Vagrant-pilled Western Balkans Trip Report

Recently came back home after spending roughly two weeks in the Western Balkans (with a 2-day layover in Poland). This post will have to be split up because of how long it is, but I hope you enjoy it anyway lmao

I tried to keep costs down as much as possible, not just because I don't have a lot of money, but also because it's usually more fun. I tried to emulate Vagrant Holiday by camping as much as I could instead of paying for accommodation, but I ended up sleeping in hostels about one in two days. In the future I aspire to beat him when he's at his best.

The whole trip, including flights, food, accommodation and other transportation cost me ~$620, which works out to a daily cost of ~$34. This is actually lower than the daily cost of Vagrant Holiday II and IV, and (if you factor in inflation) roughly equivalent to the daily cost of Vagrant Holiday III. Granted, he probably pays a LOT more for plane tickets since he lives on the other side of the Atlantic, but this just means that I get more comfort for my money as a European.

Destinations:

Poland (2 days)
>Krakow
The most beautiful city I have ever visited (except maybe Venice). Since I only had one day, I just walked around and saw the sights, and it is a very nice town to stroll around.
>Katowice
The main reason I went here is that my flight to Podgorica departed from here, but the village of Chudów is very close to Katowice so I went there just for the sake of it. Getting back to Katowice was a challange though, because there is not a single bus ticket machine in all of Chudów so I had to hike 5 kilometres to the nearest other village to get back. Other than that I ate some pierogi and went to the movies (for like $4). Not bad for a layover.

cont.

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  1. 9 months ago
    silly guy

    MonteBlack (5 days)
    >(Podgorica)
    I only spent about half a day here, because most of the things worth seeing in MonteBlack are on the coast and in the mountains, so this paragraph will almost entirely be about *getting out of* Podgorica. There are no buses between the airport and the city, so it's swarming with swarthy taxi drivers who see whiteys as nothing but cash machines. However, thanks to Wikivoyage I knew that there is a (ridiculously shabby) train station a few kilometres away from the airport, so I saved quite a few euros that way. After acquiring a local SIM-card (that I didn't get in working order for another few days because of my limited experience with foreign SIMs), I took the first bus I could to Herceg Novi, the next destination on my trip.
    >Herceg Novi
    This place looks great from afar, but it is practically Magaluf for Russians, which I didn't know beforehand. The beach promenade had overpriced food and was full of annoying tourists. The water was warm and the views good, but if you're looking for an unspoiled gem this ain't it. At least I got my SIM-card working here.
    >Kotor
    Kotor is what I wanted Herceg Novi to be. The old town is absolutely magnificent and from the town walls on the mountain you can get some truly stunning views. This has a huge impact on the price of hostels though, so instead of booking anything I just slept in the mountains, which worked surprisingly well.
    >Budva
    While getting to Budva I was ambushed by torrential rainfall, so I used my first day there to clean and dry my clothes. Other than that I spent some time with other people at the hostel. The next day the weather was much better, and I participated in Luke Smith's meetup in town, which lasted for the entire day and was very based and entertaining.

    cont.

    • 9 months ago
      Anonymous

      Funny to read this thread now, having visited MonteBlack myself a few weeks ago. Wish I knew some of this stuff before. You're absolutely spot on, Kotor is a israeliteel while the rest of the country goes from cute to meh.

  2. 9 months ago
    silly guy

    >Cetinje
    Immediately after the meetup I went to Cetinje, which is the historical capital of MonteBlack. It is located in the mountains about 50 minutes inland from Budva. I arrived late at night and slept in the mountains. The next day I embarked on the hike to the Mausoleum of Njegoš that is located atop a mountain about 6 hours of hiking away from where I was camped. I began a bit too late though, so in order to reach the mausoleum before it closed I started hitch hiking, which worked surprisingly well. I was picked up by an American girl who was also going to the mausoleum and spent the last few minutes of sunlight atop the mountain taking in the majestic view. After hitching back to Cetinje with a local I went to a local park, followed some trails into the woods and set up camp for the night.

