2013 is still young, a few days in, but many people are already making holiday plans, and for them, we offer Argophilia’s top destinations in Eastern Europe this year. Needless to say, Eastern Europe, with Argophilia, doesn’t deal only with countries that were part of the Soviet block, but with Eastern Central, Eastern South and Eastern North destinations as well. The top, recommended for 2013, are Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Azerbaijan – each for a different reason.
Always proud, Albania
Do you know how sometimes, when we talk about our countries, people feel that we are a bit… exaggerating? Somehow, for many Western civilizations, patriotism is no longer cool. Not so in Albania, the country that rocks her babies in her banners.
If that’s not cool enough for you, Albania is a stunning country – perhaps the most beautiful in this part of the world, if we judge honestly. It has everything you could possibly imagine: rapids for adventure travelers; a sea made for romance; mountains daring the most experienced hikers; and more history than you can learn in a lifetime. It has exquisite traditional cuisine, all fresh and organic; and stunning architecture. And, if you needed the extra incentive, it has gorgeous women, and handsome men; all so friendly and kind. Albania is a paradise still, and hopefully it will last. It has to last – her people will preserve the legacy with pride.
Sheer luxury, without the price tag, Croatia
Dreams of Burj Al-Arab, Cap Juluca and Le Sirenuse? Dreams of Cote d’azur and Amalfi? Why don’t you leave them behind, for an experience that will give you goosebumps? Everyone you ask, will point fingers to the Pearl of the Adriatic – Dubrovnik that is – and for good reason: under the rain, and then back under the sun, the city is made of marble and silver. You have to experience it to understand the feeling. But Dubrovnik is nothing compared to Hvar – for good reason, one of the most beautiful islands in the world, the ‘Croatian Madeira’ and the sunniest of all the Croatian islands. Yes, if it’s luxury you fancy, this is top of the tops for 2013.
Always Smelling Like a Rose, Bulgaria
You smile, perhaps, thinking that this Eastern European girl (that would be me), doesn’t understand idiomatic expressions fully. Maybe so, but not this time. Bulgaria is only guilty of not being aggressive enough in promoting herself. And the country smells like a rose, because… well… just because.
Why don’t you skip Varna for the Rose Valley (Розова долина, Rozova dolina), just south of the Balkans? Do it, at least in the first week of June, and head right to the foot of the Balkans, where Kazanlak will be celebrating its rose festival. Not cool enough? Well, ask your posh spouse, because when she learns that the Bulgarian rose oil sells from the price of gold, the Rose Valley will suddenly make sense. Also, just for your information, nothing smells better – no damn brand perfume on this planet. I’m still puzzled to see Bulgarian girls buying Chanel, when they have the nectar of the gods right at home.
The active retreat, Turkey
If you like sports, Antalya is your best bet. From golf to badminton, then on to fencing and volleyball, culminating with football (soccer), this side of Turkey “likes” – better said “loves” – to move-it, move-it. Of course, vacations are for lazy days too. Antalya has plenty to do for you, couch potatoes! Discover Turkey’s Turquoise Coast on a yachting holiday unlike any other – both in terms of price and comfort. You’ll be pampered like royalty, without the price tag.
You don’t like the sea? Skip it, skipper! The Taurus Mountains are just a stone-throw away, awaiting patiently with their undiscovered treasures. You’ve got caves to explore, trails to hike, and wild nature to ponder at, in awe. If you are too lazy to take a real hike, Düden Şelalesi, known from the times of Alexander the Great, is just 10 km from Antalya’s city center: a wonder of nature that combines water and rock, made in heaven to make you go “wow.”
The Eurasian gem, Azerbaijan
At the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Azerbaijan is a treasure trove. It’s popular somehow, and yet not enough. From everything the country has to offer, Baku is, perhaps, the safest bet. Around its UNESCO listed Old Town (Icheri Sheher), stunning skyscraper architecture, and a playground for the rich, puzzle the visitor and create the environment for unforgettable travel moments.
cheri Sheher, is full of thriving businesses, strategically located around the city’s main attractions Palace of the Shirvan Shahs and Maiden’s Tower (Giz Qalasi). Beyond the Walled City of Baku, the seafront is a traveler’s dream, boasting an amusement park, clubs and restaurants open until dawn, scenic terraces, gardens and monuments.
As far as entertainment is concerned, this is one of the most interesting cities of the world. Tradition and modernity find a harmonious residence in symphony halls, performing arts centers and music venues.
Everything You Imagined
Here you have them all, the top 5, in no particular order – five countries that bid for your love. So how about trying one of them, instead of the beaten path of Western Europe – Paris, Vienna, or Berlin? Your call. This side of the world still waits with fresh homemade bread, a shot of schnapps, and a warm heart. Come in, and find out.