Monday, June 26, 2017

Traveling Is...

Last night, the 'Fugee's trilingual friend told her, in Bosnian, that she didn't think that I'd have enough water to take a shower. The 'Fugee's response? Oh, she knows.

The 'Fugee gives me "The Rules" whenever we stay with her friends but what's funny is that she is usually the one who makes some mess. I try to be mega careful as a guest so I have become super efficient at taking showers et al. in Europe...
 
I am fascinated with the compactness of this area. There's a part of me that wants things to be a little bigger but I fully appreciate that things are not super-sized...

Also, the fact that you can't assume a public toilet will have tissue or that you might have to pay to use the toilet, gives me a whole knew appreciation for resources. In addition, people's reluctance to use air conditioning also puts things into perspective...

I have lost track of days and I'm doing a good job of not projecting into the future and staying focused on the present moment. Originally, I kept wondering what I was going "to do" while on vacation or that I could be achieving\doing things at home instead of doing some European Rumspringa but, in the end, traveling is a form of self-care if you can find the resources to do it. 

World's Smallest Washing Machine

Small Shower
The 'Fugee and I arrived in Croatia today and, as we walked around, after spending time on the beach, I wished for everyone a relaxing vacation surrounded by beauty, water and other relaxed people putting their best feet forward...

Makarska Riviera from the Bus


I've been jonesing to take a yoga class in the Balkans but, obviously, that's not a priority. I did find a couple of YouTube chair yoga videos since we've been doing a lot of walking and my hamstrings and feet have been talking to me...

I have yet to crack the pages of one of two books that I've bought and definitely have learned more lessons about trusting my packing instincts.

Post-Beach Grocery Shopping


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Not Right

The 'Fugee and I made our way from Sarajevo to Mostar. For some reason, I don't mind traveling by bus here -- maybe it's the scenery. I was surprised, though, when we stopped by a school and about 20 students hopped on. Personal space? What personal space? Passengers sat on the steps or on luggage. I had to share my arm rest with the woman who sat on the luggage. When it came time for her to get off the bus, she called the driver a name but I never called her name for coughing all over me, ugh, cover your mouth...


Passing through Jablanica
Let me back up a bit.

The driver was a little miffed with all of us who arrived with mere minutes to spare. You all show up at the last minute then get mad when the bus leaves without you. 

The customer is not always right in the Balkans. In fact, the customer is not right.

Even the bridge (Stari Most) jumpers get miffed when they don't collect what they think they should collect. I feel like they shouldn't assume that no tourists speak their language but I also think that they don't care about same language speakers especially when those speakers are from the diaspora. In the Balkans, you're damned if you stayed and damned if you didn't...

Jumping for KM or Euros
One of the 'Fugee's friends wanted to know how we were surviving on the hottest day in Europe. We fared reasonably well by staying by the Neretva River, taking a brief tour of a Turkish bath and thinking cool thoughts -- for the most part...

Stari Most Bridge, Mostar

Hamming it up in the Turkish Bath Museum.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Four of Us

It's been nine days since I took off for my journey and eight days since I've been in Bosnia. I have yet to open a book, peek at a magazine or listen to the many podcasts that I downloaded. Guess that's a sign that I am immersed in my home away from home...

On Tuesday night, we made a dash to the grocery store and I was surprised to look up and see three children warmly smiling at me. The youngest was really curious but hesitant to engage. I did give the older children high fives. It was such a sweet encounter -- the open faces and warm energy.

Yesterday we set out to catch a ride on the city bus tour. We had gone several days ago but the the tour was canceled because five people are needed and there were only four of us. Even though we all agreed to chip in for a phantom fifth person, the bus driver wasn't having it. 

There were the same number of people yesterday but, this time, the bus driver took us up on our offer to pay for a fifth ticket.

