‘Travel’ ah, when was the last time I heard that sweet word, right, that was a few years back. After being dormant from traveling for the last two years because of the Pandemic. It just makes me happy that we can get a sense of normalcy back. So when Kach Umandap of Two Monkeys Travel Group invites me for an epic 15-day journey across the Balkans, I just couldn’t say no. Though it's gonna be my second time visiting the Balkans, you know what they say, it’s sweeter the second time around.
OUR ULTIMATE BALKAN JOURNEY ROUTE. FROM START TO FINISH.
Montenegro was the first stop of our Balkan Trip. Budva, was our meeting point and it’s also here where I meet the other travelers on the trip; people from ages 20-to 82 from different walks of life but have the same thirst and passion for traveling. Some of them have traveled to more than 120 countries and counting.
The first time I was in Montenegro was in 2019, just a few months before the lockdown. This country has a lot to offer, from its snow-capped lush mountains to its pristine beaches, it is a great destination all year round, only depends on what you are looking for really. Did I also mention that it is also rich in stunning architecture and history? Also, they use Euro as their currency.
BUDVA BAY AS SEEN FROM A BIRD'S EYE VIEW.
Albania was the second stop, we visited Skhoder and Tirana while here. It s my first time here and is quite impressed with the coffee and food culture. Most people here also speak Italian. I can say that they have adopted a lot of values and culture from the Italians.
AESTHETIC OF SALT RESTAURANT IN TIRANA.
North Macedonia was our third stop. Here, we visited Ohrid and Skopje. Same as with Montenegro, It’s my second time visiting North Macedonia. I think it’s in North Macedonia where I saw the most sculptures ‘slash’ statues of all cities I have visited. So if you are a huge fan of art and sculptures, then you’ll love North Macedonia. Special mention to Ohrid though, it’s one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been to, peaceful and serene. It's just a shame that it’s so underrated.
The Church of Saint John the Theologian as seen from Ohrid Lake.
While in North Macedonia, we did a day trip to Kosovo. If you know history, then you know that it’s one of the youngest nations, but still, up to this day, not everyone recognizes it as a country due to political reasons it has with its neighboring countries. While here, we visited Pristina and Prizren, Pristina is the current capital while Prizren used to be the capital. If you are more of an old-town vibe kinda person, then I suggest you visit Prizren. Same as with Montenegro and North Macedonia, It’s my second time in this country. Did I also mention that they have the best tasting shawarma here?
Our fourth stop was in Serbia. Here we spent a few days in the capital Belgrade. Belgrade for me is like the love child of London and Paris, their architectures are to die for. And If you are a party animal, you’ll surely love Belgrade’s nightlife.
One of the many stunning courtyards in Belgrade's City Center.
Our final country is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, I felt the most emotional of all the countries I have visited. Learning about its history and how most people I’ve seen walking down the streets limping because they have been shot during the war made me instantly emotional. Listening to their stories made me value my existence and cherish life even more. Sometimes, I complain so much about life, and these people are very thankful that they have survived the war. It’s true, history indeed is a journey to discovery and it has helped me put things into perspective.
Sarajevo's Poricanin bakery making 'Somuni Breads'.
Our last day was spent traveling back to Montenegro from Bosnia and Hercegovina. Along the way, we stopped by the old town of the Republic of Srpska. A beautiful small town, perfect to stop by for some lunch and coffee. We also had a quick stop at Pocitelj Monastery, I say, if you have more time, then spend the night here.
Traditional houses on hills surrounding Pocitelj Monastery.
There are just a lot of uncertainties in life, I say, ‘go travel’, go and pursue what your heart is telling you. Cause we never know when this precious life will be taken away from us. Let us cherish it a little bit more.