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Trip Report Two weeks in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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My husband I returned on May 10 from two weeks in BiH and I'm just now getting around to posting here. I guess work and other commitments diverted me. But the trip has remained in our experience as a true highlight out of many trips to Europe. We loved the country, the setting, the people, the food, everything!

This won't be a long trip report -- but I do want to share how easy (and inexpensive) it was to travel in BiH. First, we spent three nights in Sarajevo, staying at Pansion Kandilj, a lovely small guesthouse just across the Latin Bridge from the old town. And at the end of the trip we came back there for three more nights. After seeing many of the sights (enjoying the proximity of mosque, synagogue, Orthodox church and Catholic church), walking, taking the tram, one cab ride only up to the top of the hill above Pigeon Square, we then took a bus to Mostar -- what a beautiful ride alongside mountains and next to the Neretva River!

In Mostar we were greeted at the bus station by our hosts from Pansion Cardak, a very special guesthouse right within the old town (Stari Grad) and near the Crooked Bridge and Stari Most (the famous old bridge). We had a beautiful room with a balcony and view of the old town. Suzana was amazingly friendly and hospitable -- she even worried for us because it was raining when we arrived! In fact, the late April weather was rainy and chilly, but by early into May it turned sunny and warm.One of our favorite places in Mostar was the Turkish house, Kajtaz House, where we spent a couple of hours. Fascinating history, and displayed authentically with furnishings, clothing, and kitchenware.

After two days in Mostar, which we also loved -- a magical place especially at night -- we rented a car to drive down to the coast. But first we drove out to Blagaj to the Sufi tekke and spent almost the whole day there -- a special interest of ours. Driving to the coast we stopped at Pocitelj and spent several hours there, then on to Caplinja for lunch, and on to Neum where we had a reservation at Hotel Villa Nova, a lovely place right on the water. To go to Neum, we had to pass through the Croatian border, and then back into Bosnia. Our second day there we went back into Croatia to visit the towns of Ston and Mali Ston, with their spectacular walls and old towns on the hills.

Leaving Neum, we headed back to Mostar for one night and then back to Sarajevo. We drove a different route to Mostar, going through Stolac and stopped at a necropolis outside of town. On the bus from Mostar back to Sarajevo we met another American couple and really enjoyed talking to them. So we made plans to meet for dinner that night in Sarajevo, and we did! Lots of fun.

Unfortunately, though, my husband developed a bacterial infection, cellulitis, and was sick the remaining two days of the trip. We had bus tickets to go to Travnik for the day but obviously couldn't use them. So we want to go back to Sarajevo and Travnik some day soon! The staff at Pansion Kandilj were so kind to us, making us chicken soup, and arranging a tax to to the ER. The ER experience was night and day compared to an American ER in terms of stress and cost. In fact, all we paid was about $22 for antibiotics.

Some observations: the Bosnian war is still very present in the minds and experiences of people. In fact, Nedzad, our host in Mostar, had filmed the destruction of Stari Most in Mostar in 1993, which became part of a film about the bridge. People we talked to were still very sad about the war, but for the most part want to live in harmony again. Also, we found the country way ahead of the US in having wifi access everywhere! From the smallest cafe on up, we had no problems getting online with our phones, which is all we brought, and with SIM cards, they were all we needed. Finally, we were very pleased to get cable TV in our rooms so we could watch some European tennis tournaments -- a nice surprise.

All in all, we had a great trip and wish more Americans would even consider going there. We still get, as we did before we left, the reaction of "why Bosnia?" But for independent travelers, it's a wonderful, unique destination.

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