Ruins in Mostar
Even in the city centre of Mostar you will still notice quite a few ruins from the war in the first half of the 1990's.
Most of them are marked with a warning sign stating in Bosnian something like:
Danger of possible collapses.
Do not approach to the ruin.
A local person told me on the bus to Blagaj that the city of Mostar wants to keep most of the ruins as memorials to the war. Honestly speaking, I couldn't really believe this story, as the ground in the city centre is probably limited and sooner or later will be needed for new buildings.
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Real and present danger
You cannot help but notice the signs warning you to stay clear of ruined buildings as you walk around Mostar. They may look as though they've been there for years - as indeed they have - but they are to be heeded. It's perfectly safe to walk around Mostar but don't be tempted to climb on that crumbling wall for a great photo angle. The danger is more from unstable masonry than anything else but there is still the possibility of unexploded ordinance lurking, undiscovered and unstable.
Similarly, in the countryside, keep to clearly defined paths and areas where there have obviously been people passing or stopping before you, especialy in remoter areas - unattractive as it is, litter is a sign that that picnic place you're looking for has been used before.
There has never been a tourist blown up by a land mine in BiH but that does not mean to say the danger does not exist.
I was an American wandering the Muslim Quarter with nothing but Croatian currency in my wallet when I arrived. I asked someone at the bus station if the Kuna (Croatian) was accepted and she shook her head indicating that it was not a good idea. After getting robbed in Split, Croatia, my choices were limited and my access to cash was basically cut off, so needless to say, I was very budget conscious while in Mostar. I had read that one might experience some resentment toward Westerners here and the lady's reaction to the Kuna at the bus station confirmed this.
Fortunately, I was able to find a tourist information place (privately run) and a lady who spoke good English. She was able to exchange some Kuna for the local currency, the Convertible Marka (at a terrible rate for me, but oh well!).
Throughout Mostar you will see buildings that were shelled, tank-blasted and dotted with bullet holes. In fact, I'd say that at least 70% of the buildings in the Old Town are still showing obvious scars of the war.
slippery pavement of the Old Bridge
Crossing the Old Bridge is not quite as innocent as it seems, especially for elderly. Bridge is paved with the white stone, which in times has become slippery. The stone is slippery even if dry days but if wet from the rain it becomes very slippery and dangerous.
When passing over the bridge one should walk with tiny steps and carefully, especially if the crowd on the bridge. If it is raining then is advisable to walk along the edge of the bridge, where there is one lane of rough stone and where not at all slippery.
For the elderly and for those who have trouble walking it is advisable to cross the bridge only with its peripheral parts.
I have written in several of my pages that I collected photos of school warning road signs. This one is of the modern type found in several European countries but has the word s^kola written underneath.
I will soon have enough school warning road signs photos to collect them in an album!
Sweat was dripping down my neck in the 35 degree heat of a scorching summer day in Split when we told a local we were heading to Mostar. Whew! He said. Be careful of the heat. He wasn't kidding.
Mostar is a cauldron of heat in the summer. The town sits in a natural bowl surrounded by mountains, and the temperature soars on summer afternoons. It was around 40 every day we were there.
Thankfully the mountains also mean it tends to get very cool in the evenings. It's a really good idea to plan your day around the heat, and do your sightseeing in the morning and early evening. The light is best around this time anyway. Take pictures at midday and that scolding sun will white out your pictures.
Keep Out of Abandoned buildings
It was quite safe to roam around Mostar freely but you have to heed the warnings posted on many ruined buildings " Keep Out Dangerous Ruin" They are not to be taken lightly. These buidlings were not safe and could fall and the real threat of unexploded ammunition also exists!! Lets hope these are soon cleaned up, 12 years is a long time!! where is world help , we wondered.
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Like much of the Balkans, Mostar felt very safe. The burned out, bullet ridden buildings that still haunt the town can give parts of it the feeling of being in ghetto crime zone, but I don't think you'll be in danger of a mugging anywhere. I felt comfortable walking around during the day or night, especially in the old town.
Beware the Local Loos
I had a bad tummy the day I arrived in Mostar and I was frantically in need of a bathroom.
I went into a smart looking local coffee shop and asked to use the facilities. I couldn't believe it - they were literally a hole in the floor.
See pic attached.
I am told that they are not all like that, but I didn't check any others to verify;-)
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Summer heat and sunstroke
Most visitors planning a visit to Mostar in the summer, especially in July and August. I suspect that only a few know what the weather conditions in Mostar at that time is.The majority of visitors will be those who stay on the Adriatic coast and in Mostar will come on a day trip. When you are along the coast there even in the hottest days always blows a gentle breeze coming from the sea, and besides, you can refresh yourself in the water.
In Mostar, however, the same as that weather conditions will act differently in your body. The first thing you must know is that the city of Mostar is situated along the river but it is surrounded by hills, where there is no high vegetation and trees, which means that the heat from the bare hills reflected on the town, making atmosphere inside the town more hotter. On the other hand, river moisturizes the air and generates high saturation of humid heat, which make it difficult to breathe.
If the sun shines strongly you will feel it on your skin and in order to prevent sunburning you must lubricate skin with protective factors. In addition, drink plenty of fluids, which must not be too cold and cover the head. As soon as you feel tired, sit in the shade relax and drink cup of liquid by sipping it.
When I was in the Sahara Desert, local Berbers taught me to drink hot tea, in a hot day, and it works great.
Don't park your car everywhere
Don't park your car when you see the warning like this one. There are lot of damaged buildings in Mostar and people use to park in front of them on pedestrian pavement. There are lot of parking spots where you can park your car without worry that it will be destroyed.
Don't spend all your money
Make sure you save some coin for the public toilet . The guy at the bus terminal took his job very serious and wouldn’t think of letting you in free!! I wouldn’t care except it was filthy…I wondered what we were paying for!!
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Beware of the heat.
Pre-conceptions die hard, and if you visit Mostar in the summer dressed as though you are visiting the grim and grey images from your TV screen ten years ago, you will suffer. Mostar lies in a valley between mountains and is an absolute sun trap. It's hot by ten and by mid afternoon can be bordering on unbearable. Dress lightly and conservatively - bearing in mind the Muslim population of the city, wear what would be appropriate sight seeing in the Middle East. The streets around the bridge are steep, uneven and narrow, and it's easy to work up a sweat negotiating them. Take it easy, stroll around, take on plenty of water. The bridge itself seems to be held under a magnifying glass for the sun, so be careful of sunstroke and sunburn.
beware of the gipsies
I saw a lot of gipsies in the streets, like the ones we have in italy.
Keep off them, they have kids coming to u asking for money and when you will be ready to give them a coin, another 10 gipsies will come around and try to rob u or snatch your bag
Don't enter any empty neglected buildings!
Mostar is a very attractive and beautiful place, but as you all know it was a scene of war not so long time ago. Unfortunately there are still many kinds of unexploded ammunition left. But don't worry, you will be OK if you keep on the city area - and never enter an empty, neglected house. Often the dangerous places are marked, but not always as not all mines and ammo have not been found 100%.
Just obey the rules and signs and if you want to explore the nature (hike in out of paved areas), always listen to or ask for local's tips first.
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