Post 5 A tale of two countries. Bosnia and Hertzgovina, and Montenegro.

Our motor insurance would not cover us to drive in either Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Montenegro. So we used 2 excellent tour companies based in Dubrovnik, Select Dubrovnik and Amico, to do day tours to each one. We were so glad that we did this.

However it meant we stayed on Camping Kate for 4 nights, and were there in an all night thunderstorm of epic proportions. The rain sounded as if teams of people were chucking buckets of pebbles at the van roof. The thunder was incessant. This is a map of the lightening strikes!

Chris slept through it all! Apparently it is the most rain Dubrovnik has ever had in 24 hours. There were flash floods and we saw small landslips!

We headed for our pick up above the campsite in pouring rain, togged in full waterproofs for our trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within an hour the sun came out! The day started with a visit to the beautiful Kravice waterfalls.

Then onto Mostar, which of course featured heavily in the 1990’s war here. Poor Mostar. Our excellent guide explained that the Bosnian population is the most ethnically divided, with a 3 way split between Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Muslims. Mostar had been a centre for the production of military equipment in former Yugoslavia, so all 3 sides wanted it. So it was shelled from all sides. 80% of its buildings were damaged.

It’s famous bridge, built in 1557, when the area was firmly under Ottoman rule, and became a main connection between the christian and muslim parts of the city. It survived 2 world wars, but was destroyed in 1993. It has been rebuilt by Unesco, who would only provide funds if they used traditional methods, cementing the original, retrieved stones, with egg white, goats hair.

For centuries, men of Mostar would free jump from the bridge to prove their manhood to the ladies of the town. They still do so today for the tourists!

We had an amazing lunch in Restaurant Tima-Irma.

Wages here are very low, so prices are relatively cheap for tourists. We bought some local beers!

We also visited a lovely turkish house, one of the few remaining.

Many buildings bear the marks of bullets and shells. The saddest part of the day was when our young guide said that the people see no point in rebuilding because their country is a cauldron of conflict, and they will surely be fighting again.

It was important to see, and hear a different perspective on the conflict, and life today.

The next day was sunny, as we caught our early minibus heading south to Montenegro. Strict border controls meant hold ups both ways, but WOW!, was it worth it?!

What a stunningly beautiful place. Kotor bay is ringed by high mountains, and a very sheltered inlet, with a narrow entrance, guarded by an island church. More of that later.

First we visited Kotor. Built while under Venetian rule, with formidable defensive walls, this delightful town contains palazzos and churches dating back 800 years. It is charming, and squeezed in between the mountains and the water.

The maritime museum was interesting, and the Cathedral is 852 years old, with fragments of original wall paintings.

There is also a tiny chapel, which combines both an eastern orthodox, and christian altars.

Many of the church decorations are silver, because for many years it was the most valuable of the commodities being traded.

Then a visit to pretty Perast, and a ferry to the tiny island. Legend says that 2 sailors found a picture of Mary on a rock. One was very ill, and against all odds, he recovered. They decided to build a church, but there was no island, so over a period of many years, locals sunk ships around the rocks, until they had footings. They built the church in the 15th century, Our Lady of the Rocks, which is the patron of sailors. The interior was painted by venetian artists, and is breathtaking.

Ships stop to ask for a blessing on their voyage. If their ship is involved in an accident, and they survive, they bring a Thank you to the church. Most common are silver plaques. Over 2000 adorn the walls. Gorgeous!

The small museum also contains a tapestry, created by a local wife waiting for her sailor husband to return. She worked on it for 25 years, using minute stitches-700 per square cm! The most remarkable part is that she used her own hair for the heads, and as the years go on, her hair colour changes, until it ends up white!

We loved Montenegro. Really worth a visit!

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