Bringing the Balkans Closer, One Podcast Episode and Blogpost at a Time
Welcome to the this edition of This Week in the Balkans
Yes, we've arrived in Montenegro.
We're on the shores of the Bay of Kotor at the moment for the next 10 days. We used to come here up until four years ago for our annual, breakaway or holiday. Some years we used to come for four weeks. I think one year we actually came for two periods of six weeks each. We fell in love with this small village.
Prćanj is on the southern side of the bay, and I think it's about eight kilometres away from the Montenegrin town of Kotor, which is an old Venetian town, beautiful place steeped in history and well, well worth a visit.
And it's a place that you can find out something about every time you come. So it's not a case if you came once and said, I've seen it all because that truly, truly, isn't the case. So if somebody has been to Montenegro and said, I've seen Kotor, you can say, yeah, you've seen some of Kotor.
We left the village the day before yesterday, at about nine o'clock in the morning. And we drove down here in two stages. We spent a night near Mostar.
This year we should have flown from Banja Luka Airport to Tivat, which is about eight kilometres away from where I'm sitting, writing this now. And then we would have taken a taxi here to this small apartment rental that we've got. However, Air Montenegro suddenly decided they were no longer going to operate the line from Banja Luka.
So we drove from Čardačani through Bosnia-Herzegovina southwards and staying at Blagaj, which is about 12 kilometres south of Mostar. We overnighted there in a hotel that we've been before, Motel Kolo. It's nice, not a brand new place by any shakes, but we had a nice clean and tidy room that had air conditioning because we needed it.
The temperatures here are outrageous in the region at the moment. Digressing slightly, we went down to the beach this morning. Tamara is a former competition swimmer. So every time she gets near water, she wants to swim. And I don't do heat well and we've got 40 degrees and hardly any shade down there on the beachfront at the moment.
Back to the story.
We stayed overnightIn Blagaj and then continued onward south stopping off for a leg stretch at the Tvrdoš Serbian Orthodox monastery to have a look around. That's a really great place to visit. Then on to the Herzegovinian town of Trebinje and from there right across the border, with hardly any traffic queue.
We arrived in Prćanj at around 1330.
Why did I use Paradajiz Tourists in the newsletter title? Well, paradajiz is the Serbian word for tomato. There is or was, still is, a habit where people from the Western Balkans when they go on holiday, take everything but the kitchen sink with them when they go. As an example, some years ago, Tam and I were staying looking after an apartment rental for some friends for a good few months. We moved there temporarily, checking people in, checking people out, making sure the laundry was changed and all that sort of stuff.
There was a family from Poland and their car arrived at Čiavo on the Croatian coast. The suspension on the car was really down. I thought, what is this? And they just unloaded everything. They brought their food, their booze and everything. And at times people from Bosnia do this as well. They go on holiday within the region, they take things that they think they won't get anywhere else. Rakija, Tam's father always takes his rakija with him.
Even we brought some tomatoes, and some bell peppers from our garden, because we didn't want to waste them. And so I think we could be classed as paradajiz tourists, right? I'm going to try and put a picture on the newsletter of why we do bring paradise because tomatoes in the Balkans are so so tasty.
So I was making fun out of Tamara and said, you know what, we are people who criticise paradajiz tourists but have now actually turned into paradajiz tourists ourselves.
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Kraken Underwater Wine
Since arriving in Montenegro we have found out that there is the Kraken underwater wine cellar, which is on the other side of the bay. And these guys have got local wines that they mature not normally in the vineyard environment that we normally talk about in wine cellars. They've got their wine cellar 20 metres down in the waters of the Bay of Kotor.
Whether we get to see this while we are here we don't know because we did say that this holiday is for us and we should cut back on all our content creation.
However, if push comes to shove I'll be doing a remote podcast with them in the future subject to them saying they want to do it. I think it's absolutely brilliant.
So if you do come to Montenegro, check it out.
For the next 9 days we are leaving the car parked outside our accommodation and taking the bus. There's a very efficient bus line here. It's called Blue Line. I think it's about two euros a trip, not a lot, but we're definitely going to go into Kotor.
Our website is now a one-stop shop for not only the podcast but also a re-launched Blog as well. It also has a nifty recording button. You can record your questions and observations straight from your mobile device, and we can use that to be included in future podcasts. You might just become a star on our podcast. Your voice could echo across the Balkans in future episodes – an opportunity too exciting to miss.
See if it works direct from this newsletter by clicking on the image below ⬇️
In the last newsletter, I put a button to where you can contribute directly not only to the newsletter, but to the podcast and blog as well, just by hitting that link.
You can use your phone, computer or iPad to leave an audio message.
Thanks to Roger Overall who used it to ask a question about our newsletter host “Substack”.
You can hear Rogers question and my response in the audio clip at the start of this update.
Coming on Sunday
Coming on Sunday, about three days away from when you're reading this, is the third part of our mini podcast series about living in Croatia with Mark Whitfield. There have been two already and this is the third and final one.
It should hit your inboxes about seven o'clock on Sunday morning.
After that, we will have Ruth Chamberlain talking about the horses of Livno, the wild horses of Livno in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then we'll be looking at is there such a thing as independent media in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Bojan Stojkovski.
So that's it from this newsletter. Please do share it if you think there are people that would want to read it and listen to it as well.
I'll catch you next Thursday. So yeah, “Vidimo se opet”. In other words, see you again soon.
That’s it for this edition of the newsletter.
Tamara and I wish you everything that you wish for yourself, but, if you would like to experience a little Ćejf, and also explore this wonderful country, then why not get in contact with us. We can accommodate up to 5 people and can assure you of a wonderful time.
Our WhatsApp number (text only) is 00387 66 657916.