Omakase

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I went to Serbia so you don't have to!

Serbia highlights are up (click this).

As a refresher, here's the best of my posts from Serbia:
Belgrade: a balmy 97 degrees.
It's 1979 here in Belgrade! (or why Belgrade=Pittsburgh)
Belgrade bomb damage....
Which makes this picture understandable
Belgrade wrap-up


First stop on my tour of the Balkans was Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, the former capital of the former Yugoslavia, and center of all things Serbdom. (Just to show you how life is determined by perspective, before this trip I wouldn't have listed Serbs as a dedicated identity group when compared to groups with great scale, like the Chinese, or greater historical impact, like the Scots. But the Serbs think they're the big deal of the neighborhood, which partly explains why chunks of their city had been obliterated by airstrikes by real big deals- the USA and NATO.)


Visiting Belgrade on a trip to Europe is a bit like coming to the USA and visiting Roanoke, VA - notable, but far exceed by other destinations in interest and attraction. My time in Belgrade, Serbia was limited to ~24 hours, which was just about the right amount of time. Belgrade wasn't a bad place, but compared to my beach destinations, I wouldn't have wanted to spend more time in Serbia. 


Belgrade has 1 impressive site to see for any traveler in the area - the Kalemegdan, a large, almost 1,200 year old fortress overlooking where the Danube and Sava rivers. Not only is the fortress impressive when viewed and toured, it also provides some dramatic views. There's also some quirks - the fortress also hosts a local basketball club ("KK Partizan") and a tennis club who's clay courts are located in the fortress' now unused moats.












Besides the Kalemegdan, my other recollections of Belgrade are war damage (covered in an earlier post), and impressions of the people.


My friend Scott H has posited that the Koreans are the toughest people on Earth. He might be right, but I'd also nominate the Serbs as toughest, and they might edge the Koreans with their advantage in meanness. Perhaps it is the fact that life in Serb is hard - it's a poor country after all. Or perhaps it was the fact that most Serbs still seemed to wear the war on their faces, or perhaps because of the anti-NATO protest, I got the distinct impression that most Serbs still consider themselves superior to the other Balkan inhabitants, and that it would make most Serbs very happy to be at conflict again, against the Catholic Croatians, Bosnian Muslims, the Kosovars, the Albanians, the Bulgarians, or perhaps the Turks. (This is especially true compared to the people I saw and met in Bosnia, Croatia, and Montenegro.) The Serbs definitely all carry around a chip on their shoulder, but this isn't crazy, since the country has purportedly never, ever been at peace for 50 continuous years since the dawn of civilization.


At this point, though, Serb aggression is cultural, as is evident while tripping around town. In Belgrade, I didn't see any statues to great statesmen, but rather people with swords or guns drawn, as you can see here and here.


Click here to see the picture highlights of Belgrade, Serbia.
.

U2 in Charlottesville!

U2 plays at UVA's football stadium tomorrow night (cuz, you know, Charlottesville has a lot in common with other U2 stops like Paris, London, and New York.) Reports about the U2 show have described the set-up as massive, so I drove by the stadium today, and they're right, even understating things. 

The picture below doesn't do the set-up justice. The stage is about 40% of the total area of the field, and taller than the stadium. The light and sound looks to be amazing (notice the multi-colored stripes in the middle of the picture? It's a massive circular video board that descends from the "roof" of the stage.)


Reviews from earlier stops are very positive. It should be a good time - I can't wait to see the show!









Here's what the full-on set-up looked like at a previous show.....







Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best of Bosnia pics now up!

I've collected my favorite photos from Bosnia & Hercegovina (including Sarajevo and Mostar.) You can see them in my gallery here. (And click "My Gallery" to access all of the other pictures that I have published online.)

Bosnia is a mess. There's no other way about it.


