Last year I toured the Balkans with Ethan, and it opened my eyes to a seemingly ignored region of Europe; one rich with culture, history and diversity.
Each country has its own charms, from the Ottoman influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Roman influence in Croatia, Serbian in Montenegro, and to the Austrian in Slovenia. To illustrate this, one day, we were in the mountainous city of Sarajevo, where it was snowing, and then later that evening, we were in the idyllic 20°c seaside jewel of Dubrovnik.
The diversity makes the region is unpredictable, which is why it’s such an exciting place to visit.
Here’s a map of the places we went:
I pin everything on a map to remember where I went, but that’s a story for another time. I’m going to tell you the good places and the bad places, tips and whatever have yous if you’re thinking of making an unforgettable Balkan trip.
Our first stop was the picturesque Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. We researched nothing and let its old-world charms surprise us.
Highlight: The moment we first discovered the main square (above, here in better detail). It bustled with tourists, food vendors and little electric vehicles emptying the bins. Yet, despite all this, it was completely silent. It’s a shocking introduction into the way things work in Ljubljana, and maybe Slovenia as a whole; it’s extremely clean, green (the city is run on 100% renewable energy) and quiet.
Lowlight: Only having one night in the country, due to a last minute change of flights. Luckily, I managed to snap an awesome shot of the Alps (below), which preview the incredible scenery there. Slovenia needs exploring. See: Lake Bled, Postojna Caves, Piran
Verdict: Ljubljana is a beautiful European city, and it feels about as European as it gets. It’s for sure worth a visit, and would be a good base for other areas in the country.
Tips: For the lower of budgets, this restaurant did a day menu for €6.50 and it it outstanding. I recommend trying the white fish in Slovenia.
Anything else for Ljubljana?
Go to the traditional food market, try your hand with the farmers who most likely do not speak English. We bought two apples from an elderly farmer who did not speak a word of English, and misunderstood the price advertised per kilo as per apple. We handed him over the money, and he laughed, then returned us the correct change.
He could have just taken it and we’d never have known. It was a great introduction to the honesty, humility and warmth of the people who live in the Balkans – which we continued to see everywhere throughout the rest of our trip.