Travels in the Balkans

Early in September, I travelled to the Balkans for two weeks in Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.

Kotor, Montenegro was named Lonely Planet’s best city destination for 2016. It’s a credit to the natural beauty, well-preserved old towns and friendly people of these countries that tourism is finally thriving after the region experienced tumultuous wars in the early 1990s.

We spent a couple of days in Dubrovnik, a busy jewel on the Adriatic sea, before travelling down to Montenegro. Here, we stayed several nights in Kotor and then headed to Budva and Przno for some scuba diving in clear, sparkling waters. Unlike Dubrovnik, which was vibrant yet heavy with tourists from all over Europe, Kotor was quieter, a town less travelled, with locals still going about their business within the old city walls.

Montenegro is a small country packed with incredible landscapes. It gets its name—Black Mountain—from the towering, gloomy peak at the heart of the Lovćen National Park.

We went kayaking and snorkelling in the Blue Caves, drove to the highest Mausoleum in the world, walked to the top of the Kotor city walls to the see the Fortress, and tried to count the number of wild cats in the city.

After a week in Montenegro, we took a bus down to Albania for a night and a day. We arrived on a rainy evening (to be fair to Albania, it was stormy across Europe that night), and from our bus window witnessed a horse and cart try to overtake our bus, watched a farmer squeeze four goats into the back of his hatchback, and saw the rolling rural landscape turn to urban development as we neared Shkoder. Albania, more so than either of the previous two Balkan countries, had the atmosphere of a country still getting to its feet after the recent past. Less English was spoken and there were barely any tourists. The surrounding natural beauty was breathtaking, even in the rain, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in what felt like a quirky place. We sat in a San Francisco-themed restaurant, enjoying lunch over £1 bottle of wine while they played Christmas music over the stereo.

Now I’m back in Oxford, but I keep looking back at our photos of an incredible couple of weeks travelling. I highly recommend this part of the world—especially Kotor—for your next travel destination!

Here are just a handful of the thousands of photos we took. And now, I better get back to my coffee and thesis writing.

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