As the year is coming to its end and a new one is about to start it seems to be time for a short look back into the highlights of this blog’s first year of existence.

One thing that can be said about Balkan Stories Blog is that it has been picking up steam recently. More than 1.100 people have visited the blog so far. That’s 900 visitors up compared to only the end of November when I was celebrating Balkan Stories Blog’s first month of storytelling.

That the stories here are catching the attention of an ever growing number of people is very motivating. Thanks you very much for checking in here.

One thing I am admittedly proud of is that the audience here is very international. The blog has had visitors from all major countries except three: China, Indonesia and Nigeria. I suppose that has to do with the fact that there isn’t much of a Balkan diaspora there.

The blog has even attracted readers from exotic locations such as Liechtenstein and Tadchikistan.

The Top Five

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The story that has been read the most is that most of what’s going wrong in Bosnia can be seen in and particularly on a pack of cigarettes.

Statue of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Tirana. (c) Dennis Jarvis
Statue of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Tirana. (c) Dennis Jarvis

Another highlight is my resumee of the criticism on Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, better known by her stage name Mother Teresa. Exposing a vicious old woman as a vicious old woman seems to have been very popular – but not entirely uncontroversial.

The issue also was the most debated one, although unfortunately not on this blog’s comment section but on its Facebook page.

A young woman from Albania proved to be a rather ardent fan of Bojaxhiu’s and thought overall that this blog portrayed her country in too negative a light.

Considering that I have written no piece solely dedicated to Albania so far, this observation seems rather odd. At any rate it does show that self proclaimed patriots don’t take well to someone else not sharing their enthusiasm.

The Bridge of Mostar. (c) balkanblogger.com
The Bridge of Mostar. (c) balkanblogger.com

Number three on the list of this blog’s most popular pieces is one of the few German language articles by contributor Max Bitter on how art can help bring people together, if only for one night.

Admittedly it is my own emotional favorite. Not only have I seen the exhibition described myself, it also involves my best friend Majda.

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(c) Christoph Baumgarten

Another highlight were my last-minute-tips for X-mas gifts, also a German language Piece. That it got so popular is also owed to Balkanblogger Mirela who kindly shared it on her Facebook page.

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The race for rank number five is very tight. Among the runners up is a photo essay on Zagreb that had been the blog’s most popular story when it came out for quite a while.

(c) Christoph Baumgarten

Even closer to being number five is the first story published here: A report on my trip to Sarajevo in September.

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Just two clicks ahead – which pushes it into the current top five list – is a nostalgic farewell to a dream that maybe never was.

Robert’s Great Pieces

Also, Robert Rigney’s great pieces on his Balkan travels are attracting a growing audience. You’ll find them as subpages on this blog for better readability.

Robert takes his time and great care to develop his stories. They may appear long at first glance. You can take my word for it, they’re worth your attention and the time you spend reading them will seem to be flying.

On behalf of my readers I’d like to thank him for letting me run his texts here.

Thank You For Your Appreciation

I’d also like to thank all the people that have helped make this blog more popular. It is good to feel appreciated for my work. You certainly let me feel that.

2016 will not see Balkan Stories Blog disappear. I hope to bring you some new and hopefully interesting stories.

Also, if you have anything to share of your own, such as personal experiences, everyday observations, texts or photos, that you think would fit in here nicely – do not hesitate to contact me.

It may sometimes take a while as my dayjob doesn’t leave me an unlimited amount of time but I will look into it.

Hvala lepo za 2015. Sve najbolje za 2016.

Title photo: (c) Evelin Frerk at who-is-hu.de, the Gallery of Humanism.