European Voluntary Service

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Monday, 28 August 2017

An adventurous Road Trip in the Balkans

As usual, time passed so fast that I didn’t realised summer had already come to its end.
These two last months have been punctuated by music festival, theatre of the Oppressed workshop, movie projections and of course Lent festival, an intense moment in Maribor City. I also enjoyed some free days to say hello to France, passing from town to town to make sure I won’t miss anyone.
But mostly, August will stay in my memories as the month I had my first backpacking / hitchhiking road trip. We were having this project in mind with Sofia for a long time now, since we arrived in Slovenia; in August, we will discover the Balkans… But the more time was passing, the less we were planning and when it was time to go, here was the final plan: we would have 12 days to visit 4 countries, and we would try to hitchhike as much as possible. We only had accommodation planned for 3 nights, but that was it, and we weren’t actually worried about it; we knew it would be challenging, but that we would manage to find a solution every D-Day.

Let the adventure begin!

We first went to Croatia, visited few towns and Krk island, then saw most of the coast thanks to an amazing Croatian guy that took us all the way down to Split, passing by all the little villages and explaining each of their stories.

We passed the border and arrived in Bosnia: after a stop in Mostar and its old bridge overhanging the transparent river, we arrived in Sarajevo. There I had a big surprise: first by the importance of Muslim religion and oriental atmosphere and secondly by the omnipresence of the war. For us, we could not feel this Capital without understanding its history, that’s why we decided to go for two free tours about history and war, completed by the war museum. The guide, which was a kid during the siege, explained what happened with a personal perspective, and took us to the crucial places, were we could understand the reality of Bosniaks at this time. We were staying in a really tiny hostel, which allowed us to create quick connections, and that’s how we met plenty of people from all parts of the world. It was amazing to see how even if we were coming from different backgrounds, culture and identity, we were all connected by this spirit of adventure and discovery.

We liked the town so much that we decided to stay one more day, and found some Italian companions that were also going to Montenegro the next day. We jumped in their car, compressed between backpacks and guitar, and during several days we had great laugh and saw great landscape.

After Kotor and Budva, we went to have a look in Podgorica, the capital, were an old British grandpa was waiting for us as our Couchsurfing host. It was funny to see that he actually had more energy that we did ! We took the night train (what an experience! #thisisBalkans) to Belgrade, were we met Milos, the resident artist which we collaborated with in Maribor. Belgrade is a nice, lively city, but it was time for us to come back to our little Maribor. We hitchhiked one last time, and finished our adventures in a wonderful Croatian sunset.

This way of travelling pushed me to trust my instinct, taught me to be in a “whatever mood”, asking people to camp in their garden, take us with them on their road without thinking about their opinion of us. Life is short, and without trying we would not get what life has to offer us. To wake up every morning without knowing where you will fall asleep at night can seem risky or worrying for some people, but I took it as a big shot of adrenaline. Thanks to these people that agreed on sharing their journey with us for one hour, one day or even more, we had the kind of trip we wanted: going with the flow and enjoying every part of the adventure.


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