Our long standing plan of building a few small huts is finally becoming reality! Slowly, but surely.
We’re building 3 small bedroom size houses in the vicinity of Vukov konak main building. As we are in Bosnia, we have to play by the Balkan way of doing things, and so there’s no definite schedules, but nonetheless, “we’re on it” – there will be more space for our guests soon enough!
At the moment the building site is in the middle of woods, but we’ll clean out a few trees from the front of each hut’s porch. Plan is they’ll be cool nooks for taking it easy on our mountain!
Here are a few early stage pictures of our building site.
During the two years that we’ve been running Vukov konak, we’ve had a steady, but growing flow of some serious globetrotters. Naturally there are many international tourists visiting, but quite a bit of people hitchhiking, backpacking or driving the whole of the Balkans, or even the world.
We saw Pekka from Finland, who stayed with us for a while before continuing to Montenegro. He helped us build a paddock fence for the donkeys in the summer of 2013. Later that season we enjoyed the company of Astrid and Loyal. They were on their way back home to Germany after travelling throughout Africa for the past 12 months by car. We’ve met Maddy from Australia, Johan from Canada, and Sally from Switzerland – and many others – all travelling far and wide.
Last December we received a message from Albert “the Catalan”. He had just arrived in Sarajevo and was looking for a place to stay for the winter. He’d been hitchhiking from Spain via Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia to Bosnia. He usually stays in his tent during the travels, and by the December snowfalls it was getting a bit chilly.
“I didn’t exactly plan to stay in Bosnia, but arriving in Sarajevo I really liked the city”, Albert told us.
He heard about Vukov konak from a friend he’d met on the island of Hvar in Croatia. He says our Facebook page and photos were interesting enough for him to take contact. And now, two months later, Albert is still with us! So, by far, he’s the longest-standing “guest” we’ve ever had.
On his extensive travels across Africa, South America, and Europe he’s often stayed with families and worked on numerous jobs, such as hostels and farms.
“It can be pretty lonely, travelling alone. So working and staying with a family gives me a sense of home, and allowes me to save some money.”
He also said it wasn’t just the idea of staying somewhere warm, but a long-time dream of experiencing a winter in the middle of nowhere – away from civilisation. And here’s where Albert and Vukov konak meet up! We offer room and board, Albert helps us with the chores in the house – thus he’s a part of the crew now.
Keeping the house warm, feeding the animals, chopping wood, seeing that our guests are looked after, that’s what Albert has been doing on the mountain for weeks. We’ve gone hiking together, he’s gotten to know the neighbours, we’ve been to Jahorina ski center and Sarajevo, of course.
Yet the locals ask us, how is it that someone from far away would want to chip in, especially when not getting paid money for it.
Albert’s answer is simple: He just enjoys the place. “It’s the whole concept at Vukov konak, the fact that it’s natural – and not actually a concept or a forced state.”
“You can sense the old way of life. Some people come here expecting something fancy, but this is a traditional mountain house with a traditional lifestyle. It’s a quiet life, simple and natural. And it feels like home. Not just to me, but to many tourists”, Albert says.
True, there’s no TV, internet, or microwave. The house is heated by wood alone, and food is prepared from natural ingredients, from scratch. When it’s dark and quiet, it really is dark and quiet.
In due time Albert will continue his travels. The sun is already warming, the snow is melting. Soon enough it’s time to hit the road and head towards Serbia, Greece, Turkey, and eventually India – if all goes well. We don’t want to see him go, but we know what’s coming.
Will you ever stop travelling, are you planning to stay put longer? we ask him. “Sometimes I want to stop. Sometimes I question myself, why am I doing this. But this – being on the road, being the outsider and seeing new places and faces all the time – has become normal to me, so much that it’s not even exciting anymore, it’s just one way of life.
“I like to think I’m not travelling. I don’t live on the road or in my backpack, I live in the present. I live here and now.”
And when Albert goes, he leaves as our dear friend. He will be sorely missed, and there will be a huge void in the house.
If you are (or you have a friend who is) travelling in the Balkans, perhaps wishing to take a few month’s break from the road – especially if you like animals, the mountains, rural scenery, don’t mind a bit of company, but get along fine alone, too – do contact us.
Vukov konak is both sweet and inviting as well as demanding and remote. It’s definitely not for everyone, one must be rather open-minded, independent, and adventurous, fearless even, to enjoy it. But living here can be pretty rewarding!
And for all you with a wanderlust, take a look: Albert writes his own blog, read more about the journey in Spanish here and check out the “Bosnian edition” on his blog’s Facebook page, Viaja en primera clase.
As of today the days are longer! Winter is just starting here on the mountain, we’ve got a bit of snow and lots of sun – such a beautiful and romantic setting!
Over the past weeks we’ve had guests from the U.S., Finland, and all over. We’ve also been at Foodini, a new Sarajevan food festival, having a lot of fun! We’ve had thunder storms and sunny days and new snow. We’ve had the honor to host our lovely friends from Germany, people that visited us first time just ten months ago. A week ago a new face came by, Albert from Spain, liking the atmosphere so much that he’s sticking around for a while. And the international vibe continues as we are receiving soon more guests from Slovenia and Germany!
As it is, it’s been busy at times, but never so much we didn’t fully enjoy the company of our friends and guests. Sitting by the fire, going for walks, eating well, and having a little ‘kuhano vino’.
Something that our guests often say when they arrive, is that it’s so beautiful and calm here on the mountain. And so it is. There’s no rush, no need to hurry. Everything happens as it should.
Througout the year we experience the weather changing, the seasons turning, colours shifting from snow white to the greens and bright blues and reds of the summer, and to the autumnal yellows and browns. Though we have street lights and phone lines and even internet here, in many ways life in the village still runs in the rhythm of the nature.
The busyness of harvest time and haymaking is now past us, it’s getting more quiet in the village, too. The sheep and cows are let out to the pastures in the morning, and fetched back home by dusk. There’s talk about snow and winter. Not yet here, but soon to reach us, putting a white blanket over the village.
Everything is slowing down on the mountain. It’s a wonderful time to enjoy the last, lovely and peaceful autumn days.
We have gathered some of the best photos of the past five years – from the very first move and rebuilding days of Vukov konak till today – and there are hundreds of them!
This weekend the photo albums are finally for all to see at Vukov konak. There are photos from village festivals, Sarajevo, and hiking trips, you can see old and new friends of ours and Vukov konak, all the animals, and the magnificent scenery around us.
With the photos we are reminded again how we are lucky to spend our days up on the mountain!
And we would love for all of you to join us!
Yesterday was such a gorgeous day on the mountain! We took a 4×4 drive and enjoyed the sun. The wind was brisk and the views simply spectacular. This is an area not far from Vukov Konak, where we often take guests that are staying over with us. It’s definitely worth the visit and a nice hike back to the guesthouse.
Here’s to sunny October!