Friday, July 07, 2006

Treasures of Transylvania

Transylvania is one of my favourite corners of Europe, but until now I hadn't got around to writing much about it for Balkanology. I've put that right with two new pages, one about Brasov and the surrounding area, the other about Sibiu, Cluj, and Sighisoara.

Low cost flights for Serbia ... or not?

Low cost airlines have taken their time about getting involved in the Balkans, and the market has developed at a much slower rate than in countries such as Poland and Slovakia, but things are changing fast.

Or not, if you live in Serbia, which has lagged behind several of its neighbours in this respect. An article in the Southeast European Times this week suggests that things maybe be about to change. Many of the proposed developments seem to still be at a rather theoretical stage, so it remains to be seen whether they will come to fruition. As the article points out, it's not much use being able to fly for 1 dinar if you have a problem getting a visa - which is sadly the case for many Serbians.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Thinking about Thessaloniki, musing about Meteora

Following a visit to Greece earlier this year, I have expanded the Greece section of Balkanology. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was particularly impressed by Thessaloniki, which now has a page of its own. I've also added pages about the Province of Macedonia and the monasteries of Meteora.

New and improved Balkan guidebooks

The guidebook publishers have done quite a lot of juggling of their Southeast European lineup in the last few months. I've updated the Books pages of Balkanology to reflect all the changes mentioned here. (The links below will take you to the relevant page on the Amazon UK site; within Balkanology you will also find links to the corresponding pages on

Perhaps the most interesting development is the release of the second edition of the Bradt Guide to Albania. Revised versions sometimes amount to little more than window dressing, but that's not the case here. The new edition is 50 pages longer and has quite a lot of new material, particularly about hiking and mountain biking opportunities. Even the maps - never a strong point with Bradt - have been improved. Bradt also plan to issue a second edition of their Bosnia and Herzegovina guide this year, but too late for the summer season - a publication date in November has been mentioned.

Over in Serbia, local publishers Komshe have issued the second edition of Serbia in Your Hands. I was pleasantly surprised to find it on sale this week in a shop here in Ireland. It's a very well-produced volume that whets the appetite for exploring the more far-flung corners of Serbia. Don't expect it to have the same level of practical details as the Bradt guide - it tells you about all the places you might want to see but is relatively silent about how to see them. That aside, it's good to see one of the less touristed Balkan countries taking positive steps to encourage travellers. A companion guide to Belgrade is planned for later this year.

Back in the world of mainstream publishers (and mainstream destinations), both Lonely Planet and Rough Guides have issued the 11th editions of their guides to Greece. Lonely Planet has also launched a seried of "Best of" city guides. These are very slim volumes indeed, aimed very much at the short break market. Belgrade, Dubrovnik, and Ljubljana are all covered.