Friday, July 14, 2006

Novi Sad, Serbia 7-9 July 2006

Kanako, Parish, his British friend, Ben, and I traveled to northern Serbia for the largest music festival in Eastern Europe, called the EXIT fesitval. It started in the late 90's sometime as a protest to Milosevic. It took place inside a fortress which was pretty cool--my photos don't show it, but it became so packed with people at night (and I have been to similar festivals) that I could hardly stand it!

The trip to Novi Sad was interesting in itself with Parish's delapidated yellow volkswagen overheating. We spent some time at the festival Friday night and on Saturday relaxed in the centre of Novi Sad which is actually very pretty and civil (as opposed to where we were staying on the outskirts of town across from a big trash heap). Most of the museums were closed for some odd reason but fortunately one of the museum directors heard us complaining and let us in for a special tour of an art gallery containing works from a former Serb diplomat's personal collection. It was a unique experience since we were the only ones there and received explanations on all of the pieces as well as allowed into the archives room...of course, after such a cultural experience, you need to balance it out with some drinks at a cafe, which we did for a number of hours ;o) Some of us made it to the festival Saturday night, but it didn't include me...I know, pathetic right? Sunday afternoon, after eating some lamb and great salads at a roadside traditional restaurant, we made our way down the road. The trip turned into an ordeal with the car breaking down after exiting a pay toll. Fortunately there was a tow truck on the opposite side of the road which carried us 40 km down the road to a small Croatian town (you cross a lot of borders because of the weird shape of the countries) to a mechanic. After restarting the battery and replacing the alternator, we were ready to go. Mind you, this is my first time ever experiencing a car breakdown. You should know I stayed calm and contributed a considerable amount to evaluating and resolving the problem :o)

Of course, restarting the battery was only a temporary fix so en route to Sarajevo early Monday morning, we had to buy a new battery which I put in. We made it! Whew-hoo!

Click here for the photos!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A glimpse of Sarajevo

I have posted numerous photos of my travels since arriving here, but hardly any of Sarajevo itself. There are some of the old city (Stari Grad), pictured left, also called Baščaršija (pronounced like ba-shar-shi-ya). This part of the city is very beautiful and contrasts the old way of market life in the Turk-Ottoman Empire which lasted 400 years, with newer Western traditions and styles. You will find traditional foods in this's always wonderful to walk through the small, polished stone streets to see the old merchants making and selling their crafts and also to smell the rich aromas of the lamb and beef being barbequed in the many little, family-operated restaurants.

There are some photos of my little apartment as well as of areas outside of the Sarajevo city centre. You see, Sarajevo is quite spread out with many people residing in the hills surrounding the main part of the city which lies in a valley.

Also, I recently visited the tunnel which Bosniacs used to exit the city, to transport necessities, and for soldiers to move to new fighting positions closer to the Serb lines. The Serb army held Sarajevo under siege for 4 years shelling and firing upon it almost everyday for that period, killing about 11-12,000 people and injuring many more. In my photos, there are just a few examples of the mortar, grenade, and bullet holes which litter EVERY SINGLE building in this city. Parks and what used to be open spaces were replaced with this collection of photos, I have some shots of the largest such cemetery--here is one view.

To read more on the siege of Sarajevo, CLICK HERE for a BBC News Article and HERE for Wikipedia information.

To see the photo collection, please visit this website.