This post was first published on the author’s Remotely Balkan blog, and is re-blogged here with permission.
This post is by Laura Wise. Laura is an Analyst on the Global Justice Academy’s Political Settlements Research Programme. Her research interests include minority mobilisation, state-society relations, and conflict management in South-Eastern Europe.
The Balkan Express is no more.
Replaced by luxury international coaches from Vienna to Sarajevo, with on-board toilets that work, Wi-Fi, and conductors who serve drinks, gone are the potholed, unreliable minibus journeys that make classic travellers’ tales for the Western backpacker. Last month I made a fleeting visit back to the Balkans; the kind of trip where you spend hours on the aforementioned buses just to meet friends for coffee. It was also a chance to reunite with rakia, and revisit bars where the pop-folk of Dado Polumenta is an acceptable choice of music. However, most of my conversations and experiences kept returning to a more sobering topic: Europe.