The night before I left for Mostar I broke out a map of Sarajevo and plotted my course to the bus station if I couldn’t hail a cab, as I don’t mind walking. It was almost a straight shot looking at the map so I half heartedly sought a cab but actually walked the entire distance to see more of the city. It took perhaps 30 minutes or so and I was able to see the city early in the morning when it is just waking up. I made it to the station, went in an asked for a ticket to Mostar and with a bit of help the guy behind the window understood what I wanted and handed it out (after I paid of course). I only received the ticket TO Mostar which became important later on in the day but more on that in a bit. I wandered out into the area where the buses are and tried to line up the name on my ticket with the appropriate bus and after a few minutes I felt I’d accomplished my task. To confirm I began asking various people to confirm I had selected the correct bus and sure enough, I did. The ticket was not in English so I’ve learned to work things out as best I can wherever I am.
So, I hopped on the bus and waited for the departure. The bus was only about one quarter full when we left but as the trip progressed it filled up with what appeared to be students on their way to Mostar oddly enough. It was quite a trip as the bus wound its way along the walls of a small winding mountain path with a ravine or river below most of the way. I wondered as we drove along if the driver was required to pass any type of test to operate something so large. Reason being he drove the route like we were on rails or in a race car. I thought at times we would come up on 2 wheels and possibly flip into the ravine but luckily enough we made it. The guy had obviously made the trip before as despite the nerve wrenching turns the others on the bus went about their business as if the whole ordeal was completely normal.
We finally arrived in Mostar, I hopped off and made my way into town. After walking for a bit I felt I’d traveled to far and stopped to ask for help. Sure enough I’d gone quite a bit further than required and had to make a U-turn. I ended up wandering through side streets and actually enjoyed it as I was able to see how the locals live. I found my way to the Old Town and it was basically the same Bazaar type operation I’d come to expect. It was still early so I sat on an open porch area of the only open restaurant and had a cup of coffee. The area started to come to life around 8:30 and I wandered through the maze to what appeared to be the main road leading into the new part of the city.
I figured I’d come back so I headed out to the large buildings in the distance and came upon another center of activity by a university. The place appeared relatively new and there was some sort of event taking place on the sidewalk where vendors were selling hand made crafts and food. I walked around bit and came upon a couple college women selling Rakia liquor, home made no less. I negotiated with them a bit but as the conversation progressed it turned out the whole thing was a fundraiser for physically challenged kids so I ended up paying full price but it was still reasonable.
After making my souvenir purchase I made my way back to the bazaar using side streets to acquaint myself more fully with the city. I was coming in a back way when a guy stopped me to offer his services as guide and gave me a brief description of what I was standing before as I had sat down for a moment. I wasn’t interested and the language barrier was making the whole situation a bit tense so I picked up some speed and left him behind as it appeared he was bent on being a tour guide.
I finally found my way back to the bazaar just in time to see some guys jumping off the primary bridge that leads in. I think they were taking donation although I’m not sure as tourists had gathered to watch. What I discovered though was the bridge has been so heavily used the marble surface is slippery like ice so you have to watch your step or you slip right back down to the foot of the bridge. I made my way to one of the shops and asked the clerk if I could purchase a bag to hide what I’d purchased earlier because the Rakia had become somewhat of a beacon for some reason. She was nice about it and just gave me a bag even after I offered to buy something, nice people I found are in Mostar.
It was getting late so I made my way back to the bus station and again lined up my ticked with the correct bus. The bus showed up early and I showed my ticket to the driver as I got on but he stopped me. He couldn’t speak English but motioned me to follow him and we went over to the ticket window. Thankfully I hadn’t spent every dime I brought to Mostar because after a short conversation between the driver and woman behind the window they were able to tell me what the ticket cost to return to Sarajevo. Remember earlier when I purchased a ticket to Mostar I assumed it was for there and return, I learned almost the hard way that was not the case. So I had just enough time to grab my ticket and hop on the bus. Well, to make things even more interesting the bus company had oversold the seating and as we were about to leave some guy got on and arrangements were made to have a second smaller bus take the overflow. As I was the only American and the other bus wasn’t going directly to Sarjevo the locals took the smaller one and left me on the large bus. I was quite happy with that turn of events as I was working a tight schedule and may not have made it back to Kosovo if I missed my ride.
Turns out the same driver took us back and it was pedal to the medal all the way, if you don’t like amusement park rides, you may not want to ride the bus between the two cities. Well, back in Sarajevo after a quick cruise through the Bosnian mountains we ended up at the original bus station and I walked back to my apartment, Rakia in hand a successful day.
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