Thursday, January 31, 2008

Olympic Skiing

As part of the Olympic tour (Athens, and now Sarajevo) I headed to Sarajevo, Bosnia for a weekend of skiing. It is pretty amazing that I can go to BOSNIA for a weekend, as it is a quick 40 minute flight.

I arrived in Sarajevo to find an incredibly interesting, diverse city with history bursting from it's seams. Driving from the airport to Stari Grad (old town) we drove through "Sniper Alley" of the 1990's. Apparently, the Serbs would hide out on the nearby ridges and pick off Bosnians as they walk down the road. There are still bullet holes in many buildings that show the destruction that occured during the recent wars. In the center of town, you find Mosques next to Orthodox and Catholic churches and a huge Turkish influence making for a fantastic time wandering the streets.

After exploring Sarajevo for a day, I headed to Jahorina, the nearby ski hill and location of the 1984 Winter Olympics. While Jahorina lacked new snow, it was great to stay up on the ski hill and enjoy the mountains for the weekend. Again, people looked at me like I was crazy as I telemark skied. Apparently it is not the most popular sport in this part of the world.

Monday morning, I took an incredibly early flight back to Belgrade, just in time for work. Unfortunately, I still do not have a camera, so there is no documentation of the trip.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another Post!

I have finally had enough people bugging me to update my blog page that I will actually do it. The biggest problem now is how to include all of the travelling I have done over the past three weeks into one post? I have been to Italy, Budapest, and down to Greece with my family... an incredible vacation!

My vacation started with Angela coming to visit. Someone asked me at the beginning of my stay in Belgrade which of my friends would come visit. I immediately said Angela (girlfriend from college) and lo and behold, she was the first to visit. We spent four days in Belgrade walking around the city, eating on the pizza boat (it is wild) and experiencing the joys of my coworkers (she was even brave enough to go to my exercise class- I'm surprised she could walk the next day).

After Belgrade, we flew to Rome. Rome was absolutely overwhelming. It seemed like every time we turned a corner there was another impressive, important looking building. Half the time we would look it up on the map and it wouldn't be there. Especially impressive were the Collosseum and the Vatican. Unfortunately, as my camera is still broken, I have no pictures yet. After three days of walking around Rome, our feet needed a rest and our heads were spinning trying to not be hit by the crazy drivers there (and they say drivers are crazy in Serbia). We headed for the Amalfi Coast, specifically Positano. The Amalfi Coast is just about the most breathtakingly beautiful stretch of coast (or should I say cliff) that I have ever seen. And they have built the towns on the cliffs, so there are enormous staircases to take you around town. We stayed on top of Positano, and could only motivate to walk to the sea once or twice per day- probably only 1/2 a mile, but the entire walk was stairs.

When I left Angela, I jetted (literally) up to Budapest to meet my family (minus John, boo). Unfortunately, I hadn't anticipated everything being closed for Christmas (they celebrate Orthodox Christmas in Serbia). Since we couldn't go to the baths, we toured Budapest and headed to Belgrade.

In Belgrade, we again went to the pizza boat (it is pretty much my favorite thing here) and again did a lot of walking and sight seeing. I am getting pretty good at the tour guide thing if you would like to visit!

From Belgrade, we headed to Greece. My parents and sister were pretty amazed by the rickety night train we took through Macedonia, but it is all pretty much what I am used to (minus the heater that was stuck on high). Apparently my standards for acceptable travel are not too high. We started our Grecian excursion in Thessoloniki, a charming port city in the north-east of Greece. We then headed to Athens.

Athens is an incredible, large city with, like Rome, too much to see. The entire center of town is taken up by the Acropolis hill and ruins of the ancient city. All I could think about the entire time was my high school history teacher who loved Greek history and Mythology. I felt as if I was living in a myth. In Athens, we also enjoyed the local cuisine (especially the Greek Salads), and drank a bunch of coffee at the many cafes. Good food and good coffee is my kind of vacation!

From Athens, we explored some of the small islands just out from Athens. My favorite was Hydra, a small town that uses donkeys and horses instead of cars. Hydra was also quite warm compared to the winter wonderland of Belgrade and Budapest.

I am now back in Belgrade, getting ready to resume teaching. I of course look forward to my next adventures!