East Meets West
Per person, not including international flights
Single supplement £220
Now that peace has been restored in the Western Balkans, travellers are rediscovering the cultural and architectural gems of the region and in particular the countries of Serbia and Croatia. As well as being of great cultural interest, these countries are spectacularly beautiful. Thick pine forests and olive groves intermingle with spectacular mountains, lakes and rivers in a landscape dappled with picturesque villages. Despite one of the most recent and turbulent histories of modern Europe, the Serbians and Croatians are known for their hospitality and open heartedness as well as their wonderful cuisine and wines.
The fortunes of Croatia and Serbia highlight two millennia of cultural mixing and power struggles for dominance in the western Balkans. This is a history of ebb and flow drawing in the Byzantines, Franks, Ottomans and Habsburgs. Both countries are historically Slavic nations but today they look more West than East. This is where north Europe meets the South and where Christianity meets Islam. Understanding Serbia and Croatia is all about cultural tectonics where the plates of European civilisations have forever jostled.
The journey begins in Belgrade, capital of Serbia which is the heart and soul of the country. Today it is a dynamic bustling city and one of Europe’s true urban highlights with its vivid museums, wonderful restaurants and breath-taking river views over the Danube which are some of the most spectacular in Europe.
Continue to east Serbia where Europe’s largest river gorge cuts through the Carpathians in Derdap National park. This has always been a fractious border region during the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods where mighty fortresses were built such as the nine towered Golubac Fortress. Enjoy a boat journey along the Danube and then head south to the former Turkish stronghold town of Jagodina and visit the nearby spectacular monasteries of Ravanica and Manasija. En route to Croatia, visit the Syrmian Front WW2 memorial complex on the Croatia/ Serbia border and enjoy a wine tasting in the vineyards of Slavonia, Croatia’s north-eastern region. The history of viticulture here dates back to Roman times.
Like Serbia, Croatia has been through huge upheavals in the last 30 years even by the standards of its own turbulent history. Enjoy three nights in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital and the heart of the political, economic and cultural life of the country. It is an enchanting mix of Baroque and the grandiose ideals of Mitteleuropa. The journey finishes with a journey into the fairy tale and bucolic Zagorje, a region of green fertile, rolling hills covered in vineyards and orchards.