Hiking from Umoljani to Lukomir, Bosnia & Herzegovina

I’ve heard about a woman from Sweden, a friend of a friend, who returns to Sarajevo every summer to go hiking in the surrounding mountains with her local friends. Apparently, those mountains, in particular the vast terrain on Bjelašnica (2067 m), fill her heart with peace and warmth and heal her stressed out, weary soul. “This is where I seem to achieve my balance at last,” she reportedly said a couple of years ago on her first hiking “pilgrimage” to Lukomir, the remotest village of Bosnia and Herzegovina that is yet only a few dozen kilometres away from the capital.

And so she comes back to the Bosnian Dinaric Alps every summer, heads to the mountains for a dose of fresh air and exercise, not knowing how to describe what it is that actually helps her stabilize herself. Just before she flies back to Scandinavia, she pays visits to local beautician, hairdresser, nail salon – and off she goes back home happy, rested and beautified inside out. Continue reading “Hiking from Umoljani to Lukomir, Bosnia & Herzegovina”

Umoljani, the hikers’ and pleasure-seekers’ haven of Bosnia and Herzegovina

When I was in a Bosnian village of Umoljani for the first time, the tiny village up in the mountainous terrain at the rear of the Olympic Bjelašnica lay tranquil in the embrace of dark red and deep golden airy woods surrounding its gentle slopes that bathed in the warm autumn sun. It was in the early stages of autumn and it was strikingly beautiful.  Continue reading “Umoljani, the hikers’ and pleasure-seekers’ haven of Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Walking Istanbul, Turkey

What do you do in Istanbul when you’ve seen most of the major sights? Or, to specify, when you’ve had enough of the museums and palaces no matter how very enchanting they might be? Well, you can do the same we do in any of the huge cities: take a long walk. Generally, walking seems to have been dying out as an everyday activity anyway but I couldn’t imagine a more splendid way to come to grips with a metropolis, albeit a micro-small portion of it.

So, we’d returned to amazing buzz of Istanbul, the giant doorway between good old Europe and exotic Asia, and it proved to be just as lively and colourful as we’d remembered. Continue reading “Walking Istanbul, Turkey”

Touring Herzegovina (as in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

When you think of or hear about Bosnia and Herzegovina, the association with wine is most likely not the one that blinks in your mind. Nothing wrong here, don’t worry, you are not to blame. Quantity of wine produced in Bosnia and Herzegovina is really small tiny. But surprising as it may be, there is such a thing as Bosnian wine and some of it is quite delicious.

The wine of Bosnia and Herzegovina is produced in a geographical area called Herzegovina that lies to the south of the country and of which Mostar is the biggest town. It’s a region of dramatic natural beauty and even more dramatic climate: Continue reading “Touring Herzegovina (as in Bosnia and Herzegovina)”

Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are surprisingly many interesting things about this Bosnian town, starting with its name, which is one of the loveliest I’ve come across: Travnik translates to meadow in English. By the way, one of the towns we drove through on our way to Travnik was even called Vitez = Knight.

There’s lots of water there. The Lašva runs through it loud and jumpy.

Continue reading “Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part Two): Maremma, Tuscany

Just look at this chef’s face! He’s happy, very happy and so are we who enjoy his food. Continue reading “Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part Two): Maremma, Tuscany”

Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part One): Veneto to Marche and Tuscany (and back)

“Are you sitting comfortably?” my man asked as I mounted our motorbike upon departure. My day was made with this concern of his over my well being, let alone the fact we were heading to Italy for a summer vacation.

By the early evening we would arrive to a wonderful town of Urbino

First stopover: Menegaldo in Veneto

Since we left home a bit later than planned, we needed to adjust our plans for where to stop for lunch. Continue reading “Holidaying and Eating in Italy 2018 (Part One): Veneto to Marche and Tuscany (and back)”

Summer Food: Oven-baked Chicken with Tomatoes

We arrived to the coast just the night before. We walked through a tranquil village to the restaurant for dinner. Not many people around, barely a car passed us. It was a short, pleasurable walk. The air was dense with smells of the sea and the sun-drenched soil. The sunset was gorgeous. It felt good to be back at last.

The dinner we had at Restaurant Badi was fantastic: marinated sardines and anchovies, a small heap of the Venetian classic sarde in saor, then two bowls of crisp fresh salad and a whole, on the bone, perfectly grilled sea bream. With it we had some very good Istrian, local, red wine and after the meal we shared a glass of pelinkovac, a delicious bitter brandy made with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).

Then, the next morning we headed to the farmers’ market in Umag. It’s one of those not too cute but secluded places that are lively and colourful. Continue reading “Summer Food: Oven-baked Chicken with Tomatoes”

Touring Silicon Valley, California

Arial view of San Francisco from an airplane
San Francisco, here we come!

What can I say? Going abroad always feels good but going to America, especially to California, on top of it for pleasure, is especially special. The reputation for open-mindedness and advancement California’s acquired are great magnets, despite all the negative, mostly political, campaigns, so sure I was looking forward to flying over the ocean and almost two continents to see for myself how the Golden State copes with it all.

