Before I proceed with my regular daily blog post, I want to make a special appeal for those who aren’t on Facebook and didn’t see my appeal there.

As you know, I just spent three days in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it was raining and the Miljacka River was threatening to overflow in some parts of the city. While Sarajevo was spared, many other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina were severely affected by flooding.

I don’t know how much of this has been covered by US media, but it is a terrible situation, and local resources to aid those in need are very scarce.

I connected with many people in Bosnia and will cherish the connections I made there for the rest of my life. These are warm, kind, friendly people, and we in the United States let them down in a big way once before.

If you are enjoying hearing about my travels, please help. Amir sent me links to two web sites where you can learn more about the situation and make a small donation.

Bosnia flooding fund 2014 at GoFundMe.com
Just a Dollar Flood Relief (and while you’re visiting this site, be sure to click on the Home link to learn more about poverty in BiH)

Thanks.
Continue reading “A town so cute I just wanna give it a hug”

Today I remembered why I love to travel. It’s not to see a famous and beautiful bridge and walk the cobbled streets of an “Old Town.” It’s not to buy the same tacky, made-in-China souvenirs that are sold in shop after shop. It’s not even to eat the local food (although that’s pretty important) or to see beautiful scenery (although that’s definitely important too).

Yes, I took pictures of the bridge. In daytime and after dark.
Continue reading “What bridge?”

Map showing occupied lands during the siege of Sarajevo

My first impressions of Sarajevo, arriving in pouring rain and heavy traffic two nights ago after a long day of driving, were not so good. The city seemed dank and crowded and not ready for prime time.

Even yesterday, after that wonderful day spent with Amir, I was more enamored of the stories than of the city. Perhaps it was the rain, being cold and wet all day.

But today I just let myself wander and explore, with no agenda except the tour I took to the tunnel museum and the concert this evening by the Sarajevo Philharmonic at the National Theatre (more about those later). And I’m starting to fall in love with this city. Even in the rain and the cold, even with the traffic, Sarajevo, it turns out, is a stunning city of beautiful people, varied and interesting architecture, a rich mixture of cultures, a lovely setting surrounded on all sides by hills, and a strong sense of history.
Continue reading “Sarajevo is a sly seductress”

I’m going to try something different today. I’m not going to talk about what I saw. And I’m not going to include any of the photos I took. (For one thing, it was raining all day and many of my photos are blurred by raindrops on the lens. Also, my camera got so wet it stopped working for a while, though it seems all better now. I’ll try to take better pictures tomorrow, though it’s still supposed to rain all day, and be very cold tomorrow, with high temps in the single digits Celsius, and I’ll get back to sharing what I’ve seen in Sarajevo in tomorrow’s post.)
Continue reading “My Walk with Amir”

We departed this morning a little before 9:00, anticipating the longest drive of the trip, estimated by Google (and by the folks at JayWay, the tour company that helped create the itinerary) as about five hours.

We arrived at our apartment in Sarajevo at 17:30, making the total day close to nine hours. We stopped twice for a total of less that two hours, but still….

Most of the day was a mix of sun and clouds with a few sprinkles, but as we drove into Sarajevo, it started to rain seriously. It’s now 21:30, and the rain hasn’t let up.

Bosnia is a beautiful country, filled with rolling green hills, some covered with lush forest, others with pastures and grazing sheep. The road, which was all twisty two-lane highway except for about 30 kilometers of autoroute approaching Sarajevo, is punctuated by tiny villages and some bigger towns. We stopped first in Bihać, about a half hour into our trip. There are some interesting things to see there, so it was worth a stop of about 45 minutes just to wander around.
Continue reading “Driving, Rain in Bosnia”

i’m ready.

There are still two hours before I leave for the airport, but I’m all packed and ready to go.

The big pile has been squeezed into my Rick Steves convertible carry-on and my souvenir bag from being a Jeopardy! contestant.  Combined weight is 28 pounds, which is more than I’d like to be carrying, but except for my Surface, which I will use for my daily blogging, or a shirt or two that won’t really have a significant effect on the weight, it’s all stuff I am sure I will need.
Continue reading “Packed”

Hard to believe, but it’s just one week until I leave on my trip.

I started packing last night.  Well, not really.

I made a pile on my floor of some stuff that’s coming with me (including some stuff that most likely won’t make the final cut when I actually do start packing).  The pile will grow over the course of the next week, but I won’t actually start packing anything until next Friday night or Saturday morning.  My flight isn’t until 1:50, so I won’t have to rush out of the house first thing.
Continue reading “One Week Out”

I love shopping on vacation.

It’s not about buying souvenirs.  In fact it’s not necessarily about buying anything (though I often do spend my American dollars abroad).  Shopping on vacation is about seeing how locals shop, and how the things they buy and the way they buy them are similar to or different from how we do it here.

I should add that shopping on vacation is not necessarily about being out of the USA.  I love visiting shops and markets in other cities. Going to Fred Meyer in Soldotna Alaska, for instance.

The best vacation shopping is outdoor markets. A good market will have everything from fruits and vegetables to meat, fish, and dairy to flowers to arts and crafts to tacky souvenirs. If I’m lucky, or if I plan carefully, I can visit markets on my travels. So here’s what I have found.
Continue reading “Markets”

There’s only one artist from the countries I’ll be visiting that I’ve ever heard of: Ivan Meštrović. But I only just figured out why I’ve heard of him. For a while Meštrović taught at Syracuse University, where I (much later) went to college. And a number of his sculptures are displayed on the SU campus. The one I remember most vividly is this bronze sculpture of Job from 1946.

Meštrović lived from 1883 until 1962. Some of his famous monuments are in places I’ll be visiting.
Continue reading “Balkan Arts”

Just as two years ago I struggled for the right term to describe Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, and Iceland (I settled on “Nordic,” but that wasn’t really right), there isn’t a good term that describes the places I’m visiting on this trip.  I use “Balkan” reluctantly, and I acknowledge that it’s not technically accurate, but it’s better than saying “former Yugoslavian” or “eastern Adriatic.”  Usually when I’m telling people where I’m going, I just list the countries I’m visiting.  But “The Foods of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro” just doesn’t cut it as a title for a blog post.
Continue reading “Balkan Food”