There are constant reminders of the war - damaged buildings, and damaged people. There's a lot of money being spent by the EU to return life to normal, but modern weapons can create a lot of damage with not much effort, and with something like 5,000 mortar rounds hitting Sarajevo alone, you begin to understand why the place is still a mess 14 years later. (You see "Paid for by the EU" signs on every new building, but as I mentioned before, I think this is guilt money trying to make up for the fact that the EU and its' members just sat around while Yugoslavia imploded and genocide followed.)

(Btw: one other takeaway from Sarajevo is that the city is probably the single worst place on the planet to be caught in during a siege due to the city's topography. The city is long and thin, and paralleled by mountain ranges that meet at one end enclosing the city. (Imagine a canoe. Sarajevo runs along the canoe floor, with the "bad guys" positioned above the canoe walls.) There wasn't a single point in the city that wasn't reachable by snipers, and for much of the war, there was only one source of fresh water, making daily life like living in a shooting gallery.)

But, the country has some positives that made me glad to have visited:

- the people were very friendly, both to me, and to each other. I can't tell you how many times I saw a car stop so that the driver could pop out to loudly say hello to someone walking on the sidewalk. It was amazing how these dour, gray, scruffy folks would light up when they saw a friend or acquaintance.

-the cafe culture in Bosnia is unbelievable, especially in Sarajevo. In Sarajevo, there's a street in the center of the town (Branilaca Sarajeva) that is just one cafe after another, up and down every alley, in every variety possible, full at almost every hour of the day. There were Turkish coffee cafes, Viennese cafes, small cafes, large cafes, even a cafe named after Bill Gates (see the pic in the gallery).

-there's a very relaxed attitude in Bosnia. The vibe was something combining a deep tradition of cafe culture combined with a healthy appreciation for being alive after the civil war, twisted with a lazy work ethic from the communist era.

I think that vibe was responsible for a crazy scene that I saw around a chess board.

It was about 1pm on a Wednesday in the center of Sarajevo, and aside from the wait-staff at the cafes, I don't think a single person was actually at work. I wandered into a farmer's market in a city square, whereupon I heard lots of shouting. Expecting some demonstration, or even one ethnic group screaming at another, I headed towards the crowd, and found.....a chess match.

There was a roughly 20x20 chess board painted on the concrete, with chess pieces about knee high. Two guys in their late 40's were playing by walking from piece to piece around the board.

The chess board was surrounded on all sides by between 60-75 spectators, all men and tending towards retirees, but still with 15-20 guys who you would think would ordinarily be at work. None of the participants or spectators looked anything like a Chess Master.

What was most amzing about the scene though, was the intensity of the crowd. Roughly half were intensely quiet, with a hand under their chin thinking about the last or next move.

The other half of the audience was just as engaged by the match, but much, much more vocal. I don't know exactly what they were saying, but it appeared to be a mix of criticism and suggestions for chess moves.

Either way, I'll always remember this scene from Sarajevo.


One other favorite Bosnia scene occurred back home in Charlottesville. We are fortunate to have in Charlottesville a bakery/cafe run by a Bosnian family (the "Balkan Bakery.") On Saturdays, the family sells Bosnian food at the farmer's market. (The market has similar booths for Hungarian, French, Mexican, and Salvadoran foods. I'm a HUGE fan of the taco stand, with the tortillas made right in front of you.)

In general, Yugoslavian food is pretty basic, and not something you hunger for, but after Saturday morning's 30 mile bike ride, I would have even eaten cevapcici again.

So, I walked past the Bosnian bakery stand Saturday AM and my eyes lock in on the burek (imagine the combination of a flaky pastry like philo with a pot pie and you get the idea.) Just for fun, I ordered in Bosnian "Zelim jeden burek, molim."

The woman behind the table lit up like I saw other people do all over Sarajevo, and for a few minutes, I was back in Bosnia.

