Tuesday, May 8

The Adriatic Coast, Day Three: Mostar

We started early to give ourselves enough time for the hike up to the Castle Of San Giovanni back in Kotor. It was a leisurely trail, even though we took the back (and free) exit to get to the top. The elevated views of the bay were worth the exercise alone, but it was also fun to scramble through the castle ruins. The whole thing took us around 3 hours.

This pretty much ended our time here in the Bay of Kotor, and it was with a relatively heavy heart that we left for our next destination - the bay is definitely a place one could spend time just chilling in. Montenegro itself seemed to agree; it was actually not that easy to exit the country when we found that we had to pay a 5 euro fee (whether this was for the use of the road or some kind of departure tax we're still not sure). With no ATMs nor card facility we had to (over) pay in Croatian kuna which left a bit of a bitter taste. Something to bear in mind if you're planning to cross the border.

When we eventually did cross, we found ourselves in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Technically however we were in Republika Srpska, a separate entity from what is known as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If this sounds confusing then it is - it's probably a good idea to enter the Balkans with some knowledge of the land and not in ignorance like we did. Nevertheless since our first stop was in Stolac (in the Federation), we just drove on through.

Stolac itself was a bit of a ghost town, eerie in its emptiness and still all too clear signs of conflict. The plan was to stop to check out some Ottoman architecture, but as a group we thought the time would be best spent getting to Mostar in good time. So on we went.

Mostar itself is nice at night. It has a very intimate and romantic feel to it - not least because of the rebuilt old bridge.

Of course the other appeal was in how, unlike the Republika, the Federation is Muslim friendly. We got to offer both evening prayers in congregation in the oldest and most central mosque, and I'm also not ashamed to say that we had our best local meal of the trip so far this evening.

Again, it might have been another place to have spent more than a single night in... but by bedtime we had all decided that we would have to move on the next day.

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