    Albania (4 days)
    >Shkodra
    After eating breakfast at the restaurant where the local I hitched with the previous day works, I got on the bus to the border city of Ulcinj and then hopped on another bus to Shkodra in Albania. The buses were quite slow and I arrived quite late, so my first day in Shkodra mostly consisted of taking care of necessities, like acquiring a padlock (which I had forgotten to bring with me on my trip), a new SIM-card (the Montenegrin SIM-card didn't have roaming in Albania) and some Albanian currency. I spent the next day in Shkodra talking to other hostel patrons, trying local food, biking around town and swimming in the nearby lake. At said lake I met a middle-aged man from Germany who I spoke with for quite some time. Among other things we spoke about the next leg of my journey, the Theth-Valbona trail, which the man had been to and thought was becoming too touristy.

    cont.

  3. 9 months ago
    silly guy

    >Theth-Valbona trail
    The man was right about this trail. I couldn't go more than 5 minutes without meeting another hiker, so this is far from a hidden gem anymore. Both Theth and Valbona are undergoing furious development and until I started on the trail I saw maybe two cool things and dozens of construction sites, which was a let-down to say the least. The views on the trail are breathtaking though, so I understand why so many people come here. I also ran into one of the guys from the hostel in Budva around midway on the trail (we were going in opposite directions). Immediately after coming down from the mountain on the Valbona side it started raining heavily, so I stuffed all my stuff into my sleeping bag lining and went to sleep for a few hours to wait out the rain. When the return of the sun woke me up three hours later I finished the rest of the hike and entered the woods to sleep in my now very humid sleeping bag lining.
    >(Kukës)
    The next day the plan was to get to Kosovo, and to do that I had to get to either Bajram Curri or Kukës. But after trying to flag down several minibuses on the way back from Valbona and not getting any luck, I decided to once again hitch hike. Within the hour I was picked up by two lovely Dutch ladies who took me all the way to Kukës. There are very rarely proper bus schedules in Albania, so to find out how to get to Kosovo I went to a local internet café and asked the very friendly staff. They recommended a shared taxi instead of a bus because of how sporadically they depart, so I went out looking for one. After just walking around in the city centre for a while I saw a shared taxi to Prizren, and jumped in.

    cont.

  4. 9 months ago
    silly guy

    Kosovo (3 days)
    >Prizren
    After a short and cheap taxi ride I arrived in Prizren with both kidneys still inside me. At the hostel I ran into a German guy who had just been to Serbia, so we exchanged currencies with each other (I brought some left-over Macedonian currency with me on the trip just in case, even though I didn't plan on going there this time). The old town of Prizren is very beautiful and I spent most of the day wandering around there. I also visited the fortress on the top of a hill overlooking the city, which had some nice views. Prizren is a surprisingly neat town, considering Kosovo is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Other than the occasional gypsy beggar bothering you you really didn't feel the poverty though. When it was time for me to go to sleep my second night in Prizren I went into the forest near the aforementioned fortress to find a good spot, but a stray dog started following me. I didn't have the stomach to kill it and didn't want to risk it biting me in my sleep, so I gave in and spent €9 on a hostel room. Truly devastating.
    >Peja
    I wanted to check out the local museum here, but I arrived on a Sunday so it was closed. So I just enjoyed the scenery as usual and talked to random people on the street. Peja is not as spectacular as Prizren, but it too is a surprisingly nice and tidy town. When it was time to sleep I followed some trail at the edge of town and climbed past a landmine warning sign and went to sleep using two trees to prevent me from rolling down hill. The next day I had to catch a bus, so other than asking some NATO peacekeepers in the local KFC for a selfie I also visited the Patriarchate of Peć, an incredibly picturesque (and heavily guarded because of the ethnic conflict) Serbian Orthodox monastery. They even had a passport control.

    cont.

  5. 9 months ago
    silly guy

    MonteBlack again (2 days)
    >Rozaje
    I mostly went here because it's difficult to go directly from Kosovo to Serbia, and the town is very small so there wasn't a whole lot to do. I was accosted by a drunkard in the city centre, but that's about it. I also wanted to check out a local museum, but it was closed too. When it was time to sleep I just found a random patch of woods and set up camp. It was ridiculously cold during the night though, and dew had formed in the morning so I got very wet while making my way out of the woods. While waiting for the bus to Belgrade I sat at an internet café while trying to become dry.

