A Balkan Adventure

It will be two years since John Pilkington gave us his talk on Georgia to Afghanistan. We have invited him on this occasion to tell us about his experiences while travelling from Trieste in the North to Istanbul in the south, entitled A Balkan Adventure.

John is a professional speaker and adventurer and is known for the well researched presentations he makes, which he illustrates with his superb photographs.

This is John’s précis of his talk

In 2013 I spent five months exploring the Balkan mountains from Trieste to Istanbul. This part of Europe has

always fascinated me. I visited Yugoslavia briefly in the 1970s, since when they’ve abandoned communism, suffered brutal conflicts, and taken small steps towards coming together with the rest of Europe.

In Bosnia and Kosovo I found people still traumatised, but many were working hard to create a peaceful future.

For instance, in the ominously named ‘Accursed Mountains’ Albania has joined Kosovo and Montenegro in an

inspirational new project called the Balkans Peace Park. I spent three weeks in this fabulous range, walking freely back and forth between the three countries amongst people who were working together to overcome the horrors of the past.

Continuing south and east through the mountains, I met people in the remotest villages of Macedonia and Bulgaria. The route then took me to the River Evros, where Greece meets Turkey and migrants attempt to dodge European Union border guards. As summer turned to autumn I reached Istanbul – capital of two empires each lasting 1,000 years – and finally the Bosporus, where Europe gives way to Asia.