October 06, 2004

Mostar to Sarajevo

Mostar is a medieval town, and was relatively famous for its bridge which was built in 1566, and then tragically destroyed during the war in the Balkans in the 1990s. A few years ago, the bridge was restored to its former glory.

I wandered around the town, looking for a place to change money, but the woman at the new tourist information office told me that in the old town they accept Euros, Kuna, and 'Convertible Marks'. Convertible Marks are the currency of Bosnia and Hercegovina and they are written as KM.

I made my way to the newly rebuilt bridge, and it's a rather nice construction, high above the river. It does however have a rather ugly metal guard rail along its edge. Personally, I would prefer to risk people falling in the river, and preserve the aesthetics of the bridge, but I guess that's why I don't have a position on the local council.

The rest of the old town was made of narrow, cobbled streets and was quite a joy to wander around. I ate lunch at an outside table overlooking the bridge, and it was a very relaxing afternoon. My plan was to take the train to Sarajevo departing at 5.20pm, so I made my way towards the train station. Once leaving the old town, it becomes pretty apparent that there was a war here not so long so ago, as there are still a reasonable number of crumpled buildings. The windows are missing, the roofs are gone, and they are totally riddled with bullet holes. There is a general 'Do Not Enter - Dangerous Ruins' sign in three languages which is posted on the side of all these buildings, and it makes you feel kind of sad that a pleasant town like Mostar should have been through all that death and destruction.

The train station was quite frankly, very strange. It had apparently not been rebuilt until quite recently, and I had a bit of trouble trying to buy a ticket, as I couldn't actually find the desk. Having surpassed that hurdle, I found myself on platform two, with only about ten other people. However, it seems that even if you are in Bosnia and Hercegovina, it is not possible to avoid meeting an Australian of some kind, and just before the train arrived, one showed up, and asked me if this was the train for Sarajevo.
The train was actually great! It was very old, and a little tatty, with an odd rip in the upholstery, but it had style. The seats were MASSIVE, like armchairs, and with enough leg room to stretch your legs FULLY outwards. The whole train was panelled with wood, and had lovely big windows. The seats were so large and spaced out that there were only about twenty seats in each carriage. 'This is what train travel used to be like in the good old days!' I said to the Australian, whose name was Abbie. She looked at me blankly. The train passed through more beautiful mountain scenery, and just as darkness fell, we arrived in Sarajevo.

Posted by paul at October 6, 2004 06:03 PM