Introduction: Balkans Trip Report

Introduction: Balkans Trip Report
Review: Al-Maha Transit Lounge, Hamad International Airport, Doha (DOH)
Review: Belgrade Nikola Tesla International Airport (BEG) to Belgrade City Center
Review: Old Town Belgrade Airbnb Loft
Review: Belgrade Runaround
Review: Belgrade Walking Tours 1
Review: Belgrade Walking Tours 2
Review: Belgrade to Sarajevo; Door-to-Door Minibus Shuttle
Review: Embassies Row Sarajevo Airbnb Apartment
Review: Sarajevo Runaround
Review: Sarajevo Walking Tours
Review: Sarajevo Walkaround
Review: Sarajevo to Zagreb; EuroLine Bus
Review: Old Town Zagreb Airbnb Room
Review: Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Review: Advent in Zagreb
Review: Zagreb Walking Tours
Review: Zagreb to Budapest; Croatia Tours Bus
Review: Budapest Andrassay Street Airbnb Room
Review: Budapest Walkaround
Review: Budapest Bike Tours
Review: Budapest City Center to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
Review: Platinum Lounge, Terminal 2B, Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
Review: Doha, Qatar Drivearound

“Do all girls plan their trip this thorough?” asked my guy friend one evening. I had just shared with him an Excel sheet I carefully curated for travel plan of US West Coast.

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My curated US West Coast travel plan

The trip which took one year of planning and coordinating. So it came as surprise to both my friends and myself when

  1. I spontaneously bought flight tickets only 7 days before departure
  2. …to fly 5,135 miles across 7 different time zones
  3. …for travels to less touristy destinations deemed as unsafe to the uninformed
  4. …covering 4+1 countries in 10 days

Now, the last time I purchase flight ticket on a whim was to celebrate my finishing the Master’s degree. I usually like to plan out everything and stick to the schedule. Over the years I also have found footing in my travel style: quality over quantity.

Needless to say this Balkans trip goes against my normal mode of operation.

Why Did I Do It Anyway? 

The primary reason is cheese. Yes, really. Specifically, to collect cheese from The Sister which she brought back from Swiss and Holland.

The secondary reason is to check out the mountains. Still unknown to many (e.g., me), Balkans is a region blessed with among the most beautiful mountains, nature reserve, rivers, and waterfalls in the world.

For example, check out this video of Tara National Park in Serbia:

Una National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

To top it one notch, Bosnia hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. The awesome looking ski resort is still in operation:

Having hiked almost all major mountains in Korea, I am really excited to experience hiking/trekking and nature in other parts of the world. Somewhere unfamiliar and new.

The tertiary reason, but also the most imperative: discounted tickets. $300 less than usual price. 😉 As a semi-active member of Qatar Airways Privilege Club being able to collect miles is a huge plus.

Hatching The Game Plan

I had originally plan to fly to Sofia, Bulgaria via Doha (DOH) and Belgrade (BEG) with Qatar Airways. Upon looking at the flight details, I was intrigued by the official name of Belgrade Airport: Nikola Tesla International Airport.

Hey, that name sounds familiar! As an electrical and electronic engineer I studied his work of AC and other inventions.

Naturally I geeked out and decided I must check out this city whose airport is named after a revolutionary inventor: how geeky is that?

nikola-tesla-vs-thomas-edison-which-one-your-textbooks-never-told-you-about

p/s: if not for Tesla our homes would’t be powered by electricity. I highly recommend you check out other important inventions by Nikola Tesla here. Cool stuff.

Okay, geek mode off for now.

The Logistics

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Logistics map

ICN to BEG via DOH: Fly in with Qatar Airways

Belgrade, Serbia to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Minibus shuttle service

Sarajevo to Zagreb, Croatia: Train, flight, bus, or carpool – undecided

Zagreb to Budapest, Hungary: Bus

BUD to DOH: Fly out with Qatar Airways

DOH to ICN: Qatar Airways

Out of the six Balkan countries that made up the former Yugoslavia, I picked Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to visit because of each country’s historical background.

The countries represent three major ethnic groups involved in Yugoslavia War.

Aside from checking out war ruins, ultimately my goals are:

  • Spend a night in Tara National Park in Serbia
  • Ski at Jahorina Olympic Ski Resort in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Spend a night at mountain cabin near Sarajevo
  • Hike at Plitvice National Park in Croatia.

While researching I quickly become aware that available online resources concerning travel in Balkans are fewer than those of Central Europe. For example accommodation bookings for Tara National Park isn’t centralized and almost all websites are in Serbian.

Because I have a hunch that some plans might not go as planned due to logistics or weather condition I made a mental note to keep an open mind and be flexible.

With that, I’m off to Belgrade!

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