Montenegro and Bosnia- Herzegovina

     From my base in Zaton near Dubrovnik, I made 2 day trips, one to Montenegro and one into Bosnia- Herzegovina. Even though I had a car, I found it desirable to book a tour through Cheap Dubrovnik Tours. My driver/guide, Marijan, provided excellent background information on our various stops and eased my way through formalities and negotiations. 

     Our Montenegro day included stops in Perast to visit the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks, built by fishermen throwing rocks in the lake in thanks for a successful voyage. I hired an enterprising young woman who provides transfer to the island in her small motorboat. The church is in local use and on the day I visited it was closed while a baptism was being held. In the same bay, is the cemetery island of St George, which is not open for visitors.

     Next stop was the charming walled town of Kotor, also located on the bay. The first thing you notice are the extensive fortifications running up the mountain. We admired the entrance gate and the inscription left by Tito in commemoration of Kotor's liberation during WWII. Found a "this looks good" lunch place with the usual outdoor seating complete with a begging cat. After lunch, we hit the major sites but afternoon closures and the heat forced us to give Kotor short shrift. I wish I did better in the heat and we had stayed longer.

     Our last stop of the day was another walled town nearby, Budva. With Venetian styled houses and a nice beach area, it was an enjoyable stop. After strolling through the streets, walking the walls and enjoying the views, and eating an ice cream in the park, it was time to head back to Zaton. We took the short ferry ride across the Bay of Kotor at the Verige strait.

     For our Mostar day, our first stop was the small town of Poĉitelj. During the medieval ages, the town was an important administrative center and its fortifications and position gave it military advantage. In the 1992-1996 war, the town sustained heavy bomb damage and lost most of its major works of Islamic art and architecture. Some of the Ottoman influence remains in view.

     On to Mostar which was the biggest disappointment of the trip. We parked the car and crossed the street which enters the city over the Old Bridge and found ourselves surrounded by stall after stall of tourist oriented goods. All were selling the same stuff. Then we came to the Old Bridge where young men were collecting money to jump from the bridge into the river below. The first people to give them money then have to wait until the right amount of money is collected which may take some time. The best view of the jumpers is from the river bank below but I wasn't willing to wait around. We walked down the main drag past more stall after stall tourist junk to the mosque which offers the best view of the bridge. There is a sweet little well in front where the faithful wash before entering the mosque for prayers. It was a popular stop for the tourists to cool off. 

     That day the bridge was covered by a political sign. There was an incident in which a baby died because of the bureaucratic delay in issuing an ID number so the baby could leave the country for medical treatment. The bridge is a reconstruction made after the war (opened 2004). The original bridge was considered an outstanding example of Islamic architecture in the 16th century. 

   I'm sure the 96+ degree heat had something to do with my lack of enjoyment of Mostar but any charm is lost behind all the stalls. I wasn't willing to dig to find it and left after having lunch. 

     Our next destination was the Whirling Dervish Monastery on the bank of the Buna river. The river has its source in a spring next to the monastery. The water is very cold and the river is very short (9 km). There were some refreshing places to stop for a drink nearby.

     The last stop of the day was to locate an Orthodox monastery near the town of Tvrdos. The current monastery is from 1924 but the original was established in the 15th century. Places destroyed by war is a constant theme in this area. The monk was decidedly unfriendly and my visit was not encouraged. I probably should have stopped at the winery. 

     Some hits, some misses, all part of the travel experience. I'm finding that I like the Orthodox churches more and more. 

©TAB 2012-2015