Word from the Author
It’s been a while since I’ve been writing a blog. It took me a lot of time to wake up and start writing again. Unfortunately, the blog that I was writing on the website of Eco Hostel Republik has gone, just like the hostel. It looks like the pandemic changed a lot of things in our lives. Perhaps the memories from 8 amazing years spent in the coolest hostel in Serbia were so great that it was too painful to read those memories again, so I just let it go with the old website. Everything that we created in that hostel was so crafty and handmade, so I thought, when we had to dissolve everything, let the blog be a part of it.
The only thing that we saved from that period of time and that still lives on are the craft-made, most amazing tours in the region.
How did we actually start this tour company? The story starts back in 2013 when we opened the hostel. I will write another text about Eco Hostel Republik, but for now, I will tell the story about Republik Tours and how we created it without the intention to create it. Actually, most of the tours that we run today were created in the very first month of Eco Hostel Republik’s operation. We were already preparing nearly 2 months to open the hostel, and on August 26th 2013, a taxi stopped in front of the hostel with a German couple who were on the way to Montenegro from Požarevac. They were looking for an overnight stay so they could continue traveling the next day. The hostel wasn’t ready to open, but we had all we needed to accommodate guests—beds, bed sheets, towels, and a functional bathroom. After check in and few shots of rakija, I took the guests on a free city tour around Užice. That practice of a free walking tour and welcome drink I kept until the last day of the hostel. My ideology was that every foreigner who comes to Užice should see how beautiful my hometown is, and then decide if they want to explore more. This practice was very beneficial for both sides. Guests got a chance to go around with locals in a small town in Western Serbia called Užice with a very difficult name to pronounce, and I got these guests for one more night and a possible tour the next day. That’s how everything started. For this German couple, I was preparing every day a new tour, so instead of staying one night, Lutz and Daniela stayed one month at our place. The initial plan to go to Montenegro was delayed with every new tour, so eventually, they spent their vacation in Užice.
They got the best unexpected vacation that they never planned, Užice became a city where you can spend one month’s vacation, and I got validation that the tours I created are very good and that guests love them. I also got the base of tours that I am running even today. A few years after opening, we started to get more and more requests from people who were not staying in the hostel but still wanted to join our tours. Word of mouth and good reviews on TripAdvisor, Google, and Booking, where people were talking about tours, brought us so many new clients that we soon started to involve more guides than just me.
Like every entrepreneur, I was a one-man show with my girlfriend and today’s wife who covered for me in the hostel when I was away. Every day on a tour with no time to take a break. But I loved it because all the people who were joining our tours were such cool and open-minded people who every time gave me the validation that we live in such a beautiful area that people who traveled across the globe stay speechless over the nature and history of the area.
After closing down the hostel and tourism collapse in Serbia, requests for our tours continued to come. So we simply continued to do the same thing: run amazing private tours where presidents, students, ambassadors, bloggers, and plumbers get the same treatment. I treat every client as a friend, no matter what status they have. After all, we are all humans.
This might be a brief introduction to myself, Marko Ristovski, founder of Republik Tours, and many other interesting projects that I will try to cover on this blog.