Highlights of our Balkan trips from 2015 and 2016

 Why now? It’s been a while. J

Because I’ve closed a cycle this year!

Changes were perceptible even then, but maybe I wasn’t supposed to pay that much attention to them.


I’ll write only a few words about the energy of these two trips and whom/what I left behind. I’m not fighting anything, it was what it was.



The trip was one of our most complex and best. We teamed up with Andra and Iulia, two of our closest friends. I won’t lie – we did have fights and difficulties, but that’s life and an unforgettable trip is made of those.

Ours included thousands of km, many river descents, kayaking, meetings with friends, the making of new friends, and delicious food.

The itinerary was – more or less –:

Romania à Bulgaria à North Macedonia à Albania à Montenegro à Bosnia and Herzegovina à Croatia à Slovenia à Austria à Germany à Liechtenstein à Switzerland à Italy à Hungary (via Slovenia) à Serbia à home ♥

(and I did fall harder for Albania)


What stayed with me? (even more so, after all these years)


The sunset swim we had in Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria

We arrived late and only one place allowed us to enjoy a dip. We did (by laughing, singing, and dancing in the water, of course)!


The trek to Markovi Kuli, North Macedonia

It was my last moment of joy in North Macedonia – nasty things happened in 2021 –, maybe that’s why I also cherish it this much! I am not the biggest fan of hiking, but I did enjoy this one, together with the feeling of lingering summer and the extreme 37C at 5pm!


Albania stole my heart

The Osumi and Vjosa descents, the mountain roads, the sweets that I dreamt of, and all the moments in between were my favourite part of this journey. There was a lot of friendship and raw fun.

Offroading from Permet to Berat, Albania

The sea meant a break from all these and a different Mediterranean dream.


Different highlights in my beloved Bosnia

Namely? The trek from Kulen Vakuf to Ostrovica and the evening light, plus the evenings spent in a swing chair by my favourite river in the whole world (still) – Una!

The evening light on the way to Ostrovica Fortress, Bosnia and Herzegovina


A visit to Zagreb, to see dearest Pauli and Maya

As always, delicious food, great company, and secrets of the Croatian capital revealed!

(from right to left:) Iulia, Andra, Pauli, and I in Zagreb, Croatia


Surprising Villach, Austria

(not a big fan of Austria as an overall destination here)

However, this is why generalising is not good. We had a hearty meal and a pleasant walk in Villach on the toughest day of the trip.


Triensenberg, Liechtenstein, mamma mia!

I expected Switzerland to blow my mind. It didn’t. This petite country, though, did. Everything is condensed in Liechtenstein. If you disregard the prices and only look at the mountains, joy will never leave. J


Italy’s Lake Como

It was my second favourite region of the trip. I did have a mojo moment in Dorio, after an evening swim in a rooftop pool, trying to stare at the opposite shore of the lake. In the morning, I kayaked bits of it with Marcel and our friend, the swan.

Lake Como, Italy


Finishing it off with Piran and Maribor, Slovenia

One by the Adriatic Sea and one by the Drava River! Both are utterly charming! I loved walking around Piran early in the morning and the stop in Maribor in the late afternoon light.

Lovely Piran, Slovenia
Mellow Maribor, Slovenia


The end of 2015 brought us the ‘Best Rafting Team 2015’ title. We couldn’t make it to Tirana then, so we decided not to wait more than April 2016 to return to – we thought – the friendship and raw fun experienced in the previous year.

A gloomy feeling accompanied us during the entire trip, which was mainly rainy and cold. I had let Iulia go in November 2015, but Andra was still accompanying us.

The trip brought another goodbye – a man we thought of as our friend turned out to be a foe.  

The itinerary was – more or less –:

Romania à Bulgaria à Greece à Albania à Kosovo à Serbia à Bulgaria à home ♥


What stayed with me? (even though it was not one of my favourite trips; I now know that I could have created it differently, but it was meant to be that way… maybe this is what ‘destiny’ actually means)


Lovely Tryavna in Bulgaria

When you also discover Nero ice cream (which became an addiction) and you stumble upon a very cute village on Palm Sunday, you fall in love.


A different take on Greece

In northern and mountainous Greece, with the same delicious food, though!

Naousa offered fantastic views and the company of a 43-day-old Husky baby girl.

Thessaloniki spoiled us with the best dinner of the trip, at Molyvos.

Loukoumades and ice cream on the house in Thessaloniki, Greece

Arachthos River was the greatest challenge, with a turquoise waterfall along the descent, the trip’s first wow.


Changed Albania

Almost nothing felt the same. Still, the country looked stunning in its spring coat.

The fireflies guiding us to Çobo Winery – and the visit there – made their mark.

As the south – even though my love for it never faded – left us with a bitter taste, we headed north: Velipoja and its stunning beach, Komani Lake (my lake, as I’ve joked since), and the Valbona ‘River God’.  

Marcel and the crazy sea at Velipoja, Albania

Taking the ferry across the Komani Lake, Albania


Kosovo takes the crown

I felt best – and most welcome – in Kosovo. We saw old friends, ate as much trileqe as we could, and felt at ease. Gjakova, Prishtina, Prizren… it felt good to visit and revisit them.

Trileqe in Prizren, Kosovo - always a treat!


A tasty discovery in Bulgaria’s capital

Made in Home’ – we loved it so much that we visited it again, years after. Cosy, colourful, great food (even for vegetarians) and some wow desserts.

Terrific desserts in Sofia, Bulgaria


Now that this cycle’s closed, too, we can start over. To be continued.   

No comments:

© Olivia-Petra Coman, 2019 | Photographer: © Marcel Bancila. Powered by Blogger.