So today was a travel day, but we did make some cool stops. We started the day in Sarajevo, and we went to the old town again. There, we had some free time, and also had the opportunity to ask the locals about the economy. After that, we were then on our way southward. The scenery in Bosnia and Herzegovina is very beautiful, with rolling hills that sometimes grow into tall mountains. There is also a lot of greenery, with thick pine forests blanketing the region.
For lunch we stopped at this restaurant tucked in the countryside that specialized in roasted lamb. The lamb was very good, and so were the potatoes that came with it, however what really made lunch special was our view. Out our windows we could see the river right next to us as it traveled into the tall mountains hidden by the clouds. Closer to our window was a bridge and a cute little cottage with the iconic red rooves we’ve been seeing this trip. All in all, it was really picturesque and made for a great picture.
After lunch we continued on our way. Admittedly I had been asleep most of the bus ride, but now I was awake and could truly appreciate the view. We followed the river, guided by the towering mountains at our sides. Eventually the mountains faded to a flatter terrain, and we found ourselves at our next stop, Mostar. Unlike Banja Luka, Mostar is no sleepy town in between the metropolitan areas. There were a lot of tourists, and the streets were lined with stands selling tchotchkes and trinkets. We got a nice tour of the town from a local, named Alma. She told us many interesting things. For example, Mostar is struggling because it relies heavily on the seasonal tourist economy, and many young people leave the country for other countries in Europe once they finish their education. After our tour, we had some free time and I got some ice cream. I got chocolate and hazelnut, and that was a good decision, it tasted really good.
What Mostar also did was wake us up to the fact that we have to go swimming at some point on this trip. We walked down to the banks of the river that splits the town in two, and were greeted by the cool green water. The water was so inviting, but none of us had our swim suits or towels, and perhaps more importantly, the chaperones didn’t want us in the water considering we’d have to get on a bus soon. So, we stayed dry on land while other people swam in the inviting water.
Mostar is also home to an elite group of divers, notable perhaps more due to the fact that they spent more time out of the water than in. Called the Mostari, this group of men stand on the town’s iconic bridge and tease the tourist crowd, stretching as if to jump, then at the last minute deciding not to. They’d step down and then try to hustle some more money out of the crowd. What the locals knew, but the tourists didn’t, was that the Mostari would only jump once they had collected 50 marks from the crowd. Until then, they would continue to tease everyone, creating tension and excitement and drawing a bigger crowd. This practice has changed a lot over the course of the town’s history. Originally, our guide told us, the boys of the town would jump of the bridge to impress the girls, rather than collect money.
After Mostar, we continued on our way, winding our way southward still, through the mountains. The bus rocked me back to sleep again, but when I woke up, I woke to an astonishing view. The mountain road we were driving on was overlooking the surrounding mountains which sloped down towards the Adriatic Sea, with small villages scattered around. We continued on this road for a while until we finally reached Dubrovnik. We saw the Old Town first, illuminated by the setting sun. We saw the walls encircling the town, and the tightly packed red rooves. On the water, we saw all sizes of boats. I saw a cruise ship with sails, and small fishing dinghies. Then we started to enter the newer parts of Dubrovnik. Mixed in with the red roofed buildings were now the taller glass buildings indicative of a newer more modern town.
We arrived at our hotel, which has stunning views of the ocean. We stopped to drop off our stuff really quick and then came back downstairs for dinner. We went to this pizza place that had a nice selection of pizzas and pastas. Everyone found their food a little salty, which was unfortunate. We then went to a nearby supermarket in place of our usual nighttime ice cream. Some of the boys were debating lightening our hair, but Mr. Cook suggested we sleep on it. That was basically our day, it was a lot of travelling but we had amazing views and our stop in Mostar was certainly a lot of fun. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun as well, as we explore the Old Town.