Break the route
Nuria Val and Coke Bartrina are two spanish globetrotters, known to travel the world and capture what they see. This time they have gone to former Yugoslavia in search for the beautiful but yet special brutalist architecture, the inspiration for our fall and winter collection. Here is their story.
Coke “We connected with the theme very quickly since we love this kind of architecture. While doing research we found these amazing brutalist monuments in the former Yugoslavia, mostly from 1960s-1970s. We began to think about making a route and visit some of them and quickly realized that it would be the most challenging project we had ever got involved in together.”
The famous but for many still quite hidden monuments that Nuria and Coke visited are called “Spomenik” (Slovenian for monument). They were built as memorials to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place, or where concentration camps stood. Commissioned by the former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 1970s, they were also designed and build to show the confidence and strength of the Socialist Republic. But when the Republic dissolved in the early 1990s, the monuments were quickly abandoned and their symbolic meanings were not entirely lost but somehow a little bit forgotten, together with the places in general.
Nuria “There were no other tourists for 8 days. We decided to take a more non-touristic route to get to the monuments. That involved avoiding the main road pretty much all the time. We spent nights in villages and slept at the weirdest places in the middle of nowhere. No one even understood why we were there. It was very primitive but the nature part of the trip was our absolute favourite. Every time we got to a new monument, the feeling was just indescribable. Seriously, we got crazy taking pictures!”
The trip went through Croatia, Bosnia- Herzegovina and Montenegro and did not go without troubles. The language barrier are still quite high since very few are talking English, something that turned out to be trickier than expected. At one point the car got stuck in the mud and although Coke tried to pull it out with his various survival techniques, they had to find help.
Coke “We had to leave the car and walk for 15 km in a mountain with bears and other animals to find help, since there wasn’t cell phone service and no one would pick us up. Once we got to the first village we managed to make a man understand what have happened by making drawings. He drove us to the mechanics who pulled us out from the mud with an old Lada Niva. I’d say it was the most fucked up moment ever, since we thought the trip was over. Luckily the car company gave us a new car the day after so we could continue driving.”
The feeling of getting to a city after time and trouble in the wilderness is always appreciated. To see all the tourists again and know that the difficult and more adventures part of the trip is over makes you lower your guard and relax a little but more.
Nuria ”The nature part of the trip was our favourite. But truly, when we got to Dubrovnik we appreciated seeing that many tourists again!”
This trip also became something more than just brutalism, clothes and photography. It became a reminder of all the brutal and terrible things that have happened in these parts of Europe in the history.
Coke ”We got very shocked when we arrived to Sarajevo. There are still a lot of war scars and you can tell the conflict finished pretty recently. It was interesting to visit Sarajevo and to better understand what has happened, and really see it with our own eyes. That is something that everyone should try to do sometime in their life. ”
If you want to do this trip (you really should), be sure to plan it quite well. Try to make a plan to be able to see as many “Spomeniks” as possible, and have your passport at hand because you will be crossing the border quite often since the countries are divided in a special way.
Nuria ”People are very friendly so do not hesitate to ask when in doubt. And get loads of music for the long driving hours! We have had such an amazing journey through these three beautiful countries. We wish that more people would get to meet the people and see all these incredible monuments, and of course the nature. Remember to break the route, but try not to get stuck in the mud while doing so!”