“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway


4 July 2014

Border crossings, battle scars and bedlam

Border crossings, battle scars and bedlam

Another day another border and this time a busy one. The queue backs meant our journey was a couple of hours longer than planned and being called off the coach for questioning was a little embarrassing. After a few minutes and a little confusion as to why my rucksack contained a load of pills (it’s fine there for malaria once we hit South-East Asia) we continued to Mostar.
We had one night booked at the Sky Lounge Hostel which as the name suggests has a fantastic roof terrace with a great view of the town. The staff were great and a steady supply of home made Rakia and wine (free of charge) was an added bonus.
The recently rebuilt bridge in the old town was the star attraction and the anger over its destruction was clear from the tales of our local guide. The scars of war are plain to see as there are still many buildings riddled with shrapnel holes. The river is the dividing line between religion and wealth even today and sadly the only constant theme on both banks were the years on the gravestones. Despite the dark times the locals remain extremely welcoming to tourists.
On the second day we caught another bus back to Croatia. The journey to Dubrovnik meant we had three borders to cross however we passed through with no major incident and to be honest I was extremely excited to visit the jewel of the Dalmatian Coast and didn’t really notice the stops.
We had a little longer in Dubrovnik and you do need a few days to soak up the scenery. If your on a budget this is probably not the best destination although the “marker hostel” we stayed at was the cheapest by the old town. The beauty of this region and recent use as a backdrop for shows like “Game of Thrones” means in the summer the place is rammed with tourists. We put up with the crowds and found a great seafood restaurant by the old town docks (I forget the name but just look out for people eating seafood platters from black cauldron like dishes) the price is modest compared to surrounding eateries.
To get a great panoramic view take the cable car up to the old fortress. It’s only a few euros and you can grab a coffee at the top or if you want to find out about the siege of Dubrovnik visit the war museum located in the fort.
Once we had seen all the sights from Onofrio’s fountains to the palaces of Sponza and Rector we chilled out by the sea. There is a beach close to the old town but at peak season it’s always packed. As an alternative you can follow the wall from the docks where the rocks provide the ideal platform to jump and take the plunge.
Overall Dubrovnik was a fitting end to our tour of Croatia. It was a shame we couldn’t explore the many islands off the Dalmatian Coast but we have to keep moving if we’re going to make it to Latvia by the end of July.

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