Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Viator Tour
A Filipina explores (European) roads less traveled.
by Karla Ramos | January 26, 2018
Our first stop was Medjugorje, which was a neat and picturesque town. Medjugorje is a very important part of the Catholic religion in this region since around 1981 there had been reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary centered on the place. Pilgrims flock to the area, which is geographically sandwiched between mountains. I myself attended part of the Mass in the beautiful St. James Church. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the hill of crosses (the “Apparition Mountain”). I had wanted to see that, but I had to be content with rosaries and souvenirs.
It’s after this part of the trip that I learned some interesting facts about the country we were in. As opposed to most of the world, the country has three presidents, which are elected every four months! The three are elected from the different minorities of the country: one Bosniak, one Croat, and one Serb. The one with the highest votes is the chairperson, and all three have to reach a consensus for decisions. If they can’t reach one, they pull in a 4th person, which is from the supervising country Austria!
Another cool thing in the country is that everything is really cheap, especially after the very pricey Dubrovnik (where I endured a forced diet). I finally had a good meal when we reached Mostar, which is the most important city in its region. The place was Sadrvan, which serves up food portions good for sharing. For this I was truly thankful! The thing is I was alone, so I had no one to share with. Thankfully I fell in the company of a kind, elderly couple from Taiwan who had been residing in New York. I joined them for lunch — it turns out they noticed me when I was walking alone and taking selfies.
After enjoying a good dish of rice, beef, and more in that fancy restaurant (for only 4 EUR!) I got a good look at the city’s beautiful architecture — considered some of the best Islamic architecture in the Balkan region. Our tour guide also took us to a viewpoint that some of the other tour drivers didn’t know! I love it when this happens, and this is why it’s definitely worth to get a local with you on tours.
Mostar is a fascinating place in itself, with its history with the Ottoman. One sight to see is the Stari Most, which is a pretty bridge that arches over the clear waters of the river. The city’s name was derived from the old bridge guards (“mostari”) that ensured the safety of this passage. But then, not everything is rosy here. In one of the museums, we watched the history of the bitter war that was waged here not so long ago. We also saw the Church, which was a stately building in itself.
Our last stop was in Počitelj, a village in Capljina. It was famous for its stone fortifications, which date from the 16th-18th centuries. I climbed the fortress and saw the magnificent view atop it! The smooth domes, white walls, and lush greens of the surroundings all seemed so pristine from the citadel.
Getting the most out of the tour
Arguably the best thing when you are in a tour is the information provided by the guide. Our very own Igor was really great, and informative! Being a local, he knew a lot of the place. I think we got more for the trip than the other busses, so I guess we were lucky. The bonus stops Igor made also made things extra special!
Igor said that the people here make only around 300 EUR a month. He called the other locals “magicians”, because they can make do with that amount. In other countries, you get more for the same job. But that also means for us, we can make more of the tour without shelling out much!
There was one quirky incident in Stari Most, where a man was collecting money to jump off the tall bridge. It’s like a stunt, but we waited for a long time and he didn’t jump. We never got to know if he eventually did, but that’s not something you see every day.
It was an overall great tour, and the weather was great! Igor said that there are approximately 285 days of summer in Bosnia, so every day can be a good day to tour around. While I could have explored some on my own with enough time, taking the tour was really worth the while!
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