I didn’t know what to expect when i got here in terms of size, population, tourist numbers etc… but I was instantly surprised by the amount of apartment blocks, b and b’s, hotels, restaurants and shops around the place. The scenical part of me would say those apparitions were a stroke of economic & entrepreneurial genius, way ahead of their time, which have people injecting cash in to the locality 30 years after the events took place. Initial investment, nothing… the pay off – still counting today. Since 1981, there have been numerous sightings, strange events & reported miracles here. Some have logical, scientific explanation which for many years went unanswered and were put down as miracles or some kind of religious signs.
here were a few very normal looking people just walking around, as if waiting for a bus or to greet some friends coming in off a bus. At least 3 or 4 of these individuals. When a bus would come in they’d loiter around the door of the bus as if waiting to greet somebody they knew. They’d spot the tourists and pounce. It’s never nice to see that, but what can you do… at the same bus station on the way back to Medjugorje, i noticed a young guy talking and helping the bus driver load luggage on to the bus, extremely eager to help and answer any questions people were asking about where the bus was going, when it was leaving etc… i assumed he was working there despite the fact he was in jeans and tshirt but on reflection he was simply looking for tips (the public bus charged you €1 per bag put underneath the bus – ryanair would be proud).
Anyway, the only way to get around Dubrovnik itself is by bus or taxi. You can buy internal bus tickets for 10 kunas each (about €1.30) and use then on any bus for up to 1 hour after you’ve first swiped it. It’s a small city so you could walk around most of the major sites without collapsing from exhaustion, although you’ll be glad of a bus and more importantly air conditioning in the heat.
Anyway, once in Dubrovnik we faced a 3 hour bus trip to Medjugorje where we were based for most of the week. That 3 hour bus trip was probably the best 3 hours bus trip you could hope for. View, views and more views. The 3 hours were broken up by a mid way pit stop in a cafe over-looking the sea / cliffs /islands and a few novelty border check points help perk you up as you weave in and out of Europe (Croatia is in Europe, Bosnia Herzegovina isn’t).
Religious experience? Not for me anyway, just pure beauty of nature. If i could steal anything from Medjugorje and pack it in my suitcase, it would be that sun. Here’s a sunset from the day before and another sunset the day after. Notice the colours and rays.
Back to religion now (it’s hard to get away from it in when talking about a place like Medjugorje) and there are three places Mary supposedly appeared or continues to appear. Blue Cross, Apparition Hill & Cross Mountain. I visited all of them. The terrain is tricky to navigate through, particularly at Blue Cross / Apparition Hill (it’s the same mountain). Sharp, jagged rocks are waiting to slice open the flesh of anyone who happens to fall. Dangerous stuff and i was surprised to see elderly people and kids ascend. Some even barefoot!
Ignoring religion for a second, Medjugorje itself is pretty peaceful and welcoming. Plenty of walks, plenty of sun… food is good and remarkably cheap. Main course? €5. Desert? €3. Portion size? American. It’s a food lover’s dream. It will never pass for a ‘sun holiday’ destination due to it’s religious roots, but the region in general is pretty scenic and worth seeing at least once.
Ah, a city. People, cars, buses, lights… more my type of place. The long bus trip to Dubrovnik from Medjugorje gave me the opportunity to experience that long scenic bus trip down the Adriatic coast once again. Once i arrived in Dubrovnik’s new bus station, i was greeted by a big ‘apartments’ sign in my face followed by a ‘you speak english?’ rhetorical and grammatically incorrect question, the type of question you get asked by people begging on the street or trying to get money out of you. This guy was no different, he was trying to sell me accommodation, then a boat ride, then a restaurant deal… anything. He was genuine in that he was some kind of rep with all the documentation and knowledge of what he was trying to sell but his desperation to sell was his undoing as that put me in to ‘no thanks, let’s get out of here’ mode. After getting my bearings and getting to a safe place away from people and ‘that guy’, i began to survey the scene around the bus station once i’d bought my bus tickets in to town.