Happy New Year! I can’t quite believe it’s already 2018 – I always feel like the last couple of months of the year come around so quickly and before we know it, it’s the start of a new year.

2017 was a big year for my travel bucket list. It wasn’t my busiest travel year by any stretch, but it was the year I finally visited a number of countries that have been sitting at the very top of my bucket list for a long, long, time.¬† Six countries (or 7 if you count a few hours in Istanbul!), two EPIC road trips, 12+ cities and countless incredible experiences – I couldn’t be more grateful!

Here’s a little look back at my 2017 in travel :

We kicked off our travels in 2017 with a trip to Amsterdam in January.

come fly with b, amsterdam, chalkboard

Amsterdam is one of those cities I’ve wanted to see forever and it didn’t disappoint! Despite us visiting at the coldest and bleakest time of the year, we had a lot of fun. Amsterdam is such a cool, laid-back city, full of amazing architecture, food and things to do. Oh, and can we talk about the amazing branding/art everywhere?!

Amsterdam(they look like gingerbread!)

After Amsterdam we were pretty much stuck in the UK all Winter/Spring – with lots of boring real-life things that needed to be taken care of!

In May we ticked off another country firmly sat at the top of my bucket list, Bosnia!

We flew to Sarajevo where we spent a few days learning about the city’s not-so-distant dark history. We toured the underground tunnel used to smuggle supplies into the city during the siege in the early 90’s, walked part of the length of the Olympic Bobsleigh tracks, overdosed on Cevapi and had coffee in a tree house! Sarajevo really surprised us, we didn’t expect it to be the highlight of our trip to Bosnia, but it was.

Next, we headed to the pretty fairytale city of Mostar which offered breathtaking views like this…

stari most, mostar, mostar bridge, bosnia
Mostar was beautiful (but crowded!) and there wasn’t very much to do. After a day spent exploring, we headed to the neighbouring village of Blagaj for a stop at this beautiful Sufi monastery nestled at the base of a cliff. What a serene place it was!

blagaj tekke, mostar, bosnia

From Mostar, we caught a coach to Croatia – where we began our first ever road trip!

Come Fly With B In Dubrovnik
We explored Dubrovnik, Split, Sibenik and Zadar. We found hidden beaches surrounded by pine trees, explored ancient cities built from marble. We walked on planks of wood set between trees and waterfalls at the KRKA national park, ate amazing pizza and overdosed on Gnocchi, we hiked through the breathtaking Plitvice National park (before a thunderstorm came and soaked us), we trecked the length of the ancient walls surrounding the old town of Dubrovnik, and explored an entire bay of abandoned hotels (another one of my life-long dreams!)

Come Fly With B Plitvice Croatia

Croatia was AMAZING – without a doubt, one of the most incredible countries I have ever visited. Croatia truly has something for everyone.

split, croatia, come fly with b,

After a few months back at work, we booked our tickets to finally live out another one of my dreams; seeing fall in beautiful New England!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. After lots of planning and excitement, our ESTA/Visa’s were revoked just hours before our flight and we were no longer authorised to travel to the US – this was a huge blow, considering everything was booked and we’d been planning our visit for months – but more on that another time!

In November we went to Rome!

Rome Come Fly With B

We managed to catch a spot of sun on our first day, we visited most of the important sights, ate a ton of gelato (eventually in the pouring rain!), we found a cat shelter set in Roman ruins in the middle of the city and we walked a lot!

On our last day, we visited the Vatican which was breathtakingly beautiful and definitely the highlight of our visit, check out the amazing map room:

vatican rome map room room of maps rome italy
If I’m honest, Rome was a bit underwhelming, and we agreed is one city we have no interest in revisiting. Even the food was sadly very, very disappointing ūüôĀ

Remember those tickets to America that we had to redirect?

We decided to redirect them to Oman –¬†which turned out to be our favourite country this year!

Oman, Come Fy With B
Oman has been sitting at the top of my bucket list for longer than I can even remember. We’ve been trying to arrange a trip to Oman for years, but budgeting for it has always been difficult (the Omani currency is really strong!).

Oman’s tourism industry isn’t very well established, meaning fewer hotels to choose from, and more planning needed to figure out logistics.

