The series “Holiday like a local in…” aims to show you a destination through the eyes of locals living in any European city. Discovering a place’s hidden spots, the things that are not included in any guide book, and the charming cafes with amazing views or the best known sights from a different angle are just a glimpse of what locals can show you.
Today we are going to discover the beautiful city of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, through the eyes of a local – Ariana, who lives now in Sidney, Australia, but returns to her origins and shares her love to Mostar. She will show you her favourite places in the city, traditional food, where to get the best view and many more. For more Bosnia adventures follow Ariana’s blog – The Bosnian Aussie, her Facebook and Twitter.
#1. Please, introduce yourself, your blog and the city you live in!
Hello, my name is Ariana and I live in Sydney, Australia. I was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina and left my home at the age of four to escape the war. Even though i have been “Australian” most my life, my heart will always be in Bosnia & Herzegovina. One city in particular stole my heart. That is Mostar. The old town looks like it came straight out of a fairytale book. Despite the horrors the city faced some 20 years ago, it’s slowly rebuilding itself and becoming quiet a tourist spot. I started my blog, The Bosnian Aussie, as a way to show people the beauty Bosnia & Herzegovina has to offer, and to show people why this heart shaped land should be on everyones bucket list.
#2. What do you love the most about Mostar?
The whole city has this east meets west ambience. The bazaar in Mostar is oriental, and it might feel as you are in Istanbul as Bosnia was influenced by the Ottomans.The old town is always full of tourists by day, streets are decorated with tradition Bosnian rugs, Turkish style lamps, traditional pipe flutes, embroidered tablecloths, copper work, handmade jewellery, mini Aladdin lamps, and Persian style decorated plates.
#3. What are your favorite local meals?
As most of the Bosnian meals are red meat, I think it would be very hard being a vegetarian but there are some options available. Bosnians grow their own produce and no need to ask for organic, everything already is. My favourites meals (all meat ) are:
- Chevapi (small meat sausages) served with onions and kajmak (sort of like a cheesy cream) and somun (turkish style bread).
- Burek/pita. This can be made from mince meat, diced potatoes, cheese and spinach.
- Sahan. It is a mix of japrak (mince meat in vine leaves), potatoes, capsicums filled with mince meat and onions filled with mince meat.
#4. What’s the best place to have breakfast?
Urban Grill restaurant will give you amazing views of the bridge while you eat. Ask to be seated downstairs in the terrace. I loved palencinke (crepes) filled with nutella/eurocream. You can also have dinner here, the bridge is lit up at night.
#5. What’s the best place to have dinner?
I loved going to Sadrvan. You will see the restaurant as soon as you cross the bridge to the west side, girls dressed in traditional clothing holding menus. Their Mostarski Sahan was amazing. I even gave some to the many stray cats around us.
#6. What are the top three attractions in Mostar?
The Old bridge, and the main reason many people from around the world come to Mostar. The original Stari Most was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557, and it took nine years to complete. When it was finished it was the widest man-made arch in the world and it stood for 427 years until it was destroyed 9th November 1993. The new Old bridge was reconstructed using the same methods as in the Ottoman times and opened July 2004.
Its “mini me” Kriva Cuprija (Crooked bridge) was built in 1558 as a test dummy before the construction of the Stari Most began. As the bridge was weakened during the war, the floods of December 2000 destroyed it and reconstruction was completed in 2001.
The Neretva, emerald green in colour, is the largest river in the eastern part of the Adriatic basin, with a total length of 225km. It is one of the coldest rivers in the world, often as low as 7 degrees Celsius during the summer months. Young local teens are often seen swimming and enjoing the sun by the river. Only take a dip in the water if you are a strong swimmer as the current sometimes can be quick. Always splash the water on your body first so the cold water is not a big shock to your body. Even the bridge jumpers shower in cold water first to bring their body temperature down.
#7. Where can you get the best view of Mostar?
The Koski Mehmed-Pasa Mosque. The 89 steps to the top of the minaret (tower) may seem claustrophobic, the staircase is very narrow, only one person can go up or down in one direction at a time, but the views from the top are worth every step. 360 degree view of the old city, the river and the old bridge. Entry to the mosque is 4 Marks or 8 marks for mosque/minaret and entrance to a fenced courtyard.
#8. Your favorite cultural attractions or activities?
The town got its name from its famous landmark, Stari Most ( The Old Bridge), and mostly why thousands of touristс visit here every year. For more than four centuries, the Old Bridge in Mostar reigned as the city’s defining landmark connecting the two sides of the city, and symbolizing a link between cultures and religions that had coexisted for centuries.
Every July, Mostarski Ljetni Festival (Mostar Summer Festival) is held that includes various cultural events such as concerts, theatre, puppet shows, exhibitions, poetry readings & book presentations.
#9. Are there any possibilities for exciting day trips from Mostar? Where to?
Blagaj – a truehidden gem just 12km from Mostar. The Tekija (Dervish monastery) was built into the 200 metre cliff walls at around in the 1500’s, and was completely hidden during the 90’s war. Its river (Vrelo Buna) is one of the largest in Europe and boasts an average of 40,000 litres of water per minute.
Pocitelj – a historic UNESCO village built on a rocky cliff sloping steeply down on the left bank of the Neretva river, just south of Mostar. Pre dating Ottoman era, it is supposed that the fortified town was built by Bosnia’s King Stjepan Tvrtko I in 1383.
Kravice – Bosnia is known for its beautiful landscapes, rivers and waterfalls. This waterfall is a must see! The area also has a little cafe, a rope swing, a picnic area, and a place to camp.The best time to visit is during the spring when the fall is at its fullest and the landscape turns a bright green.
#10. What are the best traditional festivals or events throughout the year?
An annual diving competition held on the last Sunday in July, the young local men jump off the 24 meter high bridge. An all day competition, ending with jumpers leaping off the bridge as fireworks/flares shot from it. This year Mostar will also play host to the Red Bull Diving competition in August.
A traditional festival or event many people celebrate in Mostar is Ramazan (ramadan) and Bajram (Eid), as many of the people come from a Muslim background. Every year the streets and shops are adorned with lights, mosques are filled with people praying. Everything changes in the household. Cooking and dinner times are adjusted for Iftaar (breaking fast at sunset). Unveiled women wear modest clothes out of respect for Ramadan, some might even cover up for the month. When you hear the ezan call of prayer to break fast, people dig in and enjoy meals with family and friends. Streets will be buzzing full of people, cafes and restaurants busy serving food for those who have been fasting all day, and even if you aren’t Muslim or religious at all, you cant help love this place at this time of the year.
With its fairytale setting, great food, amazing places see, i think every trip to Europe should include Mostar & its surrounding towns & villages.
If you want to participate in “Holiday like a local in…” series on Travelling Buzz, send an email to: [email protected] with the European city you live in.