    Serbia (2 days)
    >Belgrade
    It was comically hot during my stay in Belgrade, so I probably didn't see as much as I could've, but the fortress of Belgrade is something I can wholeheartedly recommended, and the entire old town is very pretty. Even the newer parts of the city near the bus station are quite spectacular. The fortress had an assortment of military equipment near the outer edges which was very cool to look at. I now have photographic proof that I am taller than the Panzer I. I also tried some local food and sweets, enjoyed very talented street performers and marveled at the St. Sava Temple. One of the guys from the Luke Smith meetup suggested we meet up here, but sadly he had to cancel. I really wish I had more time in Belgrade, because it feels like I've missed a lot of sights worth seeing, but I really enjoyed my stay (despite the infernal heat).

    Over all I'd say it was a very pleasant trip, but I wish I had more time, especially in Kosovo and Serbia. I guess I'll have to return some day.

    I was going to recommended the Western Balkans as a travel destination, but when I think back to my experiences with Herceg Novi and Theth, I think I want to dissuade people from going there instead. So don't go.

  6. 9 months ago
    Anonymous

    first to salute a LEGEND, will read the posts now and hope to see the vid soon!

    • 9 months ago
      silly guy

      We'll see if there'll be a vid, I didn't record as much as I should have, but I'll post it here if I make it. Thanks btw!

  7. 9 months ago
    Anonymous

    bro went to chudov lmao

    • 9 months ago
      silly guy

      I sure did lmao
      However, it is almost entirely residential so there isn't much to look at. There is a church though, which is the minimum I'd expect from a place called Chudów

      vidrel is an edit I made about my visit

  8. 9 months ago
    Anonymous

    >Katowice
    that's muh city
    glad you liked it enough to not dismiss it in a true SighSee fashion as it's an industrial/post-industrial/business city without that many sights to admire

    • 9 months ago
      silly guy

      I mean, the centre is very pretty, but yeah as soon as you get on the Chudów bus you can really tell that it's an industrial city lmao

      • 9 months ago
        Anonymous

        le soviet blocks

      • 9 months ago
        Anonymous

        Tauzen
        the whole area may look ominous when seen from some angles or in bad weather, but it's actually a pretty comfy district

        this aside, wish you told something more about that Luke Smith meetup. would be great to know it was a bunch of regular guys having fun time, not some cringelord collision.

        • 9 months ago
          silly guy

          Most people were surprisingly normal tbh. There was one guy who you could tell didn't really fit in, but him aside people weren't particularly spergy. There was even a woman participating! If you want to know anything else I will try to respond as well as I can while respecting the privacy of the participants.

          picrel is me height mogging Luke

          • 9 months ago
            Anonymous

            Absolute Chad.

          • 9 months ago
            Anonymous

            >Most people were surprisingly normal tbh. There was one guy who you could tell didn't really fit in, but him aside people weren't particularly spergy. There was even a woman participating
            my status: comforted, with morals hardened. thanks, just wanted to know this, no need to derail this thread too much.

            took me a while to realize you actually went to Chudów, otherwise an ultrarandom thefrickareyoutalkingaboutville, just for the sake of it aka for memes. fug, when I grow up I want to be this based.

            • 9 months ago
              silly guy

              >when I grow up I want to be this based
              Thanks, but there's no need to wait lol, I'm almost certain I'm younger than you

          • 9 months ago
            Anonymous

            who is luke smith

            • 9 months ago
              Anonymous

              Have some Luke Smith concentrate

  9. 9 months ago
    Anonymous

    Bro imagine being able to unironically say ’i slept in the mountains’

    Wish I had the balls to do this, it’s how humans are meant to move around by using nature for accommodation. Hotels are so artificial and unnatural for your brain.

    • 9 months ago
      Anonymous

      I mean, since it's the mountains, there aren't many other people there, so it shouldn't be that dangerous

  10. 9 months ago
    Anonymous

    Absolutely based. I would never have the balls to do this, due to it seemingly extremely uncomfortable (insects, weather, etc.) and possibly dangerous. Respect!

    • 9 months ago
      silly guy

      Thanks! If the weather is good (like in Kotor, Cetinje and Peja) it isn't that bad, but it definitely sucks if it's too cold. Insects were an issue, but folding yourself into your sleeping bag lining (or whatever it's called) works quite well. You can cover any openings with a towel, which still allows some air to get in so you don't suffocate

  11. 9 months ago
    Anonymous

    absolute legend

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