I'm back in Croatia after just over three weeks spent exploring The Balkan Peninsula in our tiny camper van, and, as you might’ve noticed, I took a week off of blogging. I’m definitely feeling a little guilty about that especially as it’s the middle of Vegan MoFo, one of my favourite events of the year, but there’s just been so much to take in and process and reflect on that finding the mental energy required to put pen to paper (as it were) has been impossible until now.
So, until I delve deeper into my time in some of the places I felt most connected to, amazed, surprised and just straight up blown away by (Kosovo! Sarajevo! Albania!) here’s a peek into the Balkan leg of our European road trip.
Another day, another border.
Our journey started in Bosnia and Herzegovina before we turned and headed north towards Serbia and Novi Sad, next we travelled down to Belgrade and into Kosovo over the border at Korminjan. Macedonia was next and following our time there we opted to avoid putting our van (and ourselves!) in danger on Albania’s mountain roads by making our way towards the Albanian Riviera from the Macedonian side of Lake Ohrid via Greece’s smoothly tarmaced motorways. We stopped and spent a blissful couple of days eating dolmades on the beach near Igumenitza before navigating the full length of the Albanan coast, only dipping east to visit Tirana, before making our way to Montenegro’s Adriatic coast and finally checking the Bay of Kotor off of my must-visit list.
We've crossed nine borders where we’ve been questioned, searched, come across more sheep than we’d imagined would be likely and had our passports repeatedly stamped on brand new double pages (an irritation for any world traveller looking to save those spaces for necessary visas ) all the time never forgetting that being able to move freely and cross borders at all is a privilege that the majority of people do not benefit from.
Are the sheep Montenegran or Croatian? Who knows!
There have been double rainbows and bears and iconic landmarks have been ticked off of lists. We took the van on what might be the tiniest ferry imaginable and the roads have been some of the worst we’ve ever seen let alone driven on. We’ve seen remnants of war that bring the realities of conflict into sharp focus and I’ve never been more anti-war.
I don't think this really illustrates how bad the roads are in some of The Balkans!
Destroyed bunkers on the Albanian coast.
I've been hissed at and had coffee thrown at me, I’ve cried about how little I can do to save all of the stray cats and dogs and I’ve experienced some of the warmest hospitality imaginable at the tiniest family run campsites - many of which were located in the back gardens of peoples homes.
A welcome gift of homegrown grapes.
Our first campsite in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It's felt like an adventure in the truest sense of the word and I cannot wait to tell you more about it next week.