THE BALKANS & ADRIATIC
Bosnia & Herzegovina • Montenegro • Albania • Kosovo • North Macedonia
October 4-20, 2019
FRI, OCT 4 — DEPART NEW YORK
The adventure begins early this evening as we depart New York on Lufthansa, bound for Munich.
SAT, OCT 5 — MUNICH-SARAJEVO, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
We arrive in Munich this morning and connect with a flight to Sarajevo, arriving about midday. Our hotel is located on the Miljacka River in the heart of the old city and within walking distance of the photo highlights of Sarajevo. The remainder of the day is at leisure until our welcome dinner this evening.
Hotel President (D)
SUN, OCT 6 — SARAJEVO
For centuries, Sarajevo flourished as a multicultural haven where Muslims, Serbs, Croats, Turks, Jews, and others co-existed. In Basarsija, or Old Town, dating back to the 1400s, are beautiful examples of the city’s Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian influences, including the 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey mosque complex that’s considered some of the finest Ottoman architecture in the Balkans. The entire day is free to explore and photograph on your own.
Hotel President (BD)
MON, OCT 7 — SARAJEVO
Early in the morning, at the “blue hour,” we photograph the Sebilj, a landmark wooden fountain (built in 1753) known as the symbol of Sarajevo, and also the recently restored National Library with its reflections on the river. After breakfast, we drive to the top of a hill for a panoramic view of Sarajevo’s old houses with red rooftops, cemeteries, churches, and mosques. We visit one of the most important cemeteries of those who lost their lives during the Bosnia-Serbia war. This afternoon we photograph the interior of the National Library, with its colorful architecture and decor, and visit the historic Latin Bridge, site of the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria that sparked World War I.
Hotel President (BLD)
TUE, OCT 8 — SARAJEVO-MOSTAR
This morning we depart for Mostar, stopping in Konjic to photograph an arched bridge with old houses in the background. At Blagaj Tekke, we see an old Dervish house next to a small waterfall on the Buna River and enjoy lunch there. In the early afternoon, we stop at the imposing 14th-century Pocitelj Castle before arriving in Mostar, one of the most beautiful and photogenic cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Neretva River passes through the middle of the city, and Mostar is known for its iconic old bridge, Stari Most. This 16th-century bridge was destroyed in 1993 during the breakup of former Yugoslavia, but was lovingly restored in 2004 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the late afternoon, we explore and photograph the old town with its markets and the famous Mostar Bridge.
Hotel Villa Eden (BLD)
WED, OCT 9 — MOSTAR-KOTOR, MONTENEGRO
Today we head for Montenegro, stopping for lunch in a quaint Bosnian city en route. After crossing the border, a scenic drive takes us to Kotor, a well-preserved medieval walled town situated on the Adriatic Sea at the head of southern Europe’s deepest natural bay. Kotor’s Old Town, filled with Romanesque churches and former aristocratic mansions that line winding, cobbled streets, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our charming boutique hotel is located within the walls of the old city.
Hotel Vardar (BLD)
THU, OCT 10 — KOTOR
Early this morning we photograph the narrow streets of the old city and walk up to the fort for a view over the red rooftops of the houses to the Adriatic Sea in the background. After breakfast, we enjoy a short walking tour of Kotor to see the churches and the market. In the afternoon, we drive to Perast, an ancient fishing village rich in Venetian architecture and historic stone churches. Here, we take a boat out onto the bay to photograph island churches reflected in the aquamarine waters.
Hotel Vardar (BLD)
FRI, OCT 11 — KOTOR-SHKODER, ALBANIA
En route to Albania, we stop in the old town of Budva, on the Adriatic Sea, to photograph the scenic Sveti Stefan Peninsula that was once fortified by the Venetians. Close to the Albanian border, a small village with colorful houses and their reflections in the water offer great photo ops. Crossing the border, we enter one of Albania’s most beautiful rural areas, with the possibility of seeing country life such as sheep, shepherds, and people working in the fields. Our hotel is situated in the center of Shkoder’s old town.
Hotel Rozafa (BLD)
SAT, OCT 12 — SHKODER
Shkoder, one of the oldest cities in Europe, is located on Shkoder Lake, shared by Montenegro and Albania. In the morning, we photograph the legendary Rozafa Castle, strategically placed on a rocky hill above the confluence of the Drini and Buna Rivers, and the 18th-century Mesi Bridge, whose stone arches span the Kiri River. In the afternoon, we have time to explore the pedestrian area and the bazaar of the old town.
