Worst road ever

Today we left Tamarindo, almost a week after our schedule but we have vacation so who cares. Our hostel in Tamarindo was awesome, we met a ton of nice and fun people and the surf was really good so we extended our stay a bit. Right now were are stuck in a small small village called Nosara, just arrived and its to late to go out surfing but we went down to the beach and it looks really nice, a long nice break! The town however looks like crap, all really run downed.


The drive to get here was really fun though, I’m not sure how to be able to describe it think of the smallest road you can imaging through the forest, add some gravel, a concrete block or some bricks from a house and it starts to look like something. If you get to an river you don’t build a bridge, you drive through the water and why build a straight road? No everybody knows that its much more fun if the road go up and down, left to right like a roller coaster. The distant we drove today was somewhere between 50-100km and it took over 3 hours to drive and we drove through 7 rivers/water ponds. Even if this sounds like shit its amazing how wide the roads are and its really never a problem to meet a truck or another car. A wrong turn made us climb on heck of a mountain and I was unsure if we would be able to climb it but pedal to the metal and up we came, to realize that we had to turn around and drive down this steep, steep road. if mum had been in the car you would hear her scream all around the globe.

Towards Santa Teresa

Our road trip continue south and if we thought that the road to Nosara was i bad shape that was nothing compared against the road along the coast side between Nosara and Santa Teresa. But enable the 4wd, pray and pedal against the metal through mud and water and we successfully arrived. At this part the road even was on the beach which means that during high tide the road is closed, lucky for us we passed during low tide since we had no idea about this when we started to drive. Before we left we started with breakfast at Rancho Kongo and suddenly we had company, by a south american coati.Santa Teresa is a interesting place, the whole village is built around one and one street only. That street is long and only the beach which counts as Santa Teresa is 7km and the village is longer than that. Here lives hippies and surfers, side by side with one or another soul searcher like Frank, an hitchhiker we met in the middle of the jungle and we made a deal with. If he show us the way to Santa Teresa, we give him ride to town. A good deal for both of us. The waves here are kind a big and I have more or less ended my surfing for this vacation, instead i lay on the beach with a good drink.

Arrived in San Fransisco

So I finally arrived in San Fransisco and it doesn’t feel like US at all but more about that later.

It was actually easier than I thought to spend the 12 hours in Frankfurt. I couldn’t find any place to charge my laptop or phone first but while the night were coming and less and less people where in the terminal I simply disconnected a check-in desk and used their wall socket. Once I had power I spent more or less the whole night watching movies and a season of “Oz”.
The airplane was brand new and had both plenty of room and wall socket, USB-ports and ethernet, darn I didn’t bring any ethernet cable cause I would love to scan and see what I would find on that plane.

At the airport I was lazy and took a taxi, I knew my hotel was close to China Town, however the truth is I live in the middle of it. I see small snack bars selling stuff I never seen before, I cant read the street signs since they are in Chinese and there is plenty of restaurants which it smells lovely from, I haven’t heard a single word of English since I left the taxi but yea, this will be awesome!

Anton has arrived

Been a pretty calm and relaxing day, so far. I started the day with trying to find somewhere to eat breakfast and no, I do not want chinese breakfast with rice. After some walking I did found a classy hole in the wall and I got myself a true big city breakfast, a creame cheese bagel, a gigantic cup of coffee and two of my newly bought (imported of course) cigarettes, everything for the slight amount of $8 or the same as a pack of cigarettes only in Sweden.

After some waiting Anton arrived to my hotel and it was more or less time to get a lunch. Smart as I am i started with ordering a beer so now Anton has to drive for the rest of the day, perfect! After the lunch we drove to the car rental firm and wrote some paper so now I can drive too, well as long as I’m not drunk. We also upgrade/moved out from China town so now we have a big room which is the size of my old apartment and we got a pool. Pretty nice and a perfect base for us while we explore San Fransisco.

Not so calm evening

Yesterday evening didn’t end as quite. We drove away to grab some beers and well you know how to will end. Anton decided for us that its just a short walk to North beach, which more or less is the red light district of this city so we decided to walk there.
However, Antons definition of short walk included 15 blocks of walking, over a freaking mountain so from now on Anton is disqualified to decided when to walk or when to take a taxi but the good part is that you get thirsty of all that walking.

No pictures from the evening, I don’t think it would be appreciated if we started to take photos where we were and to be honest, I’m not sure if we want to document what we saw.

Tourist in San Fransisco

Today we visited more or less all the tourist traps in SF. By coincidence we ended up on that narrow street which are so famous for it hairpins. Of course I have no idea of the name but with goggles help I now know its called Lombard street. We were there, we took a picture, we walked on. Next stop was fisherman wharf, pier 39 and finished on Alcatraz, as I said we did those tourist traps but it was actually really good but if I recommend any of the places? Well maybe not or maybe. Pier 39 is really nice if you like the sea lions, they are both cute and fun to watch but fisherman wharf is just crap and Alcatraz, the history is interesting and its nice to check it of my bucket list but that pretty much it.

Let the roadtrip begin

Today our roadtrip really started, we had our rental car but pretty much never used since I got to San Fransisco but today we started it up and left San Fransisco for Bakersfield. Its always interesting to drive car in a new country but you can really tell that US is built for driving, so easy to drive even in the middle of San Fransisco and the hardest part was to get out of our parking space. The trip to Bakersfield went fine besides one minor wrong turn, our GPS bugged out so I missed to change the highway but that was easy fixed. Drove by a couple of highway patrools too and in the first one was kind a scary but they didn’t stop us and we arrived to our goal for the day, Bakersfield.

Bakersfield feels like a small town hillbilly city and the people we see drives around in the pickup trucks which are extremely high and more or less all more stereotypes of America are true in this place. We are staying at a shitty motel outside of the city, we have a non-smoking room which smells with a mix of old smoke and mold and someone has broken into the room so you cant really close the door. Well, its close to the highway and its cheap cheap cheap so I guess we will survive one night before we head for Las Vegas.

Las Vegas via Death Valley

We survived the night in Bakersfield and just arrived to Las Vegas, well maybe not just arrived. Our hotel has a different solution with free internet and its only via cable. The solution is to use Antons laptop as a router and connect my to his via wifi but to be able to configure Windows to do that, what a piece of shit. A few reboots later, a couple of beers and some yelling it suddenly started to work so now we don’t dare to touch anything.

We left Bakersfield as fast as possible and headed for Death valley. It was really cool to just walk around among the sand dunes and rocks. It was only 32 degrees warm but it felt like a 100, at least. Didn’t see any fun animals on the way but we saw warning signs for both cows, deers and turtles. Really? Turtles? In Nevada?!?

I had to drive the last part so now I have been driving in both San Fransisco and Las Vegas and I still think its really easy to drive here. Besides that I was playing with the GPS and almost missed a red light. I saw in the last second, hit the break really hard and the car behind me had to do some emergency maneuver not to hit me. At the same time I told Anton; “That guy wont be happy at me” we saw that it was a state trooper, smile and wave boys, just smile and wave!

