All About Me (SJ Begonja) And Chasing the Donkey
Chasing the Donkey is a popular travel and lifestyle blog created and maintained by SJ Begonja (hello, that is me!). My blog primarily focuses on travel experiences, tips, and recommendations related to Croatia, the Balkans, and sometimes other European destinations.
My blog covers various topics such as travel itineraries, city guides, local cuisine, accommodation reviews, outdoor activities, and cultural insights. With the help of other local destination writers, we aim to provide readers with practical information, insider tips, and personal narratives to inspire and assist you in planning your own trips.
Chasing the Donkey offers a wealth of information about Croatia and the Balkans, including in-depth guides on island hopping, top beaches, historic cities like Dubrovnik, Athens, and Istanbul, national parks, islands, and lesser-known gems.
In addition to travel content, Chasing the Donkey also features articles on expat life, family travel, and general lifestyle topics.
Overall, I believe that Chasing the Donkey is a valuable resource for travelers seeking information, inspiration, and tips for exploring Croatia, the Balkans….and beyond.
Who Writes At Chasing The Donkey
Now that you know all of the great information you can read on the blog, it is time to meet us all!
Hello! My name is Sarah-Jane, but I am most often called SJ ( I mean, who wants to say a name with three syllables?). I am an Australian who has been living in Croatia for the last decade with my Croatian husband and two young children.
I have been traveling the region for the last 25 years. I often travel with my family, alone or with friends. I write about what we experience here on chasingthedonkey.com – a blog focusing on Croatia, Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans.
My ultimate goal is to make Chasing the Donkey the ultimate Balkan travel resource. From transport information to accommodation ideas and family-friendly activities.
I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT DETAILED & USEFUL TRAVEL BLOGS
I always want to share more than a top 10 list. I love to write detailed guides about how to get to places, where to stay when you are there, and, of course, what we recommend and thorough travel planning tips.
I started this blog in 2011 to document my new life in Croatia. It quickly grew beyond personal storytelling and became a go-to resource for travelers seeking insider tips and recommendations in Croatia.
I then expanded the blog to include Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, as they are the places I visit the most.
So then that brings me to the rest of the writing team; let me introduce you to them.
Mate pronounced mart-air blogs when he isn’t cooking or running his private transfers company Octopus Transfers Croatia. Mate is an expert on traveling from place to place in Croatia. Mate keeps up to date with all of the buses, trains, planes, ferries – and of course, private transfers in Croatia.
These two cute kids pictured below in our very first family photo are my two sons (now aged 10 & 5). Now you have met the whole Begonja Family.
Here are a few more facts about us:
- We’re Sarah-Jane and Mate, a married couple originally from Australia
- Mate was born to Croatian parents and grew up in Australia
- SJ is 5th generation Australian who came from Welsh, Irish, and English convict stock. But don’t worry; you can leave your valuables with her – she is trustworthy
- After Mate’s Father & Grandfather passed away, Mate inherited land in Croatia, which included a small house that Mate’s Grandfather built. Mate’s Father had always dreamed of one day returning to Croatia to fix up the little old house – but sadly, time and cancer beat him to his wish. So, in his absence, we took on the challenge
- We have been together since 1999 (you do that math). Some say you get less for murder
- SJ always says (& writes) what she thinks, which almost always gets her into trouble. In time, you’ll see that she is a big softy at heart
- We have backgrounds in sales, marketing, project management & OH&S
- Together we packed up our life in Australia (along with our infant son) and moved to Croatia. After a few years of living in Croatia, we added one more son to our family. Making us complete as a family of four
- We are travel addicts – 25 countries and counting
Why Did We Move To Croatia
We know you want to know why we moved to Croatia. It’s okay; everyone asks us. We moved to be adventurous and try something new.
Life is too short to have regrets. We realized how precious life was when Mate got cancer – beat it – and got it again. Heck, your whole world spins when you have so much chemotherapy and radiotherapy that it almost kills you.
