One of my best as well as earliest experiences was a trip to
Skopje in the state of Makedonia (Macedonia) in what used
to be Yugoslavia. Skopje had been devastated by an earthquake, and
I was a member of one of many international teams of people who travelled
to Skopje to help re-build the city. I went there two years in a row
for a month each time.
In addition to the time we spent working in Skopje, we had some free time to
travel around and visit. In southern Yugoslavia is Lake Ohrid,
right on the border with Albania. Lake Ohrid is beautiful (they boast of
330 sunny days per year), and the lake hosts
a species of trout that's unique to the area. The town of Ohrid has an old church that
dates back to the Byzantine era.
After Ohrid, I spent a few days in the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik, which
sad to say, was shelled in the civil unrest in the past few years. I was fortunate
to be there years before the wars and saw Dubrovnik as it had been for hundreds of
years. I also spent a week in Belgrade.
For all you American fans of history trivia, Dubrovnik was originally a
City State called Ragusa.
In 1776 Ragusa was one of the firstif in fact not
power to recognise the nascent United States of America.
The trips to Skopje in Yugoslavia were achieved via an assortment of
transportation methods ranging from twin-engine aeroplanes to hitch-hiking.
During these trips I went through Belgium, Germany, and Austria on my way
over the border crossing at Maribor.