10 days in the Balkans

Thanks to the fantastic Busabout Tour Company, I toured one of my favourite areas in the world, Eastern Europe. I like it because of its scenery, rich history, food and people.

Day 1

Split is a small coastal town in Croatia, which became an independent country in 1992. It’s impossible to go wrong with Croatia because of its smiley people, lovely weather, green landscape, turquoise waters and delicious food. Life is also slower than what we are used to in Northern Europe and other fast-paced countries,  which is definitely a good thing.

Split is beautiful to visit and stay in for a couple of days and it’s also great to use as a base for day trips. There is a lot of accommodation available and apartments are normally good value.

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Day 2

Stroll around the beautiful old town of Split, sample some food and head up to Park Šuma Marjan for fantastic views of the city.

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Day 3 

Drive to Dubrovnik, have some seafood for lunch, climb the city walls for spectacular views and visit Fort Lovrijenac.

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Day 4 

We arrived in Kotor, Montenegro, just before dinner time and checked in at the unique Old Town Kotor Hostel where we stayed for two nights. We spent some time walking around this very picturesque town and relaxed with a dinner with the whole group, organised by our beloved guide Wes (who now founded his own cruise touring company at https://www.horizon-sail.com/)

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The morning after we visited Budva. Its old town is really pretty and very similar to Dubrovnik, however it was not my favourite place; unfortunately it is very built up and it looks like it will lose its charm really quickly. But it does offer a very good night life and lots of excursions, jet ski rides, etc, for cheap, so it is definitely a place where you can have lots of fun and adventures without spending a fortune.

That afternoon I was very happy to return to Kotor though, and climb its Fortress for amazing views of the deepest bay in the Mediterranean. I loved the walk and I was impressed with how clean the whole path was. The views were absolutely breathtaking, we took so so many pictures, we couldn’t stop! And then we sat and chilled while enjoying this incredible place. It is also full with stray cats in Montenegro so we found quite a few on our way, which is a plus 🙂

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athens - september 2017 493Day 5

This morning we drove into Albania and reached Tirana with some mixed feelings. While Montenegro is already a consolidated tourist destination its neighbour country has not reached that level of wealth yet. The border is always an interesting part of any country to see as you will be faced with police checks and these can tell you a lot about how things are dealt with in a particular place. On our drive to the capital we saw many farmers sat by the road holding posts which advertised their produce. It looked a bit like what I had seen in the south of Italy, it was refreshing for someone who is used to buy at Sainsbury’s. But we didn’t stop and drove to our four star hotel instead, where we arrived just after lunch. The hotel was really nice and comfortable and only a thirty minutes walk to the centre. Wes, our guide, offered to meet at the Enver Hoxha Pyramid, the emblematic building of the city, to give as a familiarisation tour of the city and a few tips.

I think it was Wes saying he had never took the cable car and was gonna do so that afternoon that convinced us to do with him. It was the craziest and best idea ever. We caught the local bus and got to the base of the cable car, up the hill. It was raining and thundering and it did not seem a good idea to go, but I think the fact that the cable car was made by the Austrians (known for their engineering) convinced us to go. And it was so much fun! It took us on the top of Mount Dajti, where there is a rotating restaurant and bar with spectacular views over the city and more. Unfortunately we could not see much because it was so foggy but it was still exciting and worth it.


Day 6 

On day 6 we left Tirana and drove to Gjirokastër, a UNESCO town in the Albanian mountains. The road trip there was itself an unforgettable experience, in fact I saw the most turquoise river ever.

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After having lunch in Gjirokastër, we drove all the way to Kalambaka (Meteora) in Greece, crossing yet another border. We arrived at our hotel late, but the town was fully awake and finding a ‘giro’ was an easy task 🙂

I will never forget the emotion I felt, when, lifting my head up to the sky, I spotted the massive geological formations Kalambaka is so famous for. The sightseeing is unreal! These masssive rocks just stand in the middle of the old town, like time never passed.

Day 7 

It was very easy to wake up to such an exciting day planned ahead, when we were driven up to the monasteries to take in views like this!

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Day 8 

Drive to Athens stopping in Thermopyale, where one of the most acclaimed battles was fought between Greeks and Persians.

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Stay in Athens.

Day 9 

Book the free walking tour and head up to the Acropolis after lunch.

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Day 10

Climb up Mount Lycabettus for stunning views of Athens.

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