Northern Macedonia: (Quint)essential Balkan Country

Stunning scenery, beautiful historic sites and friendly faces are what you can find almost anywhere in Northern Macedonia. During both of my recent trips to the country, I was in equal measures surprised by the how wonderful many of its sites are – from the ruins of Marko’s Fortress in the dramatic hills over Prilep to the bustling Bitpazar market in Skopje – and shocked … Continue reading Northern Macedonia: (Quint)essential Balkan Country

To the Holy Mountain: A Pilgrimage to Hilandar

For anyone who has had any kind of brush with the Serbian education system or the Serbian Orthodox Church, Hilandar is etched in the memory as the place where the glory of medieval Serbia survived almost intact for more than eight centuries. Hilandar was founded in 1198 by Stefan Nemanja, the first ruler of the Serbian medieval Nemanjic dynasty, and his son, Archbishop Sava, who … Continue reading To the Holy Mountain: A Pilgrimage to Hilandar

Pokretači #31 Donald Niebyl – Spomenik Database / Illinois, USA

Donald Niebyl founded and manages Spomenik Database, a website dedicated to monumental Yugoslav WWII memorials. Donald not only travelled up and down former Yugoslavia visiting monuments (or ‘spomeniks’ as they are called in local languages), but he also researched and wrote detailed history of many of them, soon to be published as a book – ‘Spomenik Monument Database’ (pre-order on Amazon). Notes Spomenik database on … Continue reading Pokretači #31 Donald Niebyl – Spomenik Database / Illinois, USA

Zagreb: a Belgrader’s take

Despite being named as the best destination in Europe by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet in 2017, Zagreb was the target of a scathing and, at points, hilarious review in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel last July. The review not only claimed that Zagreb is the most boring capital in Europe, but also said that its highway to Croatia’s famed Adriatic coast was the best thing … Continue reading Zagreb: a Belgrader’s take

Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

In October 2017, I went to Tirana for a conference about relations between Serbia and Albania, jointly organised by the Albanian Institute for International Studies and the European Movement in Serbia. One of the topics of the conference was the public perception of the relationship between the two countries, which made me instinctively shudder. Despite the recent displays of friendship between the Albanian Prime Minister … Continue reading Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

Sarma, Testicles and Kid-roasts: Rural Serbia’s Real Foodies

The global foodie trend made urbanites in Serbia more conscious about their consumption, and even inspired some of them to try their hand at making healthier, or at least, tastier food. In Belgrade, there are now numerous events devoted to producers of anything from Serbian truffles to Serbian tabasco. Although there are some misfires, Belgrade’s Cheese festival, Night Market and Wine Jam constantly deliver a … Continue reading Sarma, Testicles and Kid-roasts: Rural Serbia’s Real Foodies

Bosnia’s dramatic north: Jajce, the Vrbas River Canyon and Banja Luka

For most people, tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is synonymous with visiting Sarajevo and Mostar, and perhaps Trebinje, Medjugorje and the Sutjeska national park. This, however is unfair to the rest of this stunning country, which does not only offer a lot of wonderful unspoilt nature throughout, but also ancient fortresses, churches and mosques, which have persevered through its turbulent past. Last week I went on a … Continue reading Bosnia’s dramatic north: Jajce, the Vrbas River Canyon and Banja Luka

Copenhagen: Cool Climate

Unlike, Berlin or Barcelona, Copenhagen takes its cool in the stride. Whether it is cutting edge architecture, or the wonderful belle epoque Tivoli, nothing is too showy and all of it simply blends with the rest of this stunningly pretty city. If you can, definitely try to be there for Christmas markets to see it all lit up and enjoy the copious glogg and pastries. … Continue reading Copenhagen: Cool Climate

Hidden Belgrade (17): Belgrade’s Bavarian Protectress

From its beginnings, Belgrade was a multi-confessional city, due to its the location at crossroads or major trade routs and the borders of major empires, from the Romans to the Habsburgs. Although the city’s location brought diversity and rich history, it often proved disastrous. The city was burnt to ashes many times by defenders and conquerors alike, and its citizens were too often forced to … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (17): Belgrade’s Bavarian Protectress

Bač: fortress in the plains

Bač’s medieval heritage juts out awkwardly from the tree lined streets of this quiet town. The remaining fortress tower overlooks one story homes where elderly ladies snooping on visitors, probably with the same passion of medieval guards.  A wonderful gothic gate protects an unremarkable concrete bridge over Mostonga. Honey-coloured tower of the monastery, dating from the crusades, pierces the endless Pannonian sky. This quiet town … Continue reading Bač: fortress in the plains

Hypezig

I went to Leipzig with only a vague idea of what the city would be like. Two of my good friends lived there and from their description, it seemed like a wonderfully relaxed, student-y place. It sounded like Berlin before everybody heard about it and made it impossible to find anything but Polynesian vegan restaurants in Prenzlauerberg.   What I did not know is how … Continue reading Hypezig

Guča: Serbia’s Dionysian spectacle of trumpets, cabbage and beer

Originally conceived as a festival to promote the fledgling institution of a brass band 1961, Guča Trumpet Festival (aka Dragačevo Fair) evolved in the past two decades into one of the most popular festivals in Serbia and a somewhat divisive cultural institution. For all but the musical purists, Guča is much much more than an ethno-music festival. Although the festival is devoted to preserving this … Continue reading Guča: Serbia’s Dionysian spectacle of trumpets, cabbage and beer

The Nutshell Guide to the Montenegrin coast (1): The Bay of Kotor

Despite its great natural beauty and diversity, until relatively recently Montenegro was under the radar of tourists outside the Balkans, Italy and Russia. Tourism in Montenegro started in the times of Yugoslavia, from the opening of the luxury peninsular fishing village/ resort of Sveti Stefan in 1955, which has since hosted glitterati like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Bobbi Fisher, to the nudist camp at … Continue reading The Nutshell Guide to the Montenegrin coast (1): The Bay of Kotor

Lake Skadar: eerie land of macabre fairies, ruins and skeletal hills

Lake Skadar is as dramatic as landscapes get in Europe. Whichever side you apprach it from in Montenegro your first sight of it will be an explosion of a green watery expanse, dotted with white cones of karst covered in thick Mediterranean bush. As you train your eye on its beauty, you will notice birds soaring above its waters and maybe a ruin of a … Continue reading Lake Skadar: eerie land of macabre fairies, ruins and skeletal hills

Best day trips from Belgrade

When I moved back to Serbia I decided to make the best use of my free time and actually get to know the country. Thankfully, as I have a few friends with some spare time we teamed up in an for day-trips and managed to see some great scenery, learn some history, eat great food and just have fun. We focused on places that are … Continue reading Best day trips from Belgrade