Welcome to our latest video series, Rerouted: The Balkans, which sees social media influencer and YouTuber Eva zu Beck discover the cultures, customs and traditions of Eastern Europe. Eva takes us off-the-beaten-track on a road trip through Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania. We meet the wonderful Balkan people bringing a modern twist to ancient traditions and travel through pristine, untouched landscapes. You might not have planned to visit these countries before but one thing’s for sure - they’re about to become top of your travel bucket list.
This week, Eva moves on to the next country on her road trip, Serbia. A country full of stunning landscapes, friendly people and, as she finds out in this episode, entrepreneurial types who dreamed up milking donkeys.
When Slobodan Simić saw donkeys being abused back in the early 1990s, he was so upset that he bought them all. He went on to set up the Zasavica donkey reserve in Northern Serbia. Not only did he give the donkeys a new home, he went on to create surprising new product.
One day on the reserve, he had a Eureka moment. He came up with an idea – an admittedly unusual one – to milk the donkeys to produce cheese.
“We all thought he was crazy,” Slobodan's colleague Jovan remembers, but he forged ahead anyway. He had the last laugh - the cheese, called ‘pule’, became the most expensive cheese in the world at £1,000 a kilo.
Slobodan uses the profits from the sale of pule to continue rescuing donkeys. He now has 300 of the animals at the reserve.
But Eva soon finds out why the cheese costs so much. It’s a tough process, and she’s far from a natural.
Watch the video above to see Eva meeting the donkeys and even learning to milk them.