Inspired by a life-long passion for travel, Stuart McMillan embarked on a journey of over 2,000km, crossing the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Balkan coast. The book 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.