Following the Adriatic highway Jadranska magistrala, most people have no
idea when crossing the town of Neum not far from Dubrovnik that he went from Croatia to Croatia through Bosnia and Herzegovina. Once there was only one small station and handsome local policeman1, so you just wondered why you have to stop and in 10 minutes you continued your journey. Although there was a sticker on the station´s wall "Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine", there was no chance of noticing it unless you stood right in front of it. They recently removed this small station and made a real border crossing2. Now you will notice that you are in another state for sure.
If you are interested in Neum and Bosnia and Herzegovina, have any questions or you want to share your experience, you can find us also here.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country unknown to the peasants, and as far as it is known only in connection with pilgrimage sites. The only resort in this country on seashore is Neum. A small town built by the sea full of apartment houses and hotels, over which a modern church stands. Market called Konzum, some restaurants, shops and that's it.
I was brought to this place by curiosity and again by prejudices of Slovaks (as always in this part of the world). Not even mines, war, Srebrenica massacre and Muslims discouraged me. “In Sarajevo there were held in the 84th Winter Olympic Games” the knowledge of the Slovaks on this topic ended. So I thought I was going to look for and try minefields. We stayed in one of the apartment houses at Iva and Vinko with a funny name. We paid for beautiful apartment overlooking the Adriatic sea on the top floor about half (if not a third) price as in Croatia.Šta više trebate? (What else do you need more?)3 You need nothing more. You have a place to sleep, under the window there is a shop where several buns connected in a circle shape are called bread, around the corner a nice restaurant, outside hot, the sun is shining, water attracts you to jump in.
Iva arrived with a cold juice and immediately hosted us and inquired curiously "Odakle smo? Kako smo došli?" (Where are we from? How did we reach the place?)4 I was a little confused by explaining where I could get to Neum from, but at least I had a chat in local language. In places like this I had some difficulties to understand their dialect. But you don't have to worry about it, because these people have a special gift to talk to you even if you don't understand them at all. "Nema problema" (No problem)5 is comprehensible also here and I think even more than elsewhere.U Neumu nema ništa, sve je unutar“ (There is nothing in Neum, everything is in inland)6 I learned from an eloquent Iva, who also lacked the typical Mediterrenian feature " to tell exactly what she is thinking about." So in Neum there is nothing except of the church and for everything interesting for tourists you have to travel inland. I was a little disappointed about this fact, but I thought "nema problema".
In the evening we went to check the "ništa" (nothing)7. Pripravená, že vonku nebude ani nohy, som bola napokon prekvapená, že na promenáde bolo celkom rušno. Stánky, sladoled, restorani, kafići, hudba hrala, množstvo ľudí. Zatiaľ nikde žiadna mína, vojna, moslimovia. Začala som byť celkom spokojná. Dokonca sme sa rozhodli zúčastniť koncertu miestnej star Igora Cukrova, ktorý sa na nás usmieval z každej druhej budovy. Pozabudnúc na to, kde sme a aká je tu mentalita, sme mierne rozčúlení po 2 hodinách odišli domov. Nikto totiž netušil, kedy sa dostaví. Napokon sme si ho vypočuli z balkóna.
The next day we went to try the local Adriatic sea. Beach was very similar to those found in Croatia. Clear sea, salty about like in Istria, gradual entry, ideal for older people and children, a little crowd during the weekend, but very pleasant surrounding. In shops and restaurants you can easily pay with euros, kunas and bosnian marks (1 euro = 1,96 BAM)). Miesto ideálne na pokojnú dovolenku, keď si chcete užiť more. Vŕtala mi v hlave Ivina veta, že všetko je vo vnútri. A tak to aj bolo.
You will recognize the charm of this country if you go inland. It is best to go from Bosnia to Bosnia through Croatia - take the Opuzen border crossing. Before you reach it, you will cross the Neretva river with typical channels and swatches.
The river will accompany you to the center of Herzegovina Mostar . It starts in Opuzen. The fields are shrinking, the rocks are reaching the clouds, while the turquoise Neretva wipes out on the right, accompanied by an asphalt road. Around you just untouched nature, some forgotten house, minaret, mosque. You drive around a completely preserved town from the Ottoman Era Počitelj and wonder what century you are in and whether you are traveling in time.
Prejdete niekoľko dedín až dorazíte do Mostaru – mesta plného rozporov. Centrum pamätá Osmanov (fascinuje vás), niektoré budovy nesú stále stopy po vojne (bojíte sa) a okolo vás prefrčí autobus, za ktorý by sa nehanbili ani v najvyspelejších štátoch sveta (žmolíte si oči, či ste dobre videli). Ste prekvapení, lebo vám to všetko akosi nejde dokopy. Po chrbte vám behajú zimomriavky, v hlave mierny chaos, ale stále vás tá záhadná krajina viac a viac priťahuje a pohlcuje. Na čaršija (Ottoman marketplace)8 that you never dreamed about. Čibuk, ćilim, amajlije, džezve, čakšire, djerdan, fildžani, fes, mindžuše9, everything needed for Scheherazade to get dressed and to arrange her house. Everything is shining and full of colors. Typical Arabic world. Among the crowds of tourists you can sometimes see veiled women.
When you finally get to Stari most ( Old bridge)10, which is the biggest attraction of this city. Do not be surprised if someone suddenly crawls over the railing and jumps to Neretva. There is a sport club of water jumpers. Certainly it is worth to visit also Blagaj, and its tekija (monastery)11 and the spring of the river Buna, which you will be taken to by boat. If you are a believer, do not forget Medjugorje and many smaller pilgrimage sites in the mountains above Neum. If you like enjoying nature, Kravica miss Ljubuški waterfall and Hutovo Blato nature reservation.
You can not say you were in Bosnia if you at least once don't have real Bosnian coffee made in džezva and fildžan with rahatluk, burek, baklava and musaka12, you don't buy a miniature donkey or Aladdin's lamp and don´t visit at least one mosque. You won't find anything from this Bosnia in Neum. Therefore, the locals say there is nothing in Neum.
The beauty of Bosnia will slowly begin to be revealed to you as you move away from the coast. However, it still retains the veil of mystery settled in your head, which will always pull you back and let you enter into its magical world again and reveal something of it. There is no need to worry about Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is friendly, warm and cordial.
Almost the whole area of the state is demined. Muslims are very friendly here. Everyone can choose from its benefits- sea, nature, history, good coffee, sweets and if not, she'll surprise you with something and won't just let you go. She's a magic.
1 Bosnian policeman
2 Border crossing
3 What else do you need more?
4 Where are we from? How did we reach this place?
5 No problem
6 There is nothing in Neum, everything is inland.
8 The part of the town with shops
9 Pipe, carpet, amulet, coffee pot, pants, necklace, cup, cap, earrings
11 Musliman monastery
12 Rahatluk = kind of sweet; burek = kind of cake; baklava = kind of dessert; musaka = minced meat dish