Category Archives: Balkan

Balkan - Uncategorised

35 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

My first time in Kotor was super short and very last minute. We were on a Balkan backpack trip and arrived in Podgorica after a 13 hour train trip from Belgrade. One of the girls we met on the train told us there was nothing going on in Podgorica and recommended Kotor.

After 3 hours in Podgorica we had seen it all, so we took a bus to Kotor and arrived in the late afternoon, and knew this was the best decision we had taken: ten steps in we learned that Kotor was picturesque, historic, and just plain beautiful. The one hostel I had written down was full (this was way before the Hostelworld app!) but the staff managed to find us a room that an old lady rented (this was also pre Air BnB). Sadly, by the time we dumped our luggage and wanted to hike up the fortress we learned it was closed and the bus we HAD to take was leaving at 7 AM the next morning. I knew one day I had to come back.

And I did, five years later I woke up at 6 AM to walk up to the fortress and to see what the fuss was about, it was well worth the wait. I grabbed a watermelon on the square where my friend had lost her earring and 10 people helped us search for it. I made friends with new cats, probably related to the ones I saw years ago. I noticed the restaurants hadn’t changed at all and they still offered pasta, pizza and schnitzel. I challenged myself to walk up the Ladder of Kotor, stopped for homemade grapefruit juice and cheese at this tiny farm house halfway in the mountains and stayed for too long and listened to stories from the couple that live up there.

And I still think I would go back, but more importantly: I want you and everyone I know to add it to their wanderlist. But if you’re like me and have a wanderlust for pretty much everywhere, it won’t be too long, but just in case here are some photos to inspire you to visit Kotor.

I’ve heard a lot people say that the city reminds them of entering another world and I hope this comes across in the pictures.

Abandoned & Urban Exploring - Balkan - Uncategorised

An Abandoned Adventure at Brestovac Sanatorium

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Having visited an abandoned: theme park, listening station and hotel my trip to Zagreb wouldn’t have been complete without visiting an abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium. It’s like abandoned bingo!

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Balkan - Uncategorised

The Packing List Tag: Bosnia/Croatia Edition

packing going away vs going home

I went on an 8 day trip to Bosnia and Croatia and this is what I crammed into my bag for my lil adventure.

Where: from London to Zagreb (3 days) and Plitvice Lakes (2 days) in Croatia and Hometown Hill in Bosnia (3 days)

Weather: hot hot hot and also humid, did I say hot already?

Travel clothing on the plane: my standard travel outfit is super comfy jeans, long sleeve top, Nikes.

What you actually packed:

Carry – on suitcase
1 pair of sandals, 1 skirt, 1 pair of jeans, 1 dress, 7 short sleeve tops/t-shirts, 1 long sleeve, 1 cardigan, pyjamas, underwear and socks, the usual toiletries, adapter and converters, chargers and some presents

Totebag
Polaroid camera, 8 packs of films, playing cards, a little bag with travel documents, passport, notebook, pen, 1 pair of sunglasses

Did you wear everything?
I ended up wearing everything, except one shirt that got lost in the pile.

Anything you wished you had brought along?
More socks! I always end up not having enough.

Anything you wished you had left?
No, for a change I had it all sorted, though I wish the polaroid camera had a ‘miniaturise’ button so it would fit in my trouser pocket – please invent this soon!

Did you buy anything while traveling?
Just chocolate. A lot of chocolate

Any advice for travellers going to Croatia/Bosnia?
Bring extra jumpers/long-sleeve tops, especially when you are near the seaside, as despite the glimmering waves and to-die-for sunsets, the temperature does drop in the evenings.

Not specifically for these countries, but bring along items of clothing that can be chucked in a washing machine and have no special care instructions. Don’t bring your favourite items, you don’t want that one top to be destroyed by the washing machine, sweat or sunscreen.

