac you have few hours to spend in the town before taking the bus at 2.30pm to Sarajevo.


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The center of Bihac is very small, sit down in a café in Bossanska Street, visit the SONY DSCmosque and the abandoned church and find a spot down a tree along the river Una looking at the brave men diving into the river or people kayaking. If you like rafting have a look of what Una Natural Park can offer (http://nationalpark-una.ba/bs/), rafting and kayaking can be two good excuses to spend a day there.

The afternoon on the bus can be pretty long (6hours-46KM), bring a good book to read. The bus makes a stop every 2 hours for toilets and after 4hours it make a longer one if you want  to take a coffee or a snack.

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If you have some extra days left take into account the possibility to stop in Jajce where there are waterfalls and lakes to swim. And Travnik to visit the castle.

You will be at the bus station in Sarajevo at around 9.30pm. From there you can take the tram that brings you straight to the old city center. Tram tickets can be bought on the tram, be sure you have coins (Bosnian Marks) in your pocket!

In Sarajevo we stayed at Halvat Guesthouse, a nice place to stay, very clean, in the center, and its staff is really kind and helpful. 133KM for a twin room, wonderful breakfast included.

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We arrived and we immediately went to the old downtown where we ate the cevapi the gastronomical institution of Bosnia. Bred filled up with meatballs, onions and the delicious, creamy cheese kajmak. We ate it at Zelijo (Kundurziliuk), a touristic place but it’s the most traditional, near the central square.

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DAY 4 SARAJEVO.

It’s undoubtedly the city that impressed me most for its life, its energy, its people, its tradition, its spirit of welcome. It’s the city where the traffic is chaotic but the smell of the baked bread and its coffee make you forget everything. I really can’t imagine how beautiful it could have been before the war…and… I can understand why it was bombed so hard, I guess it was envy against the perfection.. In less than a mile you find a mosque, a catholic church, an orthodox church, a synagogue…

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We started the day going from our guesthouse to the cemetery of Kovacic Martyrs, looking at the hill spotted by white tombs everywhere can be really hard to stand.

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We went back to visit Svrzo house, an old ottoman residence, very well preserved. Its visit (3KM) helps you to understand how ancient and rich SONY DSCMuslims used to live in the past.

We continued the visit of the city going down to the old Turkish district called Bascarsija, starting from the main square famous for pigeons and its fountain in the center.

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If you take the main central street (Ferhadija) you reach easily the big Gazi-Husrevbey Mosque. The visit of it will always depend on the ceremony or prayers. Women need to cover always their head, and no shorts or mini-skirts are admitted.

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Along Ferhadija Street you will find the synagogue, the orthodox and catholic church.

Have a stop inside Gradska Trznica a market where you can taste the fabulous kajmak cheese!

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Don’t forget to see also Markale Market (on the parallel street above Ferhadija), a sad symbol of the war.

We continued our walk on Marsala Tita and Zmaja od Bosne and we reach Novo Sarajevo district, where the symbols of the recent war arise in your memory: Holiday Inn, the twin towers, the long street where people were shot, bombed houses…

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We decided to visit the museum of History (Zmaja od Bosne, 5) where it is explained in a very personal and intimate way the recent and terrible conflict.

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After the visit, get some energy at Tito’s Café, just behind it.

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We went back taking the street along the river where some of the building and houses still reveal their scratches. From the river you can admire beautiful historical buildings like the Academy of Fine Arts, the University, and embassies and finally you arrive at the bridge where Francis Ferdinand the Austrian archduke was killed and WWI started.

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You can look from there at the famous national Library, partly destroyed by bombs.

We had a fresh beer in one of the oddest bar of Sarajevo: Golden Fish. It’s a bar a block after Markale Market.

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If you love coffee, don’t leave Sarajevo without trying its famous Bosnian coffee, very similar to the Turkish one.

For dinner, we ate pretty well at Dveri (www.dveri.com.ba) a nice restaurant in Bascarsija. Try its bread and order some cheese, delicious!!!!

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1 day is not enough for Sarajevo, it totally deserved at least 2 days.. 

DAY5-MOSTAR.

Visiting Mostar in summer time where temperature reach easily 45ºC or 50ºC is not the best idea. Spring and fall are better seasons. There are buses to Mostar every hour (for sure at 11.30 and 12.30-20KM). If you are travelling like us in summer, try to take it in the morning because walking under the sun in the afternoon in Mostar can be really hard.

We stayed at Pansion Anjia, a very cheap place (30€ a twin room), 10 minutes walking from the bridge, but whose owners are really welcoming and nice to their guests.

The city center of Mostar is really small and its main attraction is its bridge, the symbol of the recent war, completely destroyed by Croatian army but entirely rebuilt usng the same stones of the ancient historical center. Now it’s the symbol of peace and reunification.

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If you are lucky or you are willing to pay (around 25-50€) you can see the Icaros (young men of the bridge) diving from 27 meters high, either entering with feet (25€) or with head (50€). It’s a tradition kept along the years, if you are in Mostar in June maybe you can see the traditional and international challenge among all the divers.

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Mostar is probably the town most damaged by bombs, it was compared to Dresden after the WWII. You can take a walk all around the center where there was the borderline between the two armies: Serbian and Croatian, now this street is called Bulevard. The buildings destroyed by the conflict are more evident than Sarajevo, the scratches of the town still seem fresh flesh.

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The rebuilding and renaissance of Mostar is still at its beginning. A reason more to visit it.

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If you are staying more than a day in Mostar, you have a wide range of activities and sights to visit outside the town. Erzegovina is a famous region of winery, and a good producer (still unknown) of good white wine. If you are looking for some excursions have a look at the website of the travel agency i-House Travel: www.ihouse-mostar.com

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To be continued

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