We are not staying at the most exclusive hotel or even the fanciest but we are at least staying at the strip, they have their own casino and our neighbor is MGM which is awesome and yes, we are staying at Hooters hotel so lets open the champagne and go crazy cause whatever happens it will stay in vegas.

Shooting range in Las Vegas

In Vegas everything is expensive, fake and very very fun. The evening started with a couple of beers at the hotel before we headed out along the strip with short breaks along the way to refill our daily intake of beer. We stopped at Cosmopolitan and had a few drinks which were more alcohol than anything else and the size of those ice cubes? I bet one of those were the reason Titanic sunk. At “Paris” we found a drink called Swedish fish which we had to try, worst thing ever! Avoid it at all cost!Today we started at the shooting range instead of pressing sun on a fake beach or something like that. It was a huge queue and it took forever but once it was our time it was totally worth it. We started easy (we thought) with a pistol, Desert Eagle and after that we went for the AR15 and finished with some full auto with an H&K MP5. The Desert eagle was insane,  I was really concerned if I really could hold it back during the recoil and the whole shooting range stopped and everybody where looking at us while we were shooting this hand cannon. The AR15 was a bit boring, so easy and no recoil and the MP5? Well full auto is full auto and its always fun to to frenzy with a full auto gun.


Last night in Vegas

Last day in Vegas which means one last night and then we are heading the roads again. Where…a bit unknown yet but we have been talking about “The Hoover dam” and Grand Canyon and then aim for the direction towards Chicago. So far Las Vegas has fulfilled everything I ever thought about this place. Its really plastic and fake and as long as you have money everything is possible. I would love to stay here for the rest of this trip but I guess that it would end up me broke.

Has met a lot of fun people and yesterday we left the club for some night food in one of their beamers, that the driver had a few drinks before was not something we thought about and the evening ended up on a 24/7 sushi place. Sushi as night food was really good and I have no idea how much we ate but we finished two bottles of Sake at least. Crazy evening but fun for sure!

This day has been spent on the fake beach at out hotel, really nice to cure the hangover on a beach even if its fake.

Hoover dam and Grand Canyon

With great sorrow in my heart but with an much happier wallet we left the den of iniquity to see more of US. From Las Vegas via/over Hoover dam to Grand Canyon and then to Albuquerque in New Mexico, its a tough name to pronounce but even harder to write. It will be a neat trip through three different states and if I count right around 110 miles. The driving comfort in our Prius is surprisingly good and so far everything has been easier than thought while talking about driving.

After visited the Hoover dam I have only one word, it sucks! Yea, its big or even huge but come on, thats it. You have heard so much about this dam so my expectations might been a little high but I did not get impressed by it, its just a big dam.

Gran Canyon was on the other hand the opposite. Ive heard even more about this place and i did not get disappointed at anything. It would be fun to spend more time here, hiking down the canyon but still, it delivered! I cant make it fair with my camera and photo skills but at least I can give it a try and this is a must see in your life! I would love to come back and just hike around, camp and enjoy the nature!

Driving on to Albuquerque was quit boring but went fine. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was then we stopped for food and the chef forgot our food in the owe.  Guess it happens to more than me when I cook and he started all over but it took some more time than we planned for. We also got attacked by some tumbleweed on the highway, we had just passed a warning sign for some animal and I just saw something moving and headed hard on the brakes, woke up an slumbering Anton an yea…it was just tumbleweed, well now I seen that too.

Another long day in our car

We followed up yesterdays long trip with another long trip today. This time we aimed for Tulsa in Oklahoma via Amarillo in Texas. Thats means another 100 miles and another drive through three states today…again.  We have more or less just spent the whole day in our car so not many pictures and we been driving through Neva, Arizona, New Mexico and the eastern corner of Texas and I can say like this, Im so tired of sand and mountains right now. It was like heaven when we came to the green and beautiful Oklahoma.

Its been quite boring to make these two days of driving but now we are right in our schedule and does not have to stress to make the rest of our trip, and that is nice!

How we been driving so far
How we been driving so far

St Louis

In Tulsa we had no idea where to go to have fun so we grabbed a taxi on the street and asked him to drive us to the bar district. As always in US the taxi driver were really service minded and explained the way, how the city was build with different areas and “since this is just a little town there’s not much to do here”. A little town in this case is somewhere around 500 000 citizens which is bigger than the Gothenburg, Sweden second biggest city.

We walked around and tried one bar after another and were always ready to give up, it was just trash and not fun anywhere so we decided to try that Irish pub on the corner and if that also sucks we get back to the hotel and leave St Louis cause this city sucks. Well, we were wrong and once we got into the Irish pub we met some locals and the beer went down in the same rate as the buckets were ordered. After a while our new friends asked if we wanted to join them to another place and an awesome and crazy night had just begun.

Today we drove to St Louis in Missouri. It was not any long trip so we started the day with breakfast at an classic American diner. The food was ok but they cant make coffee here, its thinner than water. On our way we saw a Walmart, of course we had to stop so I can check that of my bucket list but unfortunately I didn’t see any “walmart people” but it was quite fun anyway. We also had to try the famous American fast food, since I’m not a fan of McDonalds we tried “Jack in the box” instead and well, I doubt I will eat there again. It was pretty much the same as Mcd except little more greasy, I ordered a ultimate cheese burger and yea…there was a lot of cheese, meat I’m not so sure about,


St Louis – Lacledes Landing

Spent the day downtown St Louis, wandering around with no goal in the blocks around the old harbor around Mississippi river. With a shining sun it couldn’t be much better but even if we been here for some weeks now I still cant remember that the food portions are huge in this country. Found a nice Italian restaurant and we ordered some garlic bread and lasagna, well the garlic bread was a whole wheat bread and the lasagna was the size…for a family. Really good and tasty but come on, who can eat all this?!? I do however love the free refill culture, I think I had 4 or 5 refills of ice tea to my food but only paid for 1 glass, love it!

Yesterday evening we spent in Laclede’s Landing, found a lot of different bars but all of them were closed or empty of people so instead we took an early night. Feels kind a good to have a break and just relax and sleep instead of all the partying. Tonight however we aim for a new all night out, in a new area!

We never went up in the Gateway arch, the queue was to long and we were never really into it but its huge and the view from the top must be amazing!


Arrived in Chicago

The new area in St Louis wasn’t much better, more bars but still no people so we headed back to our hotel, packed our car and left. Now we arrived in Chicago and by that our road trip is officially over. We will however stay here for a couple of days before we head back to Europe and a normal life in Sweden. The trip between St Louis and Chicago went really fast and without any problems or incidents. We saw a lot of warning sign for speed cameras but we never saw a single camera and in Illinois they seem to have pretty hard punishment if you don’t behave in traffic. “Hit a worker and get $10 000 fine and 14 yeas in jail” was a common sign along the road, we never saw any workers though so we couldn’t test if its true.

