Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Evo nas u Sarajevu!



Here we are in Sarajevo now! We arrived 4 days ago and on our very first night we were welcomed by a big kaboom! At about 1am a bomb exploded just down the street from Hana grandma's apartment. It seemed to be directed at the car of one of the baker's sons (so say the rumors and the cab drivers). A month ago another bomb blew up the windows of the bakery (guess mafia related). No one was hurt and most of the people got up to look from their windows to see what is going on at the bottom of the street. After 10 minutes everyone went back to bed, especially Miko, who was only interested in sleeping at the time. Did not even go out to take a photo. Anyway, welcome to Sarajevo!

The next day we met Hana's dad Sead and went for a nice hike which started at a 450 years old bridge (Kozja Cuprija), then followed the river back to the city (3km). To reward ourselves (every excuse is good), we went to eat pita with spinach and cheese (zeljanica & sirnica) and pita with meat (burek) in old part of the town (Bascarsija). Very good.

The weather was for the first 2 days but then it got cold and rainy. We have not prepared ourselves for this kind of cold, mentally or physically. Not to mention the lack of warm clothes, since we only have one of each. Hope the cold weather won't last too long, the city is so pretty when it is sunny. It is being repaired and rebuild everywhere. You can see how the city used to be beautiful before the war.

One of 2 Miko's favorite cafes closed, it was a cafe and bookstore in the same place (Karabit), full of art students. Luckily the other one is still open and full of green plants as always, it's called Avlija. Seeing how sad he was about the cafe that closed, Hana showed Miko another cool bar/cafe and now it's his new favorite. It's called Zlatna Ribica (Gold Fish).

By the way, this city is full of bars and cafes. They are literally on every street, corner, basement, apartment building, sometimes even ten in a row, one next to the other. It seems to be the only and best business in town. And in the summer they are all full.

Last Sunday we went on a little day trip to Mostar, which is about 150km away from Sarajevo. It is in part of the country called Herzegovina and since it is a lot closer to the coast, the weather is much nicer and warmer. What a nice change to walk around in a t-shirt instead of a t-shirt, a sweater and a jacket.

The bus ride was supposed to be 3 hours, but 15 minutes before the arrival the bus stopped in the middle of the road. The parking brake blocked (according to the drivers) and the bus would not move. It took them 1 1/2 hours to fix the problem and then we could continue our trip.

Mostar is named after the bridge Stari Most (which means Old Bridge) that was destroyed during the war. Four years ago on our way to the Croatian coast, we stopped in Mostar for quick break just to see the newly rebuilt bridge. The opening ceremony was 2 days after and the bridge was still closed. During the war 80% of the city of Mostar was destroyed by heavy bombing and shooting. Four years ago the marks of the war were evident everywhere and very shocking. Going there now, we were amazed how much of it was rebuilt, so much work. The main area around the bridge is almost completely redone and the city is regaining its beauty. The architecture of it is so unique and it blends with the surrounding hills. Not to mention the color of the river running through (Neretva), is it blue, or green, or tirquoise... Everyone should go visit. That's it.










We will stay in Sarajevo for another week or so, the next destination is Zagreb (Croatia=Hrvatska) and if we have time we'll also visit Hana's relatives in a small town in Western Bosnia.

Our last week in France!

It has been a while since our last and first post but here we are still alive.

Our last two days in Rennes were a lot of fun, we went to the Cote de Bretagne with Yann and visited pretty Cancale and beautiful St. Malo. It rained a lot but we were able to get a few breaks between the showers and walk around. Both places are very popular tourist destinations, Cancale is a small fisherman town where they have les moules and oysters, and the local people have a reputation of being crazy, hence their kids are even crazier and the teachers in schools have a very difficult job... (info by our guide Yann). And St. Malo is an old fortified city with gorgeous houses, really stunning, even Mick Jagger owned a house there and would come party with his buddy David Bowie... (info by our guide Yann).

One last thing worth mentioning here is our menu for the day:
breakfast - pastries (chausson aux pommes, pain au chocolat) & coffee
lunch - lovely french cake (le flan nature)
and for desert big, bad ice cream served by a very rude boy while he was constantly texting.












The next day we went to the Market to eat the deliciously greasy Gallette Saucisse avec Fromage, and meet with Miko's friends and their colony of children running around.

After that we took the train to Paris!
We stayed in Paris for 4 days with Nolwenn and Stephane. Nolwenn is Miko's friend from Art School in Rennes and her boyfriend Stephane is a musician, you can check his music at http://www.myspace.com/bunq and also http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=33634966
The logos for both bands were designed by Nolwenn, very cool. (we love promoting our friends :)

As soon as we got to their place on Saturday night, they had a few friends who came over for the apero. After we went to a restaurant Ramuleau (the same place where Miko and I had our fancy dinner 6 years ago, the first time I came to Paris). After the restaurant we went to a bar called Liberte, full of local drunks and party people. It was a funky mix, where the bartenders drank as much as the clients, and our friend Nolwenn broke a glass as soon as we got in (desole Nolwenn, je devais le mentionne). We had one mojito which was so strong and bad that it gave us a headache for the next 12 hours, but that did not stop us from having fun until 3am. Our biggest party night during our stay in France.

