An early goodbye to the well-traveled, extremely nice group of fellow Explore Worldwide travelers before Igor drove us to the Mostar Main Bus Station next to the train station. Beware: There are two bus stations in Mostar. Make sure you know which one you want! The main one is called Autobusna Stanica Mostar where we stood while mass confusion reigned around us. A walk into the Autoprevoz Office and the woman told us there is no bus to Split today. It only runs during the summer.
We looked at Igor. He looked at us. ex-Marine is ready to have a coronary and has gone into panic mode. “We lost the money, we’ll have to go with the group,”…on and on. The tourist agency representative gave us a card yesterday with his mobile number. Igor telephoned him and after a lengthy conversation, is assured that Globtour does have a bus today (albeit with a gazillion stops to Split). Rep said he would call Globtour and call Igor right back. Rep called back, there is definitely a bus. Duh… It wasn’t run by Autoprevov but Globtour. How in the hell were we expected to know that this was a different private bus line?
A fast walk over to the little Globtour office at the far end of the bus station for a conversation with them. “Yes, Globtour was running a little late today but will eventually pull into Bay 5 at 9:30a. The bus driver should have our tickets.” Nice lady also assured us that she will come outside when the bus comes to make sure all is in order and had a spot of good news. We will not have to change buses in Medugorje; a 40-minute stop, get off, wait, get back on the same bus. Thank you, Igor, for translating. Don’t know what we would have done without you.
We sat to wait. There is a charge to use the toilets and we are out of local currency. Go into one cafe, ask, the answer is “no.” Go into the cafe next to that one who also charges where I explained we were out of the local money, heading to Croatia and this young girl said, “okay.” Greatly relieved, we sat and waited, and waited, and waited (fortunately on a nice day), fending off two packs of gypsies with obligatory children in tow. A bus pulled into Bay 5, not our bus. ex-Marine goes back to Globtour to check for the umpteenth time. “Maybe the bus will be in Bay 4.”
At 9:20a, the Globtour bus pulled in. We now have to pay 2 Euro for each suitcase to be loaded on the bus. Did you ever? Finally on the half empty bus, we’re off for the short ride to Medugorje.
Driver pulled into a small bus station, made everyone get off with hand luggage and drove away! Helpful Balkans translated that the driver will be back in one hour. Hefted backpacks, and walked in the 30 Celsius heat towards the main street where we discovered “The…Without A Doubt, Most Wonderful Italian Gelato…ever!!! A problem. We only had enough Bosnian coins to pay for one cone. Nah…nah…it’s mine, no sharing allowed! A man outside spoke the gelato shop spokeEnglish and asked, “What is the problem?” Problem was no more foreign coins, but would they take $1 U.S. for another cone? They would, did, and now Steve is also in raptures over the home-made Gelato. If you are ever in Medugorje, look for the big sign advertising Italian Gelato on the main street.
Bus with driver returned and we headed to the hills filled with olive trees, fruit trees, and vineyards until Capljina. Now the bus sat in a parking lot for 10 minutes waiting for a connecting bus to arrive and many passengers transferred to our bus.
Next stop? The border crossing of Bosnia-Herzegovina/Croatia at Metkovic. The bus drove through the first gate and pulled into a gigantic compound loaded with cars, trucks, semis, and other buses waiting to be checked through. Bus driver jumped off with paperwork while we sat. It was now 12n. Another 15-20 minute wait for a guard who came on the bus and checked identity papers.
FYI: If you take public transportation from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Split, Croatia, you’ll pass through a tiny portion of land given to the Bosnians in the Dayton Agreement. You’ll still have to go through customs. Isn’t that amazing?
The bus eventually made it’s way down the mountains and began driving along the rugged Dalmatian coast past and through one picturesque town after another. By now, it is raining along the coast and the bus driver has suddenly decided he is Mario Andretti, peeling around the curves. We need a toilet in the worst way but never know if there’s enough time at infrequent bus station stations stops. The driver didn’t speak English and all other stops took place along the road.
It was now 3:30p. The bus zoomed down a street towards the center of Split, and I caught sight of our Hotel Luxe sign as he dove by and scream to Steve, “He just passed our hotel. Pay attention to how to get there!” The bus pulled into the very large Split Bus Station next to the sea with train station behind it. This bus station had signs above each bay, clearly showing where each bus was going.
A long line of cafes, take away stands, women standing by the bus doors as passengers alighted holding “Sobe” (room) signs, and asking, “Do you need a room?” We needed a toilet!
Walking the gauntlet, we stopped in front of a nice cafe to ask (no, beg) if we could use their toilet and the waitress must have recognized desperation in our eyes and said, “Yes”! (A blessing on her and her descendants.)
Straight past the ferries in the harbor. Past buses in a circle that go to the airport. A right turn, hauled suitcases up an incline and there was the Hotel Luxe in front of us. We were in Split, Croatia!! Give a yell…