Backpacking the Balkans: Belgrade

Belgrade rests at the former border between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Thanks to its position, it changed hands regularly and is heavily influenced by both empires. Serbia’s history can be divisive and I will admit I still do not fully understand the Yugoslav wars. I did not learn about the wars in school, only through first hand accounts in my travels. History changes based on who is telling it, and I heard many different variations. In Bosnia, the Serbs were making a land grab. In Kosovo they wanted independence. In Serbia, no one talked about anything but the NATO bombing of 1999. Although the history is hard to get a grasp on, the city itself is not. Belgrade is a very welcoming and friendly city despite its tumultuous past. It is one of those cities where you go for the sites and end up staying for the nightlife.

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Backpacking the Balkans: Mostar

Not long ago, Mostar was the front line, split in half with Croatian forces on one side and Serbian forces on the other. Since then, it has become an international city. The first people I met who live in Mostar were two high school students, one from California, and one from Mozambique, attending the international high school. Every year tourists from all over the world flock to the city for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition, where competitors leap of the UNESCO protected bridge. Despite its new found international appeal, when you walk down the street you can still see the scars of the war. Bullet holes riddle old buildings and plants grow free. To understand Mostar is to experience all of its history, both painful and joyful.

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Drink in Dubrovnik

Whether you know it as Kings Landing, the casino planet Canto Bight, or simply by it’s name, Dubrovnik, there is a chance you’ve seen photos of this picturesque city. Famous for it’s costal, walled, Old Town, this UNESCO site attracts thousands of visitors a day during the high season. During the high season, the town is bustling. Restaurants are packed and it’s common to see visitors kayaking through the sea to the island of Lokrum right off of Dubrovnik’s coast. We went during the low season and although many shops and restaurants were closed, the city was still exciting and festive.
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Bathing in Beer

Budapest is famous for many things, including its beer and baths. The beer scene features something for everyone, from crushable brews to hoppy crafts, we couldn’t find a beer over about five dollars. For beers, the stand out was Szimpla Kert, a ruin pub in the middle of the city with local and international brews. I discovered a raspberry-mint sour that tasted almost like fernet, and proceeded to drink it the rest of my time in Budapest.

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Drinking through Dublin

Dublin is known for its vibrant pub culture. At the heart of this culture are two things: beer and whisky. Some of the world’s most popular beer and whisky finds its home in Dublin, Jameson Irish Whisky and Guinness. Although Jameson is now distilled elsewhere in Ireland, both alcohols originated in Dublin and have spaces in the city for fans to tour. We did the Guinness tour and Jameson tour on the same day, and were somehow still able to stand after.

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Worlds Best: Tales and Spirits

Every year, the World’s 50 Best Bars puts out a list of the top bars across the globe. Drink experts around the world rank their top choices to determine the best of the best. Several of these top bars are scattered across Europe and we want to make it to as many as possible, our first stop was Tales and Spirits in Amsterdam.

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