Med to the Balkans research trip – week 3 Back to News List

Our 3rd and final week saw us entering the storybook world of Dubrovnik, a fabled walled city on the Adriatic coastline. This UNESCO listed city left us in no doubt why Warner Bros chose this location for the renowned Game of Thrones series. Walking the 2-kilometre-long city walls offered stupendous views of the old city with its narrow alleys, red roofed buildings, ornate villas and cupola topped churches, one side was the old city the other the Adriatic, it was breathtaking.

Departing Dubrovnik, we travelled the incredible coastline with yet more epic views of Dubrovnik before reaching Montenegro.  Like Corsica, Montenegro is an absolute revelation, we drove the stunning coastline wedged in between the Bay of Kotor and the towering granite peaks that ascended almost vertically. It was an idyllic scene of turquoise bays lined with red roofed villas, fishing boats gently rocking in the waves and spectacularly located restaurants lining the bay. We reached UNESCO listed Perast and caught a taxi boat out to the remarkable Our Lady of the Rocks church standing on an artificial island built by sailors from the 16th century onwards.

Leaving the Adriatic behind we ascended into the mountains via the legendary Serpentine Road, a wonderful barely one lane wide road offering superb views of Kotor and its fjord far far below, certainly one of the most amazing series of twisties I have ever been on. Away from the crowds we spent a great night in the Montenegrin ski resort of Lovcen National Park. 

Sadly, we departed Montenegro via an incredible series of back roads that saw perhaps 5 local cars for the day, let alone any tourists, through some amazing Montenegrin back country before reaching Bosnia. Making it to Mostar and its renown old city, home to perhaps one of the most famous bridges in the world, for all the wrong reasons, Stari Most (Old Bridge). Incredibly we bumped into a past client, Marc, from NY who was touring the region, we were stunned to see him as Veronica and I personally led the 2 tours of Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia that Marc joined us on in 2018, what an amazing small world. Ever gracious Marc told us that Compass was still, by far, the best tour company he has ever been with, we both felt humbled and proud as we dedicate a huge amount of effort and resources into these research trips and comments like this confirm we are getting it right. 

Riding the back roads of Bosnia was yet another surprise, the mountains were simply stunning, and we revelled in the lonely quiet tracks through an incredible landscape. One “must see” weird sight was Tito’s Bunker, an enormous underground bunker built into the side of a mountain that could house 350 people in the event of a nuclear war. At a cost of over 20 billion US$ no one has ever spent a night in it, a colossal waste of money. Amazingly it took 26 years to construct, and no one knew about it! We wound our back into Croatia and hit the Adriatic Coast again visiting Split and the nearby Trogir with its UNESCO listed old town, similar to Split minus the crowds. 

Our final country, except Austria, where we spent 30 minutes taking a shortcut, Slovenia was probably the most scenically outstanding part of the entire trip, and that really is saying something. Words really do defy adequate description of this epic alpine scenery. The outstanding fairy-tale scenery around Lake Bled, absolutely incredible mountain vistas and the utterly incomparable Logar Valley and the Solcava Panoramic Route was simply the best way possible to finish this tour in what is sure to become a classic ride amongst our ride offerings. 

This 20-day tour showed us an unbelievable diversity of landscapes, cultures, history and off the beaten track ride experiences. From the big hitting European highlights like Venice, Pisa, Pompei, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast, quintessential French countryside scenery in Corsica, and epic Adriatic scenery in Croatia, this ride has it all. The Balkans were a revelation in Bosnia and Montenegro and the alpine vistas of Slovenia left us speechless, this ride really has it all. Now for Africa!

Our Mediterranean to the Balkans trip is now available for bookings – info here.

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