All About Me (SJ Begonja) And Chasing the Donkey

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Learn more about me and my team of local destination writers as we share the best of the Balkans and beyond with you. 

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.

Colours Of Istria Trip Donkey 4 (1)

If you are interested in travel itineraries, city guides, local cuisine, accommodation reviews, outdoor activities, and cultural insights – you’re in the right place!!!.

With the help of other local destination writers and experts, we 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

SJ & FAMILY & KIDS in CORFU GREECE

Now that you know all of the great information you can read on the blog, it is time to meet us all!

Sarah-Jane

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.

SJ leaning against a wall in Istria.

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.

SJ & family posing for a picture in front of the Regional Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv - one of the things to do in Plovdiv.

So then that brings me to the rest of the writing team; let me introduce you to them.

Mate

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 11 & 6). Now you have met the whole Begonja Family. The photo after is from November 2023.

Family Photo Shot - Nin Croatia

Chasing the Donkey team photo - SJ, Mate, Vladimir, Roko. Istria 2023

 

MATE AND SJ BEGONJA

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

Brands We Use And Trust

  

Why Did We Move To Croatia

Mother of Donkeys Dubrovnik

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:

MEET THE REST OF THE TEAM
  • 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!

Contact Us

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.
Amadria Park_ SJ and Roko
SJ & Roko

Media Kit

Click here for the 2023 media kit.

 

Travel Bloggers

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.

 

Vladimir in Istria taking a picture with a camera.
Vladimir taking photos for the blog in Istria.

Countries We Write About

Here’s the list of the Balkans we cover:

What Else We Write About


Quick Statistics

  • Our travel blog has been viewed more than 30 million times by almost 13 million people (as of April 2024). 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 MeaningMY DONKEY DREAM BEGAN HERE

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.

 

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