A Scots author has written an inspirational account about the ups and downs of solo travel through Eastern Europe.
Inspired by a life-long passion for travel, Stuart McMillan, who was born and brought up in Monifieth and now lives in Edinburgh, embarked on an epic journey of over 2,000km, crossing the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Balkan coast.
From the Baltic to the Balkans provides personal observations and reflections on a fascinating world hidden for decades behind an Iron Curtain. It gives the reader a glimpse of how the history, culture, years of oppression and brutal wars have shaped these beautiful lands and the people who live there.
Starting in Lithuania, a journey weaving through the beautiful and often mysterious Slavic lands all the way to Croatia – taking in Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It includes travelling in a 44-degree heatwave; taking a short-cut via Moscow; experiencing a chaotic sleeper train out of Ukraine; coping with the failure of all air-conditioning and lighting on a long-haul train down to Serbia; learning about the legacy of both Nazi and Communist oppression; and seeing first-hand the scars and re-built splendour of Sarajevo and Mostar following the recent brutal, and often forgotten, Yugoslav wars.
As well as recounting the beauty of the countries and cities visited, and reflecting on the years of oppression and wars that shaped the landscapes and cultures, it also captures the emotions of travelling alone for weeks through foreign lands – the freedom to experience so much of countries hidden away from the world for so long; the reliance on internal narrative for company; and the bouts of homesickness that often conflict with the author’s love of travel.
Stuart said: ‘I believe that very authenticity, that “everyman” experience of just being an ordinary traveller recounting his experiences, sharing his fears, being honest about the ups and downs of solo travel in a part of the world not all that well-known, certainly to a UK audience, will resonate with a readership.’
Stuart has an enduring passion for travel and an enthusiasm for storytelling. He was motivated to write his debut book in the hope that others will feel as passionately about travel as he does, and would then be inspired to follow their dreams and see more of the world.
From The Baltic to the Balkans is published by Troubador, and is out now priced £9.99.