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Three Nights in Mostar, Bosnia

Unlike anyplace we've ever been.

Day 11 - Drive from Montenegro to Bosnia

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We enjoyed one last breakfast in Kotor before driving our way up and out of the Bay of Kotor. It was a curvy but beautiful drive up and over the mountains in Montenegro. There were even roaming cattle along the sides of the road in some places. We finally hit the border into Bosnia and waited in what appeared to be a short line of cars. Little did we know that the wait would be at least an hour to have our passports scanned and stamped. The border officials seemed friendly but were not in any hurry!
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We found our apartment in Mostar without any mishaps. Villa Fortuna was in the perfect location just steps from the old town. We were surprised to get an apartment with a small kitchen. I thought it would be a simple hotel-style room. Score! (Around $85 per night)
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We didn't take long to wander to the old town and take our first pictures of the Turkish-like vendors, tall minarets, and the famous old bridge that connects the two sides of the city.
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The cobbled streets were seriously bumpy and a little slick! You really had to watch your step.
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We were happy to find Craft Beer Garden which had a great list of local beers. We may have returned to this place a couple of times!
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The highlight of our first day in Mostar was the food. Oh my goodness! We found the most amazing Bosnian grill/BBQ at Tima-Irma. The meats were grilled and seasoned to perfection along with roasted vegetables, cheeses, and sauces. The roasted red pepper sauce, ajvar, is found with everything. Irma works the hot grill in the back and adds hot coals as needed. Not an easy job. We never spent more than around $25 for a full dinner for four in Mostar.
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We took a few more pictures as we took in the scene as the sun set and the light changed the scenery.
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DH and I went out one more time in the evening for a night-cap and to see the young folks partying it up below the old bridge.
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Day 12 - Exploring Mostar and learning about Bosnian culture and history

We began our day with an easy breakfast. I found a nearby pekara (bakery) and brought back pite and a few other traditional baked goodies. We were most looking forward to trying Bosnian coffee at Cafe de Alma. We all learned how to prepare the coffee, try it with a little sugar, and end with a little piece of Turkish delight. The coffee was strong but tasty. What a neat experience!
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Next we began my favorite mission of climbing to top of anything and everything! We began with the Franciscan Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. It was built in 1997 (when the war finally ended) and has the tallest spire in the city. We had to buy tickets to get to the top from the nearby cafe. We rode an elevator about halfway up before climbing 150 stairs or so. The bells were enormous and were from the original church that had been destroyed. The best part of this experience was being the ONLY ones in the tower. So cool!
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We crossed over the Stari Most (old bridge) and learned a bit about its recent history. The bridge is the symbol of Mostar and was destroyed in 1993 during the war. The original bridge was built in the 1500s and was the first of its kind. When the bridge was finally rebuilt, it took longer and cost more money. Great efforts went into building the bridge to closely resemble the historic original. Old techniques and materials were used and the bridge was finally finished in 2004. It was amazing to watch skilled jumpers hurl themselves off the bridge once they raised about 25 Euros from tourists. Quite a sight!
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The slippery steps leading up the bridge.
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We enjoyed the bridge museum and climbed the tower on one side of the river. More great views of the bridge below!
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The next tower was my favorite - a minaret at one of Mostar's many mosques. DD#2 and I had to borrow items to properly cover our bodies and head. The skinny spiral staircase to the top seemed never ending! We enjoyed amazing views from the top.
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After a little more exploring, we stopped for gelato and recharged in our apartment. There was a wonderful gelato store next door to our place. So convenient!

I left the family to relax and opted to take a long walk around the city. I was enthralled with a Bosnian cemetery filled with those who lost their lives in the early '90s. Most of the dead were born in the late '60s and '70s. It was heartbreaking. We saw too many cemeteries throughout Bosnia. Devastating.
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I have never wandered a town that had survived such a recent war. The buildings still stood tall with their battle scars. Many were abandoned and still waiting to be demolished or restored. It was fascinating and a bit sickening to see a town still recovering from such a terrible war.
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I found a nice cafe and summoned the family to come meet me for a snack. We enjoyed tasty sandwiches along a river and decided to trek to a mall. We are travelling with teenage girls after all. I was shocked that people are still allowed to smoke inside the mall in Bosnia. Gross! It felt like I went back in time or something. The girls scored a few cute clothing items.
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Everyone was worn out by this point so I grabbed some take-out and called it a day.

Day 13 - Bosnian side-trips including the Goat Fortress!

We stopped by a nearby cafe for breakfast. So nice to have eggs, waffles, and cappuccino.
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DH skillfully drove the car out of town and up a windy, narrow road to a cool observation deck high above town. The glass-bottomed desk was frightening especially the way it jutted out over a sheer drop!
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Next, we drove to a small town called Blagaj known mostly for its monastery built near a huge rock and cave. However, our favorite attraction was the ruined fortress high above the city. We hiked about 30 minutes up to the fortress and then realized it was being guarded - by a gang of goats! There were around 80 goats climbing and nibbling at the entrance. The goats all had ear-tags and one wore a bell. They were owned by someone I suppose. We finally realized that the goats were friendly and got through the entrance. I have never laughed so hard! This will probably be our most memorable fortress experience ever!
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We drove to the main attraction in Blagaj and saw the monastery. There were hordes of people doing the same thing. We snapped a few pictures and got out of the touristy part of this little town.
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I went out on my own and did a little souvenir shopping. Some really good finds in Mostar!