The next few days we spent riding bikes around Paris. The Velib is a new thing in Paris, started about a year ago, and basically you have bicycle stands every 300 meters all over the city and the first 1/2 hour is free. The trick is to take the bike, ride to your destination or stop half way and find another bike stand to check the bike in and then check it out right away and then you have another 1/2 hour to ride for free. During our stay in Paris, we never used the metro, except to get to the airport and back, and we did not spend a cent on transportation. How cool is that?! Besides it was the best way to visit and experience the city, even though Hana got really scared a few times while riding in the city. Imagine going around the Rondpoint among the cars, and scooters on one of the main boulevards, hoping you are going to come out alive :)

In Paris, nobody respects the traffic rules, not pedestrians crossing the street when they are not supposed to, nor the scooters riding on the side walks, nor bicyclists like us riding everywhere on side walks and in the opposite direction of the traffic. It is Paris after all and that's how it goes over there. On our first day we were 8 bikes riding together and it was like a mini Critical Mass (Hana loved it).

On Monday, Hana got her last vaccine for Japanese encephalitis!!! Yes, it is done and we don't have to carry the thermos around with us anymore and worry about the temperature inside!
Youpi!

Our last day in Paris, we went on the bike ride with Nolwenn and followed the canal Saint Martin (famous because of the movie Amelie) all the way to a beautiful man made park Les Buttes Chaumonts. On the way there we saw the shooting of the TV show RIS, the cheaper version of the american tv show CSI. We ended our day in style (french style), eating pastries and cakes in the artisan shops on the street Rue des Martyrs. Miko had only one, but Hana and Nolwenn had 2 each.

Our diet during the past 2 weeks has been 50% pastries. Soooooooooo Goooooooooooood!!!!!!
It is probably good we left France before our behinds became so fat that we couldn't move anymore.















Wednesday, September 10, 2008

C'est parti!

Et voila!

C'est parti!
After more than two weeks into the trip we have finally set up the blog. And what a pain it was, but hopefully worth it because of all you people who will be reading this and enjoying it.

First, thank you all for the great send off. It was nice to see everyone before the departure.

So, here is our first report: After all the madness of getting ready for the trip, we left for France ready to finally relax...

But no. During our flight, Hana was reading a book: Healthy Travel for India and Asia, when she realized that she was missing a very important vaccine. Actually, a stupid nurse at Kaiser travel clinic would not give it to her when she asked for it (twice), saying that she does not need it. Well, it turned out that she did need it.

Miko was relaxed about it thinking we can get it done in France, no problem. It turned out that the US purchased a whole supply of this vaccine and it's not available in France since December 2007. After calling clinics all over France, by the way Miko spent 3 days on the phone trying to find the vaccine (not to mention the silly hours when these places where open 9:30-12 twice a week, you got to love France). Finally, a miracle happened and a clinic in Montpelier had the vaccine available and even further, decided to let us take the vaccine (3 shots total) with us while we are traveling in France.

We were also lucky to be in Toulouse, only 3hours away from Montpelier, so we were able to drive there, get the shot and the vaccine and come back in one day. Since then we've been carring the vaccine with us in a thermos, trying to maintain the temperature between 4-8° Celsius, and looking for nurses who could give Hana the 2nd and 3rd shot in Rennes and Paris.

This wonderful begining prepared us for whatever next might come along :)

After that we were finally able to enjoy the time in France with family and friends.
We visitied a beautiful castle near Toulouse called Château de Laréole,


video

Then we drove up to Bretagne and stayed in a renovated farm house called Les Roseaux de Callac in Guémené Penfao with Miko's entire family. We've spent days eating, drinking coffee, visiting the area, eating lunch, drinking coffee, playing games, eating dinner, fromage, dessert, talking, drinking wine, having dinner with Miko's family (dad's side), drinking coffee, having dinner with Miko's family (mom's side), eating cheese, drinking wine, visiting grandma, going to a 2 day wedding of Miko's cousin, eating, drinking, dancing until 3am (Hana in heels) with mom Michelle and dad Jean-Paul shaking it with us, then dressing up in funky, colorfull outfits for silly wedding pictures, playing games. We ended this visit with a nice lunch, drinking wine and cider, eating bread and cheese, and then everyone went their own way.




We are now in Rennes, visiting friends and eating pastries either for breakfast or lunch or both every day. The clothes are getting tighter, but we know it's all going to melt once we get to India. Saturday we are taking the train to Paris, where we are going to meet up with more friends. The next destination is Sarajevo.

That's it for now. You can see photos on Flickr, the link is on the right.