Right after we checked in at our hotel, which is the most fanciest hotel on this trip we went out to find something to eat. Pretty close to the hotel we found a Japanese restaurant and wow, so good! With our own little barbeque on the table we ordered in a lot of different meat and then grilled it our self. Once again we ate to much and can hardly move right now but it was so good. I guess we just have to relax an hour or two before we head out to see the town, one thing is sure though, its cold here so I will be prepared for the Swedish summer then I get back home.

Chicago – River north

Woke up in decent time so we headed out to see if we could learn to navigate in this city. It became a quite long walk and still we only been in the area River North which is the area we live in. After been walking around among all the high rising houses we found Millennium park, a big green area next to Lake Michigan. It was really nice to get into the sun and get rid of the concrete for a while. Speaking about the sun, I still think its cold here and I have obvious got used to warmer climate for now  its t-shirt, hoodie and a jacket to wear not to freeze. To be honest, I’m thinking of buying myself a winter hat too cause I’m freezing my head off.

After the park we followed the shore and found a nice marina, in true American style the boats were not small and we also found Chicago’s biggest tourist trap, navy pier. Its like a classic pier which you can find everywhere with some beer tents, a Ferris wheel and so on. It might be nice to sit here during a warm summer day but now, not so much. We got a really nice view over the city skyline though and it was really cool so see how the city just continues until the horizon make it impossible to see anymore.


Chicago – All in

Yesterday we went pretty much all in, it wasn’t planned and our budget is now officially screwed but it was totally worth it. We carefully started at a steak house, I mean you cant visit US without having a really nice steak and once we found a place that looked good we realized that this will be expensive but whatever, we just going to eat. As a starter we ordered some garlic marinated snail since Anton never tried this before and I never seen so big snails before, they must been feed on growing hormones. Second starter was a blue cheese salad and after that I was kind a finished but then our main course arrived, a big steak! Now (with googles help) I know we ordered a 360g steak and it was perfectly cooked. Not a single of garbage (read potatoes) on the side, just an awesome steak and a bourbon sauce which makes me drool just thinking about it. A couple of beer to this and we succeeded to eat everything which even impressed the waitress and we got some inside information where to go if we want to party.

A piano bar later, some ordinary bars where we met a lot of people who finally didn’t thought we were Germans (they thought we were French) and a limo ride later we ended up at Spy bar. A really nice club with really good music and a lot of people dancing all over the place made it the perfect end of a perfect night. Somewhere around 4 we staggered home and today we haven’t done anything, for the first time on this trip we got a hangover from hell.

Time to go home

The last night and the last dollar has been spent and its only a long and boring flight back to Sweden that is left. To summarize it I have seen ocean, mountains, desert and plains, I’ve seen trailer parks and rotten houses to 5-star hotels and enormous villas. I thought I would see more fat people than what I actually have seen, I never thought that the country side would be so hillbilly and I was absolute sure that the Texas cowboy was only a tale but I admit, I was wrong.

Our road trip has taken us 420 miles through 7 or 8 different states, from a sunny California to a right now, rainy Illinois. Next time I sure need to finish the last miles and see what the east coast has to offer.


Summary of the road trip

Half way home I’m now sitting in Warsaw and waiting on the next flight which will bring me home, the airport is actually really nice with human prices and a free Wi-Fi so waiting here for a couple of ours wont be a problem.

Trying to summarize the whole trip a little bit more is hard, I’ve seen ocean and deserts, huge plain fields and cow factories together with small villages and huge cities. My preconceptions about the US seems to both be true and false, I haven’t seen all that many really fat people that I thought I would but the rednecks I met were really more redneck than I even can imaging. The network of roads are in most case in mint condition while their infrastructure (power/phone lines) looks like what I saw in India. I’ve spent time on luxury hotels and on classic motels which I don’t want to remember, the trailer parks and the resident areas are overall what I thought it would look like. The people are really friendly and its maybe that which surprise me the most, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t want to help me, who have been rude or anything. The upper limit of money to spent is non-existent but if you want you can live really cheap here but I think its a must to rent a car, the whole country is built around you having a car.

I don’t think anyone has guessed right on where I’m from, the most common guess is German  or England and right now everybody thinks I’m Polish but as soon as I mention Sweden everybody gets extra polite. The only bad thing I can say it that we didn’t had enough time, I’m not sure if I would survive many more days with our lifestyle though but I guess that means I have to come back cause I still have the east side and dirty south to visit.

Off we go

Soon it’s time to leave for my next road trip. The ferry leaves at 21.00 for Poland and I’m listening to “Timbuktu – Jag drar” at the highest volume at the same time as I’m trying to figure out what to bring. It is kind a hard to know what to bring when you don’t know what to expect but that’s the lovely part too, no plans, no must do, no destination, instead we just jump in the car and drive.

We do however have some plans, the ferry to Poland and or first night at a hotel in Vilnius is booked and if I’m not wrong it will be a nice cozy budget hotel in the old city and as long as we keep left in Poland, it will be easy to find our way to Vilnius.

We forgot to turn left

Our plan was to keep left and in that way get into Lithuania as soon as possible and then drive to Vilnius but we kind a forgot that and suddenly we were in Warzaw. A small detour on 30 miles from the expected tour but we got to see Poland instead and even if some of the roads are a bit small, windy and needs new asphalt most of their roads are in mint condition, the polish driving style..that’s a complete other story though!

A broken down truck caused a long delay before we were allowed to drive on the ferry and once we took off we realized that even if we are still in the archipelago the waves are kind a big and its rolling…this will be an interesting trip. Lucky for us the beer was really cheap and if you drink a few you will get your body to roll in the same rate as the boat. To bad not the rest of the people on the boat understood this and we were pretty much alone both in the restaurant, nightclub and arcade hall.

Now we will fire up the Jacuzzi, open a bottle of wine and celebrate that we arrived to Vilnius, our budget hotel rocks!

First impression of Vilnius

After spent one day in Vilnius I’m still not sure what to think about it. The roads to get here were really nice but the houses along the roads is not the same. Maybe half of the houses along the road are abandoned or should be tear downed because of lack of maintenance and the other half is newly built and really nice. Inside the city its really nice though even if they of course have some rougher neighborhoods (like where our hotel is). It looks like the project with big, concrete houses with wood balconies which are all rotten. Walking into the city center it’s really nice though, most is renovated and its clean and nice. The whole city center feels like Stockholms Old city with the exception that everything is cheap and the people are friendly.

You can however see the traces from the finance crises. In a 4 floors shopping mall more than half was empty but I found a store that sold old soviet things. Don’t get supprised if I come home in a uniform, a gasmask or with a huge kick as bomb.

The day were spent just walking round with several stops, sitting in the sun and drinking a beer or drink. Once back to the hotel we jumped into the Jacuzzi before its time to head out again, this time to find some food before we try Vilnius nightlife.