We came back to our apartment, returned to the Craft Beer Garden for happy hour and found ourselves back at the restaurant we had been to before. It was that good!
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Day 14 - Kravice Falls on the way to Split

We decided to start the day with our last Bosnian coffee.
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We left the packed and narrow streets of Mostar and found Kravice Falls Park. The waterfalls were lovely and it was fun to wade beneath them. It seemed a little less formal than the national parks we are used to.large_IMG_0684.JPGIMG_0676.JPGIMG_0678.JPG42AA6BB9-C06E-4ABE-8D82-5D4E7B9ABD46.jpeg012A143C-3A28-4D2A-A745-00CB04D3D475.jpegC2590080-21E4-44C1-9C52-22FB97C64364.jpeg

We continued another couple hours to the large city of Split, Croatia. This time, the border crossing was no trouble. Bosnia was a great place to visit and so different from its neighboring countries. Day 14 will be continued in the next entry all about Split. It's hard to believe that we have been travelling for two weeks. We have accomplished a lot and there are two more weeks to go. More to come!

Posted by familyineurope 20:30 Tagged mosque fortress bosnia mostar goats blagaj kravice_falls Comments (0)

Ten Years of International Family Travel

We are off to Croatia in exactly one month!


View Croatia 2021 on familyineurope's travel map.

A New Adventure in a New Time

I started this blog ten years ago with four and six year old daughters. What an adventurous, memorable, and challenging six week trip around Europe!

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Croatia 2021

Now we are off again (fingers crossed) to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia for one month with fourteen- and sixteen-year-old daughters!

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Throughout the last decade, we have fully embraced travel as our number one family activity. The four of us dream and brainstorm future trips pretty much every day. I still do most of the itinerary planning. DH is the flight booking and car rental guru. After a lot of practice, I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of activities and pace our family enjoys. The girls are speaking up a lot more about their preferences. DD#1 even has her sights on college in Europe.

Like everyone I know, we experienced sad cancelations in 2020. Our six-week trip to Europe was postponed among so many other activities. Luckily, we have stayed healthy and have all been fully vaccinated. The timing feels right for us to get out of the country. We chose Croatia for many reasons:

1) It is open to American tourists. It was actually open to tourism in summer 2020.
2) Our family absolutely loved Greece in 2019 so it makes sense to visit another country with a beautiful coastline.
3) We have never visited this region and think a month will be a good amount of time. I can't wait to get lost in old towns and eat new foods!
4) We are sticking to a smaller region just in case Covid causes border closures or last-minute shut-downs.
5) Croatia has always been on the list!

We planned this trip in April which is rather last-minute for me. We relied almost entirely on booking.com for fully cancelable apartments.

Here is a brief outline of our itinerary.

Zagreb

4 nights. I am so excited to be in a European city again!
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Rovinj, Istrian Peninsula

4 nights. This region is very close to Italy and has hill towns, beaches, a great waterpark, an adventure park, and an ancient amphitheater in Pula.
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Zadar

3 nights. I am drawn to this city because of its famous sea organ! It also looks beautiful and is maybe less touristed than other cities.
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Split

3 nights. This is Croatia's second largest city and has tons of history. I can't wait to explore Diocletian's Palace and the nearby towns of Trogir and Omis. We might even go zip-lining!
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Bol, Brac Island

3 nights. We will ferry to Brac and drive to the town of Bol. Bol is home to one of Croatia's most famous beaches. There's also a great hike to the island's tallest point.
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Dubrovnik

4 nights. This is the most visited and most famous Croatian city. We will walk the famous walls, get lost in the old town, and take some day trips. This city is usually mobbed with cruise ships. I suspect summer 2021 will be a little different.
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Kotor, Montenegro

3 nights. We will hike up the old city walls to the fortress above, drive around the bay, and the mountains. Another new country!
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Mostar, Bosnia

3 nights. I'm so eager to see this picturesque city with its famous bridge, minarets, and delicious food.
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Sibenik, Croatia

1 night. I knew I wanted to visited this beautiful town so I decided to break up a drive with our only one-night stay.
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Plitvice National Park on the way back to Zagreb

2 nights. This national park has always been on my radar for obvious reasons!
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I will be updating this blog as we travel and hope to provide not only stories about Croatia, but some insight about traveling during Covid. It feels like it has been so long since we have traveled and we know how incredibly lucky we are to have such an opportunity. Let the countdown begin!

Posted by familyineurope 16:28 Archived in Croatia Tagged zadar croatia dubrovnik split zagreb mostar kotor brac bol rovinj sibenik Comments (1)

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