Oman muscat

From the moment we landed, we were in LOVE with this beautiful country.

We flew into Muscat where we spent a couple of days before we picked up our hire car and started our road trip. We drove up the mountains of Jabal Akhdar where we stayed in a beautiful 5* resort nestled on the edge of the cliffs, we visited abandoned cities nestled in the mountains and walked through castles in the ancient city of Nizwa.

Jabal Akhdar, Oman, Anantara Jabal Akhdar, Oman Mountains

We spent a night in the desert and climbed sand dunes in the morning, we hiked in an Oasis and visited a sea-water filled crater (allegedly) caused by a falling star, we hung out on cliffs surrounded by sea and watch the sun-set over the beautiful scenic mountains.

Oman, wadi shab,

Oman was a dream. I still can’t quite find the words to articulate it; except that this beautiful country has become one of my favourite countries in the world. I hope and pray, I will be blessed enough to return and witness its beauty once again.

And that was it for our travels in 2017!

Not the busiest year at just 9 flights, but a very rewarding one. All the places we were lucky enough to see this year (except Rome!) were sitting at the top of my bucket list for years on end, and it’s nice knowing they lived up to (or exceeded) my expectations.

Here’s to many more travels in 2018 (inshallah) *runs off to finalise 2018 bucket list*

Whats on your bucket list for 2018?


The highlight of our trip to Mostar was without a doubt our visit to the beautiful Sufi Monastery: Blagaj Tekke.

Located a short 20-minute drive away from Mostar in the village of Blagaj, the Blagaj Tekke sits at the base of a cliff on the beautiful Buna river, in the most serene surroundings.

Blagaj Tekke Bosnia

river buna, mostar, blagaj tekke, bosnia

It is not actually known when the Blagaj Tekke was first built, but the first public record of its existence dates back to 1164, when Ottoman explorer Evlija Celebija made reference to the already well-established Tekke in his travelogues.

The Tekke was an important place for Muslim worshipers, who would visit the Tekke to spend time in solitude to perform Dhikr (remembrance of God). To this day, the Tekke continues to host Dhikr sessions and you can even sit in on them!

blagaj tekke, mostar, bosnia

The Tekke has been renovated numerous times over the years as the location (below the cliff) meant the structure was prone to damage from falling rocks. The last renovation took place as recent as 2013 and the tekke has grown in popularity over the years.

Blagaj Tekke, Sufi Monastery, Bosniablagaj tekke, mostar, bosnia
Whilst the inside of the Tekke is small and simple, it’s not hard to imagine why this place was favoured by worshipers for so long. The location and setting of the Tekke transports you elsewhere, the beauty of the surrounding nature and the simplicity of the structure results in a clear, untainted vision; the perfect setting for reflection and solitude.

The waters of the Buna river are so inviting here that people often kneel down to take a sip from the clear flowing water!

Bosnia, mostar, blagaj tekke, river bunablaggage tekke, mostar, bosnia

Getting There

There is a bus you can take from Mostar (number 11) that will take you there, but we opted to take a taxi instead. Our taxi driver offered to wait for us for an hour to ensure we had a return journey back (we didn’t see any cabs there and it’s a little cut-off from the city to be stranded in). It cost 40marks for our return journey and an hour was plenty of time for us to enjoy the area.

Mostar, Bosnia, Blagaj Tekke
What To Do

There are a number of restaurants and cafes on the riverbank along the Buna river all offering views of the Tekke. Tourists are permitted to enter the Blagaj Tekke and surrounding courtyard for just 4 marks each. You will be required to remove your shoes if you wish to enter the monastery itself. I highly recommend entering to get a feel for the amazing solitude you feel in this place (and to see the views from the windows!)

river buna, mostar, bosnia, blagaj tekke

The Best Views

The most famous picture of the Tekke on Google is actually taken from the riverbank on the opposite side of the river (facing the tekke directly). We found it a little difficult to find the exact location (as it was hidden behind a restaurant!) – just remember that it’s on the opposite side of the Tekke near the carpark, you may need to climb some tiny hollowed-out steps carved from the rocks to get there. If you can’t find your way don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant staff for help!

The Blagaj Tekke is beautiful and well worth a stop if you’re in Bosnia.