Still alive

We have been walking up and down, forward and backward and of course you get thirsty and have to take a short stop for some refreshments.  We started kind a early with a dinner and I tried some sort of Lithuanian stew, I’m not a big fan of either potatoes or cabbage but this was really nice and perfect to eat before a long night out drinking. It ended up with we found a place called “Gringo”, we had a lot of beers and met a lot of different people. A good night for sure and extra fun for me when they refused to believe that I was the older one, first after they verified my driving licence they agreed that I’m older than Sandra and by some reason I doubt that she enjoyed it as much as I did.

A little bit tired after yesterday we started the day with a hang over breakfast. 2 pizzas later, 3 soda. Everything for only 60 Swedish kronor (€7), that’s cheap but as google say “you did not come to Vilnius for its shopping”. Instead we took a walk and found an awesome fort, nice view over the city and a small market just outside where I found a big soviet military winter hat. I had a craving but no, I didn’t bought it!

Now we are back at the hotel and trying to decide where to go tomorrow, we thinking about Klaipeda but haven’t really decided, any ideas?


Labas Palanga

Our idea of going to Klaipeda was never realized, instead we went to Palanga. Palanga is  just a few miles from Klaipeda and while Klaipeda is suppose to be an city with industries and everything this is more of just an resort. We haven’t had time to look into it to much but it looks really neat with like on street with a lot of restaurants and bars and clubs and the beach looked just marvelous even if its to windy to go for a swim today.

To get here was no problem at all and after we started the days with pancakes we headed out on the highway and boom, we were here. This hotel does not have a Jacuzzi beside the bed but the room is huge,  I think the hotel is recently built, we got a minibar and a pool somewhere. The city is kind a  small and I would say a typical summer resort, everything is built around tourism and the beach and on the main street there is a amusement park and I guess everything just close down during the winter.


More of Palanga

Palanga is the shit, its all an classic summer resort just like I sad but they atmosphere, the beach, the pier and all the activities that are happening all around just make it crazy, The whole place is just built for tourists and even if you can feel that winter is coming (its getting cold during night) its really awesome to be here. Both me and Sandra has starting to get a cold  bu who cares for we live king king and queen here, eating a lot of good food, drinking nice drinks and clubbing all night long. If you are in the neighborhood I can really recommend “Klub Exit”, 3 floors with a small bar on the middle floor together with a huge dancing floor, with nice house music and smoke machines, confetti bombs and laser shows I only seen on TV before.

Just booked a new hotel in Riga so lets go there, we couldn’t find the address on the GPS but how hard can it be?

Welcome to Riga

Even if we didn’t found the address on the GPS it was really easy to find our way but suddenly we arrived to what looked like an abandoned house over the road. A bit confused at the beginning we soon realized that this was an old toll house from the old times and then we were in Latvia. The road conditions went from really good to really bad just as we crossed the border and you can really see that this is a much poorer country.

Riga is the biggest city we been to so far on this trip and you really see and feel it, a completely different atmosphere, people are more stressed, always people on the streets and its more expensive here, not Sweden expensive but still. We arrived pretty early so after an quick shower we headed out and and once we started with 1.5l Sangria as a pre-drink, I think we all know where it ended. Later we moved on to a sky bar and took a bottle of wine while having a blasting view over the city. While the sun was setting we headed into the night life of Riga.

Well, the nightlife here sucks, we had some weird russian drinks, we went to a club with really lousy gogo-dancers (good looking but they couldn’t dance) and everybody we ask just keep telling us “You should go to Palanga”

Riga – Part two

A bit tired after all partying and clubbing we spent this day in relax mode. A cup of coffee here, some water there, attempted to do shopping but only found trash but we did find a really cool market hall. Former a place for zeppelins was rebuilt to a huge indoor market where you could find anything you wanted, from vegetables and fruit to meat and fish. It was packed with people but you never were really afraid of pickpockets and except that mix a hangover with the stench of fish it was awesome. However the language is a problem, its not any problem at the hotel or at the restaurants but as soon as you start to talk to people you realize which low level of English they have and on the market where most of the people were older, English was non existent. I don’t think its an bad idea to learn a few phrases or at least words in Russian or Latvian before next trip here.

Just a few pictures from today, the last pictures are our hotel. As you can see it feels kind a harsh and you can really tell that its a poor country but the streets are so clean, no garbage on the street and not a lot of graffiti on the walls and the contrast are huge between the newly built and the old.


We loaded the car, charged the battery on our mp3 player and headed for the border to Estonia and our hotel in Tallin. This time we didn’t saved any money and booked a room on a 4-star hotel, we guesses it would be pretty nice and yes, it is. Driving here were not any problem except at one place, we arrived to a roadwork and a huge blue sign with an white arrow showed us that we should drive to the left, into the oncoming traffic side and Sandra, she turns right
Me: Why did you turn right when the sign said turn left?
Sandra: I’m just following the car ahead of us, can he so can I
Me: Ok, but that’s a truck who belongs to the roadwork?
Sandra: Oh…yea…well I didn’t thought of that

It was a bit bumby ride but not any real problems and shortly after that we changed driver. My contribution was a few laps in the roundabout instead, I’m might be able to blame the GPS but to be honest, I had no idea where to leave.

Our hotel room is really nice and we got a bar in the lobby, one on 5th floor and one in the pool. Oh yea, the pool area contain three Jacuzzis, an “adventure swimming pool” with a waterfall and stuff like that and 7-8 different saunas, massage and all what you can think of. Do we like it here, heck yea!


Summary of the baltic

Tallinn was really nice even if its the most popular Swedish tourist resort of those we visited, and you see it. Both that the prices are higher here than anywhere else but also that you can find menus in bot English and Swedish and that you hear people speak Swedish all the time. I did however like it anyway but if I only can recommend one of all the cities I think Tallinn will be the last one. Vilnius is much smaller but more genuine and not that much tourists, Tallinn is both a much bigger city and a have a lot of tourism while Riga is somewhere between those two (both in distance and in size).

The roads are in really good condition and its easy to drive here, except for the polish suicide drivers the traffic is quite calm, they are supposed to have road tolls but we never saw any. If you only look out for the tram while driving in the cities you will not have any problem at all. Everything is cheap here and its your budget which sets the limit, if you want to can more or less live for a penny a day or you can go crazy and live a life in luxury for a small amount of cash. English works really good as language but it will be a problem when you try to speak to the older population or leave the main roads.


Started with a burnout

Finally the trip has started and we are right now in a rainy and gray Czech Republic but lets start from the beginning. Per, my uncle came by with the car we going to use for this road trip, a Citroen C1. Maybe not the biggest car but it will be perfect for us two and already when we boarded the ferry in Trelleborg he showed off. Per tried to accelerate on the wet ferry tarmac and we didn’t move an inch and after a few seconds we started to feel the smell of burned rubber. A big laugh later we were parked and on our way to find our cabin.
The ferry between Trelleborg and Rostock is not a fun ferry but to move from A to B its perfect, the ferry leaves at 23.00 and arrives around 6 in the morning so even if its a boring ferry its ok to just grab a beer and then go to sleep and then you wake up, you are in Germany.

