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Thread: Interesting places in the Balkans

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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Interesting places in the Balkans

    Allright backroomers, I need your help.

    I'm going to organize a school trip for my students, and the options are either the former Yugoslavia or Ireland. Ireland is an option because they went there last year, and so that trip is mostly organized already. The Balkans will need some figuring out first. I thought I had plenty of time for this, but my boss called me this morning and told me that things have to be ready by Monday, due to blablabla.

    So, unless I can come up with interesting stuff to do in the Balkans, we're going to Ireland. I really want to go to the Balkans instead, so I need your help! The subject focus for the trip is humanities. What field in humanities is quite open, though "conflict" seems like an obvious theme for the trip(the Ireland trip is focused on the Troubles). So, what I'm looking for are things like talks by people from all sides of the Yugoslav war, remnants of past colonial overlords(ie. students will ask themselves "what's this turkish/roman/german thing doing down here?"), etc.

    By "Balkans" I generally mean Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, but that's not set in stone. There are two limitations though: we can only ask the parents to pay 6000 NOK(about 1000 USD) for the trip(per student), and we can't base ourselves on fundraising, so that's our budget. The other limitation is that we of course needs parental approval, which means some of the whackier(and interesting) stuff will be hard to do. Israel and North Africa was scrapped because of that limitation.

    So, who can help 10 students and 2 teachers find something to do for a week in the Balkans?
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Edyzmevieval has a great thread in the Frontroom 'visit Romania', he already has done all the work for you. Not really Balkan I think but since things aren't set in stone yet.. Visiting 'Dracula's' castle, they will love it

    Your boss is a jerk by the way

    Edit, I missed the particulars my bad
    Last edited by Fragony; 08-24-2013 at 09:43.

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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony View Post
    Edyzmevieval has a great thread in the Frontroom 'visit Romania', he already has done all the work for you. Not really Balkan I think but since things aren't set in stone yet.. Visiting 'Dracula's' castle, they will love it

    Your boss is a jerk by the way
    Awesome, thanks! I'll have to ponder the theme a bit with Romania though, "conflict" won't work there. So, still open for more suggestions

    My boss was simply the messenger this time...

    EDIT: And another thing: what would be really, really awesome in both the Balkans and Ireland, is an overnight stay in a medieval stone castle. None of that fancy palace thing, but the cold stone stuff. I know there are several places offering that in Germany and Denmark, is there something similar in either the Balkans or Ireland?
    Last edited by HoreTore; 08-24-2013 at 09:46.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Conflict will absolutily work, the war with Turkey. First known case of biological warfare, they send black death victims in to infiltrate, and even catapulted dead body's. Let's not even start about the impaling.

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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony View Post
    Conflict will absolutily work, the war with Turkey. First known case of biological warfare, they send black death victims in to infiltrate, and even catapulted dead body's. Let's not even start about the impaling.
    Yeah, but it's all in the past, while the Troubles and Yugoslavia are recent(and somewhat still ongoing).
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    You teach pre-teens, right? Wow, the furthest I ever went on a school trip as a pre-teen was Philadelphia, never mind the other side of the continent...

    The financing of this trip interests me; I know Norway is pretty rich, but six grand per kid? What if parents just don't want to pay that kind of money for a school trip?

    How long is it anyway, that you need that much? One day-one night at least from what I read, and surely no longer with a band of small children...

    How many children are in your class? Will there be any parent chaperones coming along?

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    Yeah, but it's all in the past, while the Troubles and Yugoslavia are recent(and somewhat still ongoing).
    They are connected to the later conflicts, you can absolutily make it work. The Turkish campaign stopped there, but layedthe roadmap for future conflicts. It's a lot of work in very little time. You can book a night in Dracula's castle by the way.

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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    It's 6000 NOK, which is around 1000 USD. That's the limit, and nobody would mind it if we make it cheaper. The kids are aged 14-15, ie. the last two classes of secondary school.

    Two classes are going on trips, which is 40 students in total. These 40 will then be divided into groups of 10 according to their wishes, and each group goes on a different trip. One will go to the ISTA festival(theater thing) in Copenhagen, one will launch a rocket at And°ya space center in Norway, one will go to South Korea and play engineers, and the last one will do whatever I can come up with.

    We're aiming for about a week, but there is some flexibility, ie. it could be 6 days or it could be 9 days. Ideally we'd want to get out of Europe, but due to tight deadlines we won't be able to organize that this year, so that's a focus for next year.

