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”

Roasted Peppers

It’s November and I’m writing about roasted peppers. Why, you might ask. Well, it’s been a very pleasant autumn so far in my part of the world, unseasonably sunny and warm, which prolonged the growing season of vegetables that usually don’t pull through that late in the year. Peppers are therefore still present in the farmers’ market. Last but not least, they’re one of my favourite foods.  Continue reading “Roasted Peppers”

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”

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”

Can’t Buy Me Love

“It’s (nearly) Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. Except, of course, there is. Forced festive fun is staggering towards us in its paper hat and comedy jumper, complete with flashing lights, reindeer noses and knowing irony.”

This passus by Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham from their article in theguardian.com is probably the best description of the current warming-up-to-the-hype, pre-festive hysteria. It nails it perfectly.

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There’s another very interesting and thought-provoking piece related to the upcoming season (which is already here actually!) that I’ve been saving since last year. A dinosaur, I know. It’s as timeless though as the greatest Christmas tale itself: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I’m referring to an article by Tim Harford, FT columnist and Undercover Economist. Here’s a headline and an excerpt that I particularly liked:

In praise of Scrooge

‘Scrooge didn’t waste his money on extravagances for people whose desires he didn’t really understand’

“It is hard for us to grasp the discrepancy between how we see the world when giving gifts and when receiving them. Recipients may appreciate cash or presents from a list and not fuss too much about expensive gifts; gift givers, in contrast, imagine that the ideal present is an expensive surprise. It isn’t. All this suggests we should probably be spending less on presents, and thinking a lot more about the presents we do buy.”

I’m a firm believer that we should be paying attention to people, to their needs and/or desires. There’s so much more to Christmas than presents and binge drinking and eating. (This from a person who cannot stop reaching for another slice of panettone as if her life depended on it.) The present, if and when we intend to give one, should by all means reflect the purposefulness and meaningfulness we infused into the process of buying it. There’s nothing worse in a gift than the obvious fact it was carelessly or sloppily selected, bulk chosen or having no personal value to the recipient. Something you put away in a drawer never to recall the moment of receiving it reflects money spent badly plus the disappointment (although not expressed or shown) is immeasurable. I’d feel uncomfortable giving away things just for the sake of doing what everybody else is doing and considering a proper thing. If we’re no good at memorizing (and are parallelly employing the idea of chronic lack of time) then, in the age of smart phones that are always at the tips of our fingers, the task should not be too difficult at all: taking notes on the go has never been easier. It doesn’t take the burden of paying attention off though. Nevertheless, don’t fall for the obvious seemingly easy and generic solutions: receiving a wrong cosmetic is awful and giving cosmetic per se is bloody weak, especially for women. Same goes for wine (white wine person getting a bottle of red anyone?). Or anything else really. Give it some thought, it’s a valuable suggestion. Do try making them happy not your own self. Spending a fortune on presents is more or less passé. There’s even a scientific proof.

Pay attention then. Reach for quality in your choices. Set examples. Feel good about it. Don’t believe me? See what experts say about attention.

 

Recommended:

More science on the subject of gift giving

And two fiery 80’s and 60’s music mementos: