5 Lessons from Road Tripping in the Balkans

Road tripping in the Balkans doesn't sound as hard as it seems. After doing research on all the paperwork needed to rent a car in Croatia and cross the borders, you're all set to drive and experience, most especially, the beauty of the Baltic sea. Here are some lessons learned firsthand that blogs or travel guides didn't tell us.

1. Spend more than a day in Hvar Island in a rental car: Beautiful Hvar cannot be justified as a day trip alone. There are multiple beach coves that are a must-see and not down-trodden with tourists, such as the Grebishe beach in Jelsa known for extramarital affairs (for a reason) and the off-the-beaten path, nude Lucisce beach known for procreating (for a reason as well!). Getting to Lucisce is dangerous in a scooter with its unpaved road by the mountain side so a car is advisable. Don't forget your water shoe since the rocky beaches will not be kind to your feet, especially for someone who is used to white sand beach.

Go nude or go home.
What we missed because we were running after the last departure of the ferry in the middle of the afternoon are the parties at beach clubs in Hvar town, which I heard are what summer days in the Balkans are made of! I'm also bummed that we didn't get to hop on a boat excursions to nearby Pakleni Islands, which have more secluded beaches and coves.

2. Chasing sunset on foot is not a thing in Dubrovnik. You can chase it on a sunset kayak tour or in Makarska instead! You can geek out on all the Game of Thrones locations in Dubrovnik, but what I learned is that Makarska is the place to be for unobtrusive sunset views. Luckily, we spotted the best location at the small walkway of Restaurant Lavander where we dined al fresco with fresh seafood plus waves crashing and clinging our wine glasses while the sun painted lovely hues of orange on one side.

Restaurant Lavander also has the most entertaining servers who took many lovely photos of us.
Can't go wrong with squid ala plancha.
No obstruction for sunset viewing while having dinner.
The golden hour. Perfect photo opp.

3. Dance the night away inside a cave in Deep Makarska. Luckily again, it was the opening day of the summer season of the club and we got first dibs! Unlike other clubs that get stuffy as more dancers perspire profusely, you can easily exit towards the (rocky) beach area or hang out there to get some fresh air.

Season opening of Deep Markarska. 
4. Sarajevo is best done on a walking tour with a tour guide. We had one who was only 7 years old during the war in the 90s. He shared riveting stories of how he and his family survived the war and why many buildings up to this day have not been restored to its full glory.

Buildings with bullet holes! 
5. The best way to see Montenegro in a day is to go on a rental car. I was so disappointed with our group tour from Dubrovnik that advertised to stop at the view point of Sveti Stefan, a luxury resort by the Aman group, only to be told that there is limited space for one bus to stop at the viewpoint. We also spent way too much time at the border because of the number of passports that needed to be checked.

Hopping on a boat to the Our Lady of the Rock.
6. Belgrade's best kept secret is underground. This city is known as the party capital of Europe (for a reason) with its party boats filling up to the brim any day of the night. But what is the most intriguing about this city is a crypt situated below an unfinished and one of the largest orthodox churches in the world, Temple of Saint Sava.

So much beauty! 
Okay, now back to the World Cup... Croatia advances to the finals!

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