    The group will be 10 kids, 2 teachers and no parents.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony View Post
    You can book a night in Dracula's castle by the way.
    Now that makes Romania more interesting
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    Now that makes Romania more interesting
    What can go wrong, it isn't like they are going to explore the parts that you aren't allowed to enter

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    It's 6000 NOK, which is around 1000 USD. That's the limit, and nobody would mind it if we make it cheaper. The kids are aged 14-15, ie. the last two classes of secondary school.

    Two classes are going on trips, which is 40 students in total. These 40 will then be divided into groups of 10 according to their wishes, and each group goes on a different trip. One will go to the ISTA festival(theater thing) in Copenhagen, one will launch a rocket at And°ya space center in Norway, one will go to South Korea and play engineers, and the last one will do whatever I can come up with.

    We're aiming for about a week, but there is some flexibility, ie. it could be 6 days or it could be 9 days. Ideally we'd want to get out of Europe, but due to tight deadlines we won't be able to organize that this year, so that's a focus for next year.

    The group will be 10 kids, 2 teachers and no parents.
    Do you want an educational or a fun trip, or something in between?

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    I thought it out for you Horetore, you can get away with this. You point out that conflicts in the past are the trigger of modern events, Turks invaded Balkans and kinda stayed in some parts, voila. There you have your conflict and you can stay in Romania because that is where expansion stopped for a while. Romenia is cheap and Bukarest is awesome. Say you want to give it more depth and expand on the long-term history and they will slip of their chairs.
    Last edited by Fragony; 08-24-2013 at 12:36.

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Maybe something like this.

    Start in Montenegro. There are beautiful cities on the coastline, especially Kotor and Budva somewhat. The entire Montenegro coastline is less than 200km long so you can see what you need in one day. Kotor has one the best preserved medieval cities in the Adriatic. It's relatively cheap so you can sleep there for a night or two.
    Next day, move to Croatia, Dubrovnik is less than an hour drive from Montenegro border, so you can see the city without paying insane prices for accommodation. If you sleep in Herceg Novi, you'll have two hours drive tops to Dubrovnik. Spend a few hours there to see the old fortified town, and if you finish by two, you can continue to Split, which has some great Roman stuff, especially Diocletian's Palace. You can spend the night there or if you don't mind kids sleeping on the bus, you can take a night ride to Sarajevo, which will be probably very interesting for them, due to recent conflicts and earlier conflicts. Some great examples of a melting pot of cultures and religions with catholic, orthodox and muslim influences. Spend the whole day there, and take a bus to Nis in Sebia. The distance could be a problem, Nis is about 450km from Sarajevo which means night ride is the best or you can make a stop along the way. Nis is the city where Constantine the Great was born, also has some medieval monuments and especially Cele Kula (the Skull Tower) which is bound to impress them and get them interested in the conflict of Balkan people with the Ottomans.

    From Nis, it's not far to Felix Romuliana, a Roman palace-fortress. After a day or two in that area, you go to Belgrade and spend a few days there, to give the kids a chance to rest and have fun you can organize a trip to Novi Sad (an hour drive) for an afternoon, to see one of the coolest 17-18th century fortresses in Europe and to Sremska Mitrovica (also an hour drive), which has some well preserved Roman monuments as it was a regional capital and also one of the capitals of the Roman empire during the tetrarchy. After that, you get on a plane in Belgrade and fly wherever you want.

    This whole trip may be too hard on the kids, but I believe you get what you want. They'll see some great stuff from Roman period to modern day, see how many cultures overlap on a relatively small area and hear a lot of lore about the conflict in the region, both modern and ancient. Your trip would look something like this.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Ser Clegane's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    If you are looking for "whacky" stuff - a while ago I came across this photo series:
    Spomeniks

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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarmatian View Post
    Do you want an educational or a fun trip, or something in between?
    Educational. It's not supposed to be a vacation.

    Your suggestions are great, but do you have anything more on the recent conflicts? I hear Srebrenica has guided tours and all that, so that's a definite must, but anything else?

    And since you're affiliated with the university: Do you know of any interesting people who could be willing to tell some stories/general information of how things are/were to the students? When I was on a study trip to Berlin, we got one lecture from a west-german who had been imprisoned by STASI for smugling people across the border and one from an american who had defected to east germany, would something like that be possible in Yugoslavia? Ie. a serb, a croat and a bosnian with interesting backgrounds willing to hold a "lecture" or something like that?
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    Educational. It's not supposed to be a vacation.

