Over the past couple of months on the Via Dinarica, our Balkans-based crew of hikers—the number waxed and waned as we crossed borders and welcomed new friends or said goodbye to others—had grown accustomed to stumbling upon such Edenic locales. This trail, which traverses and connects Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia, had, in fact, been created, from 2010 to 2015, for just this kind of discovery. The route provides an authentic avenue to some of Europe’s last remaining Old World settlements and a corridor to an embarrassment of cultural riches. The path summits the region’s highest peaks, dips into valleys, passes lakes and rivers, and strolls along the cobbled streets of remote
villages. It can be walked for three months, three days, or three hours, depending on the stretch of land an adventurer has time to cover. As importantly, the trail unfurls like a variegated quilt, the squares stitched together across epochs and empires with the heritages, gastronomies, music and traditions of the South Slavs, Albanians, Greeks, Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Venetians and Austro-Hungarians all on display.
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