Visting Sarajevo too? I’ve put together a Sarajevo guide you may find interesting!

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Blagaj Tekke, Mostar, Bosnia,


Mostar offers the kind of scenery that makes you do a double-take in disbelief the first time you lay eyes on it… The stunning imagery of the Stari¬†Most bridge suspended over the brilliant jade-green Neretva river is something straight out of a fairytale. No matter how modern the surrounding restaurants and ice cream stalls look in photos; it is easy to think Mostar is otherworldly.

Mostar Stari Most Bridge

Indeed, a photo I posted of Mostar’s beautiful Neretva river is my most liked photo on Instagram and it resulted in a ton of inbox questions about how people could go and see it for themselves.

There’s no denying it, Mostar has an other-worldly charm. It was a city I’ve longed to see ever since I first set eyes on the bridge many many years ago, naturally, I knew it had to be a stop during our Bosnia-Croatia road trip.

We arrived in Mostar after a hot and sweaty 3-hour bus journey from Sarajevo. The train connecting the two cities (often credited as being one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world) was out of service meaning the coach was our next best option. Though slightly uncomfortable in the early summer heat, it still offered breath-taking views like these (that’s the train track by the way!):

After dumping our bags at the hotel, we ventured into the old town to catch the sunset. Crowds of tourists in the city for a day trip were slowly making their way back to their coaches. We climbed the slippery pebble stones and made our way to the centre of the bridge to take in the view. The sun was sinking slowly in the distance, back-lighting the minaret of the mosque and bouncing off the jade-green waters below.

It was breathtaking, and without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and serene sights I’ve ever seen.

As the sun slipped away we headed for dinner at a local restaurant, then made our way up and down the two main touristy streets of the city. The later it got in the evening, the quieter it became. With all the day trip tours departed, locals descended on the old town, filling restaurants and brandishing ice creams for a late night treat. The street cats emerged for a spot of petting and the old town was quiet.

We only spent two nights in Mostar, and looking back, I think we could have even done it in a single night. There simply isn’t very much to do in Mostar. The old town is tiny, just two small main roads to wander through surrounded by residential homes. There aren’t many Museums or attractions to see either. The newer parts of the town (which we ventured to for dinner one evening) are just as you imagine any other Balkan city to be.

Mostar Bosnia Old Town

Whilst Mostar did suffer considerable damage during the war, it wasn’t as visible as it seemed to be in Sarajevo. You’ll find the odd bullet-ridden wall here and there, damaged empty buildings line the backstreets of the old town, but Mostar has been largely restored a lot better than Sarajevo has. It has an entirely different vibe about it.

Mostar Bosnia © Come Fly With B [www.comeflywithb.com] | Mostar Old Town

If you’re visiting Mostar I highly recommend watching this BBC documentary for some context on what this city lived through just 20 something years ago. The Stari Most was entirely destroyed by Croat military forces in 93, and what we see today is a restoration completed as recent as 2004.

For the remainder of our trip, we wandered around the old town mostly, but there was very little to do, we ventured into the newer parts of Mostar for curiosities sake. On our second day in Mostar we made a quick trip to Blagaj Tekke, a Sufi Monastery a 20-minute drive away from Mostar – a very welcome escape from the crowds in the city!

Would I visit Mostar again?

Maybe. It was the city I was most excited to see during our road trip; but it was just a lot smaller and busier than I imagined it to be, with a lot less to do. Mostar is a very popular destination for tourists visiting Croatia and Montenegro – given the short drive, it makes a perfect day trip for these travellers – many of whom are travelling aboard cruise ships. This means the city gets extremely busy during the afternoon hours and can feel a bit unbearable at times, particularly considering the terrain of the old town is largely very slippery pebbles (meaning it takes everyone longer to get around!) and the majority of tourists seemed to be elderly.

Mostar Bosnia

© Come Fly With B [www.comeflywithb.com] | Mostar Old Town


We visited in May before the start of the high-season for cruise ships in Croatia and by 11 am the old town was packed with tour groups. The evenings are definitely a lot quieter and more bearable. This can easily be remedied by exploring Blagaj Tekke during the morning or afternoon and heading back to Mostar later in the day.

