Taking the Long Way travel blog


Stari Most







The first diver; its like a Where's Wally?...you have to find him....

another, more graceful, diver

Mostar is about a 3 hour drive south of Sarajevo and I liked it from the moment I arrived. It’s a cute little town built around Stari Most (Old Bridge), a slender, elegant structure 24 metres tall over the freezing Neretva River. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years, until the bridge was destroyed on November 9, 1993 during the Bosnian War. For Bosnians the Stari Most Bridge was as significant as the nave of Hagia Sophia, or the top of the Empire State Building, the approach to the Taj Mahal or the heights of Machu Pichu; its presence surpassed any function and the nation was devastated.

The commander of the Croatian Defence Council, is currently on trial at the ICTY for ordering the destruction of the bridge, among other charges. Consequently, a project was set in motion to rebuild it, and the new bridge opened on July 23, 2004.

Coincidentally the day after I arrived was the annual diving competition in which men from all over the country and overseas gather to dive off the bridge in a hugely popular, and very dangerous, competition. In the afternoon, after I dropped my bag at the little guesthouse/hostel I was staying at, I walked down through the cobbled Old Quarter and down to catch a glimpse of Stari Most before the hordes descended the following day.

I loved the bridge and all the cobbled laneways but the bridge is so smooth and shiny it’s a mission just to get across without falling on your face, as many people did. Then at either end the cobbled laneways are just as treacherous, if not more so as they are smooth, slippery AND uneven.

I found a great little Italian place there and to break up the burek intake started on a 3 day Italian extravaganza; pasta, pizza, brushetta…..etc. So delicious.

The diving competition the next day brought the little town to a standstill and swelled its numbers from the usual 110,000 to nearly double that. The bridge was closed from early afternoon and people had been staking out the best positions to watch from since well before that. The diving started at 4pm and was simply breathtaking to watch. One after another men took the plunge from the middle of the span and dove into the icy waters below. There was thunderous applause for well executed dives and the collective drawing of breathe when dives went wrong and the potential for injury was high. And of course the traditional booing and hissing at the 5 judges when they held up a low score card for a local favourite.

But other than that the little town was fairly quiet with not that much else to see or do and I'm headed for the bright lights and seaside views of Dubrovnik tomorrow.

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