Studying for a semester in Salzburg back in Fall 2012 was not enough to satisfy all of my European travel desires. This summer, I will be living in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. This blog will share my experience, internship, day-to-day happenings, exciting travels, and more with my friends and family. I hope you enjoy the story. - Jacob Saffert.
Tomorrow is my last day of work at the Eko Centar. It is so hard to believe that. I will be leaving Mostar after this weekend to begin my gradual movement back to the States. I’ll be spending a few days in Croatia, a week in Paris, and one day in Iceland before arriving in Minnesota. Getting ready to leave Mostar is a funny feeling. Thanks to all the people I have met, this city already feels like a home to me after just a couple months. There will be some tough goodbyes for sure.
It’s not all sad, though. I’m leaving one home to return to another. For those of you who don’t know, I will be back at St. John’s for a fifth year. Not as a student this time, but as the university’s sustainability fellow. I am getting more and more excited for that opportunity as the time gets closer. So I have that to look forward to, at least. For now though, I am just trying to enjoy my final days here as much as possible.
The last few days have been packed with activities per usual. Life has continued to be pretty great. I went to Hvar and Split in Croatia over the weekend and it turned out to be one of my favorite excursions of my time abroad. Sadie and I got into Split at 4am and then caught a boat to the island of Hvar an hour later. We got off the boat in Stari Grad a couple hours later.
Stari Grad is quite small, but it has charm, peacefulness, and beauty that pretty much no other city I have seen can compare with, and that is saying a lot. Stari Grad, which literally translates to “Old City,” was established over 2300 years ago, so it is a fitting name. The buildings and streets of Stari Grad make you feel like you are living in another time, but in a very authentic way. Some places you go to seem like they have lost some of their unique character as the years pass, the city modernizes, and many tourists visit. I do not think that that is the case here. Once you walked past the beaches and got into the city, Stari Grad just felt like it is the way it is meant to be.
My day in Stari Grad was incredibly enjoyable and extremely relaxing. It is hard not to relax in such a wonderful place though. Sadie and I essentially went from coffee, to swimming, to exploring the town, to wine, back to coffee, to hiking, to swimming again, etc. It was so nice to just hang out and enjoy life. In the evening we caught a boat back to Split. After getting shown to our apartment for the night, we promptly went out and checked out Split’s late night scene. Even though I had not really slept the night before due to our travels, I had no trouble getting in the mood to go out on the town.
After getting back from Croatia, I was also able to witness a couple of major annual events in Mostar. Sunday was the last day of Ramadan. It was neat to see how people celebrated around the city. Many people, myself included, had a day off of work on Monday for Bajram (Eid al-Fitr).
There was also a bridge jumping and diving competition on Sunday afternoon. People from across the region came to jump off the Old Bridge. I have seen people jump before, but never this many people. It was really cool to watch it all play out. I had a prime viewing spot from a nearby bridge. The competition lasted for about two hours. This video is not from this year’s competition, but you can get an idea of what the event is like.
This is now my last week in Mostar. I begin my journey home on Sunday and will be back in Minnesota two weeks from Thursday.
So you know how I said that my trip to Montenegro last weekend would likely be my last excursion before leaving the region? Well, I changed my mind. Tonight I will be heading to Split, Croatia. That is not the ultimate destination this time, however. I will be going to Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. Hvar is a popular stop for people looking to relax and enjoy life. Stari Grad is a really small town with a population of less than 3,000 people.
I am looking forward to a nice quiet weekend getaway. Joining me on this outing will be my roommate, Sadie, and a friend from Sarajevo, Melissa.