Follow us as we travel as many of the Balkans as we possibly can (aiming for 9 countries!) on a two week vacation (21st Aug – 3rd Sept) with just two bags, £20 in local currencies, and a shiny new International Drivers Permit to show I can drive (presumably vaguely better than most I hope). Oh and all whilst dodging potholes and Turkish cab drivers, Bulgarian border guards and the odd land mine.
So after reviewing countless pages of tat about great package holidays to hotspots like Malaga and amazing American beacons such as Boston, we became worried we may never find our feet. We wanted less obvious and more adventurous.
We are both travellers, Kat has been to 11 countries, admittedly with some stranger destinations like China and then being trapped in Finland due to the volcano-no one-can-pronounce in Iceland. Whereas I have spent years travelling with work and have amassed 29 countries to date (not including UK home nations or the one stop-over in Lithuania); thankfully I never saw a giant volcano.
I should add here, I have a secret desire to be a member of the Travellers Century Club, and to see the magic 50 before turning 35 (20 away at time of writing). Kat has a desire to enjoy the culture of each destination. Hmm. No airport-hopping to gain countries here, you see!
Hankering for the high life but working on low budget, we investigated a Balkan tour of duty. Expecting it to be as easy as booking a flight was never what we thought will happen, but the complexity of hire car arrangements can best be described as a “pain” as seen on any google search and the multiple failed attempts of others. We love a challenge and love Europe so we don’t expect an easy ride and don’t want it either.
To highlight the issues, we wanted to travel initially 10 countries in 12 days via Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and finally Croatia.
Regretfully the Romanian hire car situation was impossible but thanks to Europcar we can source a car from Burgas, Bulgaria to Dubrovnik, Croatia for €1,300 only.
That swing made it worth it and with a few clicks (and a million attempts to secure upgrades to extra leg room by the airlines) we had Wizzair outbound and EasyJet inbound flights for less that £600, a hire car, and a plan. 12 days and as many countries as we could enter! Refusing point blank to pay £100 each for luggage (over both flights), we opted for hand luggage. After all, how hard is it to find laundry detergent and a sink in Europe?!
The challenge before we even left was that our travel insurances didn’t cover all countries, hire car not allowed into all 9 countries and crossings notorious for taking half a day each. Without being phased we just jump on a plane and this is our blog.
All this boils down to two things. We want adventure and happy memories. From tortoises to turkish baths, border issues to bouncing over rough roads, and from smiling baklava shop owners to the Red Keep itself.