Day 7 – rafting on the Neretva
We had two options today: white-water rafting on the Neretva river or walking in hot conditions. I decided to opt for the cooler option, although the prospect of the rapids scared me a bit and I didn’t bring my swimming costume! We left Sarajevo for Konjic at 9am and met up with Samir Krivić the owner of Europe Rafting at Restoran Vidikovac where we had a great view of the old Ottoman bridge over the river. Then we drove to another location and parted from the walkers.
We were provided with wet suits, life jackets and helmets. The wet suits were sleeveless and a bit exposing – Kenan very kindly loaned me his t-shirt so that I wasn’t flashing my sports bra to the world! Alison, Sarah, Bob and I were in the same boat with Samir and his son. It took us 4 hours to go about 23 km with a couple of breaks to snack on fruit and (for those who wanted to) a swim in the cold river. Samir told us that in April, when the river is at its highest and strongest, the same trip takes 45 minutes! We did up to class 5 rapids, which means nothing to me other than it was very exciting without being scary. My favourite bits though were the quiet periods between rapids where we could just float and enjoy the scenery and the beautifully clear, cool water. We saw a golden eagle flying in the distance!
When we disembarked we had to return our wet suits. Unfortunately, our dry clothes were in the van which was up a slope on the other side of the road and I had to make the trip in my underwear! Then we drove back to Restoran Vidikovac for our meal of fresh river trout and chips. By this time it was 5pm. The walkers joined us about 45 minutes later and we sat and caught up for a while. They had a good walk with beautiful scenery but it was very hot.
Then we had a lovely scenic drive south along the E73 which follows the Neretva river to Mostar. We arrived at our hotel in Mostar (Hotel Almira) about 7:30pm. Some of the group went out for dinner but I was full of trout.
Day 8 – Mostar to Dubrovnik
Jasmina from Fortuna Tours gave us a walking tour between 8:30 and 10am and by then it was already getting hot. She told us that in summer the temperature in the sun reaches over 50 degrees! She took us over the famous Old Bridge (stari most) which was destroyed in 1993 and rebuilt and reopened in 2004. We walked along cobbled streets to the Tabačica mosque, which is open to tourists. We also visited the Biscevic House, a 17th century Turkish house museum with a courtyard.
After some free time we loaded up the bus and left for our drive to Dubrovnik at 11:30am. We stopped for half an hour at Neum for lunch and an opportunity to spend the last of our Bosnian currency. I had a sub-par sandwich and an ice cream. Neum is on BiH’s 24km stretch of Dalmatian coast. We followed the coastal road and had to go through the border with Croatia twice to get there because the only land connection Neum has with BiH is via a narrow, windy road through the hills (it makes sense when you look at a map!). Thankfully the border crossings were quick.
We arrived at our hotel (Hotel Sumratin) in Dubrovnik around 3pm. After checking in we walked down the attractive, pedestrianised Zvonimira street towards Lapad Bay. Emma and Alison had a swim and then a few of us sat in the shade with a drink. It was a very pleasant way to unwind after the heat of Mostar and the long bus journey.
That evening we headed into the old town for dinner. We caught the number 6 bus to the Pile Gate and then wandered down the glistening marble-paved Stradun watching the swallows and martins aerial feeding as the sun set. It was a wonderful introduction to the beautiful old town. We ate at Konoba Sciabecco which is on Prijeko street parallel to Stradun, with a lovely view of the Little Church of St. Nicholas (Crkva sv. Nikole). Lovely location, but overpriced, average food (I ordered the fish fillet). After dinner we went for ice cream at Dolce Vita. I had the delicious hazelnut praline. We caught the (packed!) number 6 bus back to the hotel and were in bed before midnight.
Day 9 – Dubrovnik
Emma wisely suggested that we visit the city walls first thing before the worst of the heat and crowds. So Emma, Bob, Sarah, Richard and I caught the bus at 8am and were on the city walls about 20 minutes later. We took about 2 hours to walk leisurely around the walls and stopped once about half way round for a very welcome drink in the shade at Caffe Bar Salvatore. The views from the walls of the Adriatic and the terracotta rooftops were absolutely stunning.
Photo credit: helenalex1 on Flickr
Emma, Bob, Sarah and I decided to get the cable car up to Mount Srđ. In hindsight we should have bought tickets beforehand because once we got to the cable car there was quite a bit of queuing in the heat to buy tickets. The views from the top were spectacular but we missed out on visiting the Museum of the Homeland War because it wasn’t signposted and by the time we arrived at the top it was hot and crowded and we were keen to get back down. Due to the crowds and prices in the old town we decided to go back to the area around the hotel for lunch. Exiting the Pile Gate proved to be an uncomfortable experience – there were too many people trying to enter and exit at the same time through a fairly narrow space and we were stuck in the crowd for what felt like a long time but was probably only 5 minutes.
Lunch was pizza and chips from Tutto Bene Pizzeria & Fast Food on the lovely pedestrianised street near the hotel. We saw John sitting there with a beer and asked to join him! That afternoon we said goodbye to Richard, John, Alen and Dževad because Richard and John were getting the group flight back to the UK (Mary and Sean had left earlier that morning). The rest of us joined Alison on the beach, had a few drinks and then walked a little way along the coast path to Cave Bar More for another drink! The views from this side of the bay were beautiful. We wandered back to the hotel and on the way made a reservation for 6:30pm at Casa Restaurant. The food was delicious – I had the catch of the day (hake) with pea puree and beetroot, followed by chocolate posset. We had a lovely view of the bay and the sunset from our table on the terrace.
Photo credit: helenalex1 on Flickr
Day 10 – home
Emma left at 4:30am to catch her flight home. Due to our poor experience with the hotel breakfast the day before the rest of us decided to get a croissant and coffee at a local café at 9am and then left for the airport at 10:30am.
Thank you for reading my memories and I hope you consider visiting the beautiful and very interesting Bosnia and Herzegovina!