My father took me to Rome when I was about ten. He went on business but planned to extend his stay for a couple of days so he could bring me along and show me the great city. I have a vague memory of us arriving in Stazione Termini, him in a grey suit, shirt and tie, although I have no recollection of us actually travelling aboard a train (or, for that matter, a plane beforehand). Anyway, Continue reading “A Long Weekend in Rome, Italy”
For years now, come December and I’m yearning for January. Its sobriety and down-to-earthness appeal to me tremendously once the bacchanals of the last month of the year progress to hysterical heights.
I think they did good when they chose January as the first month of the year: days are getting visibly longer, everybody’s resolving to improve and approaching the future with sensible planning. None of that is just as sweet without asserting the good stuff of the past year. Here’s my list, then, of the most impressive meals I’ve had in 2018 outside the home – in no particular order, common denominator being good quality, delicious food.
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”
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”
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.
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.
“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.
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).
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.
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)
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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”