There is no air conditioner on the bus and, with the windows down, it was impossible to hear the tour guide who was on the first level of the bus. This woman from Croatia went to strongly suggest that he come upstairs. There was also a microphone port upstairs but the quality was questionable and I ended up moving to the seat behind the guide. Had I not had the 'Fugee to fill in the gaps, I would have missed a lot of information... I'm enjoying the directness of Europeans. It kind of cracked me up when the Croatian woman's husband asked for the English version of the tour map. The bus driver unceremoniously "snatched" the Bosnian version. He was not a rude person but fluff was not a consideration...

One of the things that the guide talked about was the poor condition of the trams which were made in the Czech Republic 30 years ago. There are a few new trams, one donated by Turkey. He also talked about funds, in general, that were donated after the war but how large amounts of money have seemingly disappeared which made me think of the funds mishandled by the Red Cross after the earthquake in Haiti.

Going down the main boulevard, mortar scars are everywhere. I remember the TV images of the Holiday Inn from the news coverage and when the guide mentioned that we were on Sniper Alley, also remembered that and thought about the horror of people being picked off while riding the tram or going to get water...

Former Holiday Inn
Sniper Alley


Olympic Venue, 1984
End of the Line, Bus Tour (Serb Republic)
Later on, we met up with one of the 'Fugee's friends for lunch then went to a mall for coffee and dessert. The mall was big but still seemed stylish and efficient. 

In general, love the Austro-Hungarian architecture. The 'Fugee's friend is appalled by an "awning" recently placed on one of the buildings. She was like How could they?...


The Academy of  Fine Arts (Green Dome)

Wooden Bridge
Offensive White Add-On to Entrance Area


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Oh, The People...

Yesterday the 'Fugee and I took a field trip to Konjic, a town about 75 minutes away from Sarajevo. It was a nice bus ride albeit a little hairy on the way back which was downhill and winding.

When we hit town, the 'Fugee asked this woman for recommendations as far as where to eat and drink coffee. She was pretty funny as she told the 'Fugee that we were NOT going to drink coffee in just one place. She also said that if she didn't have groceries, she would join us.

Konjic
After consulting with the advisor, we went to check out this wood shop and a wood museum then we headed across the bridge to a restaurant and that's how we spent our day in Konjic -- eating, drinking coffee, admiring the scenery and changing vantage points.

Mulicev Rekord

Enough food for...
On the way back, we asked another woman what was the best way to get back to the bus stop. She was hilarious... I asked her, as if she spoke English (with an expectation that the 'Fugee would interpret), had she lived in Konjic all of her life and she responded "yes" then said that she had studied English. She had difficulty speaking but understood most of what I was saying.


P.M. sun hitting the "Old Bridge."
When we got to the bus stop, I asked the 'Fugee where was the official sign and she chuckled and said This is not America -- people just know...

Sun hitting the mountains on the way back.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that today is World Refugee Day. What to say? The hashtag that sums it up is #WithRefugees.

World Refugee Day Sign in Sarajevo



Saturday, June 17, 2017

100 Of Your Friends

Managed to miss the celebration for the International Day of Yoga in Sarajevo. When I think about it, though, I really didn't have much of a chance to make it to the celebration.

Went to bed around 1:30 a.m. and felt like I had a solid night of sleep but I really didn't roll out of bed until 10 which was the start time of the celebration...


I'm feeling a bit like I'm in a TV series called 'Drea and the 'Fugee in the City or something like that.

Selfie A Games
When we went to eat today, we were approached by about 10 people -- mostly kids -- asking for money. One waitress politely asked them not to bother guests at the table but another waitress lost her patience and told one of the kids No one is going to give you money because 100 of your friends have already been here. 

I asked the 'Fugee if there are any agencies that are helping people and she said that there are such places...

On the other hand, I am eating my fair share of food and sometimes wonder if I will fit into an airplane seat again...

Buckwheat Crepes with Rose Hip Marmalade

Delicious Chicken with Humungous Bread
It seems strange to tour and see so many tourists in the midst of war reminders. I like the design chosen for the memorial for children killed during the war. In my mind, it's adults who were killed but, of course, children got caught in the crossfire too. The most chilling dates to me were 1992-1992. 

