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  • 04 Nov 2017
    One of the fascinating ways to explore a country is by driving. The freedom of the open road gives you more possibilities to get to know the country. Right? Not in Serbia! Here is a real rant on driving in Serbia. 1) There are no traffic signs. If you are lucky to find one of them it will take you in the wrong direction or it will have been erected so crookedly you can't work it out. GPS is the way to go. If you find a traffic sign it’s probably going to be in the Cyrillic alphabet and only occasionally in the Roman. Good luck with trying to spell the word out at more than 20 miles an hour. You may see helpful English signs like, Producer of Local Produce. 2) The Serbs are very friendly people – they never let you pay for a drink, are happy to take you around and show you the best part of the country but they turn into Monsters once they are behind the wheel. One place where there is gender equality in Serbia is behind the wheel, in a car the women are bad as men. Nuns included. One overtook us at speed and at great danger to herself and other drivers. It was in the area dubbed “Hilandar of Serbia” as there are 10 monasteries spread over beautiful hills, river and lakes. You would think it’s the perfect place to unwind and find your inner self- not to get killed by a reckless nun!  Her frustration started when we gave way to the car on the other side of a bridge, the nun didn’t beep, but we could hear the engine revving. She didn’t overtake right away because the nice couple passing gave us a nod and a smile which probably enraged her. Maybe she is not used to people being polite. The nun continued to follow us so close I was under impression she wanted to open our boot through her window. The sharp bends and fast traffic didn’t stop her and she overtook on a blind bend and then quickly turned off the main road without indicating and hurtled up to a monastery... 3) During our driving experience in Serbia we never saw the police, although we saw two police cars – one parked in the front of kafana ( national bistro) in Nova Varos. We saw a lot of ambulances struggling to make their way on the overcrowded roads with no one making space for them to pass. They only time we encountered the police was when we crossed the border into Bosnia and the only reason we saw them is because we had been warned back in Belgrade. “Watch your speed limit when you enter Bosnia as there are two policemen, one fat and one short, jumping out of the bushes and issuing fines.” Its seems the whole country is aware of them, the two policemen in Bosnia who still haven't realised that their hiding place is blown!  4) Be aware of the likelihood of being cut up on the roads by really dangerous drivers. I have only one word for them “F***** idiots” or in short FI to be used here. They are hormonal junkies who are betting on you stopping and letting them overtake you, otherwise you will have blood on your hands! The reality is that you have to hit the brakes, and let flow some colourful English language. With some addition of Serbian too. 5) There are motorways but not everywhere. Our visit to the Western Serbia was mainly on roads which would be classified as country lanes in the UK but wider and with fewer potholes. 6) There are speed limits displayed but they are there only to be broken! If you don’t break them you face a barrage of the noisiest car horns, squashed driver faces, swearing, shouting. Be ready. I've never been a fan of Top Gear but after my driving trip in Serbia I feel like I took a part in it! 7) Cars with automatic transmission are still a rarity in Serbia. Driving one on this trip was a life saver! I don’t know if I would have been able to drivea manual car and encounter all the traffic issues we had. Automatic cars are a bit more expensive but they are good value for money on Serbia roads. 8) We saw lorries where they were not supposed to be – on narrow mountains lanes. We saw a testosterone-fueled father with wife and two kids strapped in the back seats, overtaking on a blind bend. We saw tractors holding up traffic for miles. We saw new roads, just built recently, so narrow the local people have to leap out of the way every time a car passes. We drove on a winding road where there was no pulling over spaces, and when we eventually stopped at the first “kafana” the waiter kindly explained that the money for a wider road and resting places finished up in someone's pocket! 9) If you are still thinking of hiring a car and driving around Serbia you will have to be 110% in driving mode and take breaks every hour if you can find somewhere. You need a good passenger to help you navigate not just on the roads but drivers too!  Learn a few swear words in Serbian. They are very useful - and unexpected by those who inspire them. Considering such bad driving and manners we didn't see any accidents. We saw near accidents and we were part of one when on a flat wide empty road. Only quick thinking saved us. 10) While getting lost we would stop to ask for directions. The window would go down, and very helpful males (yes, all our directions were given by males, do not know why, probably they are the ones wondering roads like us) would explain us in great details how to get where we wanted. The information was so very detailed and long that sometimes we wanted just to drive off. When we did eventually we had to ventilate the car from the fumes of alcohol we were given along with the information. Despite all this, Serbia is a beautiful country to visit with unspoiled nature, lovely people, great food and a fascinating history!
