Posted by: Alex MacGregor | May 10, 2010

Goodbye, Balkans

After about a month of travelling, passing through just about every country in the Balkans, it was time to say goodbye to the region and all of its wild contrasts. We left from Split by way of ferry. We found that the best view we got of the place was just after departure.



We took the slow ferry to Ancona, a scruffy port city on the Adriatic Coast of Italy. Although we hoped for a ferry to Venice, Split’s ferry services seem to have declined.

Caroline hard at work trying to learn Italian on the boat.

We ran out of Kuna and were unable to withdraw Euros in Croatia, and the boat didn’t take credit card, so we had to make our groceries last the whole 10 hour ride.

After our nighttime arrival, we made for Ancona’s train station and got ready for a morning train to the west of the country.

The area around the train station, which apparently becomes quite lively at night–not in a good way.

We rode Italy’s train network through the awful rain, which was not forecast to improve for days. We decided to head to Cinque Terre on the west coast, hoping things would look better there.

We (fruitlessly) searched for a decent, filling lunch in the city of Parma in between trains. Perhaps this is where Parmesan Cheese comes from? One thing we were happy to find in Italy was a break from the white-bread Balkans we had gotten used to; in Italy, you get an influx of all sorts of people. There are plenty of Africans about, although most are from West African countries rather than the places we went through. In the La Spezia station, our familiarity with obscure Balkan countries paid off: we met a Kosovar on the platform! I’m not sure how the interaction began, but I think the fact that I was wearing an Albania t-shirt didn’t hurt. He was glad to learn that we had made a trip to his hometown of Prizren! After he said the obligatory ‘I love America’, he laughed when we thanked him in Albanian. After two long travel days, much the time heavy rain, we finally made it to our first Western European destination: Cinque Terre.


  1. […] city’s train station area fails to buck the trend of overall seediness we’ve covered elsewhere), I wound up at a truly wonderful establishment: the Hotel Unirea. The Unirea is an old building […]

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