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What makes a place special? Is it the vastness of a landscape that remains pristine? Is it maintaining age-old traditions in a rapidly changing world? Or is it the readiness of its people to move beyond past differences and share their rich authentic culture with the world?…
During AdventureWeek Western Balkans earlier this year, storyteller Mark Crawford made this video to encapsulate the authenticity of this largely undiscovered destination, made up of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.
“The experience is not just to travel and be on a bus and visit different sites, but to actually have real authentic experiences from the region,” says Gergana Nikolova, ATTA’s Development Lead – Europe.
“We are one of the last Mediterranean countries without a spoiled coastline,” says Auron Tare, General Director of Albanian National Coastline Agency. “You have to come here with an open mind. Think of it as a place for educated travelers, not for mass market tourism.”
“This is a cultural hidden gem of the world. We’ve been learning from people that in our history we’ve been trained to fear. Here, fear is stripped down in the region. The people here are open. They’re friendly and they talk about living side by side, regardless of whether they are Catholic or Christian Orthodox or Muslim. There’s some richness here that I think a lot of people are going to be excited to experience.”
The ATTA organized AdventureWeek Western Balkans as a familiarization trip for adventure professionals (tour operators, guides and media). What the group found during their nine days in the region can only be described as an experience rather than a place. We like to think that the Western Balkans delivered a truly “familiar” journey in the most literal sense of the term.