Last weekend, together with my wife and some friends, we spent some time in Zlatibor, a small town in Western Serbia. Because it’s located at an altitude of 1000m the town is frequented by visitors who seek clean air, calm and relief from the summer heat.
Unfortunately, the town is currently undergoing a metamorphosis and much to my dismay (and most locals tend to agree) it’s slowly transformed from a quiet mountain resort to a bustling building site. I am not sure what the city planners are trying to achieve but to me it looks like they are striving towards turning the town into a ‘theme park’. Everywhere you look high rise buildings are sprouting like mushrooms and where once laid grassy fields construction sites have taken over as weeds would in a garden.
When the builders have done their bit I am afraid Zlatibor will have lost much of its historic friendly and cosy charm to what seems to become instead a playground for jet-set day trippers, real estate prospectors and hoards of tourists seeking cheap and tacky entertainment.
The good news is that; 1) the region surrounding Zlatibor is huge, so its possible to stay somewhere out of town. 2) Most of the surrounding country side is (still) unspoiled, with landscapes truly spectacular in shape and form that offer endless views and tranquility, something the town itself is about to lose.
Despite my misgivings I still love to visit Zlatibor as often as possible mainly because, over the many years that we have been coming here, we have built up a nice bunch of friends with whom we go; walking, hiking, climbing, swimming, sightseeing, dining, touring by car and by bike on asphalt or off-road. Now, to my delight, I can add Paragliding and Zip Lining to the list of fun and adrenaline boosting activities.
Zip Lining and paragliding
During one of our tours of the Zlatibor country side we stopped in the small hamlet of Ljubis to have lunch at one of Serbia’s best restaurants for eating fresh trout and local traditional fare.
Restaurant Pećinar is one of the finest and dare I say cheapest places in Serbia to have excellent quality food at extremely favourable prices. A 3 course lunch for 4 persons, including fish and meat specialities, accompanied by a glass of wine will cost you about 5000 Dinars (35 US$-40 Euros). Should you ever find your way to this corner of the world then a stop at this eatery is a definite ‘must’.
Zipping the Line
During lunch I could constantly hear some noise coming from overhead. The noise was reminiscent of an electric razor, working full power at 80 decibels, and the Doppler sound effect gave away that this noise was made by something moving. My curiosity got the better of me and I started an ‘investigation’. As soon as I was out in the open I could hear that noise again and when I turned my eyes in the direction of the sky above me I saw a person hanging in some sort of basket zooming along a metal line. The noise was coming from the grooved wheels (known as sheaves) shearing along the steel cable.
Instantly I felt the desire to experience just that and so I gathered my friends to go for a special ride.
The line is 550 meters (1800 feet) long and operates at a height of 130 meters (430 feet)
And here’s me taking the plunge. Zipedidoooooooooo!
By chance, the same day we took ‘the plunge’ and driving in search of a great spot to watch the sunset, we came across a small group of men who, from a hill top 1400m above sea level, were taking giant leaps into the depths of the valley below. Thankfully, while they were doing so, they had strapped themselves into a harness attached to a parachute.
I got talking to them. They’re very friendly. I expressed my admiration for their abilities and my desire to be able to do the same, fly like an eagle.
It so happened that one of them, Petar his name, said; “sure, we can do that for you”. He explained that he’s a qualified instructor as well as a licensed tandem flying pilot and has been flying for 17 or 18 years. He’d be happy to take me on a flight the next day, pending weather conditions.
The weather the next day was perfect. In fact, I couldn’t have planned better circumstances. That day, Wednesday the 22nd of July was the day I took my very first Para glide. This being one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life made me take a conscious decision to start flying lessons asap.
I will keep you posted on how I get along. In the mean time enjoy whatever it is that keeps you happy.