We spent a lovely day in Bosnia-Herzegovina recently where we explored ruins, the countryside, a UNESCO site and, of course, food. It was a day we won’t soon forget. (If you missed part one of our day-trip read about Visiting Počitelj)
From Počitelj, we continued through Bosnia-Herzegovina towards Mostar, where we were promised a treat for lunch. But first we had to make one quick detour to check out a hole in a mountain.
Vrelo Bune, the Source of the Buna
This particular hole, the Vrelo Bune, is the source of the Buna River. The Buna appears just south of Mostar in the town of Blagaj. This picturesque spot is surrounded by restaurants where people were enjoying the sun on a brisk but bright afternoon. The Buna is deep turquoise blue here and looks ice cold.
Right beside the rushing water is the Blagaj Tekke, a Sufi monastery, guesthouse and mausoleum built by the Ottomans. The buildings are currently undergoing restoration and are set to open to the public soon. The site has been nominated for UNESCO status, on the basis of its historic significance.
Visiting Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
From Blagaj we jumped back in the car, for the short trip to Mostar, a city famous for its beautiful old bridge, the Stari Most.
Mostar is the fifth largest city in Bosnia-Herzegovina and one of the most important in the Herzegovina region. It was named for the bridge-keepers, or mostari, who guarded the bridge in medieval times.
The Stari Most, or Old Bridge, spanned the Neretva River, which flows through Mostar, for 427 years. It was built in the 16th century by the Ottomans and was destroyed on November 9, 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War (which took place during the larger Bosnian War).
After the war, several international organisations, including UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund, formed a coalition to rebuild the bridge and the surrounding area. In 2001, reconstruction began with the aim to use similar technology and the same local materials as the original. The rebuilt bridge was inaugurated on 23 July 2004.
Walking over the bridge is tricky. It is very steep and the stone is slick. While I was worried about tripping and falling on the bridge, some people intentionally jump off of it.
In fact the tradition of jumping from the Stari Most is as old as the bridge itself. A formal competition began in 1968 and is held every summer. It is incredibly dangerous and only the most skilled divers attempt the plunge into the cold river below.
Tasting Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Food
Satisfied with simply walking over the bridge, Andrew and I had something else on our minds – food. We had been promised a traditional Bosnian feast for lunch and Zoran led us to his favourite spot.
The advantage of exploring with a local guide is experience and Zoran knows his food. Before we knew it, we were seated in a casual little place and plates began arriving. (Luckily Andrew pulled out his phone and snapped some photos because I was so excited by the food, I forgot to photograph it!)
First, we were introduced to Bosnian burek, and what a happy introduction it was. These flaky pastries are stuffed with various fillings and twisted into a spiral. We sampled potato and onion, cheese and spicy meat filled varieties; purely in the interest of research of course.
Next up was a sampler plate of main dishes. I have no idea what most of them are but it all tasted great. There were dolma, stuffed vine leaves; stuffed sour chard; spicy meat patties and a meaty stew as well as loads of veggies.
Unbeknownst to us, we saved the best for last – Bosnian ćevapi in somun. These were essentially spicy meatballs in a soft fluffy pita bread. Gorgeous!
After lunch, we strolled off some of the calories we consumed, by walking through town. Unfortunately, the main tourist attractions were still closed for the season, but we enjoyed our wander nonetheless.
Then it was back to the car to head back to Croatia. Zoran had one last foodie stop in store for us, if we could make it back by sundown. We were on our way to Ston.
Oysters in Ston, Croatia
The village of Ston is famous for two things – huge and impressive city walls that look like a miniature Great Wall of China and oysters. I’m sure you can guess which we were after.
On our way to Bosnia-Herzegovina from Dubrovnik, Zoran had pointed out the oyster farms of Mali Ston (or little Ston). Even though our bellies were still full from our Bosnian feast, we knew we had to make room for Ston’s famous oysters.
After a quick trip to see the wall and the salt pans of Ston we zipped back to Mali Ston as the sun was sinking into the sea. We pulled into a driveway owned by a friend of Zoran’s who happens to be an oyster farmer.
We watched our treats being pulled straight from the bay and cleaned for us. We ducked inside the fishing-shed-cum-dining-room, poured a glass of the local home-brew wine from a jug, and sampled the biggest oysters we have ever seen.
In fact we were missing Ston’s oyster festival by just a week so the oysters were at their peak. Our verdict? Incredible!
In fact our entire day had been an incredible adventure and one we never would have had without our wonderful guide Zoran. We hope to return to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina very soon, so we can explore this fascinating and beautiful (and tasty!) region even more.
We’d like to give a giant thank you to Zoran and Ivana of Vacation in Dubrovnik, who graciously sponsored our day-trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina. As always, we were free to express our own impressions of the tour. We highly recommend you look them up when planning your next visit to Dubrovnik.
- A Day-Trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina – Part 1 – Počitelj
- A Day-Trip to Bosnia-Herzegovnia – Part 2 – Mostar and Ston, Croatia
- Visiting the Old Town Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Dubrovnik, Croatia’s Old Town at Night in Photos