The Balkans

Tag

Going at it in the Lapad Peninsula

I find it odd that a mere 1-hour time difference between the UK and the continent still has some sort of effect on my droopy eyelids. And even odder that just this morning I walked the length of the Lapad Peninsula (and once more in Old Town) in Dubrovnik, and type this late at night back in the UK.   Sometimes it is too much to process. I set off early from the Pension in the hopes of catching the airport bus, only to have a taxi pull up at the buss-stop at the same time, offering the same price to the airport. It sounded too good to be true....

Division and Unity

Only after buying a return bus ticket to Dubrovnik did I learn from Rezi that a little-known service that does door-to-door pickup from Korcula to Dubrovnik costing the same amount as the bus, with fewer people and at a sane hour existed. So I was still stuck with needing to catch a bus back at 6.45am, and spent most of the day indoors to prevent the hives from getting worse. Yet the scratching continued, least helped by the next early day-tour taken to Mostar, a town nestled deep in the mountains and valleys of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which, away from the coast, boasted soaring spring temperatures that hit near 30 degrees. I...

A hive of (in)activity

The bus journey to Korcula runs daily at 3pm from the bus terminal and seeing that the check-out time at Pension Stankovich is at 10am, the morning was spent wandering about in the sweltering heat and finally into the Taj Mahal, a small konoba off the Stradun that serves strangely, Bosnian rather than Indian food. Bosnian sweets and strong coffee at 11am in the morning couldn’t possibly go wrong. Thus came the tufahijia, a dessert dish made from baked apples, chocolate and walnuts, then topped with a layer of cream. It was then back to the Pension begging for much needed relief found in a glass of cold water, Mac’s...

Crna Gora: Shade is Salvation

When someone has food and drink, sit closer. When they are working, move away. It is best not to disturb them. – One of the 10 commandments printed on a postcard of Montenegro It is rather mind-blowing to enter a country that is a mere 3 years old but has a history that stretches over millennia. Montenegro – bordered by the Adriatic sea in the southwest and Croatia in the west – severed its ties with Serbia in June 2006 and declared its independence. It is an enticing region of monuments (and their ruins), beaches and great weather, situated in the allure of sparkling sea that continues as far as...

The Adriatic treasures

I’m starting to believe that I never pass up an opportunity to say just how much I hate plane journeys. Given that Edinburgh-Dubrovnik was a new route introduced by FlyGlobespan and seeing that I was on the first trip there, I was half expecting that the pilot would get lost or some other horrible thing would happen. A 45-minute delay just had to prove me right. It was a full and long flight (3.5 hrs) for an intercontinental one on a budget airline, and I tried sleeping to no avail, only to perk up a bit when the plane went over the Swiss Alps. Things changed however, when the Adriatic...

The Former Yugoslavia

Trying to make sense of the Balkan conflict is no easy feat, particularly when I’d aimed for a reasonable grasp of the region’s complicated, bloody history by the time the plane touches down in Dubrovnik. Then I found this rather illuminating article, which impressed me so much that I thought it should be given its space here. The Former Yugoslavia by Cameron Hewitt, co-author of the Rick Steves Best of Eastern Europe and Rick Steves Croatia and Slovenia guidebooks Americans struggle to understand the complicated breakup of Yugoslavia (especially when visiting countries that rose from its ashes, such as Croatia and Slovenia). During the Yugoslav era, it was no less confusing....

Insane Balkanology

“I don’t know why you always plan your trips like it’s the first and only time you’ll ever see these places,” TC told me. “When we were in London, it was like boot camp! No wonder I was so grumpy always.” How was I to articulate that spontaneously that it could very well be the last time I stepped foot into some place, when there are so many other places in the world to see, so urgently? It certainly wasn’t because I feared that ageing would slow me down, or that inertia would catch up. The idea of seeing more and more countries as displaying the “traveller’s trophy cabinet” sounded...

Istanbul Revisited

There are probably many existing copies of the Ayasofya and the Blue Mosque that I have in my photo database, but I took more yet again, in the hope of getting clear shots during a rare, clear winter day. The weather was for most part, as irritatingly cold and damp as I remembered, and did wonders in exacerbating TC’s cough and foul temper. Istanbul was meant to be our last stop, and a last-minute, relaxing, browsing and shopping one at that – for me at least. Having covered the ‘necessary sights’ the first time around 2 years ago, the game plan was to catch a couple of things that were...

The stop in Lake Bled

We woke the next morning to discover that the ceiling had not caved in on us despite the large strip of paint hanging down from it. As it turned out, the same strip of paint was still hanging from the ceiling the day we left Slovenia. I guess paint in Slovenia must be pretty strong stuff. A quick breakfast, and we were off on our way to the old town, waylaid only by the lure of a large toiletry store. As we soon discovered, Ljubljana is actually very walkable and it is nearly impossible to get lost walking around. In the middle of the old town, we found a Christmas...

The Beloved City

I was grumpy. A four-day head cold will do that to you. Mind you, this was an improved version of me. Two days earlier, saw me reduced to a gibbering idiot, staring owl eyed at the wall. The situation in the train station did not seem very promising. The place appeared to be cast in cold, grey stone. The design of the place seemed functional, but only just so. Only one or two shops were open, one a bar and the other a mobile phone shop of some sort. The coloured signs of the shops seemed almost reluctant in the way they shone, barely adequate in piercing the gloom of...