Open Thread

I’ve had a visitor this weekend so I’ve not found anything worth writing about. Also, I have my second semester final exams next week and I need to spend today revising derivatives.

So have a chat among yourselves.


19 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Derivatives: when you sell something you don’t have to someone who doesn’t want it.

  2. I am heading up to Munich shortly as my final departure duty from my current employer. All good then going to drive around the Balkans doing the Austro-Hungarian trail thing. Missus and kids staying in oz. Happy days.

  3. See driving base plan below, I will be traversing into/out to must see places as well Sarajevo etc but that is the outline circuit.

    Just me, so what kind of motor and any suggestions on must see joints. No time limit and stay wherever I fancy on route, going clockwise starting from Tirana but doesn’t necessarily have to be in that direction or that start point.

    Balkans Base Plan

  4. Bardon,

    Get the fanciest sports car you can hire, but make sure it is insured for all of those countries. Some of the driving is superb, especially on the Croatian coastline and islands. Watch out for traffic stops in Bosnia. Most of your roadkill will be snakes.

    Here are a few off-base should-sees en route:
    Kotor (Montenegro)
    Ston (Croatia)
    Banja Luka (Bosnia)
    Bled (Slovenia)
    Villach (Austria)
    Novi Sad (Serbia)

    Advice for tourist traps:
    Mostar (Bosnia) – worth a couple of hours at most
    Dubrovnik (Croatia) – go early in the morning.

    Also note, some of those countries may have weird visa requirements.

  5. Checked out and marked those suggestions BiG. I know there is some different currencies around but Euro cash would be the go in most parts and off the beaten track, yes? Also sports car is appealing but do you think it will attract unwanted attention from criminal types? What type do you reckon is par for the course in those parts.

  6. Of your route, euro is the official currency in Montenegro, Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. Acceptance varies widely in other places. You can use it in touristy parts of Budapest, pretty widely (but not everyhwere) in Croatia, and also in some touristy parts of Bosnia, even though it’s technically illegal to pay with anything but KM. There are two versions of KM, one written in Croatian, one in Serbian, they are both good in all parts of Bosnia. I would recommend not to rely only on euro cash in non-eurozone countries.

    I used to drive a red Alfa GT on all my Balkan trips, until it was brutally murdered by an idiot in a Toyota. It might not be your idea of a sports car but it definitely attracted attention, of the positive variety. TBH, in the Western Balkans at least, you are going to attract more attention by having an Albanian number plate than a flashy car. I would really recommend renting in an EU country, but there you are less likely to get insurance covering some of the dodgier countries – you will have to check very carefully where you are covered for what.

    The Western Balkans are very safe, even the more wild-west parts of Bosnia and inland Dalmatia where the road signs are used for target practice. On the islands people leave their keys in their cars. Don’t do that with an expensive car that isn’t yours.

    Anything Ferrari-like is going to go missing in Bulgaria and will be in Russia within 24 hours. If you can get insurance, not your problem though.

    You can’t drive from Kosovo to Serbia unless you first drove into Kosovo via Serbia. You have to go out the way you came and drive around.

    Almost everything off the main Rijeka-Split highway or the Zagreb to Belgrade road is extremely slow. Allow at least 50% more time than you expect for the distance.

    Watch out for road toll stickers you may need in certain countries:
    Austria you need a sticker to use the motorway
    Hungary you need to buy something online to use the motorway
    Slovenia has an increasingly complicated set of roads you can’t use without a toll – it’s basically impossible to cross the country without paying
    Montenegro theoretically charges a toll on entry but often doesn’t bother tourists with it.

    The Neum border crossings between Croatia and Bosnia are usually fast because they know 99% of traffic is going through to south (or north) Croatia and just wave it through. The other crossings can be painfully slow, especially entering Croatia.

    Anything else you need?

  7. Huh.
    And my various troubles with Europecar and insurance face into insignificance…

  8. I would imagine that if you wanted to drive around various Balkan states, a firm knowledge of geo-political stuff is a pre requisite if you want to emerge alive. I look forward to a bunch of traveller’s tales about how easy it all was.

  9. @BiG

    Excellent informative feedback again and very much appreciated. After you suggested a sports car and not wanting to look to flash an Alfa came to mind, after all they make them just over the border dont they? I hired one before and drove it around Tasmania its a bit like British country roads, cornering in second gear and thrashing it to death, music up high so you cant hear it whine, ignoring the rev meter only changing gear based on smoke plume density in the rear view mirror. They are also total resistant to many other things that would be a problem if you owned it, so an Alfa it probably is, will have a good think about the colour next!

    Cheers mate, I owe you one for this.

  10. @Ten
    “I would imagine that if you wanted to drive around various Balkan states, a firm knowledge of geo-political stuff is a pre requisite if you want to emerge alive.”

    That’s what my yankee cousin said when I said that I was going there, he seen action there with the airborne rangers. I am a bit of an Austro-Hungarian history anorak, so my journey has taken fifteen years to plan and its just a matter of what book I buy to read about the Hasburgs as I experience it directly.

    See email exchange with my cousin below.

    From: Airborne Ranger
    Sent: Sunday, 3 March 2019 2:15 PM
    To: Bardon
    Subject: Re: Base plan for my Balkans driving tour

    You probably know where they are.

    Anyway my construction excavating days are now over!

    From: airborne ranger
    Sent: Sunday, 3 March 2019 12:34 PM
    To: Bardon
    Subject: RE: Base plan for my Balkans driving tour

    Can’t dig there, too many mass graves .

    On Sat, Mar 2, 2019 at 9:24 PM, Bardon wrote:

    They reckon it’s pretty safe there these days, not like when you lot were scorching their earth.

    Plus you can hire a Humvee in Albania, for the round trip.

    From: Airborne Ranger
    Sent: Sunday, 3 March 2019 12:14 PM
    To: Bardon
    Subject: Re: Base plan for my Balkans driving tour

    Better bring some firepower

  11. You don’t need any geopolitical awareness as a tourist, but you will notice occasional stuff. The souvenirs made out of munition casings in Bosnia are pretty creepy.

    The most obvious evidence of conflict under the surface is in Bosnia, where most road signs are written in both Latin and Cyrillic script. Croatian and Serbian are very similar, essentially mutually-intelligible languages, but written in different scripts. You can tell if you are in a Croat- or Serb-dominated area of Bosnia by which script has been graffitied over on the road signs.

    And the reason you shouldn’t go digging has more to do with landmines than mass graves.

  12. I am definitely interested in the ongoing ethnic conflict side of things and the football match that started the war late 20th century’s action, although I am far more interested in earlier times and the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire. WWI which was directly triggered by events in Sarajevo, spelled the end of not only the the Austro- Hungarian Empire by the wars end, it also ended the German and Ottoman Empires as well, hundreds of years of empirical systems stopped dead, just like that. Geopolitical event of the millennium award that was.

    All of this made possible by the cunning Disraeli thirty years earlier putting Slavic Christians under Austro-Hungarian rule and driving a permanent wedge between the Hasburg and Russian empires.

    “Our great object was to break up and permanently prevent the alliance of the three Empires and I maintain there never was a general diplomatic result more completely affected.” – Benjamin Disraeli

    And boy was he proven right in the fullness of time.

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