    Your suggestions are great, but do you have anything more on the recent conflicts? I hear Srebrenica has guided tours and all that, so that's a definite must, but anything else?

    And since you're affiliated with the university: Do you know of any interesting people who could be willing to tell some stories/general information of how things are/were to the students? When I was on a study trip to Berlin, we got one lecture from a west-german who had been imprisoned by STASI for smugling people across the border and one from an american who had defected to east germany, would something like that be possible in Yugoslavia? Ie. a serb, a croat and a bosnian with interesting backgrounds willing to hold a "lecture" or something like that?
    You'll hear a lot from the local guides. Croatian and Bosnian are especially keen on emphasizing 90's conflict. It was almost silly when I visited Dubrovnik - guides were going on and on about Serbo-Montenegrin aggression on Dubrovnik. I'm in this fantastic city with such a rich history, and you're spending half the time telling me in detail which houses got hit by a shrapnel...

    Just tell the kids to keep an open mind, cause more than half of everything they hear won't be facts but propaganda. In Srebrenica you'll hear about this peaceful village where everyone was living happily and going to work singing, like in a Disney cartoon, when forces of darkness descended upon them.

    As for personal stories, I'm not really sure. I can ask around, I know a few refugees from Bosnia and Croatia that may or may not be willing to share their personal experiences but that's pretty much restricted if you decide to take them to visit Novi Sad. For other places, your best bet would be to ask local guides...

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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Srebrenica: Quite lost in the mountain, so depending on what you want, for the same purpose Sarajevo is good to show the result of civil war based on prejudices. And as we approach the 100 years of the start of WW1, you can show them where all started, where Gavrilo Princip, by pure luck (for his point of view, not the Archduke’s one) succeeded THE terrorist act that changed the World.
    Bosnia is a beautiful country.Click image for larger version. 

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    Zagreb is a small town, with a little to visit. Vukovar was nice, but now, deserted by the Serbs (well, there were pushed to be fair), they try to repair, but…
    The Montenegrin Coast and its Pirates harbours is fun, but by buses and with children, take bags. The country is between Mountains and Sea. Lot of climbing to visit the castles, but good see food. Hotels were not that great, but they may have improved.

    My Favourite City: Novi Sad, along the Danube and not far from the Fruska Gora, crossed by the Road of the unity that is in the same state that Yugoslav’s Unity. Nice ice cream, and fabulous people. Not much to do except the Strem. If the trees are back, I mean (Samartian, what did they did to the beach I loved!!!!).

    I didn’t like much Macedonia, and if the Lake of Ohrid is a great view, I am not sure it is worth of the trip.Click image for larger version. 

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    My Favourite City: Novi Sad, along the Danube and not far from the Fruska Gora, crossed by the Road of the unity that is in the same state that Yugoslav’s Unity. Nice ice cream, and fabulous people. Not much to do except the Strem. If the trees are back, I mean (Samartian, what did they did to the beach I loved!!!!).
    Well, not much to do when you're coming from London or Paris, but for a bunch of Viking teenagers, there's plenty to see :).

    And I'll be more than happy to answer your question as soon as you tell me what Strem is

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    If you insist on going to Serbia go to Belgrado. There will never be such a thing as innoncence ever again, and Norway is in serious need of some vice and recklessnes

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    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Maybe today we find out if he got shot down by the Queen Bee or if he is making the trip.


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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    Maybe today we find out if he got shot down by the Queen Bee or if he is making the trip.
    Extended deadline

    The plan, mostly based on Sarmatian's post, was recieved very well, but getting it all under budget is a challenge.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Great! Congrats and good luck.


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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Thought I'd might share how things turned out, if anyones interested.

    The plan is approved by the parents, after two hold-outs finally caved in(their reasons for opposing it was, basically, rubbish).

    It looks a little like Sarmatians plan, but instead of crossing over into Serbia, we're going back to Croatia. The reason is boring: it's a lot cheaper to use one airport instead of two. We'll visit a conflict resolution center in Sarajevo, and added two more towns in Bosnia, Mostar and Screbrenica. Since we're lacking Serbia we're trying to find a "rent-a-serb" service, either on the trip or before we leave.

