Sunday, January 6, 2013


For years I have talked with the Russians and other friends about doing a trip through the Western Balkans and finally I was on my way with Mary to one of the most culturally diverse regions in Europe or the world.

We planned to hire a car for 3 weeks and drive through Serbia - Bosnia & Herzegovina - Croatia - Montenegro and possibly Albania. I got a little taste for the region when traveling with Callum, Syd & the Austrians through Croatia/Slovenia some weeks earlier and was really excited to return and explore deeper into the heartland of former Yugoslavia. 
Its hard to believe that during the 90's the region was raging in war, each country desperately fighting for territory and Independence. Like any war it displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many  innocent lives were lost and changed for ever. 

The people were some of the friendliest, helpful and warmest I have met through my travels. It was also amazing to see the people retaining a simple self sufficient agricultural lifestyle.

First stop was Belgrade were we had troubles hiring the car. We pre paid the booking and when we arrived Mary had a new credit card so they didnt want to give us the car. We begged and pleaded with the man until he finally cut us some slack after speaking with his manager. The temperature was around 30-35 degrees and it was 5 in the afternoon! We finally found our hostel after getting lost numerous times and briefly getting stuck in an elevator. We went around the town for a few beers and enjoyed watching the live musicians playing accordion/brass instruments around tables while people drank. It was amazing to see that it was a great pleasure to have the Gypsy musicians playing round your table, were as in Western Europe they get chased out of restaurants or brushed of like flies. The vibes were electric and we discussed what was in store for the next couple of nights at the Guca music festival in the town of Guca in Southern Serbia. The following morning we re-packed our packs, made our was to the car and slowly made our way south on the dangerous roads to the largest brass music festival in the world.   

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