Blagaj Tekke Bosnia

Don’t let my feelings put you off. Mostar is one of the places you need to see, and I’m glad I did. Ask me about Sarajevo though, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

How To Get There

From Sarajevo: You can get to Mostar by train, coach or by driving.If you had to choose between the coach or train, don’t pass up the train journey. With tracks running above water, the views on the train journey are breathtaking. Find out the train schedules here.

To get there by coach, you can either purchase your tickets online at Get By Bus or buy them in person at the Sarajevo Coach Terminal. We found some of the times advertised as “Sold Out” online were, in fact, available for purchase at the bus terminal. We paid 41 marks for two coach tickets (and a euro per piece of luggage stored), the journey takes an average of 2.5 hours. The views on the journey are beautiful so keep your camera at hand. Sit on the left-hand side of the coach for the best views!

© Come Fly With B [www.comeflywithb.com] | Mostar-Sarajevo coach

You can also hire a private driver to drive you to Mostar for the day. Rates vary but you can find plenty of recommendations on the TripAdvisor travel forums.

If you’re visiting Mostar from Croatia you can get there by coach from Dubrovnik in 3 hours, don’t forget to bring your passport for cross-border entry!

Where To Stay

There are plenty of small B&B’s and hotels dotted about in the centre of the old town. We stayed at the Shangri-La Mansion hotel, a basic but clean hotel a 5-minute walk away from the Stari Most. It was close enough to wander in and out of town and quiet for a restful sleep. Just bear in mind this hotel is at the top of a very steep hill so not at all ideal if you have mobility problems or if you are travelling with young children/a pushchair.

 Where To Eat

Mostar’s old town is tiny compared to the one in Sarajevo so food options are limited. We didn’t find any bakeries in the old town, most of the restaurants seemed to be rather overpriced & focused on day-trip tourists (odd opening times).

Cevapi In Mostar, Bosnia
On our first night we ate at Cevabdzinica Tima, the food was average but the host was wonderful and super friendly. Cevapi is served differently in Mostar with a side of yummy red pepper dip, Ajvar. For brunches, we opted for omelettes at Urban Grill – and we ended up returning for burgers when we got sick of Cevapi.

On our final night in Mostar, we decided to venture out of the old town towards newer parts of the city. We walked to a mall in about half an hour and I’m glad we did, it was great to see Mostar’s city side outside of the fairytale bubble of the old town. In the mall, we found all the shops you’d expect to find in Europe, and McDonald’s (halal too!)

Bosnia has some of the best ice-cream I’ve ever eaten so don’t visit without sampling it!

Local supermarkets can be found a 15-20 min walk outside the old town.

The Best Views

The most famous location for the iconic views of the Stari Most nestled above the Neretva river come from the minaret of the tiny little Koski Mehmed Pasha mosque opposite. Tourists are welcome to visit the mosque and climb the minaret to take photos from the balcony, you may need to pay a small fee to do this. The minaret is super tight (it’s almost impossible for two people to pass each other on it!) so it might be best to make a little noise to warn people you’re coming up!

stari most mostar bridge
Another great place to take pictures of the bridge is actually from one of the restaurants nestled along the riverfront. The Urban Grill restaurant looks a little casual and run down, but it’s home to a beautiful outdoor dining area offering breathtaking views of the river and bridge. We ended up eating here twice during our visit and couldn’t get enough of the view.

This place gets completely packed in the mornings and throughout the day when all the tour groups are in town (you may find yourself turned away due to a lack of space), but it quietens down towards the evenings. We enjoyed visiting for tea and pancakes and watching the sunset in the distance (bonus points for being empty!)

One last thing…

This is important if you want to make the most of your time in Mostar – Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip!

Leave those pretty sandals at home unless you want aching feet ruining your day! The pebble-stones that line the streets of the old-town are very uncomfortable under-foot so you’ll appreciate all the cushioning you can get. The Stari Most itself is incredibly slippery when dry and even worse in the rain – trainers will be your best friend!

