City walls and switchback Kotor

A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip: Part 4 – Montenegro

Post-Prizren in Kosovo, the next stop on the journey was Montenegro. I didn’t know much about the country, but had a recommendation to stay in Kotor, so that’s where we headed. Back at Prizren bus station (looking much less scary in the daylight), turns out it would take three separate bus journeys to get to Kotor. Well, getting there is half the fun! The first leg arrived in Ulcinj, then a bus to Bar, and then finally a bus to Kotor. All of the journeys were pretty short, and most of it was long the stunning coastline of Montenegro.Prizren to Kotor map

We arrived at Ulcinj first, a buzzing place with a stunning old town and some decent beaches. A strong first impression of a new country! After a quick lunch we headed back to the bus station for the next leg of our journey to Bar. We had a few hours to kill, so we found a bar in Bar, naturally, and had a couple of beers with a fellow traveller also heading to Kotor. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining, so we passed the time pleasantly before beginning the last leg of our journey.

Bay of Kotor known locally as Boka

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Fresh fish, market, Porto

Porto – Mercado do Bolhão

When I visit anywhere, I always try to see if there is a local market. I love walking around seeing fresh produce, what’s in season, and what the locals are eating. Some places are better than others – the Boqueria in Barcelona has an abundance of stalls, and is great fun, but very busy. Whilst in Sofia, Bulgaria, the market was sparse!

Mercado do Bolhao Porto
The Mercado do Bolhão dates from 1850 and is a little bit run down and ramshackle, but this makes it charming. Like Porto itself, although much of the city is being regenerated and it’s definitely smartening up. So I wonder how long until the market is refurbished.

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A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip – Part 3: Kosovo

After visiting Macedonia and Albania, the next destination was Kosovo. Instead of visiting the capital, Pristina, after a bit of research, Prizren – known as the cultural capital – looked like a good alternative. The second largest city, it’s a young and vibrant town filled with picturesque mosques and churches, and good restaurants and nightlife. Travelling through the Balkans, I can’t help but think of the relatively recent war, and how the legacy of such a vicious conflict must affect the people here. It’s good to see that life continues, and tourists are returning, although it’s still not possible to travel from Kosovo directly into Serbia.

Tirana to Prizren map

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A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip – Part 2: Albania

After spending a very pleasant day and night exploring Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, we just made the bus to Tirana after a car chase (!) and settled in for what looked like a three hour journey, give or take an hour. We had checked the map before leaving, and it looked like a pretty straightforward route. Due to the unplanned excitement when catching our bus, we had no food or water, and no local currency (the lek). Never a good move when you’re venturing into the unknown – bad travellers. How d’you lek them apples? Or lack of them…

Ohrid to Tirana map

Crossing the border into Albania, tourist fee paid with the last Macedonian denars, I stared out the window, watching the world go by. I like travelling by bus when you’re not in a hurry, and you don’t really know where you’re going. You get to see more fragments of local life. The roads were dusty and twisted and turned through the mountains. There were hand-painted signs everywhere: ‘lavazh’…’lavazh’…’lavazh’ – …carwash…carwash…carwash. Every second home, and business seemed to have a carwash, some just an awning and a hose, others more upmarket. I couldn’t understand it as I couldn’t see that many cars on the road.

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A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip – Part 1: Macedonia

Back in 2013,  we planned an adventurous road trip through the Balkan Peninsula, covering seven countries in eight days, using only public transport. Adventurous or mad…you decide! We managed to visit Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. You can read about the first leg of the journey in Macedonia below.

Map Balkan roadtrip

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Morocco – Hiking the Atlas Mountains

As part of last year’s trip to Morocco, I really wanted to get out of the city and see some of the countryside, and decided on an overnight hike in the Atlas Mountains, staying with a family in a traditional Berber village. It happened to be New Year’s Eve, so definitely a different way to celebrate!

Terraces, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

After plenty of research I chose a company called Berber Travel Adventures, as they are locally owned and I wanted to support the local community. They are a sustainable tourism company, and they try to have a positive economic, environmental and social impact. The villages they visit are very small, and definitely not on the tourist trail.

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Morocco – 24 Hours in Essaouira

When I was planning my trip to Morocco, I wanted to fit in a side trip to Essaouira. It’s a beautiful port city on the west coast, with a fortified medina perfect for a lazy afternoon’s exploring. It’s much more chilled than Marrakesh – it used to be a hippie hangout in the 1960s, with Jimi Hendrix being one of its most famous visitors. It’s also famously windy, and for this reason it’s escaped relatively unscathed by beach tourism, as it can be too windy to sunbathe. For the same reason it’s very popular with kitesurfers and windsurfers.

Golden light, Essaouira

We didn’t have a lot of time, but an overnight trip was do-able. It’s around three hours driving from Marrakesh, and there are regular buses run by Supratours and CTM. Make sure to book your tickets in advance in the summer! The bus depot in Marrakesh is about five minutes from the Medina in Gueliz, and when you arrive in Essaouira it’s a short taxi ride (Supratours) or a short walk (CTM) to the medina.

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