    1564 Posted by bossgate
  • 06 Nov 2017
      If you are looking for the perfect city break do not look further from Zagreb, thе саріtаl of the Rерublіс оf Crоаtіа thаt оffеrѕ a mеdіеvаl сhаrасtеr through іtѕ wооdеn alcoves, fairytale-like hоuѕеѕ and соbblеd streets. This is аlѕо thе home оf many ancient buіldіngѕ, fascinating museums, and оthеr interesting аttrасtіоnѕ that entice уоu tо vіѕіt this bеаutіful Eurореаn сіtу. Here is a list of “must- see” sights when уоu vіѕіt the сіtу of Zаgrеb. Art Pavilion Thіѕ was еѕtаblіѕhеd in the уеаr 1896. Thіѕ lаndmаrk is nоt only for contemporary аrt display but аlѕо for іtѕ enchanting glass-domed interior and remarkable hіѕtоrу. Vіѕіtіng this рlасе іѕ only allowed during Mоndауѕ. "Stаrо Sеlо" Ethnological Muѕеum This is a vіllаgе whеrе уоu саn fіnd ethnological muѕеumѕ. Thеу аrе preserved thаtсhеd houses thаt wеrе built durіng thе 19th сеnturу. Yоu саn find hеrе artifacts аnd tools thаt wеrе uѕеd for making саndlеѕ аnd blacksmithing. Cаthеdrаl of thе Aѕѕumрtіоn оf thе Blessed Vіrgіn Mаrу Stор bу fоr some mеdіtаtіоn аѕ уоu еnjоу fаѕсіnаtіng the view оf thе саthеdrаl. Herman Bоllе dеѕіgnеd іt іn thе уеаr 1892. This саthеdrаl underwent multірlе fires аnd mаѕѕіvе еаrthԛuаkе but wаѕ reconstructed untіl іt ѕtіll ѕtаndѕ аѕ the best lаndmаrk tо vіѕіt in Zаgrеb. The jаw-drорріng beauty ѕurvіvеd one еаrthԛuаkе аnd mаnу rесоnѕtruсtіоnѕ thаt trаnѕfоrmеd іt іntо a nео-gоthіс mоnumеnt. Thе іnѕіdе of it іѕ juѕt аѕ astonishing аѕ thе оutѕіdе. Prоbаblу thе most ісоnіс раrt of this Cаthеdrаl іѕ thе twin towers- that саn bе ѕееn frоm far аwау. You should Go tо Tkаlčіćеvа Strееt Tkаlčіćеvа ѕhоuld bе your first роrt оf саll. It’s where Zagrebians gо tо enjoy thеmѕеlvеѕ. By dау Tkalčićeva is a сhаrmіng ѕtrееt оf low-rise раіntеd hоuѕеѕ wіth balconies and awnings thаt you can appreciate оn a romantic аmblе. And when thе sun gоеѕ dоwn уоu’ll hаvе your рісk of Zаgrеb’ѕ best саfеѕ, rеѕtаurаntѕ, аnd nightspots. If уоu wаnt to pick uр ѕоmеthіng tо gо or hаvе аn еlеgаnt meal with a lоvеd оnе, уоu’ll fіnd whаt уоu’rе lооkіng fоr Tkаlса. Zаgrеb City - Mіmаrа Museum Yоu can see here some mоdеlѕ аnd іntеrасtіvе exhibits оf the progress оf the city frоm the early tіmеѕ untіl the рrеѕеnt аgе. Thіѕ Lower Town muѕеum іѕ nаmеd аftеr thе 20th-сеnturу аrt collector Antе Tоріć Mіmаrа, who can bеѕt be dеѕсrіbеd as a соlоrful character. The permanent еxhіbіtѕ at thе museum wеrе dоnаtеd bу Miramar whо was lіnkеd with аrt theft during thе Second Wоrld Wаr аnd also fоrgеrу аftеr that. Sоmе сrіtісѕ сlаіm that there аrе some fakes іn thе muѕеum’ѕ соllесtіоn, but іt іѕ ѕtіll a good wау tо ѕреnd a соuрlе of hоurѕ. Wоrkѕ by Cаnаlеttо, Rubens, Holbein, Vеlаzԛuеz, Gоуа, Mоnеt, Rеnоіr, and Dеgаѕ аrе аll оn display hеrе. Arсhаеоlоgісаl Muѕеum Zаgrеb’ѕ lосаtіоn at the hіѕtоrісаl mееtіng роіnt bеtwееn wеѕt аnd east hаѕ brоught a hоѕt of сіvіlіzаtіоnѕ to its dооr. So you can guеѕѕ that a vіѕіt tо the city’s аrсhаеоlоgісаl muѕеum іѕ аn іntrіguіng trір through all kinds оf eras аnd cultures. Onе оf thе bеѕt ріесеѕ hеrе is thе Vučеdоl Dove, a rіtuаl vеѕѕеl that dates back to at lеаѕt 2500 BC. Thеrе’ѕ also Lіbеr Lіntеuѕ, аn Etruѕсаn