When traveling, you never know what to expect. That was especially true today, en route to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that I knew very little about. Generally, when I’ve talked about this part of the world, I am teaching geography, so we’re using my favorite mnemonic trick thinking of a crow (Croatia) eating Berries and Honey (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Doesn’t it look like that?
Anyway, I shouldn’t have been surprised that today was filled with lots of unexpected happenings, some positive and some negative. Here’s a taste:
NEGATIVE: Google Maps said it would take about 2 hours to travel from Split, Croatia to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina by car. Our packed bus stopped lots of time, and it took us more than 5 hours. We had scheduled a tour for an hour after our anticipated arrival, and we missed it.
POSITIVE: The “scenic route” was actually quite scenic. I mean, really truly stunning. Most of the trip with rocky mountains on the left and the sea on the right. Here’s a taste after we crossed the border into Bosnia.
NEGATIVE: It turns out that you can’t just hail a taxi here. You need to call for one. So, we stood in the blaring heat waiting for a while.
POSITIVE: Some random woman approached us after not too long, told us that, and then had a taxi called for us.
NEGATIVE: A lot of people smoke here.
POSITIVE: The vibe here is so chill and friendly. People are genuinely nice. And helpful! The shopping is so fun, because the market is packed with lots of interesting things, and the prices are MUCH lower than we’ve seen anywhere on this trip. And everyone so far has seemed really honest and not trying to rip us off. There are different ethnic groups, and today everyone seems to get along, whether Catholic or Muslim. Here’s a video of the edge of the market, while the Muslim Call to Prayer is being projected from a nearby mosque:
NEGATIVE: There’s more gelato here. For 50 cents a scoop. We are going to gain so much weight!
POSITIVE: The food here is amazing. I now know how to say Ćevapčići. It’s a kind of Bosnian mini sausage. Yum. We tried it first in Slovenia but it’s even better here.
NEGATIVE: We’re trying to navigate 4 currencies here. The Bosnian currency is called the Mark, but they quote a lot of prices in Euros, and sometimes they’ll take Croatian Kuna. Here’s the math: 2 marks = 1 Euro, 1 Euro = 1.1 USD, and 10 Kuna = $1.50. It’s even more confusing when you pay in one currency and they give you change in another. What?!
POSITIVE: Did I mention that everything is really cheap? Ok, we’ll do the math if it means we can get beautiful things for 5 Euros.
POSITIVE: Our hotel has a nice room, the hotel staff are helpful, and they even gave us a welcome drink upon arrival. It is very centrally located, close to lots of interesting stuff, including some great live music.
NEGATIVE: The music is really really loud in our hotel room. Will we ever sleep?
POSITIVE: This city feels so welcoming and and we are hungry to keep learning more. After our initial late arrival, we eventually were able to have a tour with Ms. Alma Elezovic, who was personally recommended by Rick Steves in his book and in this video. Alma showed us around and explained that this city, Mostar, was named after the guards who watched over the bridges during Medieval times. This city really feels like a meeting place for many different peoples.
Overall, today was not without its hiccups, but I am glad to be here, away from the crowds and tourist prices on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. I’m very glad to be here (and will feel especially grateful if I can eventually get some sleep tonight)!