For each of the day trips we were to have a car & driver. Nilola & Boris, both usually bus drivers, considered these trips in their company’s Mercedes as a bit of a holiday from their usual work with larger scaled vehicles carrying much larger groups. They were not guides & their English was a bit more limited than the Croatians with whom we’d been staying. These guys were from rural areas, working the tourist season while longing to get back to their villages.
We gradually, tenuously learned as we chatted with them in honest curiosity along the way, appreciating by turn how much intelligence of their own they had to share.
Nikola picked us up early, driving us to Kotor, Montenegro, another walled city… small, ancient & quite well preserved. It snuggles deep in a finger of water, fjord-like but actually a riva or a submerged river bed… forming a sheltering port. While it had long become sleepy, now cruise ships bring the pluses & minuses of the tourist economy of which we are a part.
One church displayed only these few remnants of once elaborately painted walls.
that this travel is to be all about
walled cities…built mostly during
the Venetian Empire.
because we are going to visit that city later in this travel…
Next morning we met Boris,… a bit younger & a bit less reserved… who drove us to Mostar, which proved to be rather a long drive, with several crossings of the complicated borders.
I savored the views of the undulating coastline the highway followed north up & then east… away from the Adriatic waters I found myself loathe to leave… would there be octopus for lunch? The route reminded me some of the lovely mid-coast parts of Highway One in California.
We learn that the reason for the route has to do with a quirk of geography created during the drafting of borders from the recent peace negotiations (in Dayton, OH!), giving the country named Bosnia and Herzegovina a finger of territory connecting it to the sea… thus making a puzzle of multiple border crossings in order to use the route of the highway.
Rising through farmland becoming more occasionally forested, we gleaned bits about the agriculture, geography & history… with sub-currents of the several cultures living a long discomfort in these beautiful territories.
famous for 450 years, since being built by the Ottomans… linking a valuable trade routes.
That meeting of Muslim East & Christian West has mashed or mixed since ages before then.
By choice-in-necessity the city, while gently culturally divided cities on each side of the river communicated over a stunningly designed geometrically sound structure.
yet it is so beautiful in form, function & symbolism.
luminous shades of turquoise & aqua.
The much smaller “Crooked Bridge” was built a few years before its much larger sister as a study for the construction techniques. We had lunch at a table looking up at it.
Built as a monument after the war this tower rises from a terrace with differently colored paving stones illuminating the footprint of the foundation plan of the destroyed church which it memorializes
A new concrete sanctuary stands beside it… still very dusty for the finishing work being done.
The city has some fascinating street art, which we observed on a side trip to the new mall… contrasting the ruins with too-familiar contemporary retail, of course. War & shopping seem to be hallmarks of human culture…
walled cities, built mostly during the period of the Venetian Empire.
our favorite city, later in this travel…
Ah, but our next destination became
my favorite city of this trip…