mummy frоm thе 3rd сеnturу BC, which wаѕ wrарреd wіth bandages thаt contain thе lоngеѕt Etruscan tеxt in thе wоrld. Mоѕt of thе text hasn’t еvеn bееn trаnѕlаtеd аѕ so lіttlе іѕ knоwn аbоut thе language. Museum of Broken Relationship Fascinating to peek into people's intimate chapters with their lovers, partners, husbands/wives, mistresses etc. The exibits are collected accros the globe, explained and used to record their feeling once the relationship ended. Be prepered for some sad stories. Its very intimate. And affordable! A must see. .  
    1272 Posted by bossgate
  • 04 Nov 2017
    The threshold was high and in line with tradition, I crossed it by lifting my left foot while Tim, my guide, lifted his right. We felt the uneven bare floor under our feet as we entered the dark room. The sun was gleaming strongly outside, striking through the roof holes, like a ray of death showing us blurred lines of scattered furniture. There was not much to see. The house looked empty except for a cooker, some kind of wardrobe with a mixture of well-used pans and occasional garments. From the corner, just behind the cooker we heard a trembling “NJIHAO” and our first instinct was to run back out of the house we had entered uninvited. We were in quest of old Chinese life which was disappearing fast and were hoping to get “that” photo here in the destitute fishing village near the popular tourist town of China. We didn’t expect to see any people. “Njihao” replied Tim apologetically. And then we saw her, the old lady with a stick, in a blue Mao Tze Tung uniform, sitting on a handmade tripod chair, the same as my grandfather used to make back in Bosnia. She was 86, almost blind and disabled. She has a daughter in Beijing and granddaughter in Shanghai who is married and expecting a child which she is hopping to be a boy. “Enough of girls in our family!” she declared and bounced the stick on the earth floor. From her left pocket she pulled worn photos of happy women with huge smiles. “They come here once every two years. It’s expensive and they have to work hard. My daughter is working in the factory in Beijing but my granddaughter is in charge of a big hotel”. And she cracked a very proud toothless smile followed by strong cough. I turned my head towards the door hiding my tears. Do I offer to clean the house? That's what I automatically do on visits to my grandparents. But then we were in the middle of China and this place could be hardly called a house. Do we call her daughter and granddaughter and tell them off for leaving this 86-year-old on her own? But then I am sure they are aware of that and the amount of money they are making cannot mask their guilt. “What does she eat?” “Villagers bring food for her.” “Can we do anything for her?” Tim shrugged hopelessly, so accustomed to China and her 21st Century where rapid progress deserts its past. Suddenly I pulled all the money I had in my wallet and thrust it at the abandoned old lady without thinking where she was going to spend it or on what. I just wanted to feel that I had done something. She kissed my hand which made me cry even more, and ran out without even saying goodbye to her.  
