Advice for visiting Mostar

It’s been two full years since I’ve last been to Mostar, which is the same amount of time that I lived there. That’s a pretty weird fact that I’ve been processing this summer, and I’m thinking about writing about my thoughts on it when I get some free time.

The reason for this post, however, is that I was recently asked for advice by someone who was visiting Mostar. I figured I’d share that here. It’s not comprehensive by any means, but it’s a start.


Nearly all the tourist attractions in Mostar are in the Old Town. You certainly can’t go wrong exploring that area, going down the different alleyways, pausing for a drink at one of the cafes along the river, browsing the shops, etc.

However, it’s not very big, and I think the rest of the city is great to explore as it’s also not that large and very walking-friendly.

map-mostar-bosnia

You could walk from Old Bridge to the farthest bridge on the right side of the map in no more than 40 minutes. This map is a bit old but it’s definitely accurate enough to give a good picture of the city. The Old Town is near the bottom of the map, in the center-left. In the descriptions that follow below, I mentioned street names when they were on the map. But don’t be surprised if you don’t see too many street signs when you’re in the city itself, and if you come upon streets or alleys that aren’t marked on the map.

Important landmarks:

–The Park: Mentioned in some of the directions, I capitalized it because this park is for Mostar what Central Park is for New York City. It’s basically the only park of its size in the entire city, perfect for people watching, and has lots of green grass — ideal for quick naps in the summer sunshine. It’s the green triangle in the center of the city on the map.

–The Cross: Visible from almost anywhere in the city, which is helpful for orienting yourself if you get turned around. It’s possible to hike up there, you just need to follow the road all the way to the top – make sure you don’t stray from the road, as there are land mines on the side of the hill.

–Spanish Square: Called Spanski Trg on the map, this is the square at the center of the city. It has the most famous school building of the region, which was the one I went to school in, it’s the orange building. But then take in what’s around there – all the ruins, the people walking about, the mountains, etc. It’s such a beautiful square and just sitting there for a bit and observing your surroundings, you’ll catch a glimpse of what life is like in urban Bosnia, away from the tourist crowds.

Restaurants:

–Hindin Han: Best traditional Bosnian restaurant, at least in my opinion. Located in Old Town, on the Catholic side of the river, near a pub called Black Dog (which I highly recommend – not the most authentic Bosnian experience but it’s my favorite place to get a beer and sit by the river) and a small bridge that looks like the bigger, more famous one (the “Crooked Bridge”). If you go with someone, get the meat platter for two people to share, it’s a great sampler of Bosnian meats.

–Palacinke Bar: Delicious, amazing crepe-style pancakes. From Spanish Square, head down the street called Zvonimirova. You’ll pass Coco Loco on your left (a bar with a great outdoor patio and relaxed vibes by Balkan standards -as it’s not a loud, dressy nightclub), then The Park, then you’ll come to an intersection. Go straight at the intersection, it will be on your left after you pass the Irish Pub.

–Marinero: My friends and I loved the chicken salad, we had it nearly every time we went there. It’s located in something called the “Orca Centar.” (a colorful shape on the right side of the map) To get there, go down Kneza Domagoja from Spanish Square. At the intersection, go straight past Mepas Mall, past a church (there’s a yellow cross on the building), and then turn right when you see signs for a bunch of restaurants, cafes, etc, including Cake Bar which you can see from the road. It’s next to Cake Bar – which is also worth a visit :)

–Del Rio: Arguably one of the nicer restaurants in Mostar. Tries to have a bit of an Italian vibe, if you’re looking for something reliable and nice to take a break from street food, this is a good place. Pasta and meat dishes are the best, my friends liked their salads as well but honestly I think Marinero is better. Pasta will only cost you 10-15KM ($6-9). They bring bread with your meal that is really delicious and free. Located across the bridge straight from the bus station, bottom right side of map, on the ground floor of the tall, light purple building.

–Patak: Pizza! I usually got the “Vegetarian” pizza, there’s a really good salami one as well, but I would guess any of them could be good. The crust is a bit thinner and softer than you’d usually find in the US. Good sandwiches here too. From Spanish Square, head towards the bridge, which is the sort of the main bridge of the city. Locals call it Tito’s Bridge (Titov Most on the map). Anyways head towards the bridge, but take the first street to the left (Alekse Santica). Patak will be on your left a little ways down.

–Palma: Come here for kebab, which is a shredded meat sandwich that originated in the Middle East but is a fast food staple all over Europe. Only 3KM for a small one, 5KM for a big one; the small was enough for a meal for me. They also have decent ice cream in the summer and lots of cakes. Located just past Patak down that street (Alekse Santica).