In Rosttock we headed for the autobahn. We were not really interested to see anything special and the gray, foggy weather with clouds really close to the ground made us even more confidents that we just wanna go south as fast as possible.  Somewhere outside Leipzig we decided to leave the autobahn for according to the map a pretty big road but as I soon have learned is that you cant trust maps. The road was more like a tarmac trail and it went up, down, left right all over , at some places we could only use the second gear on the car because the road was to steep. The landscape was really beautiful though and in Plasy we found an “small” monestry, it needs some renovation but it was impressive now and I can only imaging how impressive it was before it started to get abonded. Right now we are in Plzeň and even if its still rainig we need to try some of the famous Czech beers nd maybe see at least some parts of the city.

Arrived at the balkan

After an calm night in Plzen we hit the road again and towards what we should be calling the actual start of this trip, Ljubljana in Slovenia. To find our way out of Plezen was a breeze and rather soon we were on small, kind a picturesque roads through the lovely nature in Czech Republic and Austria. The roads were actually in really good condition and Austria showed us its best side with newly added asphalt on the roads, almost no traffic and a nice shining sun that you could spot between the alp tops. It also added some excitements then it was time to climb over the alps, our poor Citroën had to work hard (first gear only) to climb the Loibl pass but it was totally worth it, so beautiful and if you are in the area, you must do this pass!

120 miles later and we have now arrived in Ljubljana, Per has just interview Robin who is an local which we will spend the night at (Thank you  couchsurfing). Unfortunately we arrived a bit late for examining the city but lets do that tomorrow instead and now Robin had given us some advices for what to see and what to skip.

Wannabe Serbia

Today we are in Serbia, well not really its more like wanna be Serbia while we are in Bosnia Herzegovina, the city Banja Luka and the area called Republika Srpska. This is Bosnia but beside the custom who gave us a very long and concerned look until he found a stash of beers in the trunk (that made him smile) we haven’t seen any bonsiaks, Bosnian flags or anything that could give an hint that you are in BIH. There are however plenty of flags here, Republika Srpska which is very similar to the Serbian flag, all signs are written in Cyrillic and yea, this is Serbia light.
We also saw the first trace from the war today. Some houses who were bombed and some with facades covered in in bullet holes but maybe that one who caught me the most was probably all the abandoned houses from the ethnic cleaning, now it feels like we are doing the real deal.

Before we left Slovenia we heard some warnings about flooding. We heard the rumors before and a warning is always nice but it was kind a more than we expected. In sweden we had a nice, hot and dry summer while on the Balkan, they wasnt that lucky. Corn fields laid under water, hay was floating around in what looks like lakes and the roads where protected by sandbags. We had no problems driving through and the roads may be narrow but they are in better condition the the swedish ones. The highway do cost money but as long as they keep this standard I have no problem to pay some extra.

The city Banja Luka is quite small but cosy. Filled with outdoor seatings, bars and cafe’s. Vi also found their stadium and by 1 part luck and two parts cleverness we succeeded to get inside and take a look, unfortunately no match today.


Serbia, the real Serbia

Today we arrived in Serbia, the real Serbia. The trip here went surprisingly easy and the roads are in really good condition however Im not jelous of the people who tried to get into Croatia from Serbia. I guess the border control into EU is a bit tougher than getting out of EU. Once we were closing in to Serbia we had a minor discussion, I guess its a generation question, google maps VS old school map. After our discussion we decided to give google maps a try and now looking back at it worked awesome. To get to Serbia we choose the “fast route”, that means drive back to Croatia from Banja Luka and then just head east through Croatia and into Serbia to get to Belgrade. If we had drove this way to Banja Luka it would be much faster but in other hand, we would have missed a lot of the countryside of Croatia.

Once inside Belgrade google maps showed us the way to hotel Moscow and even if its way over our budget we just had to stay at this classic hotel in the middle of the city. The evening was spent walking around in the city and you can really feel that its an bigger city than those we visited earlier on this trip. But even so we found some traces from the war even here, a huge hole in the former military headquarter (Thank you NATO) and you should be kind a careful what you order for dinner, in some way we succeed to order food for the whole hotel and even if its cheap it feels bad to throw away really good food.

I also have to kill one myth, the roads so far while we been driving in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia is way better than you can expect, actually way better than what I am used to and the worst roads so far has been the smaller roads in Germany, I guess that will change once we get to Albania.

Tomorrow we head for Pristine in Kosovo, it kind a sucks to doing a balkan express tour like this because I feel i’m not done with Belgrade yet but with limited vacation you have to what you have to do, one thing is sure, I will come back to Belgrade.

Lost in Belgrade

Serbia is a funny country, on our way out of Belgrade we decided to visit the mausoleum of Tito. This beloved father of the country Yugoslavia which is beloved and praised (at least in Serbia) has a mausoleum and you could guess that it would be signs so you could find it, wrong! We found the address on internet and google maps and after we checked both the ordinary map and and configured the GPS we started to drive.  We knew that we were supposed to drive past the Red Star stadium and yes we did. We might be be warned here but even around this big stadium it was no signs what so ever about where to park or anything but we found a parking spot and walked over and took some photos of the stadium.

Back into the car and driving using the GPS and when the GPS we arrived, we were in the middle of residential area, not quite right. Well I thought the GPS freaked out which is not uncommon in big cities where the connection to satellites are blocked but nah, we found a park close by but no mausoleum. We drove around a bit using the ordinary map instead and realized that we actually were on the right address but where the mausoleum is located….we have no idea. Serbia, have you heard about signs?!? Anyway, we gave up and tried to figure out how to find our way out of Belgrade instead. Once again we configured the GPS and this time it took us to a half built resident area, probably the fastest/easiest road out from city once the road is finished and now we were really lost. Luckily for us we met a nice serb who first tried to describe how we should drive to find the highway but after a few minutes he realized that not even him understood how to drive so he took the lead and guided us out.

From that point we drove using both GPS and the old school map and once we got to Nis where we knew that we should turn the GPS said follow road 34, the old school map said follow road 25 and the road signs, they said 14. It kind a felt like Servia does everything to make it impossible to relax. The roads however were in good shape and the border control from Serbia to Kosovo wasn’t any problem at all, almost I got disappointed how easy it was to leave Serbia to a country they don’t recognize as a country.

In Pristina were we are right now the feeling is pretty much the opposite from the rest of the countries we visited. The whole city is breathing change and they are building everywhere. Our hotel is as many other hotels newly built and our neighbor next door is the KFOR base and some embassies. I guess you could say we chose the little nicer area in this city but so far I would dare to say that the feeling I get is everywhere in the city, not just here.