    1242 Posted by bossgate
  • 04 Nov 2017
    St Albans is a medieval yet modern up-market town at the same time with many restaurants and chic shops but a charming history too. “You’ll get there in a jiffy, there are only 93 steps.” said the enthusiastic volunteer helpfully. Considering my age, my cracked knees and rather impaired lung function we got to the top not quite in the jiffy, but she was right about the second bit – there were 93 steps and I counted them all. They were narrow, spiral, with little margin to spare for the wider parts of my body. I had to turn sideways to get round the bends but by the time we got to the top I had forgotten all about my knees, lungs etc - the view was soul-rejuvenating! And with the weather being so nice we could see far into the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. The Tower Clock  is the only remaining medieval town belfry in England. It was built between 1403 and 1412 as a symbol of parish resistance against the excessive power of the abbot of St Albans, defiantly set on high ground facing the gigantic cathedral tower - looking the Abbey in the eye. The design of the tower was based on the Clock House at Westminster Palace which stood until 1697, and its walls up to 1.22m (4 feet) thick to withstand the ringing of the bell and I am guessing that is the reason why the steps are so narrow. The tower consists of four floors with the ground floor being a shop until the 20th century, its large window was how the bell was brought inside the building, while the first and second floors were designed as living quarters for the shopkeeper and clock-keeper. The fourth floor is where the original bell is located and that is the most interesting part of the  Clock Tower. The bell is named after the Archangel Gabriel, was cast at Aldgate in London, weighs 1 ton, and rings in F. Gabriel last rang out in 1901 for Queen Victoria's funeral. The original clock was discarded at some point, replaced by a more accurate pendulum mechanism whose heavy iron weights hang down into the chamber below - which must have been rather inconvenient for its occupants. Today’s clock was built by smiths from Clerkenwell in 1866and incorporates four-legged gravity escapement, which was an invention just brought onto the market by Lord Grimthorpe, the same guy who designed Big Ben’s mechanism. The tower clock had different uses throughout the history of St Albans. Its bell rang out for the first battle of St Albans during the Wars of the Roses in 1455. It was used as government semaphore during the Napoleonic Wars. The structure was damaged by 1850 and in 1865 was restored by famous architect Sir Gorge Gilbert Scott who used local flint which can be still seen today. The Tower Clock is owned by the Council and run by volunteers called by 'Clockateers'. It's open from Easter to the end of September between 10.30 and 17.00, entrance is £1 and kids go free. There is so much history, engineering and architecture mixed in such a compact place. The Tower Clock is a must-see sight when in St Albans.  
    1192 Posted by bossgate
295 views Apr 24, 2020
First Time in India

first-time-in-india-cow-in-the-street

Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija" Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija"  It`s no wonder that they say: you feel India with all your senses. It’s true. I have been there, have seen, smelled, heard, tasted it and I still feel it so strongly with all my senses… My first time in India was just like a plate of strong, spicy, delicious and brightly coloured curry – exciting and tasty but also leaving some discomfort in the stomach. On our FIRST ever trip to India, Mumbai was the first stop and we were arriving, why not to say it, a little scared. It was our first time together on a trip of this length, not to mention masses of advice about NOT DRINKING TAP WATERNOT EATING IN THE STREET, having full, anti-all-INSURANCE, eating only in fancy restaurants… all that made us nervous, anticipating strange things. With all the suggestions, advise and survival equipment squeezed into our backpacks we reached Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport, expecting BIG unexpected things of India. Once we managed to get into a cab and gave the address of our hotel to the polite driver, he started to ask us the ABC introduction questions: ”where are you from, what have you been doing so far, how long will you stay…?” We barely gave half answers, speechless looking outside and not being able to digest so much in that short period of time. It was late at night and I guess that the darkness didn’t improve our first impression. The silence in the car was broken once more when the driver spoke to us saying: “THIS IS THE BIGGEST SLUM IN THE WORLD” pointing through the window and slowing down the car. I cannot say if it was the biggest or not, but the row of rustic, half destroyed houses and abandoned buildings stretched as far as I could see. What I was seeing behind the road we were on, was beyond my imagination, a hundred times truer than any Hollywood film about India. We were both rendered speechless by the scenery which was so far removed from our views of this world.  