Elizabeth Gowing

Consult with me

Elizabeth Gowing has lived in the Balkans since 2006. She is the author of three travel narratives about the region -- Travels in Blood and Honey: Becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo; Edith and I: On the trail of an Edwardian traveller in Kosovo; The Rubbish-Picker's Wife: An unlikely friendship in Kosovo -- as well as of the Montenegro chapter of Fodor's guide to Croatia and surrounding areas. She is also a contributor to BBC Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent with pieces about Albania and Kosovo. She has published translations include the biography of Adem Demaci, Yugoslavia's longest-held political prisoner, and the 1912 Memoirs of Hasan Prishtina. She is co-founder of the charity, The Ideas Partnership, which harnesses the power of volunteers to tackle education, environmental and cultural heritage challenges through projects in the Balkans.

Posts by Elizabeth Gowing

You asked...we answered!

  • 1
    What's your favorite mode of transportation? Why?

    Definitely the train. Managing to have a comfortable (usually!) chair while you’re still getting somewhere; being able to read and write without the travelsickness that I get even from composing an sms on motor transport; and best of all if it’s a sleeper service and you’re rocked to sleep by the rhythm and the regular motion, woken only by calls (a vivid memory of ‘dosa dosa dosaaaa’ from my first trip to India) of hawkers reminding you that you’re having an adventure. And then there’s the thrill of waking to a new place – a favourite memory was a rail trip as a student, and arriving into Venice as dawn broke over the lagoon.

  • 2
    Have you ever been somewhere that was so bad you couldn't write about it?

    I’ve been on a number of trips that have been so _boring_ I couldn’t write about them. Of course my mother would say that only boring people call things boring, but I notice that the thing that these trips had in common was barriers between me and the people living in the places I visited. Sometimes the barrier was linguistic (and in some places that seems to matter more than others) but it’s more significant when the barrier is the pane of glass in the windows of a tour bus or similar – on one trip where we spent most of the time being ‘organised’ by others I came home feeling like I’d watched a fairly interesting travel documentary on TV, but not that I’d actually had an experience myself

  • 3
    What is the most important thing you've learned from traveling?

    You travel to see new places and meet new people but I think you usually come back with more important new insights about your own place and your own self. Travel gives you new eyes for the habits and attitudes in your own life and makes you realise that that’s where strangeness is usually found, not in exotic locations, because if you concentrate you usually find that those exotic locations are inhabited by people you recognise.

  • 4
    What do you do when you encounter an unexpected dead-end?

    Get a book out and relish a chance for some extra time reading; get a pack of cards out and take the chance for a game with my travelling companion or to find a new travelling companion (one of my most precious travel memories was the luxury of endless time and no obligations or rush during a day spent in a still, warm, dusty Mexican square with cheap lemonade and canasta between delayed buses); practise philosophy…