Friday, 10 August 2018

Mostar Bosnia and Herzogovina

So we were back on the road again, this time headed for Croatia via Bosnia and Herzoginia.

Once again the scenery was nothing to complain about and it seemed to get lusher as we went northward.

The border crossings were often not the most pleasant experience and the officials often raided requested cold drinks from our bus cooler.

Still even the waits in hot temperatures outside the bus were surrounded by gorgeous, unspoiled landscapes.
Since we were driving up the coast there were lots of water features.

We also passed lots of fruit stands, all ordered and organized in a very structured and efficient fashion.

Water and mountains, what more could you really want in life?

Occasional buildings with clay tile rooves dotted the fields between woods and mountains.

Twice we went through Medugorje in Herzogovina where six children believe that the Virgin Mary has appeared to them. Each year some 1 million pilgrims visit the site and report a variety of spiritual phenomena.

Outside the village is a marker you can see from the highway, but the actual site is removed from the road.

Sheep and cows still dot the hillsides and fields.

And of course there are villages and towns interspersed along the highway.

And there are always mountains in the background.

We arrived in Mostar, in the evening and had the opportunity to go on a night walk through the town. The building below was pointed out to us as an Austro-Hungarianian style building. It was the International High School.

Not everything has been restored. There are desserted buildings sprinkled throughout the area - a grim reminder of the war.

Our breakfast at the hotel was as nicely ordered as the wares of the roadside sellers.

In the morning we walked around in the daylight. Here is the Gimnazija Mostar above, but in the sunshine.

In the daylight the evidence of the wars is also more visible.

Our guide met with us before a church with an extremely high tower.

I caught a glimpse of a lizard while we were doing our walking tour.

Architecture was a mixture of old and new and remembrances of the war.

Mostar is a city named for this major landmark. In slavic languages star(r) means old and Most means bridge. When you walk through the market eventually you come to the Stari Most (old bridge) from which the town gets its name.

The view from the bridge is lovely.

The bridge was constructed in the 16th century by Mimar Hayruddin an apprentice to Mimar Sinan who built some of the most well known buildings in Istanbul.

It stood  for 427 years before being destroyed in the war on November ninth 1993.

The bridge was rebuilt in 2004 using some of the old materials.

This is the shopping zone nearby.

This is a Muslim cemetery where the Imams are buried.

We visited a museum mosque.

Although representational work is mostly forbidden in Islamic art, the geometric designs bear a resemblance to some nature motifs.

The interior is fairly light because of the many windows.

I bought a silk scarf here, mostly as a way to remember my visit to Mostar.

There were not as many tourists here, so we had a pleasant walk around the inner part of the town.

In front of the church with the tall tower there was this commemoration.

I tend to focus on the older cultural icons, but it is important to remember that we are always visitng modern cities with their share of contemporary structures and urban issues.

The streets had a lot of graffiti and of course there were the ever-present billboards.

After our tour, it was back to the bus and onwrd with our travels and we said good bye to Mostar.

We passed cemeteries...

...and fortresses

and even a couple of national parks.

Our path was ever northward.

We stopped at a rest stop that bordered on the famous water falls (Maybe Kravica?). 

I had the opportunity to enjoy some wild flowers there, like these poppies.

The farther north we got, the more it looked like the Europe that I was familiar with in Austria and Germany.

This was an interesting mountain formation.

This was an ad for the Krapina Neanderthal museum in Croatia. It is advertised as the most modern museum in Europe -which seems funny given the subject matter!

Monday, 30 July 2018

The Road to Dubrovnik

So on June 19th after we left Albania, we headed on into Montenegro.

The fields were more tended and we saw tractors and not just people in the fields.

Sitting in the bus, we feasted our eyes on the mountains.

Just before sunset we arrived at our hotel, The Aurel in Podogorica.

The rooms were very clean and decorated in that minimalist style.

Here we are in the breakfast room the next day.

Some of the rooms were larger and had little dining areas.

They even had a little kitchenette.

The next day we continued on driving through the Balkans. There was graffiti and signs like this.

I thought this was an unusual building.

The mountains in Montenegro have a lusher quality somehow than the ones we have seen farther south.

This sign is for the mountain Lovćen, which is the source of the name of the country Montenegro.

The mountains  are still quite rocky, but the brush seems greener and more prevalent. Podgorica gets about 65 inches of rain per year, while Tirana only gets about 46.8 inches per year, so that makes sense, I guess.

We headed west unti we reached Kotor and the coast.


We stopped at a city with a fort for lunch. There were all kinds of food stalls.

Look at all these different kinds of olives!

The fortress is comprised of a variety of fortifications dating back before the 6th century. Most noticeable are the 13th to 14th centruy components. Here you see a medieval sculptural element.

The city walls are n tact and you can see the extent of the medieval city inside. Here there are many stores and tourist spots.

The streets are narrow and winding.

As always there were artists and pan handlers.

There were also several churches.

On eof the most intriguing aspects with regard to Kotor ws the fact that it was a moated fortress.

From the rampart walls you could get a very nice view of the moat. Below you see it from the ground level outside the fortress.

This map can help you understand what a large area is within the walls of the fortification.

We continued on and had to take a ferry to get to Dubrovnik. 

What follows is a series of shots of our group on and around the ferry.

Then we were back on the road. Here is a bombed out building which is probably in Croatia.

I loved this "Beware of wild boar " sign!

Dubrovnik is another town with a huge protective fortress and city walls.

Both of them seem eager for people to visit the shop!

This is the entry into Fortress Bokar also known as Zvjezdan. There are long expanses of walls around the medieval city that reach from Fort Bokar to St. John's fortress on the southeast side of the city.

 In some places the walls are some 20 feet thick and 80 feet tall.

Forts were constructed here in the early middle ages, perhaps around the end of the 8th century. The Saracens attacked and laid seige to the fortress for more than 15 months, but failed in their attack. Here you can see the romanesque architecture of the middle ages with the round (so called Barrel) vaults in the ceiling.

The majority of the extant fortress was begun in the 1400s and it took more than 100 years for the structures were completed.

There is some indication that Fortress Bokar and the Walls of Dubrovnik might have been the source of inspiration for the King's Landing set on The Game of Thrones television show. (See this blog for more info.)

There was so much to see inside the walls!

Here is a map of the fortress area.


This kitty had found a cool place to sleep out of the sun along with sundry cement balls and furnishings.

Outside the medieval walls there was also much to see.

We wanted to get access to the water and passed by this ornamentation.

The view of the fortress from outside shows how imposing it is.

And below the fortress we found a place to swim.

And then it was back to the bus to head farther north!