Mostar was one of those destinations that really surprised us, from our initial first impression of its poor dilapidated bullet hole ridden suburbs, to its picture perfect Old Town presided over by the famous Stari Most and the turquoise river that runs through it. In that respect, it truly was a tale of two cities, as the contrast between the area reserved mainly for tourists and the rest of Mostar was huge.
A city still recovering
If you are staying at a hostel, chances are you won’t be close to the Old Town. This will give you a first-hand experience of the reality of life in Mostar for the locals. Despite the war having ended over twenty years ago, the scars of the trauma inflicted on the bosniaks is very much present around the city. It’s extremely sobering walking around and seeing the shells of once beautiful buildings now left to rot, and the myriad of bullet holes decorating the majority of the buildings. It’s also hard to ignore the sheer number of graveyards, all with graves dated 1993-1995 of mostly young men no older than their early twenties.
However, just around the corner it feels like you’re in a completely different place! Mostar Old Town was even more beautiful than in pictures, with cobbled streets filled with tourists sampling the delicious 1BAM (€0.50) gelato, (50 cents ono!!) live music and the prettiest market stalls.
The atmosphere couldn’t be more different from where we were staying, and we soon made our way to the jewel of Mostar – Stari Most. It looked like something out of a fairy tale!
It was an absolute delight to dip our feet in the refreshing water during the 43 degree heatwave, and gained a furry companion in the process!
We decided then to explore other parts of Mostar and were pleasantly surprised when we discovered the less touristy but still bustling part of town, full of families sat outside bars and cafes enjoying a momentary lull in the blistering heat! It was a lovely ambience and a break from the clearly tourist-centred Old Town.
Mostar is a beautiful place but it is important to keep in mind that the insta-worthy pictures of its picturesque Old Town are not an accurate reflection of the city in its entirety. Here beggar children foraging in bins are as commonplace as the relentless influx of tourists that besiege the old town. So when you visit Mostar, admire its beauty but keep in mind your privileged position as a tourist and be respectful of the suffering generations of these people have endured.