It’s true. You can’t help who you fall in love with. The chemistry is just there . . . or it isn’t. In the end, no matter how long you wish or how hard you try, your heart ultimately beats your mind. The same is true with travel destinations. A city or even a country may be on everyone else’s must-visit list. But if you don’t feel a connection on your first trip, it will be hard to convince you to return. Then there are the places about which you just can’t stop thinking.
Serbia has turned into that place for you. Your first trip to the Southeast Europe country was quick. You wanted to see Belgrade, its many times over war-torn capital, before it changed too much. But the White City quickly got under your skin. You returned to visit Novi Sad and became enchanted with the country’s second-largest city along the Danube. You’re not sure if it was the gorgeous scenery, the friendly people, or the liberal pours of rakija, but you were hooked.
That’s why you’re returning for what is now your third trip to a country you never expected to visit in the first place, much less fall in love with. This time, you’re heading into the mountains of southwestern Serbia. Zlatibor lies in between Belgrade and the Montenegrin coast. The Tara and Sargan mountains are covered with pine trees. Heavy snow blankets them. Some of the country’s best ski slopes are just a few miles away. While an art-filled hotel is tucked into the hillside.
Like Serbia itself, Hotel Palisad is full of surprises. The hotel was originally built in 1965, and it still retains much of its old-world charm. But a recent renovation minimalized and modernized the decor. Modern paintings and sculptures by Serbian artists fill the lobby. A fireplace and comfortable chairs dot the living room. The sauna is always ready to warm you up and relieve any lingering stress. Clean lines, muted colors, and a large bathtub make your room the perfect place to relax. Plus you can see Tornik’s ski slopes right from your balcony.
Not that you’re going to spend much time in your room. You plan to go skiing, sledding, and ice skating, of course. You hope to meet people who have lived in Zlatibor for decades, others who have fallen in love with the area enough to buy a vacation home, and some, like you, who are exploring these mountains for the first time. You want to try Zlatiborian cheese, pršuta (a dry cured ham), and maybe even Slivovitz (a plum brandy). Then you need to learn about the other, even more under-the-radar places you need to visit in Serbia. That’s what you do for love.