Thursday 31 May 2007

Trip to Belgrade (Part 2)

As I mentioned in the previous post my girlfriend just got back from Belgrade. This time I was left home alone, so the credits for these photos go to her.

Driving around the old part of the city one can still see effects of US bombings on surrounding houses. It is one of those reoccurring stories. First the US Army (still reffered to as the aggressor army by locals) buys bombs and pays its soldiers to demolish a need-to-be-liberated-country and then it needs to be rebuilt - again (at least partially) with US money.

The whole civil war thing, the bombings and the following socio-economic crisis, has left it's impact on people. They don't seem to trust each other as easily as before the war.

However in some aspects things have stayed the same. Numerous brass bands can be seen on the city streets. They try to keep the moods of passersby as high as possible. The city center remains alive late into the night. And it doesn't mater if it is just another weekday night.

In addition to all this, basketball scene is still very much alive. The locals consider it almost a national sport. Some of the players from former Yugoslavia have even left quite an impression on NBA (e.g. Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic and many more).
Many street basketball courts can be seen around the city. The ones with lighting remain crowded long after sunset every day.


Tuesday 29 May 2007

Trip to Belgrade (Part 1)

This time unfortunately I wasn't the lucky traveler. I just lent my trusty Olympus camera to my girlfriend. She went on (kind of) a business trip to Belgrade - the capital of Serbia.

The interesting thing is that the Youth Day (25th of May) was just while she was there.
Because I suspect that some of you are not familiar with the meaning of that, a history lesson follows...

/BEGIN HistoryLesson
Day of Youth is an ex holiday that used to be celebrated throughout the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On this date president Tito's birthday was celebrated. It meant that youngsters from all of the country's six republics carried six batons, which on their way to Belgrade had passed through all major cities. They contained symbolic birthday messages for the president Tito.

I can still remember celebrations when still in the first grades of primary school. I think in Slovenia after somewhere around 1988 officially this wasn't practiced any more. That was also the time of the last generation of children which had to join Young Pioneers.
/END HistoryLesson

It was interesting to hear that even this year (like all of the previous years) six batons from all six of the former republics have arrived to Belgrade. This is kind of amazing knowing the fact that the country of Yugoslavia broke apart about 15 years ago in a nasty civil war.

On the first photo you can see three of the six this year's batons.

The second photo features my girlfriend wearing my Young Pioneer's hat (she borrowed it for the trip). It was taken near the House of Flowers (Kuća Cveća), where Tito is buried.

She also told me that the showcases with Tito's uniforms were crawling with moths. I don't know if those uniforms are originals, but unfortunately I am afraid they are.
I think this could be linked to the fact that there is no entrance fee. Obviously there is a lack of interest in preserving relics from that certain period of time. I think that's at least irresponsible if nothing else.


Friday 25 May 2007

The Queen Symphony

In Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, the best time of year is approaching. It is usually around this time, when the old city center starts to bounce in the rhythm of many bands and street performers. This usually lasts till mid September, when things cool down again (this in my opinion is the best time of year to visit Ljubljana). It is a true delight just to go for an evening walk through the streets and enjoy the atmosphere with a glass of wine in one of the many street cafes.

Two days ago the Travel Photo Blogging team (that's me and my girlfriand) went to listen to the Queen Symphony performed by the University Symphonic Winds Ljubljana.
My brother was one of the performers (check out his Tuba Blog) but even if he didn't play, I would go anyway. If you didn't know, once upon the time The Queen were one of my favorite bands.

This symphony was first performed by The British Royal Orchestra. But for this adapted version it was a world premiere. It was supposed to happen somewhere in Sweden a few days ago, but for some reason it got postponed.
I really enjoyed every single minute of it. I even got myself a poster of the event.


Monday 21 May 2007

Link exchange

I have decided to dedicate some space on this blog to blog links.

If you think you have a blog that is worth linking to... let me know. You can leave your contact info in a comment. I promise to take a look at all of the blogs suggested.

If you like my blog, but don't want to exchange links, you can write it down as well.

As this is a photo blog, I am also posting a photo from my travel-photo-archive. This one was taken on the Marina di Pisa beach during one of my many visits to Tuscany, Italy.
Can't wait to go there again!

I have done it once again! I accidentally disabled comments in this post.
Now the commenting is back on, so you can finally respond to my request.


Friday 18 May 2007

How to win 20 EUR?

It's pretty easy if you go party with me... Read on for more juicy details and money winning tips. ;)

In Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia and a center of Slovenian student life) the Student fair takes place once every year. In my humble opinion it's the best student party of the year.
One of its main attractions is a large offer of various traditional culinary dishes and beverages (mostly alcoholic ones) from around the country. And all of that for free!

