On Day 1 of the Great Balkan Ride, teams drove from Bosnia’s capital to the mountains of Montenegro.
Photo by Theodore Marković
Rocky roads roads, majestic mountains, and a few shots of rakija too many… the inaugural Great Balkan Ride was a lot of fun. From Sarajevo all the way to Thessaloniki, we explored an incredible part of the world, with landscapes and landmarks that can scarcely be believed. Now it’s time to look back on the experience, with a selection of our favourite photographs (expertly captured by Theodore Marković), discoveries, and anecdotes. We begin with Day 1, as teams left Sarajevo in the direction of Montenegro.
Ready to Go
The Great Balkan Ride officially began bright and early on the morning of Saturday August 5th, with a team briefing from tour leader Huba. A veteran of many Travel Scientists‘ events, and an experienced traveler in the region, he gave teams an taster of what lay ahead. No introductions were necessary though, as everyone had met up the night before in Tito Cafe, an atmospheric local bar dedicated to the twin ideals of Yugo-nostalgia and cheap drinks.
The Green Drina
Teams had the chance to explore Sarajevo before the event began so on Day 1, the mission was simply to get to Montenegro. However, the road to the border passed through some delightful Bosnian countryside. Best of all, there was time to take a dip in the gorgeous Drina river. Very refreshing on a hot day.
Our First Border
Less refreshing was seeing the line at the border. It was peak summer season and clearly we weren’t the only ones to have the bright idea of visiting one of Europe’s most spectacular countries. However, after an exercise in patience, it was worth the wait.
Driving into Montenegro we were greeted by roads lining the edge of dramatic canyons, and a series of tunnels carved into the rock. Passing through these, often with sparkling turquoise rivers to our side, was a fantastic introduction to the country.
The drive only got better from there, as we crossed the heights of Durmitor National Park. The road to Žabljak wound through scenery at times reminiscent of the highlands of Scotland (only more dramatic), and as we crossed mountain passes we were treated to views across miles of steep valleys and rugged peaks. An astonishingly beautiful landscape, deserving of fame equal to that of Montenegro’s celebrated coastal resorts.
Once we arrived in Žabljak, we made our way to the nearby “black lake”, a gorgeous spot. Actually comprising of two connected lakes, it made for a perfect walk or, even better, swim. The only trouble was that when we actually wanted to leave, deep mud made it very tricky indeed to get out…