Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dobro došli u Hercegovinu

As part of Will's visit  we planned to road trip through Bosnia with stops in Mostar and Sarajevo . While road trips are fairly common in the USA, most people I told of my plans to drive from Zagreb-Split-Mostar-Sarajevo-Zagreb, gave me all sorts of warnings about road conditions, traffic  and drivers. Having spent several hours on a stretch of road where highway 169 connects Ely to highway 53 in Virginia, Minnesota, I figured I could cope with anything that Bosnia through my way. A few hours after leave in Split, Croatia, we encountered the first of the terrible road conditions and I began thinking we may have gotten ourselves in a bit of jam. We appeared to be in the middle of a sort of no man's land, where we weren't sure if we were in Croatia or Bosnia, there were no road signs, no guardrails on some pretty scare hillside drives, and often no pavement.

However, we were following a car that was stuffed to the top with boxes of Guess shoes, so we figured we could just follow this to the border (if we hadn't inadvertently already passed over it). It turns out that the bad roads were still in Croatia and were part of a detour to road construction on  new highway. Once we saw the border, and the road, we all breathed a sigh of relief-of course a road trip through the country was a great idea. Here is the sign welcoming us to Herzegovina. Herzegovina is the area in the south and east of the country and one half of the proper name Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

In the end,  the roads were just fine and our first impressions of Herzegovina were wonderful. We all thought the countryside was beautiful with lots of rolling hills in this area and small towns. Our first stop was the city of Mostar. Most famous for the beautiful bridge that connects two sides of the Neretva River. The town gets its name from the main bridge Stari Most (most means bridge and stari means old-therefore Mostar). The bridge that currently stands is a reconstruction. The oringinal bridge survived from the time of Ottoman control until it was destroyed in 1991 at just over 400 years old.  The destruction of bridge during the the war has since been considered a war crime as it is viewed as a deliberate attack on the cultural of the Bosnia people. It's reconstruction was finished in 2004.

These pictures show either side of the the bridge and the old fortifications that were built to protect it. 

The old part of the city was very beautiful with a lot of little shops selling souvenirs even though we were clearly visiting in the off season. We had a very nice lunch, took some more pictures, then were off again on our journey to Sarajevo. 

Will and I posing for the camera. 

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