Vladimir Cathedral

It’s been quite a while since I left the balmy shores of Lake Bled, with its backdrop of castles, dramatic peaks and rolling green hills.  In fact, the last month has been pretty much the polar opposite.

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My final stop in the Balkans was Slovenia, the economic powerhouse of the former Yugoslavia and a charming country resembling Austria and Switzerland.  In fact, I couldn’t really see how it fit with countries like Bosnia & Herzegovina or Macedonia – it was like chalk and cheese.

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“…and then I ran down our street and heard a few loud bangs. It was a sniper and he was shooting at me. I was so scared, and then he hit me.”  Visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina has been one of the highlights of my entire European trip, but not in the ways in which I was expecting.  

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I’m sitting in Sarajevo, reflecting on a very hectic week, in which I visited 7 countries in 7 days.  And yet it has been the most interesting, beautiful and puzzling part of my travels so far.  If you have never been to this part of the world, then I suggest you book your flights now!

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In my mind Da Lat is an anomaly.  Situated 1,500m above sea level, and frequently facing prolonged periods of rain and overcast skies, the city is a good 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the country.  This temperate climate, and the fact that the French colonialists treated it as a country retreat to get out of the stifling heat of Saigon, makes the place feel oddly European.