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Guide To Mostar, Bosnia - A Hidden Gem In Eastern Europe Offering Fairytale Views At Every Corner © Come Fly With B [www.comeflywithb.com]


I have a thing for abandoned places. There’s something to be said about the thrill and wonder of walking through them, picturing what they would have looked like before time, death and decay ruined them. Abandoned buildings tell so many stories through their peeling paint and dusty interiors, but we rarely stop to hear them.

On our final day in Dubrovnik, we picked up our hire car and headed East towards the abandoned resort of Kupari. The 16 minute journey offered breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea, before we turned off the motorway, onto a dirt track and navigated our way between derelict buildings and trees the the sea front.

The small village of Kupari is situated just 10 km away from Dubrovnik and is home to every urban-explorers dream ; The Bay of Abandoned Hotels. This abandoned luxury resort first welcomed tourists in 1919, with the opening of the aptly-named Grand Hotel. Situated on the waterfront and surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens, the Grand Hotel hosted tourists in ultimate exclusivity.

[Postcard from 1928 showing the Grand Hotel in Kupari | Photo from adria forum]

[The entrance of the Grand Hotel in the early 1920’s / Photo from here]

That was until the early 60’s, when five more hotels were built on the grounds surrounding the Grand Hotel, and the place was re-imagined as a holiday resort for Yugoslavian military officials and their families. Kupari became so popular among the military elite, welcoming thousands of guests through its hotel doors each month, that an additional Camp was built along the main road leading to the resort to accommodate a further 4,500 guests at a time. Even the Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito opted to holiday at Kupari, where he hosted guests in a private villa on the outskirts of the resort where it could be more exclusive (and secure!).

By the 80’s, with the arrival of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, it was time to put Kupari on the map. The hotels welcomed foreign tourists for the first time in decades and the resort was buzzing with life, showing signs of a promising future.

Alas, it didn’t pan out that way. In the early 90’s, the Yugoslavian onslaught on Dubrovnik during Croatia’s war of independence emptied the hotels of their final guests. A Croatian police force set up base at the resort to protect it, until the Autumn of ’91, when Yugoslavian naval ships targeted the resort from the sea.

Over the months and years that followed, the hotels of Kupari were subjected to shelling, missiles and artillery fire – the scars of which remain very visible up until today. The very same Yugoslavian military officials who had once basked in Kupari’s beauty had all but destroyed it. As a final parting “gift”, the interiors were ransacked, stripped bare of anything of value. From the marble staircases and copper piping to the furniture and fittings, it was wiped clean. Phosphorous bombs torched the hotel interiors and ensured they wouldn’t be hosting guests for a long, long time.

For the past 25+ years, the hotels haven’t welcomed a single paying guest. Today, locals come here for a dip in the gorgeous turquoise sea without the hassle of swarms of tourists and hotel formalities found further along the road in Dubrovnik. The sea is so inviting in Kupari, perhaps even more so set against a backdrop of empty, abandoned buildings.

Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours to spare at Kupari meaning we didn’t get a chance to explore all of the hotels. It was also impossible to access upper floors in most of them thanks to the extensive damaged caused to the staircases and roofing in some of the buildings.

Despite being the oldest of the lot, it was the Grand Hotel that left me speechless. Even today, with chipped paint, broken windows, faded wallpaper and bullet holes puncturing its walls, the hotel still oozes an air of opulence. Its wide-set arches, faded shuttered windows and symmetrical entrances still paint a picture of luxury and class. The marble staircase is long gone, as is much of the roof, allowing sunlight to pour through the building, illuminating every remaining detail.

I believe this may once have been a rather fancy dining room!

At the back of the Grand Hotel you’ll find an over-grown garden and these pretty little balconies.

The Croatian government is keen to restore Kupari to some of its former grandeur and capitalise on its close proximity to Dubrovnik. The resort was recently privatised, and it looks like it’s set for redevelopment in the not-so-distant future. All of the hotels are likely to be demolished, with the exception of the Grand Hotel which has secured a listed status. According to the Dubrovnik Times, the Marriot will be building a luxury hotel on the site.

If you’re into urban exploring I highly recommend a visit to Kupari before it’s gone for good! It’s a short drive away from Dubrovnik – just follow the signs for Kupari. You can park on-site between the hotels or along the shoreline. Don’t forget to take swimming gear so you can enjoy the beach too!

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Kupari, Croatia,