In addition to this, there were also some other activities available for students to participate in. For instance somewhere there was supposed to be a mechanical bull you could ride, but I guess I wasn't trying hard enough to find it. We found other things to occupy us. For instance we were trying various cocktails and couldn't get enough of that.

Two of my friends also volunteered for a 20 Euro task. The girl simply had to open her mouth which served as a cocktail mixer. Her boyfriend then simply used a straw to drink the cocktail. That was it – the easiest 20 Euros ever earned!

Other tasks were not so interesting and not so much to our liking. Who would want to participate in a banana eating contest, where you have to eat more bananas then a guy next to you? With all the alcohol around we surely weren't yelling: "Me! Me! Pick me!"
So we rather concentrated on spending (drinking) those Euros.

We have also tried an attractive blue cocktail presented by the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology. It even had white smoke coming from it (allegedly achieved with a dash of liquid nitrogen). Its main ingredient was vodka. The taste wasn't so bad, but the real surprise came on the next morning. My urine looked remarkably similar to that same cocktail – it was bright blue. Through the day it gradually regained its regular color. That really was a relief.

I guess the moral of this story is: "Think twice before you drink anything a chemist offers you."


Wednesday 16 May 2007

Climbing the highest peak of Pašman island

This was one heck of a climb! So kids, don't try this at home (unless you are an experienced Himalaya-hardened climber).
We decided to do this without renting a local Sherpa. Friends tried to persuade us not to go, but they didn't succeed. The mountain was calling us!

The climb started at our base camp at 0 meters above sea level. It took us two days to get used to such extreme height.

We went on our way sometime in the late morning. There were three of us - every one of us being an experienced climber.

Our first stop was somewhere on the half way up, at a point where the narrow path was replaced by a wider gravel road. We considered our options for moving on and after a while we took the road towards the top. We decided to continue without crampons.

After a while we reached the top of Mt. Veliki Bokolj with its staggering 274 meters above sea level. We took some time for photos and enjoyed the view (the Kornati natural park looked as beautiful as ever). The most enthusiastic hiker of the three of us had a stamp-pad on him (he usually does). We used it with the stamp, which is available at the top.

After some 20 minutes we decided to head back - we were afraid of some unexpected snow blizzard. You can never be too careful!

Besides seeing a couple of snakes, the descent went on without incidents. We were back at our base-camp just in time for lunch. To our great surprise it was sea bass on the menu again. It was delicious!


Friday 11 May 2007

Passive night fishing

After (not very successful) few hours of night fishing some of the eager fishermen also tried passive fishing. Results were expected. :)


Tuesday 8 May 2007

Ante Gotovina graffiti

All over Croatia various graffiti in support of general Ante Gotovina can be seen. He was accused of war crimes against Serbian population. After some time avoiding arrest he has decided to surrender himself to Haag.

Our night fishing spot was also marked with one of them. It reads: "Long live Ante Gotovina".


Monday 7 May 2007

A typical fishing day on Pašman, Croatia

I have finally found time to share our daily routine during the five day vacation.

Most of the time we took it easy. Our only goals were to catch enough fish for everyday lunch and to have a good time in the process.

Usually our day started with a late breakfast and some sunbathing. Twice I even managed to summon up enough courage to go for a swim before lunch. Water was about 18°C, which is quite warm for this time of year, but still not warm enough to enjoy soaking in the sea for a long time. It was invigorating.

As hours went by, hunger was creeping in. One of our everyday routines was making fire and grilling fish. After that, lunch took place. We ate like it was our last time. I think it's safe to say that I ate about a kilo of fish a day. And it was delicious!

After lunch we started preparing for fishing. We had to attach some fishhooks to pieces of fishing line. Before I was able to do that I had to learn a few basic knots.

Most of the fishing we did was night fishing. Every time after sunset and again just before sunrise fish were biting like crazy. So most of the nights were spent by the sea holding a fishing stick. We were using live fish bait and silicon ones. Both kinds of bait worked fine, but live ones were still a bit better.
We caught 15 to 25 fish each night. 90 percent of those were sea-bass (brancin). Some were more than half a meter long and weighing over a kilo.

Usually we went to bed at daylight. Once we also managed to clean the catch but on other occasions the non fishing part of our party did the cleaning.

This kind of working hours completely messed up my biorhythm. As a consequence my first day at work was not too productive.


Friday 4 May 2007

Fishing photo collage

I just got back from a fishing trip. Weather was nice, fish were biting like crazy and as expected we had a wonderful time.

I am posting a photo collage made by Google Picasa. It will have to do for now.

I'll write a proper post or two on the subject in the following days.

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