This tip is more than about cheap fridge magnets, but let us start there. Across Europe you will expect to pay 3-7 Euros ($4-9) for a fridge magnet. Seriously. These bits of ceramic or plastic cost the shop keepers a few pennies each. So its quite refreshing to see all across Mostar that ALL the souvenir shops and stalls charge a flat 1 Euro. And they have a wonderful assortment including very flat and light ones - easy and cheap to post as a gift.
No here is the double secret. Unemployment is around 40% here. There are a lot of shops and they need your business. By European standards Mostar is a budget souvenir buyers dream come true. So p[lease buy loads! You save and they prosper!
The other secret? Try and find a shop that has lots of the things you want. If you spend 20-30 Euros expect a small gift or extra souvenir being thrown in free. Its a mix of just good Herzegovinian hospitality and good business. I did ths and the extra souvenir sits on my desk. Great guy.
So before you go bye bye Mostar - make sure you buy! buy!
What to pay:
I am kind of obsessed with DM. Just your basic Eastern European chain drugstore (based out of Germany, perhaps?), DM is a great place to buy the basic toiletries you need to get through your trip, as well as little extras that make travel more comfortable. As you can see I was suffering from dry, sun-damaged skin, so I bought an exfoliating sponge and body lotion to add to my holiday beauty arsenal, and I couldn't resist some of the travel-sized products that only cost about one euro each: foot cream with urea (!) and a rich moisturizing cream for use at night. I was interested to see the Balea brand here- some Balea products are available in Canada but they seem to be marketed as a low-end alternative to other brand names, while in Europe the packaging is much chicer and Balea appears to be one of the better options at chain drugstores. In fact, I've been on the lookout for that Balea night cream here in Canada, but haven't seen it on shelves (I'll stock up if I do find it!).
If you know you're going to be starting your travels in a city that as a DM, especially in the cheapest parts of Eastern Europe, I'd recommend packing almost no toiletries and stocking up on arrival instead. No danger of leaks in your bag, interesting new products to try, and you'll definitely save a lot of money!
For my stay in Mostar, I wanted to buy something from their domestic products and in a restaurant I was recommended this shop. I was surprised how many products they have and how much about these products know the the girls that work there, they will, very well tell you everything you need to know about their wine, brandy honey or something else...
What to buy: Try their wines Blatina and Zilavka, they have a incredible kinds of fruit liqueurs from fruit you can not even imagine, and of course the famous plum brandy and a lot of kinds of honey with almonds, dried figs, nuts inside the jars.
People have shopping here for hundres of years . As we crossed the famous bridge adn entered this area of shady ( thankfully so as it was so hot) cobblestoned narrow streets with its little shops and venders on both sides we felt we were transported back in time.
What to buy: Dishes, goblets and Turkish coffee pots made of copper specifically date back to the Turkish ruling period. These are made by the engravers in their small shops in Kujundziluk. They also sell handicrafts such as rugs, jewellery and paintings. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Lokoum is the name that this part of the world has given to what we would call Turkish Delight. Of course, as the sweet is more or less native to this region I would think they probably have the name right;-)
If anything it is sweeter than the same dessert at home. It is also more tasty and a lot cheaper.
My Mum bought a kilo of multi coloured and flavoured Lokoum for €5. We found it on sale in a coffee shop where patrons purchased just a couple of pieces to have with their coffee. They seemed a little surprised that we wanted to buy so much at once.
Some might find it distasteful, but I found it fascinating to browse the stalls and shops and examine the memorabilia from the war. You can buy everything and anything from medals to pins to helmets to weapons, all in the open streets of Mostar.
Some of these items would definitely be collectors goodies whereas others would simply have a sensationalist quality.
I browsed but didn't buy - I don't think the torrential rain helped at all.
The restoration of the cobbled streets and old stone shops and houses of Mostar's old town is very successful and has led to the area being placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. They certainly are full of charm and character, reflecting their Turkish cultural origins. These days the workshops and craftsmens' studios are mostly shops, particularly on the eastern side of the bridge in the street known as Kujundziluk, once the home of the town's metal workers.
The craft and souvenir shops along the western approach to the bridge are interspersed with cafes and there's also a good bookshop with a reasonable stock of English language books on Bosnian history and culture.
What to buy: There's still plenty of metal work to be found in the shops along Kujundziluk - the copper coffee sets are very cute with their fat little sugar bowls and coffee pots sitting on a tray with a set of tiny handless cups in copper holders, just the thing for the jolt of caffeine delivered by traditional Turkish coffee.
Metal work of another kind produces pens and other trinkets made from shells and bullets - war turned kitsch, and just the sort of thing a teenage son or nephew will appreciate, though your own sensibilities may find them rather macabre.
What to pay: In this world of the global market place, it's very difficult to know what is a genuine local handicraft and what has come out of a foreign factory. The cheaper an item appears, the more chance there is that it's factory made. Most craftspeople know the worth of their labour and charge accordingly. A little haggling is possible but nothing really good id going to be given away for a pittance.
Mirza and I were a little nervous approaching the bridge. It was a big moment for both of us. I was chatting to him in English, so as to try and not make too big a deal of it. (I had made a huge fuss in the bus about how we were not going to miss out on the bridge just because it was getting late - very nearly a tantrum.) Anyway, the soldiers you can see in the photo turned and smiled at us because we were speaking English - they obviously understood it. I picked they were perhaps Austrian, Dutch.
Anyway just as Mirza and I thought we might blow our cool - there was an icecream stall. So in we dived and got two excellent icecreams (nearly as good as Italian icecream) and approached the bridge like two real tourists, licking away at our cones.
(Pic by KristaB)
We crossed the bridge and found a delightful street with several cafes where you could take the air and a Turkish coffee while gazing at the river and the bridge etc.
There were charming little shops that sold postcards and cunningly carved scavenged shell cases and bullets. As well as metal work of all sorts, coffee pots, vases, plates, boxes etc. There were embroidered velvet slippers with curved toes and all manner of charming bric a brac and fabrics. Krista bought one of those elaborate belts that belly dancers wear. She said there wasn't as much choice as she thought there would be, and it wasn't particularly cheap, but when she came out of the shop and modeled the two she couldn't decide on - they were both so beautiful we reckoned she should have bought both of them.
BTW there didn't seem to be any public lavatories, but, as in Italy, the cafes have them for the convenience of their customers.
Many wonderful oil and watercolor paintings and postcards. Alica Jakirovic, the proud owner, is pleasant and speaks English. He was the president of the Art Society of Mostar and has had many exhibitions around Europe.
What to buy: Wide variety of prices, something for everyone's budget. Most subjects are Mostar's old town and its bridge, which is the prevailing image at most art shops.