Okay – over the years I’ve spent a lot of time grousing about things I think are done badly (what a crank!). Now I finally get to Whole-Heartedly support something! Last summer, in some sultry, stormy, silent days, a trio of travellers showed up (to beat alliteration half to death!). They were Tim Clancy, Kenan Muftic and Elma Okic who found us and to our great good fortune included us in their maiden tour of the Dinaric Alps, scouting for their project: Via Dinarica. Via Dinarica is at its heart a website promoting a system of trails from Croatia to Albania, but with a difference from the (stupid ol’) Peaks of the Balkans. This is a grassroots, bottom-up vision – their goal is to link up all the little people along the way who are working hard to look after their corner of these gorgeous mountains – they provide a grand unified platform for all of us to be heard. As they write: Via Dinarica is a platform that serves to promote and develop the local communities and small businesses active on local, national, and international level in the field of hospitality, service and tourism, as well as agriculture and cultural heritage. Its purpose is to connect the countries and communities of Dinaric Alps by creating a unique and diversified tourist offer.
What does that mean for you? It means you finally get a portal to these mountains based on the people working here – not some outsider’s vision of what you should see. If you look at the website, you will see an exciting world, now open to you! It looks very polished. But let me give you a little background gossip and scuttlebutt. The three of them arrived here excited and brimming with goodwill. They also explained how it was their vision, which they’d managed to get funded, but which – as is my oft targeted bete noire – had turned into a sort of happy (go lucky?) Bataan Death March-by-choice. Funding had been held up, leaving them with something like 90 days to walk some 100s of km of trails, mapping, photographing, contacting people, building networks, gathering good will and getting people involved. This is insane. Kenan and Elma were walking the actual trail (come on – just LOOK at their website – it’s CRAZY!). Tim was racing around doing support work. And none of that addresses in any way how much work it is to build a good website which shows in a thoughtful way every nuance of every place along every one of those 100s of kilometers of trail. Why on earth would ANYONE take that on? Simple answer of course. Because they really believe in this project. Giving a voice to all the little people struggling to do something good.
Well. I’m delighted to see some Very Good News. Via Dinarica has been named Outside Magazine’s “Best New Trail” of 2014. That’s out of the WHOLE WORLD, mind you! CONGRATULATIONS Tim, Kenan and Elma. You absolutely deserve it. I notice that the article is written by Tim Neville, who I blasted in This Very Journal little less than a year ago. So congratulations Tim, too – ye’ve redeemed yerself lad!
And now over to you. I hope you will find the website useful. There’s a lot of work yet to be done on it (Journey To Valbona appeared on their homepage a while ago, but mysteriously disappeared in some – clearly ill-thought-out edit – we assume that’s just a glitch :). They’ve been working for months now POST-project-end (and aka – unpaid!) and are still trying to make it better. We lend them our full support! I hope you will too.
In all seriousness, I do believe it’s shaping up to be the best resource on the whole area. Please give them your support.
Here’s a nice picture to finish – that’s one of my favorite nephews, Ermal, standing next to some of our trail signs – which GIZ told us we should stop making. Thanks for the support, Via D. Makes all of our work feel appreciated!