My Balkan Bucket List

Yesterday our Peace Corps training group visited the office in Pristina where we had a Fourth of July cook out with staff and currently serving volunteers! As you can see below, we had grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and salsa, root beer and an American flag cake.

This was our first time meeting many people from the earlier cohorts, and all three of the previous years’ groups were represented. (My group of volunteers is the fourth invited to Kosovo.) As Peace Corps service usually lasts 27 months, most of the second group will be leaving in the next few weeks. I really appreciated my conversations with these volunteers, who I otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to meet. Hearing them talk about the end of their service has inspired me to post something about personal goals for my own. I decided to write out a (mostly travel) bucket list to reference for my next two years.

As a disclaimer, I have mixed feelings on bucket lists. For many years I’ve had a mental bucket list, and while I’ve accomplished many items on it, I think of this list as constantly evolving. I’m resistant to write something down because I don’t want to undermine its fluidity. However, in the context of my Peace Corps experience, a list may be a good idea. I feel lucky to live in a region where travel is relatively affordable and countries are relatively small. I am literally surrounded by things I want to see and do, and having so many incredible destinations can be overwhelming when mentally planning travel. Writing this down will help me plan and prioritize my time. I have no doubt that two years is going to go by quickly. As I start visiting some of these places I’ll revisit this list and post about my experiences.


  • Reach advanced level Albanian
  • Reach advanced level Serbian
  • Sharr Mountains (Kosovo) hiking
  • Via ferrata climb in the Rugova Canyon (Kosovo)
  • Tolkien themed bar in Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Lake Bled in the Julian Alps (Slovenia)
  • Sarajevo city and war tunnel (Bosnia)
  • Rila Monastery (Bulgaria)
  • Hiking and wildlife tracking in Piatra Craiului park (Romania)
  • Belgrade (Serbia) to Bar (Montenegro) on the Balkan Express
  • Apollonia ruins (Albania)
  • Lake Matka and underground caverns (Macedonia)

5 thoughts on “My Balkan Bucket List

  1. Wow, Laura, I can’t wait to look up all these places, and I hope you get to see at least most of them while you’re there. You’ll have to take lots of pictures at the Tolkien-themed bar. Happy 4th of July to you and all the committed Peace Corps volunteers who are overseas. It was a nice touch for them to host a good ol’ fashioned American cookout!

    (Side note…the fact that chips and salsa was served as a quintessential US food made me think about how much of our country’s cuisine was adopted from others. Did you know that the familiar triangle-shaped tortilla chips actually originated in southern California?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! That’s interesting about the tortilla chips. I always have trouble when students or other international people ask me what food is American. My answer is usually that there are American styles of making food that came from other places (Pizza, hamburgers, ‘Tex mex,’ etc.) I think corn dogs are supposed to be American, but I haven’t researched it.


  2. That Bucket List sounds exciting and like a great way to plan your travels. We will have a toast to you at our July 4th celebration. Hearing from you is always good thanks and keep it coming

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the 4th of July spread they have, very American and true to form, haha.

    I feel like bucket lists are meant to be tweaked and added to. To me they always seemed like an intersection of realism and fantasy, and yeah, actually attempting them can be overwhelming. Your bucket list sounds amazing though! There are so many cool places on there and I had no idea there was a Tolkien themed bar but now that I know it exists, I can’t wait to see your pictures from it, haha. I know one of my placed I’d like to visit is Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. Every time I see pictures online, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be there in person. *o*

    Good luck on learning your languages and your amazing travels!!

    Liked by 1 person

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