During end of 2010 I did a unplanned trip around the Balkan countries. During the trip I was fortunate to visit some terrific spots, many of them off the beaten tourist track mainly focusing on local religions and historical politics of the last few centuries. Before the tour I knew little about what the Balkans were, even which countries it included and never really considered it much of a travel destination. This trip helped me change my own mindset, to expand my horizons beyond all that is familiar and expected and to grow hunger for all that is unexplored and unknown, wherever it may be.
Perhaps the greatest thing about this trip is that I got to experience all that with my father, who I sadly – due to my nomadic expatriate life – don’t see nearly as much as I like to. Beyond the opportunity to share wonderful travel moments with my dad rather than my usual way of traveling on my own, I got to witness first hand the unbelievable depth of his knowledge regarding local & regional history & religion, often complimenting and expanding far beyond the already knowledgeable tour-guide with endless personal anecdotes and hidden tales of cults and people long forgotten. It was truly inspiring.
In over 30 posts that took me over a year to write I documented the places I visited. If it sometimes seemed difficult to follow, this summary post could perhaps help make it all a bit more clear.
My general Balkans tour itinerary was :
Bulgaria –> Macedonia –> Albania –> Montenegro-> Croatia –> Montenegro –> Kosovo –> Macedonia –> Bulgaria.
Lots of hours on the road and many passport control stamps. A bit crazy, but it was an overall a nice trip and a good memory.
Point of arrival and departure through Sofia. Visited the Rila Monastery just before boarding the train to head back.
The highlight of Macedonia to me, without doubt, is Ohrid. A scenic town with a gorgeous lake surrounded by national parks of unique beauty and long history.
- Gorgeous Ohrid Lake : Macedonia
- Beautiful City of Ohrid : Macedonia
- National Park Galicica : Saint Naum Springs
- Monastery of Saint Naum in Ohrid–Macedonia
- Monastery of St Joakim Osogovski : Macedonia
- Kratovo in Macedonia.
- Skopje : Capital of Macedonia
- Saint Pantheleimon–Clement Monastery : Ohrid-Macedonia
The highlight of the Montenegro visit was Kotor and the Kotor Bay with the mountains raising around the waters and the well preserved historical old town.
- Sveti Stefan : Montenegro on the road
- Njegoš’s Mausoleum – Lovćen National Park – Montenegro
- Ulcinj Montenegro : Shabbatai Tzvi’s Tomb
- Cetinje Monastery : Montenegro
- Morning Walk Around Gorgeous Kotor
- Maritime Museum of Montenegro : Old Town Kotor
- Islands of Kotor Bay : Montenegro
Just got a glimpse of what Kosovo has to offer…
We did a quick get-in get-out tour to Croatia from Macedonia to experience what is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the balkans – Dubrovnik. Beach life meets fortress in a blend of history and beauty.
- Dubrovnik–Touring the Old City
- Dubrovnik From Above–Old City Walls Tour
- Dubrovnik – Synagogue & Jewish Museum
- Dubrovnik–Croatia : Best of the Balkans
Though Albania proved a bit of a challenge with its raw underdeveloped tourism, the Albanian Kruja and Berat suggested tourism in this country holds great potential.
- Rozafa Castle – Fortress of Shkodër : Albania
- Onufri National Museum & Saint Maria’s Church : Berat
- Berat Castle : Albania
- Berati–White City : Bektashism Tekke – Shabbatai Zvi
- Kruja’s Dollma Teqe : Albania
- National Ethnographic Museum – Kruja Albania
- Kruje Castle and Skanderbeg National Museum
- Kruja Albania : Old Bazaar
Would especially love to go back and see more of Croatia.
Hope you enjoyed the Balkans posts.