Balkan - Uncategorised

Bok from Zagreb

Zagreb

For me Zagreb is kind of like that old friend that isn’t on Facebook and where I don’t catch up as often as I like, but when we reconnect it feels like yesterday. This week I caught up with Zag again and here’s what happened when we hit the town…

zagrebYou know you are sometimes a bit scared you’ll get scammed via AirBnB. I had this for a split second when I saw when I got to the place I booked…

zagrebBut inside I had nothing to fear. The place used to be an art gallery and there are little artworks, paintings and posters to remind you of this throughout. It’s on a busy street with lots of cafes and restaurants with locals sitting, sipping on their coffee and gossiping about everything you can think of.

IMG_3127Food, you know that thing we eat to live, but which is more recently branded as the coolest thing to do? Well, it’s hit Zagreb in a big way. You have the well known yellow/red chain, local food and hip hotspots. Otto & Frank is one of those places, great for breakfast and lunch. It was so good I went back two times and am drooling on the keyboard as I remember it right now, mmm.

IMG_3266Just a 30 minute ride from the city is Medvinica mountain rising out of the ground, complete with forts, caves and amazing views. I was mostly interested in the abandoned sanatorium. It’s apparently haunted, but more on that later.

IMG_3399There are a number of hiking trails leading back down from the mountain park, which you can see my attempting here in my best hiking gear. From Mihaljevic can take tram 14 and 8 back to Zagreb.

IMG_20160702_47421Sadly, Amelie isn’t named after that famous film. But the cakes it serves up can easily give you that sweet sincere happy feeling that film can muster up. The taste gets even better as you realise how light they are, without any excess cream or sugar. Just perfect. Also a WiFi Hotspot – so you can tell everyone about the deliciousness course on all platforms to your heart’s content.

IMG_20160702_37472I’m now going to mention a church. Yes, we’ve probably seen hundreds of types of religious buildings with spires, statues and all that god-related stuff. But Zagrebs’ St Mark’s Church is actually worth a look – it’s got what seems to be a lego-style rooftop mural which I hope they didn’t send kids up to build. Ok ok it’s not really lego, but colourful rooftiles laid out with coats of arms of the city and country.

IMG_3131South of the river is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Eqipped with the best air conditioning in the city – perfect for a typically hot Zagreb day!  Nice selection of modern art by mainly Croatian and ex Yugoslavian artists- including a few cool (temporary) exhibits. But screw the culture – it’s all about the two metal slides that curve around the outside of the building, plus the mirrored table tennis. Plus, if it’s not your cup of tea, you can head to the shopping mall across the street.

Have I missed any places? And, is anyone heading to Zagreb soon?

Balkan - Uncategorised

A Few Things You Need To Know Before Walking the City Walls of Dubrovnik

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Doing Dubrovnik without marching the city walls is a criminal offence in Croatia. Those caught get hanged from a pole by the harbour for everyone to see. Ok, ok, I’m just kidding here, it’s not illegal, but it should be. So here’s the low-down on the legendary limestone defences that have held out countless invaders, but sadly haven’t stopped the tourists overrunning the place…

It can get very hot and crowded, so get there early – or late in the day. I like to get my ticket the day before and go there for 8am to beat the queue and heat, you would think more people would do it, but I’m always surprised how empty it manages to be.

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From June – September the city walls are open from 8am. Tickets cost 120 kuna per person (around £13/€16/$19) – and that’s including a visit to the nearby Fort Lovrijenac. Depending on the how many photos you take you’ll need an hour or two to go round.

Don’t forget to bring water with you! There are a few kiosks and cafes on the walls, but they’re quite expensive – yes, even for Croatian standards. As you’ll soon realise, when you’re in the busy tourist destinations – you’ll be paying the special ‘inflated tourist price’.

I can write a 1000+ word post on the Dubrovnik city walls, but do you really want me to tell you that the ramparts are 22 metres high? Or that the main wall has 4 bastions? Right? But I’m not going to leave you without a few pictures.

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Have you braved the walls, or can recommend any other city wall walks?