The day started with an early breakfast at the hotel before we walked towards the ministry of interior and the department of Culture, sport and youth. Per had an arranged an interview and myself tagged along pretty much to see what the ministry looked like. It was actually really interesting and I learned some new things but it was obvious that we talked to an politician. All answers was thought-through, impossible to misunderstand and he pointed out both one and two times that everybody had the same value no matter of skin color, race, religion and of course that Kosovo has forgiven Serbia for the cruelties that happened during the war. Well the graffiti on the walls over the city say something different but overall I think he have right and Pristine is not looking in the past, instead its bursting of optimism and a go-ahead spritit I havent noticed in any other country.

In other words it was a really nice start of the day and that we had our first really warm day didn’t it make it worse. We spent a lot of time on the small coffee shops and since they “when in rome, do like the romans do” Ive been drinking a shitload of espressos and smoked way to many cigarettes. I read somewhere that in Kosovo you can buy anything and by some reason I don’t doubt it, if you go for regular wares it really cheap or what about 2 beers, 2 coffees and one bottle of water for €2.50.

Something completely different, Kosovo is the first country i visited where while I sit on the toilet my feets are dingle in the air, what kind of giant are these kosovo-albans?

Goodbye Kosovo, Hello Macedonia

Yesterday we met Durim at the local hotel bar. Took a beer, talked about the past, now and the future and we picture Durim told us wasn’t exactly the same picture as the politician said early during the day and he told us about tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.  After a few beers the question raised if we should move on to next stop and since Pristina skybar is closed because of maintains we went to Germia park. Germia park is really close to the city center but still pretty big for a park, we rented some mountain bikes and started to bike uphill (which was not so fun) to a restaurant. Once we were on top of the hill it was totally worth it though, so quite, calm and not a single car could be heard. The food was really awesome too and as a fun finish you had to bike down the hill to get home. Beside this park it feels like Pristina is a huge construction site and I got  feeling of the “wild west” during the gold rush.

Today we aimed for a new country, Macedonia. This is one of the shorter stages on this trip and is only around 80km between Pristina and Skopje, however it took some time to get there anyway because the roads in Kosovo was jammed with trucks, I lost count of the number of concrete trucks we passed. The border was no problem at all and for the first time on this trip we really got the “eastern Europe-feeling”. The city may have been destroyed in an earthquake during 1960´s but its not an excuse. Its grey, its concrete, its boring and to make the city fun they placed statues, everywhere! It doesn’t work, it just feels weird with statues who often reminds about the Ottoman empire everywhere but the good part is that the food is good, the women are beautiful and its so cheap here, almost impossible to  spend your money. With that in mind, I can agree to live in a concrete city filled with statues.

No pictures today, the wifi here t the hotel is not the fastest one.

Meeting the pope in Albania

Pretty nervous we entered the car and started our journey towards Albania. We are not afraid of Albania but everybody has scared us about the traffic, the road conditions and how hard it is to drive there. It couldn’t be more wrong an and the roads where in mint condition. On our way towards Albania we stopped in a national park, besides bullet holes in the road signs it kind a ironic that this park was the most contaminated place on the whole trip, plastic bags and garbage everywhere. To bad cause the nature was really beautiful with some mountains and green forests and it is kind a cool to look down at the clouds.

We also stopped in the small city of Ohrid, located close to the border and right beside a big like it gave more vibes of an greek village close to the Mediterranean than anything else. But now its an small Macedonian village and after some food and walk around the city center it feels like they live on tourism and selling pearls. I’m not the kind of guy wearing pearls so no shopping for me and instead we headed up the mountains to cross the border.

Just outside Tirana the newly built highway ended up in just an ordinary tiny road and from two files (which means four cars driving beside each other) we all had to go over and drive in a line, it was a mess and because the pope were in town a lot of streets were closed which made it even worse. I saw the drops of sweat on Pers head before we finally found a hotel where we could park our car and finally exhale and relax over that we didn’t hit anything or anyone. Our trip may be a bit stressed but that we should arrive in Tirana at the same day as the pope, without knowing it. What are the odds for that? A quick shower later and while we are walking down the streets in central Tirana we suddenly see a crowd of people, curious as we are we walked over and guess what. The people were waiting on the pope and a few minutes later he drove by in his pope-mobile and I can check see the pope from my bucket list.


We finished the evening yesterday over an beer at the hotel, our discussions went from communism-socialism-capitalism and religion to which is the best the beer and how to get to Durres. Durres is a city which almost built together with Tirana and you could say that its here most of the people go during the summer to get a swim in the ocean or just relax on the beach. It was really easy to get here but the day started with a shopping spree in Tirana.

The number of clean clothes are getting close to zero so why not use the opportunity that we are in the cheapest country in Europe? However god seems to be pissed that the pope left the city and rain and thunderstorm was a fact.  Well I need new underwear whatever weather it is so I bought myself an umbrella and of I went. After an hour it stopped raining and I bought myself some souvenirs and Per bought himself a toaster, yepp its correct, a toaster. It was cheap, pretty nice and I guess Per needed a toaster, besides the salesmen verified that it worked before the sale so I guess it must be a good choice. We found some clothes and it is cheap, the problem though is that most of the clothes are really ugly, I got some underwear at least and I bought myself a pair of new shoes, Van´s for like €10 which is cheap, however I don’t think anyone believes that they are the real deal.

After the shopping we left for Durres, 28 degrees in the air, 20 in the water and a big shining sun made us really excited over to just check in at the closest hotel and jump into the ocean.  We found a decent hotel with a nice balcony with ocean view and somewhere around 30m to the ocean, price? around €25/night for a twin room. Well the weather is nice and the ocean is lovely so I will leave you for some beach time.


After an minimal breakfast and some thinking if I should jump into the ocean once more before we leave we left Albania and headed for Podgorica in Montenegro. All talk about bad roads and crazy traffic is just nonsense. The road were in perfect condition, so good that sometimes we drove three or four cars beside each other on the one file road or used the pavement or the ditch to overcome that slow car in front of you. It took some time to get used to it but as long as you keep en eye open whats happening around the car and clearly show your next move its not that hard to drive here, just drive it like you stole it! I am though a bit disappointed  that I didn’t see that many bunkers from the Hoxha era but well, I got some pictures and hopefully I they got good!

On our way to Podgorica we stopped at a bird sanctuary, our hope was to catch some pelicans or if we were really lucky a black stork but for being a bird sanctuary where 50% of europes birds has been seen we found zero and nothing except a bird watching tower and a couple of signs was to be seen.

We gave up and continued to Podgorica instead and I confess, I had no real expectations on this city. I kind a didn’t know anything about the city but once we arrived we was greeted by a kind a small, very green cozy city with parks, some rivers through the town and the sun was shining so everything looked really nice. After an interview with an editor of the local news station we ended up at the orthodox church’s restaurant, Ive eaten better food but at least the money we paid went for something good. Besides, even if Montenegro aint a member of EU they use Euro as their currency and speak really good english, pretty darn awesome!