Continue reading “Touring Silicon Valley, California”

Self-driving in Sri Lanka

There are two simple but golden rules for self-driving (as a tourist) in Sri Lanka:

1.  Count on the average speed of 30-40 km per hour

2.  Download Google maps for offline use (on your mobile device)

One of the most picturesque landscapes in Sri Lanka is one up in the mountains where tea plantations are shaded by tall rubber trees.
One of the most picturesque landscapes is one up in the mountains where tea plantations are shaded by tall rubber trees.

Traffic in Sri Lanka is left-hand which, according to my man, is not a big deal. Apparently, a driver gets it pronto. The big deal is that the traffic is by no means segregated to that of vehicles, that of bicycles and that of pedestrians. Continue reading “Self-driving in Sri Lanka”

Citrus Garden

For someone who has been living gladly and happily in urbanized environment for my whole life I find myself surprisingly very much interested in gardens in recent years. Truth be told, I lived in a proper house in a proper village for a relatively short period of time when my parents bought a house as their long-lived dream of having a home in the country, but I couldn’t have left it faster once I moved away to live on my own. Back to town, that was.

My personal life-long habitat therefore is an apartment. Continue reading “Citrus Garden”

Touring Sri Lanka Top 8 (Part 2)

Sunset over tea plantations en route to even higher lying estates

As promised in my previous post, here is part two of my top 8 places I particularly enjoyed during our trip to Sri Lanka last month. From the cultural riches of Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla we drove to the heart of the Hill Country and after a few days continued to the coast. The weather was fine every day everywhere we went which was a miracle in itself. After the overwhelming beauty of Kandalama I couldn’t have dreamt of places even more alluring.

Brief Garden Gate

Continue reading “Touring Sri Lanka Top 8 (Part 2)”

Touring Sri Lanka: Top 8

There’s tea and there’s tea alright. And that’s about all I knew about Sri Lanka before. Ashamed as I may have been of my ignorance, I am now, after our return from a recent holiday on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, at peace with myself.

The wonderful Kandalama Lake, surrounded by lush jungle, with a view of magical Sigiriya in the distance

Sri Lanka is all that: beautiful and diverse landscape, lush flora, extraordinary wildlife, pleasant people, rich historical heritage, delicious food, but also bad roads, excessive bureaucracy and mad traffic. As a result, the mix of it all makes for a very much alive, colourful, energetic spectacle for the passing tourist. Sri Lanka took us by surprise in its own right.

Buddha of Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Carved out of granite but looking as tender as silk

Continue reading “Touring Sri Lanka: Top 8”

Traditions to be kept

Traditions are meant to be kept. Some of them at least.

Throughout history certain rites, beliefs and customs were repeated over and over again by human kind, modified by new notions that developed and accumulated along the way as time passed, and most certainly by newcomers, then finally and definitely upgraded by new generations that unavoidably followed. This time of year, when it nears its ends, it is apparently the time when I appear to be ponder-ish and kind of blue. Continue reading “Traditions to be kept”

Touring Piedmont, Italy, or Reminiscence of Summer

It’s a shame this site has not been keeping on for a while now and I’m sorry about that. Today’s post has been long in the making, the seasons changed dramatically in the meantime. Listing my reasons for not posting would just be too lame so I’m simply inviting you to step a few months back with me into the wondrous land of Piedmont, Italy.

A view ofGovone, a very pretty village in the region of Langhe in Piedmont
Govone, a very pretty village in the region of Langhe in Piedmont. Not only wine also hazelnuts are big here.

Lately (please keep in mind this post was first beginning to take shape almost two months ago) every time I looked out the window towards the park or around me outdoors I was struck by how wonderful this year’s autumn was. September was a true disappointment weather-wise, so I guess it wasn’t too hard for October to outperform it. Outperform it did: the nature’s treasures are glorifying. The generous sun provided for all possible shades of yellow, red and brown. Marvellous.

Piedmont, Italy

Continue reading “Touring Piedmont, Italy, or Reminiscence of Summer”

Sarajevo Film Festival & more

It feels kind of embarrassing to be writing about Sarajevo only from the entertainment point of view. Of course there is so much more to the city than amusement, fun and pleasure. But be it as it is, I always have good time in Sarajevo. Somehow, every time I’m there I enjoy it a lot. Call me trivial, I don’t mind at all.

Sarajlije in action (playing outdoor chess on Trg oslobođenja in city centre)
Sarajlije in action on Trg oslobođenja in city centre

You might remember Sarajevo from the news back in the 90’s when the  horrible siege of the city took place and kept its citizens trapped for far too long. The actual post-war renovations of the city may be slow and partial but it’s the people that form one city’s soul. Sarajevans or Sarajlije, as they’re called locally, are relaxed, modern and proud of their multicultural city. I love to hang out with them. It’s so much fun!

Sarajlije

The Sarajevo Film Festival is a real treat. It seems to be a city’s motor of some sort. It feels as if everybody is hardly waiting only for it to begin. The city itself gets spruced up, so do people who on any other occasion  make very sartorial outings anyway be it a stroll down Ferhadija, main pedestrianized street, a dinner or party, but during the events of the film festival they get very classy indeed.