Hotel Rozafa (BLD)
SUN, OCT 13 — SHKODER-PRIZREN, KOSOVO
This morning, we head for Kosovo, which became an independent country in 2008. After a scenic drive through the mountains, we arrive in Gjakova, a small town with an interesting old bazaar. We have lunch in Gjakova, then it’s a short drive to Prizren, one of the oldest cities in Kosovo, where Byzantine and Ottoman architecture has left distinctive marks on the cityscape. The Old Stone Bridge, which dates back to the 16th century, was reconstructed in the 1980s after being destroyed by a flood. Standing proudly on the hill above town is the 11th-century Prizren Fortress. Our hotel is located in the center of the old city, convenient for exploring on your own.
Hotel Centrum (BLD)
MON, OCT 14 — PRIZREN-TIRANA, ALBANIA
Today we cross back into Albania, bound for Tirana, the capital city. We photograph the impressive Kruja Castle, built in the 5th or 6th century, perched above the city, then spend the afternoon exploring the 450-year-old bazaar (which in its heyday saw more than 150 merchants selling their goods to the castle’s visitors and residents), Skanderbeg Square (named for its equestrian statue of a national hero), and colorful buildings. Having undergone a transformation of extraordinary proportions since awakening from its communist slumber in the early 1990s, Tirana’s city center is now unrecognizable, with public squares, pedestrian streets that are a pleasure to wander, and formerly drab buildings painted in primary colors.
Hotel Austria (BLD)
TUE, OCT 15 — TIRANA-BERAT
En route to Berat, we stop in the Fier region to photograph the ruins of Apollonia, an ancient Greek city (founded in 558 BC and named after the god Apollo) set on rolling hills among olive groves, with impressive views all around. Apollonia quickly grew into an important city-state that minted its own currency and benefited from a robust slave trade. The UNESCO-designated World Heritage town of Berat is situated on the Osum River, which has cut a deep gorge in the limestone rock. The fortress of Berat dates back to the 6th century BC and is a dominant feature overlooking the town; residents live inside of the castle walls even until today.
Hotel Mangalemi (BLD)
WED, OCT 16 — BERAT
In the Mangalemi neighborhood, below the castle, you can see facades of houses with windows that seem to stand above each other. In general, a traditional house has two floors, where the second is prominent and has many cambered windows and wood carvings. With its houses built along the steep hill, the view of Mangalemi is why another name for Berat is the City of the Floating Windows. Across the Osum River lies the Gorica neighborhood, whose houses face those of Mangalemi. The arched bridge of Gorica, built in 1780, is a beautiful architectural monument constructed to link Gorica with Mangalemi. Early in the morning, at the “blue hour,” we photograph the traditional houses of Berat, then return to the hotel for breakfast. Afterward, we visit the castle for a panoramic view over the town. In the afternoon, there’s time to explore the old, narrow streets and churches in this area.
Hotel Mangalemi (BLD)
THU, OCT 17 — BERAT-OHRID, NORTH MACEDONIA
Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is North Macedonia’s most seductive destination, its location on the edge of serene Lake Ohrid hard to beat. In the city’s compact old town with cobblestone streets, medieval churches, monasteries and open-air ruins stand alongside traditional houses with red-tiled roofs. The massive walls of the centuries-old Samuil Fortress, at the top of the hill, dominate the city skyline. This afternoon, we photograph the town from the fort and walk in the narrow streets of the old city. The Museum of Water on the Bay of the Bones, a reconstructed prehistoric village on a wood dock, is another photogenic spot.
Hotel Royal View (BLD)
FRI, OCT 18 — OHRID-SKOPJE
This morning we take a short boat ride to photograph a lovely church with Ohrid Lake as backdrop, then drive to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia and birthplace of Mother Teresa. A ruined 5th-century hilltop fortress offers panoramic views of the city and Vardar River below. We spend the afternoon photographing the old city, the vibrant Ottoman-era bazaar, and the newly restored Macedonia Square. This square, the largest in North Macedonia, is one of the most decorated city centers in the world, with neo-classical buildings, bridges, and statues including one of Alexander the Great of Macedonia.
Hotel Bushi Resort (BLD)
SAT, OCT 19 — SKOPJE
The entire day is at leisure to explore this fascinating city on your own before our farewell dinner this evening.
Hotel Bushi Resort (BD)
SUN, OCT 20 — SKOPJE-NEW YORK
Our Balkans & Adriatic adventure comes to an end very early this morning as we transfer to the airport for our flight to Munich, connecting with a flight to New York that arrives mid-afternoon.
Note: Included meals are indicated by B, L, and D for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.