The Balkans is an area of Eastern Europe less visited than Western European countries, but nevertheless the photo opportunities are spectacular. On this photo tour you will visit four countries: Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. You will see awesome architecture, stunning landscapes, classic farm scenes, amazing twilight cityscapes, and have wonderful portrait opportunities. This diversity of subject matter will call upon all of your photographic skills, from using ultra wide angle lenses to photographing at night, and from capturing intimate shots of people at work to photographing stunning interiors. Even if you've been to Europe many times, this particular area is unique and not to be missed. Our local guide, Luka Esenko, is a fabulous photographer from Slovenia and he takes us to classic vantage points at the best times to take advantage of beautiful lighting. You will return home with so many great shots that you will be truly overwhelmed.
Day 1, Thu, May 24. Depart North America for the trans-Atlantic flight and arrive the next day in Podgorica, Montenegro. Overnight in flight.
Day 2, Fri, May 25. Arrive in Podgorica airport. Meet Jim and our local guide, Luka, in the airport at 3pm at the Avis Rent a Car desk and drive to our hotel in lovely Kotor. We will meet as a group in the terrace of the hotel for a discussion of what is to come and to answer any photography questions you may have, and then we explore the beautiful town of Kotor for afternoon & evening photography followed by a welcome dinner. Overnight Hotel Monte Cristo (4 stars).
Day 3, Sat, May 26. We enjoy morning photography in the town of Kotor and you have the option of climbing a pathway (an easy climb) up along the city walls for great views of the bay. After some free time to explore Kotor on your own, we will visit the village of Perast situated on the Bay of Kotor. The deep blue water juxtaposed with the red-tiled roof structures make stunning images, particularly with the mountains as a backdrop. We will make a short and scenic boat trip to two small islands overlooking Perast, followed by a dinner at local restaurant. Overnight Hotel Monte Cristo (4 stars).
Day 4, Sun, May 27. We will use the morning light at Kotor for more photography of the beautiful narrow streets of stone, and after breakfast we leave for Croatia. It takes about two hours of scenic drive along the Bay of Kotor to arrive to our next destination, Dubrovnik. We will use afternoon light to photograph the old town, and at dusk we take advantage of a beautiful vantage point to photograph the medieval fort with long exposures to smooth the surface of the sea. Overnight Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik (4 1/2 stars).
Day 5, Mon, May 28. We will have a full day to explore Dubrovnik and its highlights. There will be enough time to take photos of the old city center and its streets, which are still permeated with the medieval spirit and the grandeur of the Republic of Dubrovnik. A stroll around the city walls and defense towers offers great photo opportunities. At sunset and dusk, we will photograph the city from a stunning perspective, and this will be among your favorite pictures from the trip. In the evening we can listen to the music played by street performers and indulge in seafood at one of the numerous great restaurants. Overnight Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik (4 1/2 stars).
Day 6, Tue, May 29. Early risers have the opportunity to capture the sunrise over the Adriatic coast from a city vantage point before we depart for Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We’ll take the scenic route along coast. A short stop for photography at Počitelj or Blagaj (or both if time permits) before checking into our hotel will afford great photo opportunities. In Mostar we’ll spend the afternoon and evening wandering through the charming town with our cameras. This is one of the great photographic destinations in Eastern Europe. Overnight Crooked Bridge Hotel (3 stars).
Day 7, Wed, May 30. We begin the day with a sunrise shoot in Mostar's old town including the famous 15th century bridge. We then have breakfast before heading north towards the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo. We will make photogenic stops at Konjic and Jablanica before our arrival in Sarajevo. Our hotel is located in the old town and walking distance from the old Turkish part of the city called Baščaršija. Afternoon and evening photography in beautiful Sarajevo will afford you the opportunity to capture classic European scenes. Overnight Opal Home Hotel (4 stars).
Day 8, Thu, May 31. Morning photography in the old town of Sarajevo is beautiful no matter what the weather is like, and we might even climb the old white fortress for a scenic view on the city. After breakfast we will have some free time, and then we'll visit a beautiful mosque and the traditional handicrafts quarter where we can photograph old masters at work. Before dinner we will photograph the beautifully renovated national library which was destroyed during the siege of the city in the 1990's. Overnight Opal Home Hotel (4 stars).
Day 9, Fri, June 1. After breakfast this morning we drive to Croatia's spectacular jewel of nature, Plitvice Lakes National Park. This will be a day on the road with an interesting stop at Jajce, a historical center with beautiful waterfalls and a unique old town. Soon after we cross the border into Croatia and we arrive at Plitvice Lakes. Afternoon photography in the park takes us to one of the best nature shots in all of Europe. Ethno Houses Plitvica sel (3 stars).
Day 10, Sat, June 2. We have the full day to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park. To make the best of the soft light and fewer visitors, we will explore the lakes, waterfalls and cataracts early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is a great place to experiment with slow shutter speeds, to practice good landscape techniques (that Jim will explain and demonstrate), and to be aware of light, contrast, and exposure. The national park is famous for rich flora and fauna, and seeing birds and other inhabitants of the woods is not uncommon. Ethno Houses Plitvica sel (3 stars).
Day 11, Sun, June 3. We head for Slovenia after breakfast, and the journey will take us through scenic landscapes towards the beautiful Julian Alps. Our destination is Lake Bled, the most scenic place in Slovenia. We will arrive in time for afternoon photography and sunset at the lake. For those who want to hike a trail to a vantage point over the lake, the reward is a breathtaking panorama. Overnight Best Western Premier Hotel Lovec (4 stars).
Days 12, 13, Mon - Tue, June 4 -5. We have two full days to explore the Julian Alps area. We will visit the island in the middle of Lake Bled by a traditional boat called “pletna”. Bled Castle on the cliff above offers superb views of the lake, and there will be plenty of opportunities to capture landscape photos from this vantage point. The nearby Lake Bohinj is also of glacial origin but it has a very different setting with high peaks all around. The area offers many photographic opportunities for landscape and nature photography including lakes, alpine rivers, and waterfalls.Overnight Best Western Premier Hotel Lovec (4 stars).
Day 14, Wed, June 6. Again we will take advantage of beautiful morning light for photography followed by breakfast. We leave the Alps and head to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and a gem of a city. After check in we will have an orientation walk around the old town and afternoon time for photography. Night photography here is especially beautiful, and our hotel is in the heart of the best that Ljubljana has to offer. City Hotel Ljubljana (4 1/2 stars).
Day 15, Thur, June 7. We have a full day to wander the charming streets of the old city, camera in hand, and capture the highlights of Ljubljana including baroque churches, diverse architectural details and the castle as well as trying our hand at some street photography and candid portraits in Ljubljana’s bustling marketplace and along the café-strewn riverbanks. We will finish the day with an evening shoot of the city's skyline and a farewell dinner at one of Ljubljana's fine restaurants. City Hotel Ljubljana (4 1/2 stars).
Day 16, Fri, June 8. After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our return flight home, knowing we've captured some of the best travel pictures ever.
Tour cost: $5995 Includes all lodging based on double occupancy, three meals per day beginning with the welcome dinner in Kotor and ending with breakfast on the morning of departure, all ground transportation in a modern minibus, the services of an outstanding local guide, all entrance fees into the national parks, castles, Vintgar Gorge, etc., airport transfers, photo instruction and critiques on demand.
Single supplement fee: $675
Not included: International airfare, drinks, items of a personal nature, and optional tips.