Towards Sarajevo

With sorrow in my heart we left Podgorica after enjoying an awesome breakfast, on the terrace, in the sun, listening to the sound from the river. I’ll guess sometimes its totally worth to stay at nice hotels and this hotel, it was one of the nicer. After an short interview with PR-manager or something like that from Montenegro’s football association and even if I wasn’t interested at all I could ask a question or give a statement or two we hit the road towards the border to Bosnia and Sarajevo.

According to the maps its only 23 miles from Podgorica to Sarajevo and while we drove through Montenegro we were stunned how beautiful it was up in the mountains but once we crossed the border to Bosnia the road changed drastic. It was still very beautiful but they were narrow, winding, high edges on the tarmac and on the sides, it was far far down to the bottom and of course no crash barriers at all. We even saw a couple of places where the tarmac had been washed off by all the rain. Kind a spooky and those 23 miles took way much longer than we thought it would and “finally” we found those bad roads everybody has been talking about.

In Sarajevo the next shock came, we got stuck in rush hour and it took like one hour to get from the outer suburbs to city center, then our GPS told us to turn right but to the right there was no street..well there was but it was so tiny that it must be for pedestrians and bicycle only. We drive around and search but find nothing so after a while we were once again back at the intersection where the GPS told us to turn right. Scratching our heads and not understanding anything I jump out of the car to see what kind of street it is and guess what, it is an street for cars and the GPS showed us the correct way all the time, bummer! However I’m happy that we drove a tiny Citroën because it was tight, very tight. I doubt that if we had a normal Volvo or BMW we could have used those streets in the old city of Sarajevo. Today however its not any nice hotel, instead its more of a hostel with 2 rooms, and the owner live upstairs so in other words are we living just like the balkan is, sometimes luxury and fine, sometimes a little bit more simple.

War tourism

Yesterday evening we started on the museum about the Srebrenica massacre and that was that evening, what a party pooper. Why do I never learn that genocide is never fun?!?

So today we continued our war tourism and to be effective we walked downed to the tourist information to get a map over the city and it ended up that we hired a guide/driver instead. Well almost the same thing and even if I’m kind a skeptical towards this kind of guides, Jasmin which was our guide was really good and didn’t try to sell us a lot of crap. Instead he really showed us where he grewup during the war, gave us  hes point of view how it fell, why it happen and whats the situation is right now. He also showed us the famous tourist spots like the jewish cemetery, OS-village, the bob sledge track, snipers alley. We visited ruins where the “serb” snipers were located and shoot into the city. I put serbs in quites mark because it wasn’t serbs who bombed the shit out of Sarajevo even if the whole western world think so. I also met an very old man with an very polite goat in the former olympic village. Even if we didn’t spoke the same language we spoke the universal language of cigarettes and after a while Jasmin came and could help us translate and here we got our first warning; watch your steps because there is still mines all over the forest. Both me and Per chilled with our exploration after that and we have still both our legs left.

Into the city again and visit the only little life line who existed during the siege, the tunnel under the airport. Its a really interesting museum and clearly shows what people can do when they have to. The tunnel was 800m long, was digged by hand under the airport which UN-troops kept and made it possible to import food, weapons and other necessaries during the whole siege. The tour ended into the hills again with a cup of great, strong bosniak coffee and a view over Sarajevos older part, wonderful.

We also had time to visit the older parts of Sarajevo, well actually we live in the older parts so we don’t have much choice. Its really cool to see how how the city started in the east and the more west you go the more modern the city gets. You can really see the difference between the time periods and Sarajevo is not an city who belong to the west or east, its a total mix of everything. Now its time to head out in the Sarajevo night, we have a date with Amira who hopefully will tell us more about how it is to live in a city like this.

Mostar and Split

Time for another day in the car and now we left the narrow streets of Sarajevo and went to Mostar and finally Split in Croatia. Mostar which a lot of people has spoken them selfs warm about Mostar but myself, I think it was one if the biggest tourist trap in the world. People were trying to sell souvenirs to you everywhere and you had to fight your way through the crowd of people to be able to the see the famous bridge (which is fake since the blew up the original one during the war). Once you see the bridge you get wow…yea..its a bridge, Ive seen it before. Anyway, we where there, we saw it and we went to a restaurant and order a kebab, which looked like ordinary beef stew, tasted like ordinary beef stew and the price…like a really really nice steak. From here we left to Split and after a short while we came up on newly built highway so new that they wasn’t exactly finished with the exits, gas stations or road toll booths.

On the highway everything went on in high speed and what a difference it is between Croatia along the coast and Croatia inland, its like two completly different countries and here along the cost you dont see any bombed house, ruins or rusty old yugo cars. Here everything is newly built, modern and fresh. Not much left of our trip and in one kind of way it already feels like its over. Croatia doesnt feel like the rest of the balkan, to be honest this could be like any other western european country.

More of Croatia

On our way north it really felt like we left the Balkan peninsula. We drove along the coastline and its just like I said before completely different from how it look inland. The road is perfect, if you had a MC, it goes along the coast with a beautiful scenery, a bit winding and up and down over the hills. Not the same feeling with a car, especially not our car but it works fine and if you think of how many miles we been driving the car is really awesome, even if not has started to squeak every time we turn right. I really recommend the road from Split to Rijeka along the coast if you have plenty of time, I think our average speed was around 50km/h and one bike after another passed but who cares when you have the Adriatic sea to the left and high mountains to the right.

Our only goal for the day was to visit the national park Paklenica in a last attempt to see some wild animals. However its normally a good idea to do some research before except looking at the map and say, there is an nationalpark, lets go there and see some animals, we failed! Instead of founding animals we found Croatia and one of europes biggest climbing spots, in other words not a single bird, goat or any other animal but a mountain filled with people trying to climb it in all sorts of way. We may have seen a dolphin in the sea but more likely it was just an ordinary buoy. Even if the park wasn’t really what we looked for we took a small walk and I understand why people go here. While walking a small creek uphill you had plenty of different routes to take if you wanted to climb, from easy to diamond and it looked really neat!

We drove on an once the sun were about to set we decided to stop for the night. My idea that Croatia could be any western country were for sure found a big concrete building to hotel that couldn’t be more “eastern Europe”. This is true Tito spirit and I guess this is the exception that prove the rule, even here in Croatia we can find traces from the old Yugoslavian era. Its not really cheap either but compared to that newly built 5-star hotel next door, this one is cheaper!


Like by a coincidence Per thought it was my turn to drive once the border to Austria were getting close and just after we changed driver the asphalt was replaced with something that looked like swiss cheese with all the holes and the road went more an more narrow while the altitude increased for every meter I drove. I suspect that Per knew exactly what he was doing when he suggested to change driver but I have now proof. Using low gears and high rev we finally succeded to climb the Plöckenpass and very warm, smelly brakes later we were down on the other side, inside Austria and 40 miles in 7 hours, that say something about our average speed on this road. Its however quite fun that the road we expected to find and everybody warned us about where found here, in Austria.

