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”

Dear Ms Nilanjana Roy

I’m a big fan of reading. I’ve always adored literature but just as much I enjoy a well-written newspaper piece. It so happens that when I read about something very interesting in the newspaper I add it to a pile that sits next to my bed. (My weekend newspaper reading starts in bed with the mandatory cup of coffee on the bedside table.) By saving a copy I appear to be expecting of myself to turn to it again and again. As life continues its course and time flies by as noiselessly as ever, the pile in question slowly but steadily grows as (yet) another paper is added atop until it reaches the size of precarious heap, making it hard to ignore it, or, even harder, to pretend it’s not in the way. So, once in a while I decide it’s high time it went.

Cheers to friendships!

This is no simple task, mind you. Continue reading “Dear Ms Nilanjana Roy”

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”

Beef Broth or Rindsuppe or First Autumn Weekend

I don’t need calendar to tell me autumn’s arrived. As soon as I start craving sauerkraut and beef broth I know that time of year is here again. Talk of archetypes, these two are certainly typical autumn and winter foods in our household. So, I listened to that inner voice when shopping yesterday at farmers’ market and we stopped at the butcher’s for a nice cut of beef. Sauerkraut on hold for now.

A serving of beef broth with semolina dumplings
Beef broth (Rindsuppe or Tafelspitzsuppe) served with semolina dumplings

Beef broth to me is a go-to heart and soul warmer. Continue reading “Beef Broth or Rindsuppe or First Autumn Weekend”

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/

Late Summer in the Kitchen: Figs & Peppers

As much as we might be sorry for summer being gone, this is a good time of year: it’s a rewarding combination of abundant produce and moderate temperatures. Truth be told, with all the raging heat waves this summer (four? five? I lost count.) I didn’t get to cook much. Too hot is simply too hot.

A plate of trimmed and cut figs ready to adorn the galette
Figs getting ready for their perfomance in fig galette

When the heat persists it’s best to resort to ice cream or slush, cold drink and dreamy shade. And spare your energy. Continue reading “Late Summer in the Kitchen: Figs & Peppers”

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)”

Summer Barbecue Food

Come summer I start rooting for barbecue. We both love any kind of barbecued food from delicious meat in Sarajevo to wild-caught fish in Istria  where we have our summer retreat.

We’re not known to be early birds so we might come to fishmongers’ too late to be offered a vast selection of daily catch. When there’s no fish (or squid or prawns or scampi) to choose from we turn to butchers’ instead. Continue reading “Summer Barbecue Food”

Citrus and Booze Slush

Homemade frozen delight for adults only

How come I never heard about it before? Slush, as bizarre as a food name can be, is my summer favourite if I ever had one. Made of freshly squeezed citrus juice, a little bit of sugar and some liquor, it has summer written all over it.

Pink grapefruit slush in a glass - a perfect summer refreshment
Nothing beats a glass of frozen delight a.k.a. citrus slush on a hot summer’s day (or night)

This slush is made of very staple ingredients so with a little luck you’re all set to give it a go. As a matter of fact, recently, with a leftover ½ litre of pink grapefruit juice in my fridge, I sat down in front of my computer to check David Lebovitz’s site for a recipe how to use it up, and guess what? Continue reading “Citrus and Booze Slush”

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”

Matera in Basilicata, Italy

It must be one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited: an ancient town named Matera in Italian region of Basilicata, occupying the arch of the Italian foot, bordering the southernmost regions of Italian peninsula: Campania, Puglia and Calabria.

The coulds gathered over Matera emphasizing the dreariness of the times past
Matera in Basilicata bathing in the grey

Now, as I’m writing this, contemplating the travels past on a rainy evening, I’ve poured myself a glass of red wine to keep the meandering thoughts going, and it must be more than a coincidence that the wine is a superb Primitivo di Manduria, the one we fell in love with during our holiday to Apulia last summer. A holiday when we devoted a day to visit Matera in the neighbouring Basilicata.

Continue reading “Matera in Basilicata, Italy”

Nova Gorica and Gorizia Revisited or the Fragrant Bourbons

After last year’s visit to the magnificent Bourbon tomb in Franciscan Monastery in Kostanjevica I was promised another visit to see the glorious Bourbon rose garden next door. Yes, the last (Bourbon) king of France is buried in a tiny monastery above Nova Gorica and Gorizia on the Slovenian side of the Slovenian Italian border. I’ve written about it here. This last weekend we went to see them, the fragrant Bourbon roses. As always with my man, the trip included a delicious lunch and also a nice walk, this time through another garden. Another new discovery. More on it below.

Lunch at Rosenbar in Gorizia. This time I resisted (the usual) alici and opted for insalata di polpo e sepia. A wonderfully fresh and delicious starter.
This time I resisted (the usual) alici and opted for insalata di polpo e sepia. A wonderfully fresh and delicious starter.

I’m no expert on roses, or gardening for that matter, Continue reading “Nova Gorica and Gorizia Revisited or the Fragrant Bourbons”

Ketmer by Honey & Co. Recipe

Ready-to-serve ketmer with baked pistachio on the side
Ready-to-serve ketmer with baked pistachio on the side

Now that both my proof-eaters approved I can self-confidently announce I mastered the ketmer in the first go. Big thanks to Honey & Co. for their easy-to-follow recipe and demonstrative instagram tutorial. The only downside of this recipe is it wasn’t published in the printed version of the FT Weekend as its recipes have always been. Hopefully not everything is moving online. Shoot me, I’m an obvious dinosaur, but I still prefer my newspaper on, well, yes, paper. Continue reading “Ketmer by Honey & Co. Recipe”

London, United Kingdom

72 hours of sheer joy it was, wasn’t it, our London break last week. London has always represented the top of the world for me, so yes, I’m biased. Guilty as charged. First time post Brexit, so far all is still good, buzzing, polished and polishing, metropolitan, cosmopolitan, huge, diverse, expensive, welcoming. However, it’s gonna be choppy ahead. For the United Kingdom, for London, for the rest of Europe, for everyone.

View of The Shard, London, UK
Something old, something new, something blue …

The reason, the cause, the motivator for this last trip to London was this magnificent David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain that I just couldn’t allow us to miss. Continue reading “London, United Kingdom”

Asparagus the Middle-Eastern Way

According to popular notion asparagus has some kind of cleansing effect on the human body, as is the case with many a springtime produce: dandelion, radicchio, artichokes – to name only the most obvious suspects. In terms of taste, the cultivated (garden) asparagus is not on the bitter side as opposed to wild asparagus, which is also thinner, but has a distinguished, typical flavour. And a particular smell too, which is manifested afterwards in the loo.

 

Market produce in April

Somehow, I have always perceived asparagus as an exclusively Mediterranean vegetable possibly stretching a bit beyond but not too much. It struck me by surprise then to have stumbled upon a recipe Continue reading “Asparagus the Middle-Eastern Way”

A Glimpse of Le Marche, Italy

Ever heard of Senigallia? Me neither. Until last summer that is. As it turns out, it’s one of the most popular sea-side resort towns on the Italian side of Adriatic coast in the region of Le Marche. It’s where masses of Italian families spend their beach holiday. I was shocked by the sheer size, i.e. length of it.

Sunflower field in Le Marche
A field of sunflowers in lovely countryside of Le Marche, Italy

Continue reading “A Glimpse of Le Marche, Italy”