In June 2019 my mother, friend Fiorella and I rented a car to drive from Belgrade to Boljevac, a small town in central Serbia, where we planned to explore for two weeks. Boljevac is next to Rtanj mountain, famous for its pyramid shape and legends of vampires, aliens and for healing tea. We stayed in an ethno lodge listed on Airbnb. Unfortunately, after only nine days we had to amended the stay due to a very big storm, which took out the electricity, causing damage to the town’s internet. We completed our Serbia trip with a drive to Tara Mountains where we stayed in Zlatiborski for one night.
Boljevac has two lovely little ethno villages, we stayed in Ethno Kuca There is also a nearby hotel with hot springs. We loved the one we stayed in because it’s owned by a sweet family and built into a small mountain across from the Rtanj mountain. The views are incredible! Onawa and I hike up the small mountain in the mornings to see the Rtanj mountain clearly in front of us. While in Boljevac we did road trips to other mountains and explored nearby towns and villages.
One of the many towns we explored was Sokobanja, banja means hot spring, the town center’s park hosts an ancient old Roman bath house. Soaking and spa treatments are still available, but it’s not been modernized, maintaining its historic, or rustic charm. There are many fine spas and even open healing thermal springs in the area. There are also some amazing parks to explore. One of the parks has the Soko Grad fortress to hike. We enjoyed a café that was terraced into the mountain above the little creek on the way to the cave near Soko Grad. Nearby we ate at Vidikovac.
We loved the trout, it’s sold by the kilo making it very reasonable, my mom and I also shared a pork rib which was amazing! The dessert was the best, we all shared a cake similar to tres leches. The restaurant is located in the perfect place to eat on the way to Soko Grad and the park for hiking and exploring.
On another day we went exploring back roads and the Sićevo Gorge on our way to Pirot for Pizza. I wrote the story about that day’s adventure .
On our last nice weather day we went exploring to find local produce stands. I was keen to cook with fresh mushrooms and spring squash. We drove back roads for hours without seeing any food stands. Eventually, we went to a grocery store for our produce and we explored the tops of the mountains nearby. The roads were great for driving. Beautiful flowers line the roads and fields of eggs and butter flowers overshadow the background. Purple and pink flowers were mixed in with butter cups and many other wildflower varieties that we weren’t familiar with.
The following day the rain came, lots and lots of rain. The healing Boljvec air was even more phenomenal after the rain, we were invigorated by the fresh clean mist surrounding us. We took a couple walks that day, but didn’t go far. Instead we decided to rest and breath in the sweet fresh air. That night brought a huge storm which took down trees and the electricity which also included the internet. Since we still needed to work we arranged to leave early.
I asked the host if we could negotiate a trade instead of asking him to credit me on Airbnb. We decided on two bottles of rakija (a stiff Balkan drink), two jars of local honey and nineteen packs of Rtanj tea. The Rtanj tea, named after the pyramid mountain is an herb which only grows here. It’s recognized for the respiratory and skin healing benefits. My mother did all her research on it and wanted some, in my normal fashion I didn’t get some, I got loads. We packed our car full of the rare local tea, all our things and drove onward to the Tara mountains.
We drove our little Mercedes car on back roads to see the famous mountain views in Tara some we saw, but not the one view which is famous for the winding river. I tried to drive to it, but a muddy trail was the only way there. We didn’t have the car, or the shoes to handle the trail so we drove onward. We stopped and stayed in a charming historic little town called Zlatiborski in a cute little apartment. The town was known for having a train stop and quaint wooden houses. We had an amazing trout dinner with the softest bread and perfectly fermented Kaimac. The following morning, we woke early then headed to the border, then through Bosnian mountains all the way to Zadar Croatia.