Link to best of Bosnia pictures.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Best of Munich

I finished sorting and editing my pictures from Europe this weekend and cut ~160 pictures out of 700. I'll be rolling out the highlights on a stop-by-stop basis, starting today with Munich, Germany. You can see the Munich Highlights here. (Besides the regular Munich highlights, you can also see the Munich Michael Jackson memorial.)


Munich was not only a fun place to visit, but also an opportunity to catch up with my sister Kathy and her husband Dave (vacationing in southern Germany and Austria), and a fraternity brother, Tom "Woody" Day, that I hadn't seen since about 1998.

Tom is originally from Nebraska, and was tagged with the nickname Woody about 10 seconds after arriving at W&L. (Remember the Woody Harrelson character on cheers?) Woody has been living in Munich since graduating from UVA's law school, and was an outstanding tour guide, delivering all of the essentials for touring Munich: interesting sights, local culture, and the best biergartens, like where the picture below was shot, in a biergarten connected to the Bavarian parliament.




We were less than three weeks early for Oktoberfest, so we missed it, but now I've got a reason to go back. Until then, these pictures of Oktoberfest from the Boston Globe's "Big Picture" column will have to do.

Funny enough, I just caught up with Tom this weekend, making it two meetings in 3 weeks after non in 10 years. Tom and his Ukrainian girlfriend Lena flew into Virginia to watch his Nebraska Cornhuskers play Virginia Tech. The game didn't turn out well for the Huskers, but we had a very fun night in Lexington, reliving out college days, and ending up drinking cheap beer in our fraternity house at 1:30 in the morning.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First slug of picture highlights from Yugoslavia

I'm about a third of the way through evaluating and editing my pics, which isn't as fast as I thought, but 700 pics x 1 minute editing each = 11 hours of work.


But HERE is the fruits of the effort to date - my best 20 shots out of about 300 pictures examined at that point. The pics look good so far. 


Also....it's not quite travel oriented, since I live in this town, but here's 16 Things to Love about Charlottesville in Fall. All I have to say is "Amen!"


Finally, here's one more picture from he Yugoslavia/Germany trip......(click for larger image)


Friday, September 11, 2009

Thanks! (and more to come)

I'm back from my rambles, with more stories and >700 pictures. I'll be sorting through the best over the weekend and will post a gallery of these with stories as soon as I can, as well as some thoughts from the trip, and personal takeaways.

(I'll also be spending this weekend fighting jet lag, watching UVA get their butt kicked by TCU on the football field, as well as some biking and prepping for the last triathlon of the year in what should be perfect weather.)

In the meantime, I'd like to thank you for following my adventures and keeping me company with emails and blog comments.

Cheers,

Tim

Almost home: Philly!

So, you're in Philadelphia, just off of a 9 hour transatlantic flight across 6 times zones, you've got a raging head cold, and are sluggish from the time change. You have a 4 hour layover before finally making it home, 22 hours after waking up, so what would you do?

A) straggle to your connecting gate and rest
B) mindlessly wander the terminal looking for a legit cheesesteak.
C) do a 2-hour power-tour of the City of Brotherly Love.

I went with option "C" of course, and capped my mini-visit with a trip up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, Rocky-style. The film recap is below.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Surfing in Munich!?!

Munich, Germany is >500 miles away from the ocean, but that doesn't mean you can't go surfing, right in the heart of the city.

Check out this vid of surfers on a river running thru the Englischer
Gartens, Munich's version of Central Park.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1wHO2d0NP0

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Munich street music

Here's the first of 2 vids of Munich street performers I saw on my
way back to my hotel from the bier halle. Both groups drew about 40
spectators, played some great, and made we wonder if this is street
music, how good is the club music?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi5TTAi6F1o

Pan of Munich skyline from top of St. Peter church at the Marienplatz

Back in the USA, home of the brave and the free bandwidth, it's time
to post some vids from the last few days....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZS0WCMqkW8

Greetings from Munich!


Here's an appearance In the Augustiner Bier Halle in the Munich Alstadt with my sister Kathy and her husband Dave DeWitt.

