Nicola and I weren’t aware, but someone had kindly disabled motorways on the hire car’s sat nav, meaning that at the first available opportunity we were diverted from the main road to a smaller road, then a smaller road, then an even smaller road.
The roads narrowed and the asphalt fell away until we reached the peak of a dusty hill, speckled with occasional dry bushes and a goat doing everything he could to remain hidden. From our vantage point, we could just make out sleek cars in the distance gliding along the coast, minutes from their destination.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, we meandered our way around the winding lanes, seemingly getting further and further from the coast before eventually tumbling back onto the main road in a cloud of dust and pebbles, about ten minutes from where we’d left it three hours ago.
In Mostar we stayed in Muslibegovic House, which is the oldest Ottoman House in Bosnia, and remained undamaged during the conflict. Part-museum and part-hotel, the house lies just up from the main street, relatively hidden away. With the temperature nearing 40 degrees, we knocked on the huge wooden door, which opened to reveal a calm oasis of flowers, trees, and most importantly, a couple of ice-cold drinks.
After a thorough examination of our room and opening and closing every drawer, we wandered down into the centre of the town for the evening. Mostar is named after its famous bridge, which links the east and west of the town across the River Neretva. Just alongside the bridge is the Mostar Diving Club, whose members jump from the crest of the bridge into the cold waters below. Sitting at a little café with a view of the bridge, we watched as a team of divers collected coins from the waiting crowds, preparing to jump. After some dramatic stretching atop the bridge, they then climbed back down and collected more money from the next lot of tourists. This continued for a good hour or so, without a single diver jumping.
Café de Alma is a small coffee shop set a couple of house back on a side street of Mostar. The owner, faced with high youth unemployment in Bosnia, recovered his parents’ coffee roaster from their basement and opened the small shop to keep the tradition of Bosnian Coffee alive. Jaz sat down with us and talked us through the coffee-making technique, emphasising that it’s all about taking time, letting the coffee rest and relaxing.