Croatia was an easy choice after we inherited land in Croatia after Mate’s Father passed away. Thankfully he beat it a second time – so we decided to live the fullest life we could live. Moving was not so easy – and still isn’t, but here we are, giving it a red hot go.
You’re in the right place if you’re looking for an honest blog (sometimes too honest) written by real people who love the Balkans. This is who else writes for us:
- Nicky: UK born and raised, spent the last 11 years living in Türkiye married to a Turk
- Mehmet: A digital nomad who was born in Istanbul and now calls the Balkans his office
- Nick the Greek: Athens born, who island hops Greece all year round, writing travel guides for many publications
- Bram: Blogger, translator, and photographer. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, and traveled the globe
- Drita: Born in Albania, her Mom is from Kosovo, and her Dad from Serbia, while she lives on the Albanian Riviera
- Ana: A Croatian-born writer who pens stories far too infrequently
- Gabi: Mom of two living on the Greek Island of Crete, who has a passion for in-depth storytelling
All of us aim to help you save time in travel planning and get you traveling the Balkans like a local!
If you are a brand or tourism board wanting to cooperate, please email us, and let’s chat about how we can share it with our readers.Click here to email Chasing the Donkey.
Media KitClick here for the 2023 media kit.
If you are a fellow traveler and would like to share a travel story, click below to get the deets on how we can make that happen.Apply to write for Chasing the Donkey here.
Countries We Write About
Here’s the list of the Balkans we cover:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
What Else We Write About
- We love to cook, so we talk a lot about Croatian food and share Croatian recipes in English here
- If you’re thinking about returning home to the ‘motherland’ or are a spouse of someone who wants to. YOU CAN DO IT. On this blog, you’ll see that, yes, sometimes life in Croatia can be difficult, but you only have one life. Live it. You can read some of my journals below
- We also write travel product reviews and travel tips about brands and products we use and love
- Our travel blog has been viewed more than 23 million times by almost 13 million people (as of March 2023). This makes us the #1 read Balkan travel blog in English!
- We have 1 million monthly viewers on Pinterest with a collective community of over 120,000 social media followers
- We’re regularly featured as travel leaders in publications
- We’ve worked together with dozens of companies & tourist boards to help them achieve their advertising & marketing goals – we can help you too
- That said, this blog has been years of hard work, and 99% of our travels are funded from my own pocket. I am BEYOND thankful that you all read and follow along each day, and thank the few tourist boards and sponsors who supported us in that time
- We leverage our site’s authority & expertise to promote your brand
- Our readers trust our recommendations and look to us for expert advice, making us very influential
- One of the biggest points of interest is we share stories about our life living in Croatia – which is what makes us real & relatable
Chasing The Donkey Meaning
One place that holds a special place in my heart here in Croatia is the Island of Dugi Otok. Why? Well, it’s where I first saw those donkeys who inspired the name of this blog on my very first trip to Croatia back in 2000. Chasing the Donkey means nothing; it’s just a silly name about wanting to move to Croatia, where I saw those donkeys back in 2000.
Many Kornati Island day trips stop at Dugi Otok, where you can throw down your towel, swim in the crystal clear waters, and walk up the hill to meet a donkey or twenty. Or you could wait a little while, and one of the donkeys will come & greet you like these guys.
Hi, it’s lovely to read you. We moved to Split last year and stayed for 6 months but it wasn’t EU yet and I couldn’t find a job so we had to leave after 6 months :( We still miss Split every day and I’m still looking for work there “from a distance”. Enjoy following your blog :) Frederique
Like wise! What a shame, what kind of work do you do?
I’m a stylist and fashion editor but won’t be able to find in that area for sure so I’m more focused on jobs in the tourist industry. Time will tell :)
Ohhhh how glamorous! I hope you can return very soon.
Do you have any contacts for interior designers in Croatia? i am looking to talk to one about our new house…. any ideas where to start?
Saw your post on the Expat site. Happy to connect with you from California.
Wonderful to ‘e-meet’ you! Are you also an Expat?
Sounds like you are truly living the ‘life’ as if it ‘is short’. Looking forward to following along.
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