I also had the good fortune while in Munich to reconnect with Tom Day, a college buddy living in Munich (and Garmisch-Partikirchen, and Jersey City, and NYC, and Nebraska....)

Munich Marienplatz


Ground level view.....outstanding city

Sunday, September 06, 2009

"Cold Drinks" in Dubrovnik

Here's a view into the legendary cafe/bar "Cold Drinks," in Dubrovnik.
Cold Drinks is cool and memorable for several reasons:
-it is located on a cliff OUTSIDE the city wall on the SEA side.
-it has the most unbelievable views
-it is low key and relaxed
-it has no advertising in any city maps or handouts. The only thing
distinguishing the business is the small wooden sign "Cold Drinks"
that you see in the firs few seconds of the vid
-it is literally a hole in the wall!
You may not appreciate it from the video, but the seating area
literally drops off into the sea. I guess they have different
liability laws for bars in Croatia!
I wouldn't have known about it unless told by a friend (thx, Dana!)
and some Chicagoans that I met in Korcula 2 days earlier.
You have to see the place to believe it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeowrMA1pgU

One last view of Dubrovnik

Amazing city.......(click to enlarge)

Better version of a prior picture

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Another Kodak moment!

View of island of Lokrum from high above Dubrovnik's walls.

Stuck in rain in DBV

In the midst of walking the city walls, the rain that has been
threatening all day has arrived. The weather canceled sea kayaking
this morning as well, which was a bummer, but once I saw the sea
today, completely the right call.
Walking the walls of the city is the highlight of the trip so far (and
that's saying alot.) I snapped the shot below at the beginning of the
walk, pre-rain. It's a view into the city from the high walls, down
the main street of the city, or Stradun.
Am hoping the weather breaks soon....

Quick pan of Dubrovnik from above at Sunset

Panoramic view of Dubrovnik on YouTube shot yesterday at sunset......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOnaSkb-dNc

Inside Dubrovnik

View of cafe-lined Stradun

Quick scene inside Dubrovnik

While waiting for my tour to start in 20 minutes.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ-LB6YoptA

Friday, September 04, 2009

Catching up from Bosnia & Croatia

A couple of stories:
I was on my way from Sarajevo to the Croatian coast, with a quick
stopover in Mostar. Before hopping the bus, I had to visit the
bathroom-usually not a challenge, especially since most WCs have
pictographs of a man or a woman to help you choose no matter what.
Well, this being Bosnia, where there are still faded signs in
prominent places for the 1984 Winter Olympics (meaning signage isn't a
high priority for Sarajevo), all I had to go on were signs for
"muski," (on the left) or "zenski" (for the room on the right.)
Before I finish the story, which would you guess was the Men's room?
Why did you guess that one?

