junio 30, 2010

berlin, Germany

After a week of goodbye parties in Zagreb (at that time everybody was leaving, some home, some on travel), i took a plane to Berlin, without a precise idea about how much that city was going to blow up my brains. I was in the mood for a big city; for speaking spanish with my good friend Santiago, who lives there; and, of course, for traveling.
Berlin is an incredible big city, although its population is small considering its size. Its quitness and order (that's not synonymous of boredom, in this case) surprised me; there weren't many cars on the streets, its trains and subways system is outstanding (and expensive, sure); and, perhaps the best thing, it's extremely bike friendly. I stayed at my friend's flat, in Mite neighborhood, 3 blocks away from the tv tower; nice location, indeed. Anyway, i wouldn't mind to live in Kottbuser Tor or it's surroundings, with their bohemian, turkish, coffy style. Neither i would complain to be near the river or one of the many channels that cross the city. I think that almost any place would have been great; that's Berlin!
I went to a couple of theater plays, in both of wich people got undressed. Clubs put a stamp in your arm, with wich you can go in and out as many times as you want, during the whole weekend. Sunlight in summer lasted until 23hs, days were endlesssss! Kebaps were tasty and cheap. Its ALLOWED to take your bike in the trains or subways. Train and subways work all night long from friday to sunday. Flea markets are beautiful, street festivals are very funny and buildings are covered with huge graffities. Bars decorations are outstanding, from cool to kitch, woody or with sinthetic red fur on the walls. Etc, etc, etc.
That's what i call 'first world'.
A big big hug and thanks goes for my german friends, Jelena and Nadja, whom i've met in Zagreb while studying croatian.
Ajde, enjoy the pics!
i own you the description for each one... soon!


junio 28, 2010

split, dubrovnik and all the sea in between, Croatia

At the beginning of June, right after the end of my croatian course -a little before in fact- I went with train to Split and Dubrovnik, in the coast of Croatia, taking my beloved bike with me. The Croatian coast of the Adriatic sea is fantastic, not only because of its beaches and waters, but for the cities next to them. I stayed a couple of days in Split, in a wonderful hostel with stone walls, a lot of plants and flowers, and a terrace where to drink endless coffees and beers. The old city of Split is not as known and well preserved as the 'citadel' of Dubrovnik. But, maybe because of that, its more truly alive, and not so crowded of tourist and restaurants to feed them. The whole city is very nice, in fact, and is the second one in importance in Croatia. After walking for hours and swimming every day in the beach, I took a ferry -extremely early in the morning- to Dubrovnik. Those were 8 grate hours of ocean, islands, little old cities, dolphins and the pleasant movement of the boat.
Dubrovnik is so so beautiful, but as I said, packed with zillions of tourists (italians, spanish, russians and, of course, the quintessence of tourists, japanese). So, the city was great, nice, medieval yet modern, well preserved and charming to the bone. But anyway, fantastic beaches of turquoise water were around, and I couldn't resist the temptation. Half a day for the city and its old walls; day and a half for the sea.
I came back to Zagreb tanned by the sun and happy by the sea. My stay in Croatia was close to its end, since my classes were ended. The time for taking planes and traveling around Europe was near.

1. Sunrise from the train, somewhere near Split.

2+3. Old city from Split, crazy streets, alleys and houses.

4. Terrace at the hostel.
5+6. Beaches near the city. I went a little bit further with my bike, anyway.
7. Old city from Split, again.

8, 9, 10+11. From the ferry boat, trip Split-Dubrovnik.

12+13. Islands and walled ancient tiny towns. I think this one is Korčula.

14. Arriving to Dubrovnik.
15. Steep, narrow little streets all around the old city.

16. Main gate to the Citadell.
17. Again, narrow steep streets, this time from above. Ufff, those were hard to climb.

18. Japanese tourists. These people is in another dimesion, believe me.
19. From my room, during the night. I was alone in a three bedroom apartment. Loved that.

20. Panoramic view of the Citadell, south side (rear side)

21, 22+23. Beach next to the old city. Close, clean and beautiful. Sunset swimming, nice view. Super.

24. where are you?!


junio 27, 2010

sarajevo & mostar, Bosnia i Herzegovina

To go to Sarajevo the bus heads to the vast slabonija, through its plains and woods. At some moment in the night, it turns right, towards south, and goes down into the mountains of Bosnia, a fantastic land in between the heights. The average passenger can see the sunrise crossing valleys and fields, until he gets to Sarajevo, a long thin city builded following the shape of the river Miljačka, that runs inbetween the mountains.
The city started centuries ago on one point of the river, and it followed growing kilometers until the present. The old town, the turquish quartier, is in the first place, at the base of the hills.
Sarajevo was very interesting, i learned to speak croatian (that's not necessary the same as 'talk'); met two latvians hitchhiking from north to south, with whom we enjoyed a fantastic set of rakijas; and you could listen someone singing curly melodies from the top of the mosques, five times a day. Odlično!
I stayed for a couple of days there and went on a trip to Mostar, little city south of Sarajevo, in the christian region of Hercegovina, through one of the most beautiful landscapes i've seen from a bus or train. Two hours and a half of woods, lakes, bridges and tunnels; pure sun in the sky and some snow in the top of the mountains. After that, you reach a high plateau furrowed by the river Neretva. In center of Mostar there's an old enormous bridge, bombed down in the war and rebuilt some years ago. Very nice place, but the best was the way up there.
Back in town, i enjoyed some strong turkish kafa and a couple of šljivovicas in my favourite bar, Dva Ribara (Two Fishermen), next to the river; met some friends from Croatia and Serbia and went together to celebrate the Day of Communist Youth, May 25, date of Marshall Tito's birth. Fantastic.
The fifth night I left Sarajevo, wishing to come back soon. Anyway, Zagreb was waiting, that kind of strange place I liked to call home.
Ajde, bok!!

1+2. Sarajevo, Turkish neighborhood, early in the morning.

3. Bar next to the river, great for doing nothing for hours.

4+5. Curiosities around the bridges.

6. People playing chess in the parks. People around were and shouting about the moves, about what to do, what not to, etc, like in a soccer game.

7. Click on this one to see the detail.

8+9. Muslim tombs on the hills next to the Turkish quartier. Most of them were from 1993 to 1997. Very impressive.

10. Frizerski saloon where on of my friens worked.

11. Night falling in Sarajevo.

12. Tram interior... they were beautiful, noisy and slooooow!

13, 14 + 15. On the way to Mostar. Incredible landscapes, have to go back there sometime.

16+17. Mostar's traditional bridge, and mosque.

18. Peculiar looking gentleman that kindly gave me his bendition: "Jebi ga!" (something like "fuck you" in bosnian)

19. where are you?!