The Balkans, Backpacking and the Environment

So there’s been a bit of a dip in blog posts recently. I’ve been doing a bit of backpacking in the Balkans and haven’t been particularly disciplined in updating the masses on the climate and how it’s changing. Turns out hostels aren’t the best places to practice high quality journalism.

It’s been an awesome trip so far. Started in Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo, where I worked in hostel called Buffalo Backpackers (disclaimer: I do not receive any financial incentives to advertise this establishment). Met a lot of interesting people with a lot to say about climate change. Not surprisingly the Scandinavians and Dutch were the most passionate when brought it up. A student called Toby told me that at his uni a group got together and gathered all the coffee cups that were used in a day and dumped them all outside the main building on campus. Coffee cups aren’t recyclable so it was a really effective way to show people just how much of an impact everyone having a coffee in a disposable cup can have on the environment. I think public acts like these will have a profound effect and at the very minimum get people to start thinking about climate change on a daily basis as the world should be.

After Pristina I made my way to Macedonia and was shocked by how much plastic there was at the side of the road and in the lake I was staying at. There’s very little regard for the environment there. No one recycles and on multiple occasions I’ve seen bus drivers throw bottles out the window. Again this confirms to me that no matter how much scientific research is done, absolutely nothing is going to change until people start to actually care. How this will be achieved I’m still figuring out.

Belgrade was my next stop and the people of Serbia seem to be a lot more environmentally aware than other countries in the Balkans which was refreshing. The hostel had separate bins for plastic, paper and glass. There was graffiti all over the city with a climate awareness message which was encouraging to see. Belgrade got a big thumbs up.

(Graffiti in Belgrade promoting veganism)

I found Montenegro to be great on the whole. I did some hiking in Durmitor National Park which was spectacular and can’t say I noticed litter or any signs of human impact. Down on the coast in a city called Kotor there was some pollution from cruise ships but that can’t really be avoided.

(Durmitor national park, Montenegro)

I’m now in Albania and it’s an absolute hidden gem. I’m certain it’s about to explode with tourism the same way Croatia did in the last ten years. The beaches are empty (off peak season now to be fair) and the water is crystal clear. Environmentally, again, it hasn’t been the best but through the grapevine I’ve heard they’re cleaning up their act to try to join the EU. The good ol’ EU.

(Sunset in Himara, Albania)

So, although I haven’t been writing blog posts I’m still keeping my ear to the ground and worrying daily about how humanity is going to save itself from the extinction we face in the next thirty-or-so years. The trip has been a great way to learn more about what other countries are doing to fight climate change and also an indicator of just how much work there is to be done. Not to worry, at least when the floods come all us Scots can head up into the mountains and watch the world drown (joke stolen directly from Frankie Boyle).






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