I tentatively moved towards muski, on the simple notion that muski
began with the same letter as "Men's." never mind how this approach
wouldn't work in say France (garcons). I lightly pushed open the door
half expecting a Bosnian women to start screaming. I lucked out - the
room was empty. Still this was no sign that I made the right choice,
so I stepped in. My "muski" guess turned out to be right, so now I
know at least one extra word of Serbo-Croatian.
Sarajevo & Mostar: fascinating, depressing, and hopelessly screwed up
(that's the summary for the cities AND my travel plans!)
Had planned on a third of a day in Sarajevo, one third in Mostar, and
the rest being spend traveling and at the coast in Croatia, however,
things didn't go according to plan.
I saw Sarajevo-interesting, but not enough to justify much more than
~3hrs, then Mostar, worth about half that, but unfortunately my host
town for 15 hours more than that.
Upon arrivng in Mostar, after a breathtaking ride through the Dinaric
Alps (mtns), our bus was swarmed with elderly ladies offerings rooms.
Though not interested, I ended up speaking with Nina, mostly because
she wouldn't take no for an answer.
I broke away from Nina, toured the city, and ~2hrs later went back to
the station (shared by buses & trains). The first person who saw me
was Nina, who said the train was 2 hours late, and asked if i wanted
her room yet. 2 hrs? (btw: there is only 2 trains per day each way) I
could wait that delay out with some more touring, though at that point
i had seen enough shot-up buildings. (reminder why so much
destruction: though a strategically unimportant town, all 3 armies
wanted to prove a point on this town, stretched over 3 yrs.)
I came back an hour or so later (10pm). No Nina, and only 2 people in
the whole station - a really, really old lady waiting to take the
train, and the starion master, who I quickly established didn't speak
any English. We pantomimed a bit, and established that the train was
100 minutes late.
An hour later, same routine with the stationmaster. He says "no news,"
or at least I think that's what he said. At this point, i'm starting
to weigh my options. Then, help arrives.
Sanel, a Bosniak (Muslim) was waiting for people to arrive on my
train. He heard the train MIGHT be in at 1am, but he was giving up,
and oh, by the way, did I happen to want to rent a room for the night?
I quickly weighed the options (1. Night in trainstation, 2. 3am
arrival in Croatia, 3. Find a room on my own, or 4. Take a chance on
Sanel).
Less than 2 minutes after meeting him, was on my way to his car, and
this paid off just like the last time I took a random chance on a
boarding situation (remember that, Jason H?(Munich))
Sanel spoke good English, and we chatted for what must have been an
hour. Got all kinds of stories about the War (he was 7yrs old at the
start), and all kinds of stories about how Mostar functions or doesn't
function.
Like those bombed out houses. The EU has made available a ton of
reconstruction $$$$ - the EU's way of cleansing guilt by saying "sorry
we didn't do anything to stop the genocide. How about some new storm
windows to make you feel better?"
Problem is, the owners of the bombed out buildings fled town during
the war, and refuse to return. (Can you blame them, especially if
their old neighborhood has changed ethnicities?(= living among the
'enemy')). The EU refuses to let any $$$ be spent on buildings not
owner-occupied, so the result is a half-bombed out town, and a
continuing cycle of depression. (btw: Sanel's place had been burned to
a shell during the war. Except for one area that he kept like that as
a reminder, you'd never know.
So the next morning Sanel drove me to the station, where the morning
train was on-time, and I was on my way to Croatia, though half a day
late, thus costing me a shot at visiting Hvar Island. Still, my next 2
stops, Orebic and Korcula were well worth it.

Notes from DBV

While i wait for my washing machine to finish.....
In Dubrovnik (DBV) today....amazing, amazing city....will start the
morning off sea-kayaking around the city walls. No Ms. Universe, which
would have been a good story, but this tour is better....am staying in
a sobe (private room) with huge views, 100yds from the water. Would
love to claim credit for this, but it was the luck of the draw. By
this I mean when our bus pulled in today, we were swarmed by 40-50
grandmas, each offering a room in their house. It was like being
swarmed by munchkins. I paired off with one, asked a few questions (of
which only location was the only intelligent thing that I asked), and
struck a deal. I did this mostly for the fun of it, because I had
planned to splurge on a hotel in DBV.
Walked around the Old City tonite. Must confess it was good to be back
in a mainstream world, with lots of English spoken. (General rule: in
the popular, touristy areas, conditions are almost like America, while
some places (like Ploce, or Mostar) were pretty much 3rd world. Most
of my trip so far has been 'in between' those 2 poles.
Still can't get a cold drink, though. For some reason, this continent
doesn't serve drinks at anything but room temps, and without ice. I
can't tell you how many times I've taken a break from the 95 degree
temps, only to have an 80 degree beverage. Hopefully the solution is a
bar here in DBV called "Cold Drinks." I hope to catch it tomorrow
afternoon.

Ah, Dubrovnik!

View leaving Korcula

Breakfast: 23 kuna ($4), view: priceless!