–Musala Buregzednica: Ice cream and sirnica, enough said. I love this place; didn’t help that it was cheap (1KM per scoop, 2.50KM for 4 pieces of sirnica). Definitely, hands down, my favorite place for ice cream in the city (only possible exception is one that just opened right before I left near Rondo). There’s a really traditional Balkan pastry that can be filled with lots of things – cheese (sirnica), meat and potatoes (burek), spinich and cheese (zeljinica), pumpkin (tikvica), etc. I like sirnica the best :) Musala Square is on the Muslim side of Tito’s Bridge. Go there, then look for the United Colors of Benetton store – this place is right next to it.

Cafes:

–Jump Jump: Across from The Park. I love their ‘Biejla Kava’ (coffee with milk), one of the best in Mostar that I know of, and they also have amazing chocolate cake. It’s more like a French silk pie than it is a cake, it has that mousse consistency; it’s delicious.

–Aleksa: Across the street from Hotel Bristol (red circle 2 on the map), there is an alley between two buildings. Go to the end of the alley, on the left is Aleksa. A pretty good restaurant as well. The patio is beautiful, surprisingly peaceful / secluded for being as centrally located in the city as it is.

–Calamus: It’s in the tall glass building that’s visible from Spanish Square that says Koncar on the top. Walk down Dr. Ante Starcevica from Spanish Square. Go into the building and take the elevators to the top floor. The cafe has indoor seating (and it’s air conditioned!) with huge windows, and outdoor seating, both providing amazing views of the city.

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From Mostar to Medford

I have decided where I will be going to school for the next four years… Tufts University! I couldn’t be happier. And as it has settled in, the more excited I have become.

How, might you ask, did I choose? It ultimately boiled down to one key thing: the community. The final few schools that I was considering were comparable in terms of quality of academics, reputation, etc. So Tufts stood out because it wasn’t a perfect bubble. It offers what I appreciate about UWC – a community of students that is simultaneously closely-knit and not isolated from the rest of the world. At Tufts I’ll be within walking distance of Davis Square, and since we’re just outside of Boston, there’s sure be to be incredible community service and internship opportunities.

By the way, Tufts’ mascot is Jumbo, an elephant. Which makes me and the rest of the Class of 2018 “Baby Jumbos,” also known as the cutest nickname for incoming freshmen ever.

MUNiM 2014

One of the activities that I’ve been the most involved in while at UWC is Model United Nations. This year, I was one of the leaders of our MUN CAS (an IB abbreviation for clubs). We decided when the year started that we wanted to take our school’s annual MUN Conference to the next level, doing things like creating an organization team, increasing our online presence (check out our beautiful website), and adding two new program areas (Press and the International Court of Justice). We even decided on an official name for the conference: Model United Nations in Mostar, or MUNiM.

My position within our organization team was called Head of Delegate Support. Our preparation started before Winter Break, and during the months leading up to the conference I had to create the official Rules of Procedure, guides for everything from starting research to finalizing resolutions, and more. Basically, anything that was needed to help the delegates of the conference fell under my responsibility. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed that I got to have such a hands-on position in the creation of MUNiM 2014. Plus, many of the materials I made will be used in future conferences, so that’s pretty cool too.

So finally, after months of preparation, Continue reading

Time to eat the marshmallows.

There’s a relatively well-known psychological study in which children are given one marshmallow by an adult. Then the adult leaves the room, with the promise of giving another marshmallow when they come back – but only if the child hasn’t eaten the first one. It’s a test of instant gratification and patience.

In the flurry of emails going back and forth between my family as I attempt to keep everyone updated on my status of college admissions, my uncle made an astute comparison – he said, “It is finally the time you can eat the marshmallows. You’ll find a new one waiting for you when university starts next fall.”

I love this comparison. Over the past 4.5 years of my high school education, I have Continue reading

Visitors from afar

sur·re·al (adj.); having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic.

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My life in Minnesota exists in a different world than my life in Mostar… Or at least, this is how my brain processes it. My stateside friends and family live in this vague place called “back home,” and few people here at UWC can properly imagine what that means. There are a few exceptions. My country-mates can form a relatively accurate picture in their minds, but what’s more significant (particularly while at UWC) is that they understand the cultural context that I am coming from. Plus there’s Rhea and Anita, some of my closest friends here who managed to visit me for a couple days last summer. They can actually reference particular rooms in my house, or some of my friends that they met. But overall, “back home” doesn’t mean much for people here. It contains the youthful memories of my childhood, the hilarious moments of middle school, the ups and downs of high school. It is the majority of my life thus far, and yet, it’s all compressed into a couple stories and some pictures, tinted with some stereotypical imagery and personal bias about “‘Ahmurrica” – positive or negative.

