There is probably no better meal, certainly no tastier, than a simple one. During my travels last summer, I returned to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. My first visit to Mostar, the year prior, had been somewhat eventful. While I was staying in Split, my travelling companion and I decided to visit Mostar for the day. We bought bus tickets and had the day planned perfectly, even visiting the British Consulate in Split to discuss the safety of the trip, telephoning the British Foreign Office in Bosnia to talk about our visit and to inform them (as we at the time thought we had to) of the brief few hours we planned to spend in Mostar. All of these precautions thoroughly amused our families.
The day to catch the bus came and we climbed aboard a reasonably nice coach, although the air-conditioning did not work and the temperature was at times, quite unbearable. Our bus driver and ticket inspector were both nice, but the driver insisted on beeping his horn at every vehicle, cyclist or person we passed. This was also the first time I encountered the concept hailing a bus. The buses run through villages and random people would just flag down the bus.
Due to the constant stopping to pick up villagers, we arrived rather late. Despite Mostar being a rather, if not the most important city in Herzegovina, certainly for its history, there was no tourist information. After attempting to gain directions from the ticket woman in the bus station, we wandered toward the Old Town. After being horribly lost, my travelling companion and I stopped two young teenage boys for help. When asking them if they spoke English and if they could tell us how to get to the Old Bridge (while making bridge hand signals) they rolled their eyes and said they could show us the way.
My travelling companion and I looked at each other with eyes that read, if they start to lead us down an alleyway, run, but we both decided we were probably safe when old woman after old woman kept waving at the boys. The boys kindly led us to the Old Bridge while telling us about Mostar’s history and food, and finally we were able to take in the true spectacle that is Mostar.
Our journey home was particularly eventful. We boarded what could be described as a bus which was probably our combined age and on reaching Imotski, where numerous teenagers raced old Mercedes and BMWs, we were asked to vacate the bus. Thankfully, a man who previously belonged to the JNA (Yugoslavian Army) was rather helpful in removing us from the bus and then placing us on another, equally old and frayed bus.
After just twenty minutes having vacated Imotski bus station, the bus was confronted by a car transporter lorry having misjudged a mountain bend and the position of a lorry in the opposite direction, consequently resulting in the car transporter slipping off the side of a mountain. One Croatian, police car and two Croatian policemen then attempted to clear the road blockage.
Despite my first trip to Mostar being so eventful, as I said, I returned to Mostar while travelling last summer. After a slightly less eventful journey from Sarajevo to Mostar (although rather arduous due to the numerous smoking breaks for the driver and passengers) we located our pension/pansion, Pension Aldi, just across the road from the bus station.
Starving, hot and thirsty, we headed off in search of a good restaurant where we could eat and relax for a few hours. We happened across Taurus, near Kriva Cuprija (Sloping Bridge). This bridge is the oldest, single-arch, stone bridge in Mostar. It was built in 1558 by Cejvan Kethoda, a Turkish architect. It is commonly believed that this bridge was a test run for the construction of Stari Most (the Old Bridge) which was destroyed during the 1990s war but rebuilt in 2005, partly by the British Army.
Taurus is a traditional restaurant which overlooks the Kriva Cuprija. It serves large portions of Dalmatian and Italian-influenced dishes. There is a huge fire place which you can cosy up to in the winter and a beautiful terrace on which you can sit and listen to the relaxing sounds of the river.
I particularly enjoyed the fish platter which consisted of, not one but two large trout, chips (as in fries rather than crisps), roasted tomatoes, courgette and aubergine. I washed this down with a half litre of house red wine. After all that food I was thoroughly stuffed and so relaxed by the river for another hour or so and consumed another half litre of house wine.
What I loved about this restaurant was one, how cheap it was, but two, how helpful, kind, and appreciative the owner and his son were to serve us. I felt like I was making a difference to those who had suffered a great deal through both war, and poor political and economic situations.
If you are visiting Mostar, Taurus is definitely a place to stop to enjoy a drink or better still, some great Dalmatian food.
Taurus, Kriva Cuprija 1.
Tel: (061) 212 617
Open: 11 am – midnight.