Memorial for Children killed during the war, 1992-1995.


Speaking of people that were killed, Philando Castile's mother hit the nail on the head:







Thursday, June 15, 2017

Staring Down The Fears

Made plans to take a trip this month to visit the 'Fugee who is having what I like to call a "gap year."

In addition to finding myself finalizing packing on the morning of departure, found myself pretty anxious weeks prior to the trip. I had to keep telling myself  "It's okay" which worked a lot of days but also didn't work on other days. I, for real, had to stare down a number of fears.

How does one pack for three weeks? How does one neatly wrap up things at work and at home? How does one not worry about the people temporarily left behind? How does one not worry about crossing over the Atlantic Ocean? How to say goodbye to people without freaking yourself or them out? Had to tell myself that my worry would not prevent anything from happening...

I kept missing the date for my suitcase to get packed until, finally, I had to do it. I really needed and wanted to go to yoga on Monday night. Signed up for the class and then 10 minutes later, canceled the reservation because I knew that I didn't have the hour to spare. What I did do was drive by the yoga studio so that I could say bye to Alison.Went back home and tried to reach as much packing closure as possible. I was, for sure, certain that my bag weighed over 50 pounds but when I weighed it on the scale -- the one before you check-in -- it said that my bag weighed 37.5 pounds -- only five more pounds than I usually pack.

I was surprised, as I packed, that many people reached out to me to wish me well. Not sure why I was so surprised...The first leg of the trip went pretty well and I had to smile as we were boarding the plane to Amsterdam because this girl asked her mother in some language that I didn't recognize What is yoga? as she read the back of my shirt.

Because of weather, we ended up spending two hours on the tarmac -- turning a seven hour flight into a nine hour one. The last time that I was in Europe, the plane was much, much bigger. You can totally see why people lose their cool on flights...

And, oh, the turbulence. I was too nervous to read the magazine or book that I'd put in my carry-on and I, literally, wanted to kiss the ground when I landed in Amsterdam...

While in Zagreb waiting for my last, short flight, this woman, Amra, flashed me the warmest, sweetest and most reassuring smile. We ran into each other several more times. As we walked toward the plane, she asked me if I was going to Sarajevo for pleasure or business... Amra was my good omen.

Crop Duster....
Today the 'Fugee and I walked around Sarajevo for five plus hours. I think we were going off of pure adrenaline. The ' Fugee, at one point, asked this woman, Emina, how to get to a certain restaurant and she said that she would take us. Not only was Emina my second good omen but she was a superb driver of a stick shift and refused offers of coffee or payment and said the pleasure was all hers, wow.

The 'Fugee

The View, Sarajevo

And last but not least: 'the Fugee has been at her hospitable best. At the end of our day, she made foot soaks for us. Hvala puno, 'Fugee...


Thought that I had eased into the time here but it's almost 2:00 a.m. and I am not sleepy at all...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Straightening Up

Walked out the house about 8:15-ish with plans to go to yoga but when I felt the humidity, I changed my plans because my Sunday agenda included cutting the grass and I knew that I had to seize the moment before it got hotter...

Also did yard work a.k.a. pull weeds and had to make myself go in the house before I passed out. You know how it is, though, when you just want to finish that task at hand...

I did get a chance to practice yoga at Ballpark Village on Wednesday and it was amazing. I've been struggling to find a class, pace and asana-wise but there was no struggle on Wednesday so I was surprised when Patti said that the pace seemed fast to her -- proof that people like different things.

I liked Wednesday's instrumental soundtrack even though the Chariots of Fire theme made me want to mock run. Wasn't sure what to do with the Amazing Race theme song.

Reclining Pigeon Cam
I've been uncluttering -- again. My aunt Girt also mentioned that she was trying to straighten up too. I told her about Marie's Kondo's Does it bring you joy? question and she said That's not going to work for me.