The opposite is also true – during our regular Google Hangouts that span two continents and three timezones, my family will ask me how things are going “there,” and again, a simple word suddenly Continue reading

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

Before UWC, the only language I had studied (other than English) was Spanish. This was not really by choice – my school district didn’t offer anything before that. So when I started high school, I was so excited that I finally got to learn something other than English. And I found that I really enjoyed learning a new language, even if my spoken abilities left some to be desired.

Then I came to UWC, and found out that they weren’t offering the level I wanted to take (Spanish B) for first years. There was only two classes: one for native/perfectly fluent speakers (Spanish A) and one for beginners (Spanish ab initio). So, rather than restart at the beginning after three years of learning, I decided to push myself and take French ab initio instead. This has proved to be a both easier and more challenging than I was expecting. On one hand, it was a bit easier because I quickly realized that French is basically a combination of basic Spanish and advanced English, only with trickier pronunciations rules and lots of exceptions.

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Bird’s-eye view of Mostar

Yesterday, I saw a couple people filming near Tito’s Bridge in downtown Mostar with a drone. They flew it near some buildings and over the river, and it was pretty funny to watch the old men, who were out for a Sunday morning stroll, stop and stare, jaws dropped, at the little flying contraption.

Well it turns out that these people were recording throughout Mostar, and they posted the result online today! It’s a beautiful video, providing an unusual perspective of the city. Goodness I feel so lucky to live here.

On another note, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all those in the U.S.! I’m not even Irish, but it’s still a fun holiday. So here’s a lovely Irish Blessing for the day: “May all you get all your wishes but one, so that you will always have something to strive for.”

Ekonomija Mostara

ekonomija mostara

This picture was posted on a Facebook page called Mostarski crnjaci, which roughly translated means “Mostarian problems.” It is a satire of actual death announcements that are posted throughout the city, which serve a similar purpose to newspaper obituaries in the U.S. But this one is about the economic situation.

At the top, there are the symbols of Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam, signifying that it affects everyone regardless of religion. Then, it reads: “After a short and severe illness, the Economy of Mostar is shut down.” And then lists a bunch of local companies. Below the image of arrow on the graph plummeting, it says: “MOURNERS: workers with families, citizens of Mostar and BiH.”

Just thought I’d share it because I think it’s pretty interesting… Quite the statement.

Just what the doctor ordered…

Last weekend was our “Spring Break,” a four-day break that was also the last one until school finishes. Over the weekend, on March 1, was the BiH Independence Day as celebrated by the Federation. The Republika Srpska celebrates it in January, because this is Bosnia and that’s just how things go currently.

Regardless, it didn’t really matter because my Belgian friend Amber (check out her blog!) and I went to Dubrovnik, a beautiful coastal city in the south of Croatia. I desperately needed time to focus only on my physics lab reports – the deadline was immediately after break, and I had barely started any of the four I needed to complete. Amber, on the other hand, wanted to start studying for the final exams of math. So, we decided to rid ourselves of the distractions and monotony of Mostar, and hop on a bus to go 3 hours south.

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Protests in Mostar [my story]

The following long post is my personal account of what I experienced regarding the protests in Mostar on February 7th. I don’t claim perfect understanding of all the facets of this complicated situation, and I acknowledge the potential of a bias to my story. It’s just one perspective.

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“Did you hear about Tuzla?”

I was sitting in my room working on Wednesday (Feb. 5) night, when one of my roommates, Ajša, asked this question to myself and one of my other roomies, Borjana. The two of them are both from BiH, so they started to tell me about how earlier in the day, there had been some significant protests in a city north of Sarajevo. I asked if it would spread to Mostar but they weren’t really sure.

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“I know it’s kind of late but it would be quite cool if you went to the Spanish square at 16:00, because there will be (probably a small one) a protest going on. It’s organized spontaneously as a supprt for everything that has been going on in Tuzla.”

I received this email on Thursday in the early afternoon. I couldn’t go because I had a Skype planned at that time, but I heard later that it was pretty peaceful, just about 100 or 200 people blocking traffic on the busiest street in the center of Mostar (called the Boulevard). Again that evening, I talked with my roommates, who were excitedly showing me pictures and articles that were describing other spontaneous protests that had popped up in major cities across the Federation as a show of support. “Do you think this is it?” I asked. “What do you mean?” responded Borjana. “Is this it? Is this going to be the protests that start a revolution, that make changes in BiH?”

“It’s hard to know,” Ajša said, “but we’ve never seen anything like this before. Not since the Baby Protests in Sarajevo last summer.”

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