Marketing Manager Michael recently returned from our Into the Balkans trip and here he shares some of his favourite memories.
This tour showcases the natural beauty of the whole region, from Serbia’s ancient forests and waterfalls to Bosnia’s green hills and clear lakes. The Kravica Waterfalls close to Mostar offered my favourite view – the falls are impressive and the water is an incredible green. It's also a great place for a wild swim.
Meat fans will love the Balkans, you get lots of grilled lamb, beef and chicken, although it can get a little repetitive so ask for fish every now and then, which is local and tasty. We also had some wonderful soups, in particular the Bosnian speciality Beg’s Soup (chicken and vegetable). Peppers in this region are also widely enjoyed, and arrive stewed or roasted as a side, or stuffed with lamb mince as a wonderful main. But the best meal was probably Bosnian Pot, meat and vegetable stew cooked in an individual ceramic pot, which arrives at the table still bubbling; hearty and delicious.
The Hotel Gracanica in Kosovo was a delight. Set overlooking fields, about half a mile from the UNESCO monastery of the same name, the hotel is a modern white building with an infinity pool, rooms with private terraces and a fantastic restaurant. It has a very relaxed vibe with deckchairs in the garden, and is a great place to unwind.
The three UNESCO monasteries in Kosovo were all fantastic, and the tunnels of life in Sarajevo were fascinating. We also had a wonderful boat ride on Serbia’s Lake Uvac. But whilst it feels wrong to call it my favourite excursion, the one that will live longest in my memory is the powerful Srebrenica Genocide Memorial, housed in the old UN building where the Dutch UN peacekeeping troops were based. There are original documents, films, images and talks from survivors that are powerful, sobering and moving in what is a difficult but essential visit.
In Serbia we stopped off for a lunch on a farm in the countryside. We were greeted with a glass of home-made rakia on arrival, always a good sign at lunchtime, and proceeded to enjoy three courses of delightful home-cooked fare, with all the ingredients grown yards away from where we sat outside the farmhouse. To start we had some of the local and extremely flavoursome tomatoes alongside stewed red peppers with paprika, followed by a hearty meat and vegetable stew and jam sponge for desert, all overlooking the thick forested hills from the pretty farm. None of us really wanted to leave, but it was into 4x4’s for an exciting drive through the Serbian forests.
Tips for Travellers
The wine in Kosovo is good, Bosnian and Serbian so-so, but choose the Montenegran red Vranac (which is available pretty much everywhere in the region) and you won't be disappointed.
The history of the former countries of Yugoslavia is rich and fascinating. Exploring Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia was wonderful but I now have a longing to visit Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia and complete the set. That will have to wait for another time.