Night view of Metalac, the most spectacular open air cinema in the world (the official artwork of 2017 edition of Sarajevo Film Festial on screen)
Metalac, the most spectacular open air cinema in the world (the official artwork of 2017 edition of Sarajevo Film Festial on screen)

The films we saw this time were:  On the Other Side of Hope, which won the Silver Bear award in Berlin this year, Aus dem Nichts (In the Fade) starring the fantastic Diane Kruger, a very particular Good TimesŽaba (The Frog), the most impatiently awaited Bosnian film, and a fraction of oldie-goldie A Fish Called Wanda, which showed as a tribute to John Cleese.

John Cleese accepting the Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement
John Cleese accepting the Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement in Metalac

Many stars and celebrities come to Sarajevo during the film festival. Oliver Stone and  John Cleese were the most widely known ones this year and they both received the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement. There were of course many more.

Oliver Stone’s gave a sober but kind anti-war speech before receiving the heart of Sarajevo Award in Metalac
Oliver Stone’s gave a sober but kind anti-war speech before receiving the heart of Sarajevo Award in Metalac

The most wonderful venue for watching the films is certainly a huge courtyard known among Sarajevans as Metalac. It’s right in the heart of the city, in the vicinity of so called Festival Square, encircled with Austria-Hungarian townhouses. It’s righteously the most popular venue.

Metalac, an enormous open air cinema, in broad daylight. It can seat 3000 people.
Metalac, an enormous open air cinema, in broad daylight. It can seat 3000 people.

Although we certainly love a good film, it’s not (only) films that we come to Sarajevo for during its famous film festival. It’s the city itself, its personality and vibe.

Central market in Sarajevo
Central market in Sarajevo

Sarajevans are very much emotionally attached to their city. Even as a total outsider I can nod to their uneasiness about any other city. After Sarajevo many other capitals of the West, particularly the monocultural ones, seem justifiably boring.

Panorama of Sarajevo city centre with surrounding hills
Panorama of Sarajevo city centre with surrounding hills as viewed from the terrace of Marriott hotel

 

Related:

Oliver Stone Gets Putin Praise Set Honor via hollywoodreporter.com

Variety.com on Oliver Stone at SFF

I’ve written about some of my previous visits to Sarajevo: https://mrssage.com/sarajevo-or-my-weekend-with-robert-de-niro/ and https://mrssage.com/sarajevo-revisited/

Boka Kotorska, Montenegro

The view of Boka Kotorska
The high steep mountains form dramatic coastline of Boka Kotorska

I count it as a personal defeat to declare Porto Montenegro the highlight of our short trip to Montenegro last week. Strolling concrete seashore of a luxurious Adriatic haven for the wealthy seafaring Russians, although only for a couple of hours, is certainly not my cup of tea. Continue reading “Boka Kotorska, Montenegro”

Touring the Wine Regions of Bordeaux, France

Endless vineyards of Bordeaux
Endless vineyards of Bordeaux

I’ve been a red wine lover through and through since almost forever (I admit to having preferred the white wine in my coming of age period) so spending a part of our summer holiday touring the Bordeaux wine regions seemed to be a straightforward, logical decision. I love champagne a lot too but I don’t think we’ll head to Champagne anytime soon. One huge French wine region, which Bordeaux area undisputedly and certainly is, with all its delights and weaknesses, was quite a handful.  Continue reading “Touring the Wine Regions of Bordeaux, France”

Touring Cote d’Azur a.k.a. French Riviera, France (obviously)

Yeah, I suppose you have every reason to dismiss me with boos and hisses for what on Earth is it in that destination in question, Cote d’Azur, or the French Riviera, as it is refered to in English (although the original name reflects the real thing so much better), right? (right???) except for some ugly beaches, lousy weather, bad food and cheap wine. But bear with me, please. It was MY holiday after all.

A late afternoon sunlight adorning Cote d'Azur
A late afternoon sunlight adorning Cote d’Azur

First things first: Cote d’Azur, probably France’s finest stretch of coast, is just as good and beautiful as I remember. Maybe even tiny weeny bit better but memory can be, oh, so deceiving. Nah, it is disgustingly fabulous. We shall be returning.

St Paul de Vence, Cote d'Azur
St Paul de Vence, Cote d’Azur

Our short holiday on Cote d’Azur this summer was so colourful I’m having hard time assembling all the impressions for this post. Where do I begin? Continue reading “Touring Cote d’Azur a.k.a. French Riviera, France (obviously)”

The Reading List

Read much? Don’t find the time? Pity. I love reading. Books especially. I think reading is one of the most precious skills of the human kind. No other living creature we know of has the ability of telling stories, visualising them, writing them down, reading them.

The cliché thing about reading that I find to be most true is it fosters the intensity of thought and stimulates the streams of active thinking.

Plus, reading helps me fall asleep. Somehow it provides the energy necessary to disconnect. Continue reading “The Reading List”