1. Arriving at the Bridge in the northern Serbian part of Kosovo, we saw it blocked with vehicles and big piles of dirt. Soon, we learned that we had to take an alternate route to get to the other side on our trip through Kosovo when a car with guards charged us from the passenger side and screamed, “Leave, leave, leave.” So we went through a neighborhood that barely had one lane for traffic and needed repair. Two days after we were at the bridge, gunfire erupted and several were injured.
2. When we stopped at the border of Serbia and Serbian Kosovo, a customs police came to our vehicle to check us out. He asked if we were there on official business or any official capacity. Tomic’s answer to both was “No. Just tourists.” Then the policeman said, “Tourists don’t go to Kosovo. Very unusual.” And Tomic replied, “You need more publicity.”
3. The great beauty of the countries through the back roads and cities was so wonderful to see and experience.
4. Visiting with the Roma (Gypsies) in Tirana, Albania, was enlightening to see the conditions in which they live their lives. The things that we take for granted, they have none of it. Amazing.
5. Meeting Melody and Seth from the USA and learning of their mission in and love for the people of Albania was an incredible experience for us.
6. Climbing the 45-degree mountain incline in Ohrid, Macedonia, to our hotel, and then climbing 3 flights of stairs and seeing the beautiful view from our sky-high room was a hotel climb experience we will never forget. It was amazing the second time we make the climb, it seemed much shorter, less strenuous and less shocking.
7. Seeing the gorgeous frescoes in monasteries was a one-of-a-kind treat and seeing them before the crowds was enjoyable.
8. Seeing the iconostasis in the monasteries was truly new to us and the education we received from them was enlightening.
9. The Drina stone bridge over the Drina River in Kosovo while having tea and gelato was so much fun as we watched the fast moving Drina River and learned how the Ottoman Turks built the bridge.
10. Observing Tom Turkey in Pec, Kosovo in his full mating regalia ritual was a complete joy and photographic opportunity.
11. The Mt .Zlatibor cabin in Serbia was freezing, basic and charming and full of different things for us to experience for the first time, including the area foods.
12. The narrow gauge train ride through Serbia and Republic of Srpska mountains with 75 young adults was different with gorgeous vistas at every turn.
13. Going thru 3 countries= Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Republic of Srpska- in 7 minutes was a new record for both of us.
14. Going thru 4 countries in 1 day, 2 different times, was another new experience as we visited and re-visited the countries of the ex-Yugoslavia.
15. As we walked in Skopje, Macedonia, we came upon a group of young school children singing as they walked with their teacher. When June asked the teacher if she could take a picture, the teacher told them to sing something in English for her and an A cappella performance and photographic session followed as other tourists immediately gathered about to take photos. It was a one-of–a-kind, serendipitous moment.
16. Our Serbian tour guide, Vojislav M. Tomic, was professional, thorough, and all we could ask for in a guide as he led us around the ex-Yugoslavia countries and Albania. Excellence.
17. Learning about the politics of the ex-Yugoslavia countries was truly an education we shall never forget. We had no idea as to what was involved with the people, politics, nationalities and religions, but we do now.
18. We like the different hotels and not knowing what was to come was an adventure, challenge and enjoyment.
19. Walking 60 feet into Macedonia by the order of the customs police was something we did not expect to every have to do but all went well and we had an experience to tell about.
20. Seeing where the Sava and Danube rivers meet in Belgrade was fantastic because we could see light water from 1 river and dark water from another river mixing and joining together to become one river.
21. Visiting 2 UNESCO monasteries in Kosovo and having to go thru NATO security check at the entrance was another one-of-a-kind experience we have never done and probably will never do again.
22. Experiencing surprise to the UN presence still in Kosovo was another surprise we did not expect.
23. Getting strong delicious wine at the monasteries was a treat and we were glad Tomic warned us to “only have one glass a day.”
24. Seeing the Turkish-built bridge in Mostar over the Neretva River while eating dinner was delightful and such a relaxing and enjoyable dinner.
25. Seeing where the shot was fired that caused WWI was educational as we didn’t fully understand the trigger that started it. But seeing the corner, the bridge, and the river really brought it all into focus.
26. The walled cities were just awesome and so much fun and each one was a highlight of our trip.
27. Staying inside the old original city of Ohrid, Macedonia was truly exciting as we were right in the middle of the ancient history and action of the city.
28. Automatic lights in hotels halls that turned on as we walked made us think each one was a goddess with magical powers. Fun.
29. Almost everyone has a Mercedes-Benz car in Albania and in many other ex-Yugoslavia countries, was a sight to see and we wondered how the people could afford them since the countries are still recovering from the wars.
30. People smoking everywhere, morning, noon and night. It was not enjoyable for us.
31. Seeing a demonstration as we left Sarajevo of students marching on the sidewalks because one of the children had been killed in a car wreck, causing hundreds of cars to have to wait in a huge traffic jam, including us.
32. Being totally surprised by Albania. What we had read about it was not as we saw it because it is up, coming and moving in many ways.
33. Seeing the sites before the crowds had arrived for the summer tourist season. Priceless
34. And, staying in hotels in the city centers put us immediately in the middle of the action and only a few steps to that action. Priceless.
35. Enjoying Ljubljana (Lu blana), Slovenia and seeing that it had much of the flavor and appearance of its neighbor, Austria, yet seeing that it still had touches from being a part the Ex-Yugoslavia.
36. It was a perfect trip for us through Bestway Tours and Safaris and Master Travel, Maureen Taylor, of Houston, Texas.