Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Day tripping to Bosnia Herzegovina

Next up was Bosnia Herzegovina  another country that was on my list, and being so close to Croatia helped.  I was walking around Dubrovnik and found a tour Elite Travel down an alley way. I liked that this tour was by van so I booked it, instead of by bus.  The  girl working there was from Bosnia and we talked some about it and she arranged for me to have the later pickup from my hotel.

I was picked up at my hotel at 7.30 am which meant I was able to have breakfast at my hotel and the van had only 3 other people a couple from Ireland and a man from Tyrone Northern Ireland. The tour guide gave his name but then said you could just call him David, I was able to sit right up front with him and I liked him from the start. I also enjoyed his accent and his pronunciations like the word Valley pronounced Velly.  
The drive was amazing and with a beautiful day traveling through Croatia along the Adriatic Sea  the scenery was good  and our guide filled us in with interesting bits of history on Croatia.  We then had to cross the boarder (one of 3) into Bosnia Herzegovina into Neum a coastal town it has a small resort area and it is the only part of Bosnia Herzegovina that is on the sea, and then traveled a small distance and then we were back in Croatia. We made a quick stop in Mogorjelo in Croatia where the ruins of a Roman Villa was excavated. 

Kittens or ruins

We continued on until we were back in Bosnia Herzegovina and finally our first stop was a small Turkish town Pocitelj, which is a historic Ottoman Village. We only had 30 minutes to explore and with good intention to make the most of this tiny town I spotted some baby kittens, it was too hard to not stop and take photos as they were posing so sweetly.  Out guide pointed out a castle that was high up on the hill and the Irish couple we able to made the treck to it. Pocitelj the town was  built in the 14th Century and included a castle, and mosques and Turkish bath.  Gavrakanpetanovic house built in the end of the 1600. The town became a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a quick goodbye to the cats it was time to leave.

Kula the Castle/Fort in Pocitelj

Gavrakanpetanovic house

Onwards to Mostar which was the highlight of the tour we first had a tour with a local guide Boris and he walked us to the old town which is on the Neretva River the Old Bazar Kujundziluk is there and it was a Turkish market.  It was small area and very crowded and we continued walking through it to the very famous Mostar Bridge, which was built by the Ottomans in the 16 century. I read later that the original stones were recovered down the river by Hungarian Army divers.  The guide took us down below the bridge and we were lucky in that the time we stood there we were able to see two men dive off the bridge. They have professional divers that will jump after they have raised 20-25 euros that is used for the maintenance of the bridge. However we were told for centuries men have dived off the 21 meter bridge to impress the local girls.  Our guide also said occasionally people die doing this the water in not very deep and lots of rocks around.   The bridge was destroyed during the 1990 conflict and was rebuilt in 2004. The guide also pointed out buildings in the town where bullets remain from the war as a reminder of what has and could happen.

the shallow water 

Mostar view from the Bridge

reminder of the war

After we had several hours to ourselves the 4 of us were walking together and suddenly we lost the Irish couple the man from Northern Ireland was walking with me for awhile I think he was worried to leave me on my own and was trying to keep an eye on me. I told him I would be okay and he finally left to get a bit of lunch.  I walked back to the bridge to see if from above and it was hard as it was very slippery the and I was worried I'd slip and fall so had to be careful and hang on even standing still was a challenge. I held on for dear life as I attempted to take some photographs. I was going to get something to eat but got so busy looking and then finally saw ice cream too hard to resist *so what else is new. I sat and had it on a bench and did my one of my fave things when I travel people watch. I then walked around the market area looking at the beautiful lanterns and watched a man  creating his art.  The Irish man found me again he seemed relived and then we ran across the couple so we walked together a few minutes and then they needed to look for souvenirs to take back home.

 I set off in search of toilet and finally asked someone and they pointed out where one should be and nothing asked someone else and sent me off to another spot and nothing. By now I was getting thirsty and also needing to find one I decided to head back to where we were suppose to meet up thinking maybe there was maybe Id find a toilet there and sure enough in a restaurant. I then walked to the meetup spot and met the Irish  man  again and then we were looking for the Irish couple and spotted them then we had to find our guide and he was looking for us and I said we are all here. 

It was time to head off to our final destination of Medjugorje the tiny town where the Blessed Virgin Mary has been reported to have appeared to 6 children in 1981. The Vatican has not recognized this apparitions.  The guide dropped us off and we had 40 mins we were dropped by the church and really there was not much to see. I think the Irish couple were disappointed as they thought that we were going to visit the actual spot but the guide told us it was up on a hill that we could not walk to.  I walked to the end of a cemetery there and saw the cross in the distance marking the spot of the apparition. You can actually make the climb to the top if you have the time I then came across the the Risen Christ statue that people were walking around chanting and some were climbing and rubbing it with tissue.   I asked the guide later and he told me about it. Apparently the statue started leaking fluid from one of the knees and some people say it is oil while others say that they have seen blood. 

 I wish we had time to stop in the village as it looked cute and more interesting. It was time to head back to Dubrovnik and we once again crossed boarders 3 times. this was a total of 6 boarder crossing our guide said we were very lucky that there were not lines at the boarders and we made a quick crossing sometimes if can take an hour to cross one. I was able to get a passport stamp which of course was something I was very happy to get. I was also happy that I now have visited 4 countries that were once part of Yugoslavia. 

beautiful stations of the cross

Pilgrims rub the statue

Outdoor altar of St James church

boarder crossing

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