I got up early today to walk the fortress of Korcula (built about 700
years ago, and birthplace of Marco Polo (this was then Italian
territory.)
I wandered by a grocery store and picked up this feast: a bottle of
blood orange juice, cherry yogurt, and fresh cherry struedel (cherries
(visinj) are a local speciality).
2 minutes later I was at the fortress wall, and feasted. The struedel
was amazing, as was the view across to Orebic, though as you can see
the weather wasn't great.
Cloud ceiling was about 1,000 feet, which is great weather if you are
a grape in one of the local vineyards scaling the mountains, but I'm
not, so I am changing plans.
Today would have been a day split among biking the vineyards,
snorkeling, and the beach, but instead I am heading to Dubrovnik a
little ahead of schedule. Talking with some other tourists and friends
(thanks, Dana!), though, I'm certain that I'll enjoy the extra time in
Dubrovnik.
Should have plenty of time on the trip to Dubrovnik to write a big
update with some good stories- more coming soon.

T

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Orebic at sunset

I'm onboard the ferry to Korcula and had time to take this quick shot
of the fishing village of Orebic while the boat was loading.
I originally planned to quickly pass thru Orebic, but I liked it so
much I stayed for the day. As you can tell from the photo (remember to
click on the pic for a bigger shot) Orebic is stunning. It is also
friendly, and low-key, yet with loads to do - i wish i had had the
time to rent a bike to see more. I'm definitely marking Orebic down
for a repeat visit.
Next: a 15 minute ferry crossing at sunset to the ancient walled city
of Korcula.
D

My lunch time view

Quick view from the only restaurant near the beach at Trstenica (on the Adriatic sea, town of Orebic, just across the channel from Korcula.)

Quote from waiter: "we haf pivo (beer) and hamburgers. Which you like?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZw10H1j2jU

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mostar

Here's the famous Stari Most ("Old Bridge"). For almost 500 years the
bridge was the longest & highest single arch bridge, and was widely
known for uniting the Bosnian Muslims who lived on one side of the
river, with the Catholic Croats who lived on the other side.
You can probably guess where this is going: the bridge was destroyed
by the Croats in the civil war in the 90's.
Mostar is both scenic and depressing. The Old Town surrounding the
bridge is a sight to see. However, the rest of Mostar is still war
ravaged. I'd estimate that 1 in 4 buildings have war scars, and about
1 in 8 totally destroyed. The tourist maps show the location of the
front lines, but you really don't need a map to tell.
Next up: I hop a train to the coast in an hour. Tomoorow should be
beachy, with some snorkeling too.
One funny thing: as I sit here in a cafe under the bridge, the cafe
stereo is playing American country music. (a welcome respite from the
Michael Jackson-athon prior to this.)

Here's where World War I started

On this bridge in 1914, Serb Gavrilo Princip assasinated an Austrian-
Hungarian Archduke, thus starting WWI.
The Archduke had already had one attempt on his life made earlier that
day, yet he continued to ride in an open-top car when Princip got him
and his wife.
Incidentally, Princip is accorded hero status here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sarajevo

When planning my trip, I almost skipped Sarajevo - what could be
special about a city the same size as Richmond, VA, but every guidebook
said that Sarajevo was special and shouldn't be skipped.
So with that in mind, i arrived today at 9:45 at night. Everyone that
I saw on my flight and in the airport looked worse for wear and that
they had had a hard life.
Within 2 minutes from the airport I saw the first war-damaged building
(though that building was the exception.)
After checking in, I wandered around the Bascarija (Old Town-imagine
Georgetown x 2) for an hour to wind down and within 2 minutes saw 2
mosques and my first group of women wearing burqas (head to toe
Islamic dress, with only eyes showing).
But here's the amazing thing that changed my impression of Sarajevo:
for every burqa-clad or head scarf-wearing woman there was a Paris
Hilton-look-alike, and they were hanging out together (Paris + burqa), chatting and
laughing.
I'd describe the mood in Bascarija as festive, bordering on jubilant,
quite a surprise for a Tuesday night. I'd guess there was about 50
packed cafes and bars in just a few square blocks (mostly cafes). I
was too tired to partake, but enjoyed the brief view into what makes
Sarajevo special.

