When I first met my wife I remember her telling me about the happiness she derives from planning travel. Believe it or not it is a simple pleasure I had long neglected, at least since the days of my late teens or early twenties when I still used up valuable hours imagining myself on classic Alpine routes… instead of actually being on classic Alpine routes.
Now, in this year of transformation, I find myself in a position to plan a number of interesting travels which in turn I intend to intersperse with smaller adventures. Next weekend we travel to Thailand and with us shall go a few guidebooks of the countries that make up what was once Yugoslavia (Ex-Yu).
As I mentioned in my post on my challenges for 2017, we are planning an extended summer road trip around the Balkans, or more specifically the Ex-Yu countries. Starting in Slovenia and exploring Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia I am looking to get inside the skin of this region, home to my wife’s native land of Serbia and rich in wilderness and adventure which, although times are changing, largely goes un-noticed by outdoorsy types.
At the Adventure Travel show a couple of weeks ago I was chatting to some of the companies that peddle organised adventure holidays and whilst they are starting to offer more in Croatia and the mountains that border Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia this part of Europe still seems, if you’ll excuse the hackneyed phrase; a land of opportunity - at least to those seeking a reasonably priced adventure holiday in a less well known destination. A combination that I believe many of us seek.
My motives for this trip are as much about getting to know my wife’s native land as they are of shedding a little light on the natural wonders and warm people of this region, which perhaps still suffers from negative connotations of the war-ravaged ‘90s. In truth, and quite understandably, there is still a hangover from these times in the varying national consciousnesses but for the visitor there awaits an array of natural splendours; coastlines, gorges and mountains, as well as cultures of which, at least in western Europe and the USA, we remain very ignorant.
Taking guidance from my wife I will revel in the hours we spend pouring over guidebooks and maps and speaking to locals to find a route that best fits both my desire to climb a few mountains and live a more adventurous and outdoor life and also one that captures the essence of lands that have lived through distant and recent times of instability to emerge (as they surely will) as an adventure holiday “destination”.
I will post more updates here as our plans come together and I would love to hear from people in the region who would like to meet up to share their culture and wild places with a "born-again" outdoor enthusiast and his family.