The temperatures within the concrete jungles of Belgrade and Sarajevo made the trip back to the Croatian coast that much more of a blessing! July 20th I met up with a Canadian friend in Split. A very touristy spot it does have an ancient palace that is beautiful, however it has been compromised a bit with the invasion of large retail fashion shops. A couple of chilled out days there on patios and the beach fit the bill.
It was then time to return to Brac to see the Funky Donkey crew for a couple of days, almost a homey feeling seeing so many familiar faces. It once again did not disappoint, enjoying a couple days of island partying, beaches and another trip to Bol.
One of the anticipated stops on my trip through the Balkans was to Mostar for the last weekend of July (more precisely the last Sunday in July) where an annual bridge jumping competition has been taking place from 22 meters high since 1968. Prior to the competition beginning in the afternoon, on an extremely windy day, we made a stop at one of the two mosques which are open to the public and climbed the narrow stairs of the minaret to a small lookout which gave views of the river and city below.
We also went to an old, now abandoned and pretty much stripped bank building which was used as a snipers’ nest during the war. An awesome yet eerie experience as we entered the building, bearing no windows, glass and rubbish on the floors and graffitied walls. Climbing the 6 storeys each floor held history that could just be felt (as odd as that may sound). The second floor still had tattered carpet in parts that contain the remnants of offices, book shelves, books and bank documents strewn on the floor. On the fifth floor, in the far corner, there was a hole in the wall that would have been used to shoot from and a large pile of bullet shells. The ‘tour’ was completed with a climb up a ladder to the roof. The view included many war-torn empty buildings set next to trendy cafes and a park bustling with children – an interesting contrast is only one way to describe it.
As said, it was an extremely windy day, however, this did not stop the competition (though some locals believed it should have). About 20 competitors dove. This included a free session in the middle where guys did backflips, etc. It was a little short, not as many crazy dives as I had expected and not as lively a crowd as I anticipated, however, it was still pretty unbelievable. A relaxed evening of sheesha and then to a bar which is inside a cave (cool atmosphere) capped off the day.
The following day we joined the hostel owner and 15 others for the ‘Bata tour’ which lasted 14 hours! A trip to the Kravice waterfalls and a monastery were on the agenda, outside of that you must visit it and experience it for yourself!
Continuing south we arrived in Kotor, Montenegro two days ago! More to come on this country shortly.