The Daredevil Divers of
The Stari Most
(Dispatch #8) Story and photos by Tom Weber
scars of war may have been hard to spot on the warm and friendly faces
of Bosnians that I encountered along the way in open-air markets,
storefronts, restaurants and neighborhood cafes but the many
bullet-ridden buildings and cemeteries that dot the landscape around
Sarajevo and elsewhere were in full view, standing as grim reminders
of the Bosnian War, the international armed conflict that raged across
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) between 1992-1995.
Bosnia, no RESILIENT Bosnia, just like
the phoenix, that mythical firebird that rose from the ashes, has picked
itself up, dusted itself off, rolled up its sleeves and is slowly, but
surely, rejoining the ranks of Europe's more popular tourist destinations.
According to World Tourism Organization
estimates, Bosnia is on target to have the third highest growth rate
in tourism on the planet by the end of this decade.
And, there really is no better place in
the country to witness firsthand this national renaissance than in Mostar,
where it's iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), and the old
town area that surrounds it, stands proudly once again, spanning the
Neretva River and linking the cultural and religious diversity on both
sides of this historic city.
Along with the other members of the intrepid
"band of merry media" 18 travel writers and photographers
invited by Insight
Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its Bosnia
and Dalmatian Rivera itinerary I'm following close behind
Karin, our tour director/concierge, as she leads us towards the landmark
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Stari
Most, designed by celebrated Ottoman architect mimar Hajruddin
according to the design of his master-teacher, the great mimar
Sinan began accepting commerce and foot traffic back in 1566
and stood the test of time for 427 years.
But, that all changed in a blink of an
eye on November 9, 1993, when Croatian artillery fire during the Croat-Bosniak
War the so-called "war within a war" destroyed
the single-arch masterpiece, sending all of that history crashing down
into the Neretva and dividing an ingenious city that had been united
After the war ended, with the assistance
of UNESCO, the World Bank and a handful of generous European nations,
the City of Mostar began the arduous task of painstakingly reconstructing
the Stari Most and many of the historic bridge-area buildings.
And, on July 23, 2004, with much fanfare, commerce and foot traffic
began anew as the iconic bridge reopened.
Joining the masses, we walk the pedestrian-only
cobble into the historic center, cross over the Stari Most and
enter the Kujundziluk, the Ottoman bazaar area, the oldest part of Mostar,
filled with tiny artisan stalls and handicraft shops showcasing carpets,
jewelry, traditional garments, scarves and lots of hookah pipes.
On our return stroll, we time it just right
as one of Mostar's daredevil divers gets ready to take a "leap
of faith" off the Stari Most down into the frigid waters
of the Neretva, 20+ m below. A tradition dating back to 1664, today's
on-duty diver just needs a little bit of encouragement from the crowd
hand clapping AND a €20 donation and away he goes.
For complete information on Insight's premium
and luxury-escorted itineraries, including 110+ journeys throughout
Europe, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
All present and accounted for, Sasha, Insights'
pilot, puts the sleek motor coach in gear and away we go. Where to?
Split, Croatia, along the Dalmatian Coast, where we'll explore Roman
Emperor Diocletian's 4th century seaside digs.
Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.
* * * * *
for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope
Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973 beer was excellent!
* * * *
I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are
top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours
that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired
of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.
--- Raoul, Whittier, CA
* * * *
I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and
articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for
Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of
these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so,
please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.
* * * *
Hey Tom Wow! Love those photos they are so super
that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all
that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb
--- John, Los Angeles, CA
* * * *
for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion
Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the
list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance,
we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!
--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD
* * * *
for Vicenza Walks Monte Berico
I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to
1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladios works are amazing. Have
been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO
where I have some wonderful photos of my family.
--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA
* * * *
I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took
me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball
tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)
Took me back to the plaza.
for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)
Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early
pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still
possible to travel the Francigena trail?