Balkan 2015, Part VI

The last part of the Balkan trip 2015 started in Tirana, from where I went via the Albanian Speedway back to Montenegro for beach vacation.

However, the first spot was crowded, noisy and not well maintained. Just camped there for a night and went on – what a good choice as the second camp ground was such a difference. Tiny spot on a small beach but excellent maintenance, nice people all around. Here I stayed some days to enjoy the summer sun at the beach.

Met Vasel from the visit to Theth valley in his hometown near Podgorica, capital of Montenegro. He was quite surprised to see me so soon again 🙂 We had nice lunch and went for the church near his native place.

I went to the sea to drive northwards to Dubrovnik, the posh city where parts of Game of Thrones were filmed. Despite the hefty price tag on everything there it is a really nice example of a middle age city. Sadly got ill so was not able to enjoy everything, would have tried the boat trip to Lokrum.

Finally the long drive back from Dubrovnik to Munich with a short overnight stay in Ljubljana.

Balkan 2015, Part V

Back in Montenegro, Safari Camping near Ulcinj. So different to Albania. Everybody accepts cerdit cards, everything is in € and most options in restaurant are with meat. The camping spot is loud due to tons of families, also the sandy beach right in front is crowded with folks. I wonder what people didn’t bring for camping here – looks like everything from home was transferred to only have a different view. Also the facilities are worn down, broken and dirty. Was so clean at Lake Shkodra Resort.

Thinking about the last days in Tirana. I had a delicious dinner at A La Sarte, a small hidden restaurant in Bloku district. Bloku was for communist party members only and basically a forbidden city where also the dictator Hoxha himself lived. Again – in that country are still many and good veg options, let’s see for how long when one looks to the neighbourung countries.

The Free Walking Tour I attended yesterday was one of the best so far. Before it started I sat on a bank with a nice elderly looking local man who only spoke local language. We managed to understand each other quite well and he told me that he learned no foreign language due to communism regime. I felt quite touched by this talk – if everybody would just try a bit more, couldn’t we all live in peace together and understand others even if we don’t speak the same language?

After that, the big walking tour group gathered and we dived into the Albanian history. Very interesting were also the personal experiences of our guide of the times of dictatorship. For instance he apologized for people driving not that good because 20 years ago there were no private cars at all.

The day before the tour I visited the Museum of National History which spans the story of stone age, Illyrians, independence movements to uprising over communism. The classical kind of display was interesting for me, despite the hot rooms without proper AC.

Balkan 2015, Part IV

Berat, city of 1000 windows. After Sarajevo and Mostar I went via Montenegro to lake Shkodra for some days of camping. 

 
Lake Shkodra Resort has a nice staff and facilities are very clean.

During my stay I went for a trip to the remote and famous Theth valley in Albanian alps. Took northern route to valley, which was first asphalt with some holes, then  a new and perfect small road up to mountain pass. There the old rugged trail started. However, by driving slowly it was bo issue for the Jeep. Some locals even drove there in normal cars (Mercedes). After artiving in Thethi I felt like asking 20 people, passing some sheep herds and a moaning funeral procession near the church to finally arrive at my guesthouse. Met a very nice Albanian family from USA/Montenegro, did a hike and eating together while learning lots of interesting bits about local history. 

 
The next day I went back to Camping area via the southern route which was longer and more demanding but by far less crowded – it’s usually only used in winter times when northern route is closed due to snow. 

 
After 4 hours of bumpiness I was happy to reach paved road again and went back via Shkodër to the camping spot only to face the worst weather so far in the evening. Thunderstorm and very heavy rains throughout the night. In the morning my tent was dirty but dry inside – others hadn’t have that luck and were soaked by the rain, motorbikes fell over during the night as soil went into muddy soup.

Lucky me just cleaned up the tent, said goodby to my tent neighbours who watched over my spot while I was in Thethi and the nice staff. Then went on to Berat – the city of 1000 windows.

Had a great parking spot right in front of the old town with the famous buildings.