Outside my room in Sarajevo

Montenegro wrap-up

So my outbound plane is here, so I feel safe that i'm on my way out of
Montenegro tonight, which almost too bad since I really enjoyed
Montenegro.
The physical beauty of this place can't be fully appreciated in the
pics - you can't believe the views in every direction. If i get back,
I'll be sure to rent a car to see more of the country.
The highlight for me were the beaches. For 2 days i beach-hopped
spending an hour or two on a beach or in the water, the hiking for 10
minutes to the next beach and doing it again. Each afternoon I would
stop roaming, pick one beach and spend the rest of the day in a lounge
chair under an umbrella.
In contrast to back home, the beaches are very thin - no more than 100
ft from the water to the end of the beach. There are no waves, so the
beach activities are much like a lake's (jet skis, paddleboats, and
for the first time that i've ever seen, water polo.) Not much else is
different, except the safety regulations are more lax. I never heard a
llfeguard's whistle, and the jet skis were so fast that I think they
weren't speed governed, like in the US. We're way too safety conscious
in the US. We could learn from the Montenegrins on this.
The people were nice, but in most cases, not exactly customer-
oriented. I had a few intersting conversations, though, such as with
Juras the cabbie, who's first question was what religion I am. (I'm
inferring here, but I suspect this is still a central question in this
very mixed and very conflicted land.) Luckily we had the same answer,
so I didn't get dumped alongside the road.
I chatted with Nick, the Australian who owns the Kangaroo hotel.
According to him, much of the travel to Budva is Russian package
vacation trippers. I'd also add that I saw alot of expensive cars with
Russian license plates in Budva.
So, I was in the great minority, but still managed to get along,
partly because the beach experience is universal. Budva had a long
paved "boardwalk," or riva (not to be confused with what they have in
Richmond, the Rivah.) On the riva was a summer scene repeated
everywhere, families withkids wandering from amusement rides to games
to food stands. The only difference, besides he accents was some
obvious substitutions - Italian gelato instead ofice cream, for example.
All in all, as you might guess from the pictures, Montenegro was
spectacular, and well worth the trip.
Speaking of trip, I'm making it to Sarajevo tonight - boarding just
started, so I gotta go.

It really doesn't get much better than this.....

Budva, Montenegro

Blog update/status

Took a look at the blog last night for the first time. Apologies are in order for two things, some bad typos, which usually came when bouncing along in a bus on a Montenegran road, and for bad formatting making some of the entries hard to follow. I think that I have the formatting squared away, but can't promise less typos.
Also, comments are always appreciated - just click the little pencil  icon.
Thanks for reading along.

May have used up all of my travel karma....

So here's the situation: I'm sitting in the Tivat (Montenegro) airport, with the first leg of my flight to Sarajevo to begin in a half hour, connecting thru Belgrade. Once I make it to Belgrade, I have a 45 minute connection. Problem: the JAT Airways (Yugoslav flag carrier) couldn't print my connecting ticket, and I'm not sure why.

This might be something handled easily when I connect, but there's a huge downside ifnot: there's only one flight a day to Sarajevo. (for a country that broke apart, you'd think therewould be more intra-country flights, but I guess that tells you how much distaste there remains.

For example, there are no flights between Belgrade and Zagreb, two national capitals located as far apart as Boston and DC, distance wise.

So, if I make the connection, I get a happy face. If not, big time sad  face- I'd spend 24 more hours in Belgrade and some more interesting  part of my trip would have to be skipped.

But things have gone well today otherwise. I'll sum up today's activities in another email.

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
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World sun clock

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Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous