Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Wikipedia:
Mostar is a city and municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest and the most important city in the Herzegovina region. Mostar is situated on the Neretva river and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was named after "the bridge keepers" (natively: mostari) who kept the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over Neretva river.During the Ottoman era, the Old Bridge was built and became one of the symbols of Mostar. The bridge was destroyed by Croatian Defence Council units during the Bosnian-Herzegovian War, on November 9, 1993 at 10:15 am. Slobodan Praljak, the commander of the Croat forces, is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for ordering the destruction of the bridge, among other charges.

Visit!! Despite the fact that it's inexpensive and the bridge is worth the trip alone (locals jump of the bridge regularly), it's recent past of war and renewal is a feast for the eyes and you couldn't find a more friendlier group of people in the world. It was hot there, our hostel owner told us before we left to explore the city, 'Remember ladies, shade is your friend'.

Oh, one memorably story: We were at the mosque and Belen (the Spaniard) and Emma (whose British) decided to pay the fee to climb to the top to see the views of the town. Steph (the other American) and I decided to stay behind. The man who took the fees called over to us, 'Come here, Come here!' 'Where are you from?,' he asked 'America' we both said hesitantly, expecting the worst. 'Ok, ok,' the man said, 'you go in free, I love your President Obama and Joe Biden. We love Americans'.Nice, I've got to thank Obama for the free entry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Croatia/Mostar trip with the ladies

Three of my best mates and I flew off to Split, Croatia in the wee hours of the morning last Wednesday for fun in the sun. We arrived there to 31C (around 90 degrees) to a beautiful albeit a bit smelly city (almost as smelly as Venice) with many shiny smooth stairs to climb which I fell down on a regular basis. I still have a few cuts and bruises. After finding our guesthouse, the German/Croat proprietor told us in broken English, 'my life, my life', and Emma used what little German she knew to figure out she wanted us to wait there. Her husband (her life) came later and took us to another apartment on the other side of town where we cooled off in the AC, changed into our swimsuits to start the trip off with a dip in the sea. Later that evening we walked around the old town, strolling through little alleyways, checking out the shops and statues, finding a nice place to eat.

The next morning we took a bus to Mostar in Bosnia (a separate blog entry to follow) and then the following day another bus to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is even more step oriented with many stray cats and an old town surrounded by a great wall. I can't imagine being wheelchair bound living in the city. We had a lovely little modern house with a nice outside space where we had breakfast and a dinner and although it was touristy, there were just a lot of people, we met a few locals and people were friendly. The second day in Dub we took a small boat to another island close by where we spent the day exploring the tides and dipping into the blue sea. In this island they had a lake called the Dead Sea where they had a rope swing which we swung off of, well my friends swung while I slept. We finished the day off with a tour of the stone walls viewing the city from above and with cocktails at sunset.

Two days after arriving to Dub we set off for some island play. Unfortunately we just couldn't get up to make the ferry so we missed the fast one to Mijet or Korkula (islands we wanted to go to) and instead had to ride on a boat for six hours, oh the pain, (just kidding!) to Hvar. The boat ride was refreshing and it was nice to people watch and see the boats passing us by. Hvar is a cool island, but a bit Ibiza-esque which really isn't my scene. We did a lot of swimming there and my friend Steph coincidentally had mates staying on the island too. We met her friends for dinner and it was such great fun. They were out there just to party and relax and to stay put on the one island (I would have gone stir crazy), but they were really funny and it was non stop chatter from all of us. In the morning B and I decided to go back to Split where our journey started. Belen and I had a nice view of all of Split where we stayed, the balcony opening up to the water and the old town. It was a home stay or hostel, a typical accommodation there. There were bands playing at a free festival in the city when we arrived. Stephanie and Emma continued the party on Hvar and didn't sleep a wink, taking the first fast ferry in the morning to get to the airport bus we all had to catch. We all made it on the plane.

We heard Croats were unfriendly and that it was expensive and the food wasn't very good. We found lots of kind people who helped us along the way. Except for a few waiters with attitude which you find anywhere, everyone was really cool. Each night we feasted on fresh fish, or oysters, fried calamari and salads, and on occasion ice cream. We drank the local lager, Karlovacko, which hit the spot when hot and in terms of funds, and their wine was better than anything I've enjoyed here in England.

I'd recommend Croatia for a visit, do it now before it gets in the European Union and their Kuna currency becomes worthless....also I'd recommend maybe April or September to beat the super hot heat and all the people, it can be a bit touristy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A quick update before I take flight

I am leaving tomorrow. I just need the sun. All of those photos on the social networking sites with all of my mates at the beach were getting me down so I just had to do the same.

It's definitely summertime in my office. Many people are off, everyone in the office as I pass them, their screen image reflects back at me with unrelated work sites; shopping for a washer, booking a flight, checking facebook. My colleague and I have been having a blog blitz and sharing our most favourite sites with each other. I've discovered some great ones which I will share with you soon. I've also just finished a good book, The Girl Who Played with Fire, one in a series of three by Stieg Larsson. I now must anxiously await the last book's translation from Swedish.

The weather's been good here though....not great, but I haven't used my umbrella so that's always a good sign.

I went with the gals to the park this weekend. I baked a cake, I watched Revolutionary Road. I cleaned my house Saturday morning which got all messy after a friend came over Saturday night and then another friend on Sunday. The Sunday night friend discovered a mouse in our kitchen (yes the saga continues, mice plague my life here, like Bill plagues Hillary's, like pesky housemates).
Also on Saturday, when the post strikes subsided and I actually received mail, I opened a letter from Transport for London. It seems I have bad luck when it comes to cars. The one time that I rent a car in London, I get two tickets...they've got camera's everywhere! One of the tickets wasn't my fault and was a misunderstanding with a congestion charge payment, the second ticket was ten minutes away from the rental car place (!!!) after I'd driven north for five hours and then back again. Since I don't have a UK license I might have to go to court (NOOOO) and pay a hefty fine (don't worry grandpa I won't go to jail). It's such a pain and so costly.

I'll stop going off on one and instead just be off, ta.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Parkside Farm picking paradise

I've been quite the nature girl lately what with camping and hiking. Then this weekend my friends and I went to a farm to pick our own fruit and vegetables. With my roots steeped in farming I couldn't help but snap photos of the tractors and the strawberries growing abundantly. It was only a short twenty minute train ride away, but Parkside Farm felt far out. Upon our arrival we were given little baskets to put our berries in and started on our way.
There were a few weird people there who didn't respect the land or rules and who just ate the fruit instead of putting it in their baskets. We tried to ignore them.

We'd had a huge breakfast so just sampled a bit and picked a lot to take home. At one point Belen had to stop me because I was so excited and so into it that I was picking just to pick. I was sad the cucumbers weren't in season, but we got some nice looking greenbeans that reminded me of my grandmother. Lindsey said the green beans reminded her of hers too! It was a great bargain and a nice afternoon out.

I so wanted to jump on these bad boys....

Lindsey and I showing off our green beans.

Belen and her mutant raspberry (they were SO delicious)
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