    There will be three goals for the trip. First, it's the older history of the area, looking at architecture and all that. Secondly, it's about conflict resolution. I have high hopes for that center on this. Also Mostar should be interesting in that regard, as I hear it's still a very divided town, and someone should be able to tell us how they are capable of living with an unresolved conflict hanging over their heads day and night, with the "enemy" so close. Thirdly, it will be on propaganda. When three people from three different sides tell three different stories, and none of them are really lying(except by omission), how can the students analyze and make sense of it?

    The trip was also a huge success with the students. As I said they have 4 trips to choose from, and after I presented it almost everyone wanted to go the Balkans. I have some doubts on how I presented it though, as it seemed most people wanted to go because they thought it was close to a vacation... One of them even asked my boss what kind of bus we would use, as "she didn't want to go if the bus was uncomfortable"... I've given them a clearer picture of what level of work and egagement I expect from them on the trip now though, so the number of interested students are on a more manageable level.

    Anyway, thanks to all for your help!
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Have a great time. Spare at least one night on total apocalypse though. Fun fact, after a board meeting it was decided that I wasn't allowed to go on the schooltrip to Paris as the risk that things would get out of hand were too high LOL@christian school. How is that for a badge of honour, total ban
    Last edited by Fragony; 09-12-2013 at 10:02.

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    Thought I'd might share how things turned out, if anyones interested.

    The plan is approved by the parents, after two hold-outs finally caved in(their reasons for opposing it was, basically, rubbish).

    It looks a little like Sarmatians plan, but instead of crossing over into Serbia, we're going back to Croatia. The reason is boring: it's a lot cheaper to use one airport instead of two. We'll visit a conflict resolution center in Sarajevo, and added two more towns in Bosnia, Mostar and Screbrenica. Since we're lacking Serbia we're trying to find a "rent-a-serb" service, either on the trip or before we leave.

    There will be three goals for the trip. First, it's the older history of the area, looking at architecture and all that. Secondly, it's about conflict resolution. I have high hopes for that center on this. Also Mostar should be interesting in that regard, as I hear it's still a very divided town, and someone should be able to tell us how they are capable of living with an unresolved conflict hanging over their heads day and night, with the "enemy" so close. Thirdly, it will be on propaganda. When three people from three different sides tell three different stories, and none of them are really lying(except by omission), how can the students analyze and make sense of it?

    The trip was also a huge success with the students. As I said they have 4 trips to choose from, and after I presented it almost everyone wanted to go the Balkans. I have some doubts on how I presented it though, as it seemed most people wanted to go because they thought it was close to a vacation... One of them even asked my boss what kind of bus we would use, as "she didn't want to go if the bus was uncomfortable"... I've given them a clearer picture of what level of work and egagement I expect from them on the trip now though, so the number of interested students are on a more manageable level.

    Anyway, thanks to all for your help!
    If the point is 1990's conflict, there's no reason to go to Serbia. It all happened in Bosnia and Croatia. Bosnia is kind of central, as it was, and basically still is, divided by all three sides.

    Anyway, I thought you said you're going to Ireland this year?

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    In the shadows... Member Vuk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    There are no interesting places in the Balkans. It is an unremarkable, stony waste land without trees or water, and it is infested with vampiric peasants. Avoid going there at all costs.
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    Master of useless knowledge Senior Member Kitten Shooting Champion, Eskiv Champion Ironside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Vuk View Post
    There are no interesting places in the Balkans. It is an unremarkable, stony waste land without trees or water, and it is infested with vampiric peasants. Avoid going there at all costs.
    Now I know it's a joke, but the vampires are literally coming from beyond the forest (transsylvania is latin yes). So it has to be some forest there.
    We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Vuk View Post
    There are no interesting places in the Balkans. It is an unremarkable, stony waste land without trees or water, and it is infested with vampiric peasants. Avoid going there at all costs.
    You know nothing http://m.youtube.com/?reload=7&rdm=v...?v=LRr1bPO-YUg

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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironside View Post
    Now I know it's a joke, but the vampires are literally coming from beyond the forest (transsylvania is latin yes). So it has to be some forest there.
    Vampires are actually taken 100% from Serbian mythology. They have nothing to do with Romania or Transylvania. Blame it on Bram Stoker.

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    Senior Member Senior Member gaelic cowboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting places in the Balkans

    Looks like you decided but if you ever come agin then maybe something like this?? then in a castle

    or this in galway

    there all self catering I believe but you can get the fancy shmancy stuff too like Kilronan or ashford but they want big cash in the claw
    Last edited by gaelic cowboy; 09-12-2013 at 21:52.
    They slew him with poison afaid to meet him with the steel
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