25 June 2009

The Guide - a summary of what this site will cover

This guide started out over a decade ago as a personal endeavor born out of frustration in trying to find anything appropriately chic to do in the region, given that the setting was aching to be upgraded or at least rendered into something kitschy cool. Of course, since the inception of this guide, areas within the vaguely defined perimeters of southeastern Europe have increased in their global appeal. Despite some missteps made by hoteliers and others in "modernizing" the coast, I remain steadfast in the belief that one can still have an ersatz jet-set life here – perhaps with some liquid assistance, but nonetheless - and hey, at least you won’t run across any gap jeans, TGI Friday’s or other such globalized tedium.

The reader can be assured that everything included here has been personally selected by either me or very trusted friends and colleagues. This could be a hole-in-the-wall which happens to have an excellent minestra, a special hotel, charming/gorgeous staff, or anything else which appeals to one of the senses in a way that we felt should be included. The hotel listings are incomplete (if we haven’t stayed, or hated it, it's not here); the restaurants guided by our distaste for ‘tourist class’ and the accompanying globalisation of the mediocre.

For years now I've been writing and circulating the "Jeffrey Guide to Southeastern Europe" to friends, colleagues, and the like. With this blog I am trying to (1) make the Guide accessible to a broader audience, (2) make it easier to update, and (3) allow for more interaction with you, the readers and, hopefully, future visitors to the region.

The idea behind this Guide has never been to replicate any of the myriad of books that you may have picked up about the various and sundry areas covered herein, although certainly the inability to find any guidebooks that I felt were really targeted at me and/or my friends drove me to continually collect more and more info. There are some good guides, and I will happily tell you which I think are best for which areas and why as I go along.

What areas does this cover?

Roughly, from Trieste in Italy through Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia, ending in Thessaloniki in Greece. For practical reasons this not-particularly-defined-in-a-legal-manner region emerged as the most useful, based on locations of airports, highway systems, places of interest, and so forth. It is my opinion that, in this day and age, one massive failure of 'normal' guide books is that they split the world according to national borders, which often doesn't make for the best trip. This is particularly the case in southeastern Europe.

If you are heading to Istria, you can easily jump into Slovenia and Friuli-Veniezi Giuli in Italy. Dubrovnik mixes well with Kotor in Montenegro and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of course when you go to the Sarajevo Film Festival you have to end your trip in Dalmatia. So the idea is to organize complementary destinations regardless of borders, and to suggest itineraries based on personal interest.

To best do that, and to eventually organize everything into a "proper" web-based guide, your comments and queries are essential. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the ride.

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