  
 
After checking out the fortress area and the beautiful views yesterday evening I’m now heading for Tirana, capital of Albania.

Balkan 2015, Part III

Sarajevo. After I finally found the post office in Belgrade to get a stamp, I left for BIH. Two border crossings(busy at SRB->HR, fast and easy HR->BIH) and a nice trip on new roads through the Bosnian landscape later, I desired something to eat at a vegetarian fastfood restaurant. However, the uConnect navi is not fit for the city and showed no helpful info(no, not a lake!):

 
I switched to HERE app on my mobile which thankfully supports offline navigation and brought me to my destination.

Balkan 2015, Part II

Belgrade (white city) is big, especially compared to boutique capital Ljubljana, but also to Zagreb. After driving through brutalism ‘new city’ at the other side of Danube river, I arrived in the old part which has buildings of many epochs.

In Ljubljana, there were cyclists all over the place but here due to hilly areas its more of a cars and pedestrian city together with trams and trolleybuses. Belgrade was the southernmost capital of Austrian Hungarian Empire and place of many wars with the Ottomans. To see a bit of the earliest history I went to the castle hill with walls from the Roman era. Despite the hot summer sun it was a very nice afternoon walk in the area which lead me to the best vegetarian restaurant here so far – Radost. It’s basically inside a flat with very friendly staff and selective interior.

 A beer from local local brewery:

Because I was really hungry no picture of the main dish, which was vegan burgers in homemade buns. Tip: get both kinds, I better liked the one I would’t have chosen.

Dessert was a mint cake with cashews and chocolate:

 

Belgrade is famous for its nightlife, so I started the night at the Kafanas for different kinds of rakija, a fruit distillate beginning with the ‘default’ bersion, a good homemade plum rakija. Later, everybody goes to the party boats which provide fine clubbing until the morning. Daylight again and music was done so I crossed exhausted the bridge back to city.

Next day I attended the free city tour. The guide spanned the history from Romans and Celts over to Yugoslavia and now Serbia while showing landmarks. Afterwards I went to the small Nikola Tesla museum where not only exhibits are shown but also an ‘energetic’ live demonstration of different apparatus including Tesla coils is given.

First Union

After arrival and the fact that the Jeep was too big for Hotel garage (it now resides in front of the building on a special parking spot), I checked the rough directions of interesting restaurants and went to the city center.

Quite nice but still hot in the evening my stroll lead me to Restavracija Paninoteka+, a restaurant directly at a small bridge over the river and view to Ljubljana grad (castle).

Here I ordered my first Slovenian beer, an Union: 

And as dinner a traditional Slovenian meal: Ajdova kaša z jurčki. Especially the mushrooms tasted deliciously. 

Balkan 2015, Part I

München – Ljubljana

Wednesday – today is the first step of travelling. Did I get everything necessary? Will find out on the trip.

From Munich to Salzburg/Austria and then across the country to Karawankentunnel. On top of the Pickerl/Vignette a Videomaut at two points is required along the road in Austria. It can be obtained online at Asfinag.

Plan is to attend the early Free Tour tomorrow at 11 a.m. on the steps in front of the Pink Church in Preseren Square (City’s Main square). 

Rucola Carrot salad

Only two days before departure I test my camping gear and qickly made a salad: 

 
Ingredients:

  • 500g Rucola
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 spoon vinegar
  • 2 spoons oil
  • a bit of salt
  • some pepper

Put the liquids, salt and pepper in the bowl, mix it good. Put the carrot pieces into it, mix again. After cleaning the rucola, put it last and mix it again.

München – Montenegro 2015

The next vacation approaches, I’d like to visit the Balkan region, in particular Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.

The initial trip was from Munich via Austria(Karawanks tunnel) to Slovenia where I want to stay 2 nights in Ljubljana, the capital.

Planned so far:

Southernmost location will be the camping area at Lake Shkodra resort. And maybe a drive to Thethi valley, let’s see.

Afterwards back to Montenegro and Croatia for relaxed vacation.