Driving through Austria was an easy cake and now we are in southern Germany, in a small city called Rosenheim. We decided to take a stop here and once we found a little hotel for the night we found out that they are celebrating 150 years as a city, and they a Inca exhibition. Things could be worse for sure and german beer is always german beer, sweet!

After we walked around the city it was time to get back to the hotel and after spending two weeks on the Balkan that shouldn’t be any problem. I mean we are used to find our way even if we cant read the signs or understand the language but in the german city, we were lost. After a lot of walking, scratching our head and many laughs later we finally found the road we drove on to get into the city. Using this we could backtrack our steps and finally found the hotel, I do really need to learn to remember the business card from where I stay since this is not the first time I cant take a taxi since I cant remember the hotel name/address.

Should we?

A beautiful morning was spent at the Inca exhibition (now I really need to make my plans of visiting south America real). After the exhibition we needed to go shopping since Per had promised to buy some sort of colorful bath salt. I think it helps if you know what you are looking for but after visited every pharmacy in the city we finally found it and decided to go to the local brewery instead. Of course it was off  limits but a small white lie later and we were inside and could both see the brewery from the inside and buy some local beer to a very attractive price.

Our plan was to drive on small roads, avoiding the autobahn towards Berlin however after spent 1.5 hours to get 2 miles we kind a gave up and just went up on autobahn instead. Somewhere around here we also started to talk about skipping Berlin and just head for the night ferry back home to Sweden. The target was switched and we aimed for Rostock with plenty of time to go, well at least until we got to Potsdam. Here it literally stopped because of an traffic incident and while we were waiting, the clock ticked.

With 20 minutes to go we did roll on the ferry together with a lot of polish, Czechs and Romanians. A neat rip of 85 miles was finished during one day (our longest during this trip) and our trip is now officially over. Tomorrow I will get back to Stockholm and try to summarize the whole trip in some sort of way.

Summery of the Balkan express

So this express trip is over and I will try to do an summery of it, country by country. Of course since I spent a couple of days per country I don’t really know what I’m talking about but its an first impression after visited and talked to people. I´ll start with the overall impression and then continue to the country listed by the order we visited them.

In common for all countries I never felt unsafe anywhere or anytime. We tried everything from some tiny gravel roads to wide highway and overall they were really good, the worst roads we actually found in Austria and Germany which was kind a odd. English works overall without any problem even if you of course will find exceptions with the older population (works better in Slovenia/Croatia than in Serbia) and the euro works everywhere, even if the country has its own currency but keep in my that you probably get a better exchange course if you pay in the local currency.

Slovenia is the country which remind me the most of western europe. The infrastructure are in good condition, the houses are in good condition, maybe since they left Yugoslavia with only 10-das or war. They had the best possibilities to to setup a good society but still they fail. According to Robin who we couchsurfed at in Ljubljana we learned that the suicide rate in Slovenia is skyrocketing and the alcoholism is a huge problem which you may see if you visit any gas station or other shop who sells alcohol during the evening/night. The problem might be that they are not western Europe, however they are not really “balkans” either and they doesn’t share the same culture or history like the rest of the Yugoslavian republics which gives them an identity crises and may explain their problems. Their mountains are thought really nice and i would recommend that you go here instead of the alps for your next ski/bike trip, I think it will be awesome!

Serbia is very, russian. Everything from the society, culture to how people behave. Serbia has a collective feeling that western world did them wrong during the war and like someone said, “Serbia never forgets, never forgives” and I think there is really something in this. Serbia hasn’t really forgiven the western world and while the rest of the republics has been closing in to EU Serbia has been running their own race which made them kind a isolated. It has started to change but its a big difference from the other countries. Belgrade is the biggest city in former Yugoslavia and a big city is always a big city, you can always find something for you here and I will return at some day.

Kosovo is the smallest country and not even a country to some (Serbia) which may be a problem if you don’t plan your trip. Its not a problem to go from Serbia to Kosovo however if you try to enter Serbia coming from Kosovo you might end up in problem. Serbia claims that Kosovo still belongs to them they may accuse you form illegal entering the country even if you just been to Kosovo. In this country however the country with the biggest optimism and they are building everywhere without any regulations. Well, the former mayor tried to restrict some but he got shot on the open street. I would say that Kosovo is the closest to the gold rush in the wild west you can come.

Macedonia didn’t showed us its best sides when we were there. Rain, gray weather and the hotel we booked had faked their address on booking.com so it looked like it closer to the city center than what it really was. Not an good start and after that Macedonia had to work in a uphill. That the city was gray and that they places statues all over the city doesn’t help much.  But there is a couple of low cost flight flying to Skopje so at least its easy to get here and you are welcome to prove me wrong.

Albania was probably the country I had the most prejudices about and not a single one was fulfilled during my trip. It may been because of the pope was visiting Tirana but the city was really clean and nice. English worked really good and I was expecting to see old Mercedes cars but I guess it was just my mind playing tricks on me. The road were really good, people were friendly and even if the corruption is supposed to be extreme I never saw anything. My guess is that in a couple of years Albania will be new the nr 1 charter resort, the beaches and sea are beautiful and once the standards gets just a little bit better, in the same class as Greece or Turkey.

In Montenegro we had the opposite experience than Macedonia. The weather couldn’t be better and the hotel was even better than we thought. Podgorica may not be the best or funniest city in the world but who cares then you can sit  on a outdoor seating and drink a cold beer and enjoy life. The country itself reminds pretty much of Serbia with the major difference that they do anything they can to get closer to EU. A big difference and it makes it way much easier to be a tourist here. If you like nature you big mountains and deep valleys you will love Montenegro!

Bosnia Herzegovina:
Bosnia as a country is a dead according to me, it has been forced to one nation and the country is suffering from it. What many people doesn’t know is that Bosnia Herzegovina is an federation, just like Yugoslavia was (and that worked out so well). It contains three large groups of people (Croatians, Bosniaks and Serbs) . The only thing that consistent is that you never, ever see the Bosnian flag, instead its the flag for Republik Srpska or the Croatian flag and its here you really realize that the wounds from the war i still wide open and infected. Each group has its own president and for any decisions all three must agree and how often does that happen do you think? Amira who we met in Sarajevo described it as “we are sitting on a ticking bomb”.

Croatia has two faces, we have the rich part along the coast which every year get plenty of tourism and gets even wealthier from that and we the poor inland where you still find traces from the war. The coastline is pretty much like any other area in western europe around the Mediterranean and you can find everything you want. If you travel inland it gets poorer and poorer and and you will find abandoned villages and other traces from the war. If you go to Croatia I really recommend that you spend a day or two traveling inland, the nature is beautiful and you should have seen both sides before you can say that you been to Croatia.