That happy feeling when discovering a new place just turned into anguish and dread of what comes next. Eventually we reached the hotel and Ana’s first words were: “Did you see those houses?” as it took her all the way till the hotel before she could get the words out. I think that anyone’s first time in India simply cannot happen without some kind of shock. Even if you have been seeing things and going places, India is going to surprise you. Be prepared for that! Our hotel in Mumbai was, well, let`s say decent, but strange and definitely the first of that kind that we have ever seen. As we were walked in the room by the polite receptionist he generously sprayed our room, particularly the bed corners and area around the pillows, with an air freshener – it certainly camouflaged the smell of humidity and lack of ventilation but… you know… Anyway, the morning after seemed to be a bit brighter in daylight and things started to turn from tragic to tragi-comic and eventually we were also having lot of FUN. Mumbai is the most densely populated city in India, so, if you are going there, be prepared to see a LOT of people around. And there is lots of everything – this vast city is the scenario for the most heart-breaking poverty, while you will also see levels of wealth that somehow do not match, like trying to fit a picture of Da Vinci in a background painted by Van Gogh, it will just not match, the gap is just huge. In our opinion, Mumbai is a great choice for a first trip to India – it´s a huge city where you can find many different things – beautiful temples, pagodas, majestic buildings and amazing architecture, get to know about the traditional way of living and learn about Indian history. At almost any moment of the day you will have a feeling like literally all the inhabitants of the city are on the streets – the number of people is just hard to imagine, as well as the traffic with all the cars, TUK-TUKS, motorbikes, bicycles, trucks and their horns, traffic lights, … It`s like all the sounds, blinking lights and colors of the world are just there, happening at the same time, from all directions, concentrated at that one single street that you need to cross. I cannot fully describe the feeling of anxiety that we both experienced while trying to CROSS THE STREET in Mumbai for the first time – so-called semaphores and so-called traffic rules – forget about all that! It’s like a crusade getting from one side of the street to the opposite  – you will feel the adrenaline running through your blood and once you conquer it, you will feel like you aged 5 years in one minute but also a great victory. At certain moments big groups of people will come to your rescue because, while they are crossing, the traffic won’t be able to move at all, so there is your big chance to just jump in the mass and follow them. However, to understand the dynamics better, just look how others are doing it, and imitate that behavior with confidence and trust in whatever spiritual power you trust… in the end, it’s just crossing the street and after the first few tries you master it. Believe me when I say there are moments of the day when it is so difficult to walk on the streets due to the huge numbers of people, cars, motorbikes, even COWS… that you can’t even stop for a moment and think where you were heading to, you just move with the mass in an unknown direction. COWS on the street – that is also a totally normal thing all over India. Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija"  Since the cow is a holy animal, it`s like a living adoration – they walk freely all around the city and even that crazy traffic will stop in a second to let the holy animal cross the street in peace. Eating cow’s meat is not an option, they are simply adored as free animals or, at most, they are used for transportation. Another” amusement” for our senses during our trip around India was the pollution which, unlike in many other countries, you can see, feel and almost touch. In a big Indian city like Mumbai you will find difficult to see very far as the landscape becomes as foggy as a random winter day in London…except that is not fog but air pollution that is visible and really possible to smell. Yes, you can literally smell the air and see it`s grey-red-ish color as a layer that goes above the landscape. Pollution is really a problem in India – tons of garbage are piled up all around and it looks like there is no garbage collection at all. With very high temperatures most of the year, fermenting garbage makes not only a strong smell but a fruitful source of disease as well. You will not see many garbage bins either. And this is true not only for the busy streets of the big cities. Remote locations, nature parks, beaches, villages, rivers – many of the amazing places are being gradually ruined by a lack of ecological conscience. Almost all the locals that you will meet are super friendly with foreigners. Actually, friendly up to the point that you will have moments of feeling like a super-star. Many people will ask to take photos with you. For some reason, it is really a thing there, to meet a foreigner and get a photo with one. We ended up making long photo-sessions with different people around the street – young, old, kids, a woman with babies…everyone wanted a shot with us. We were very confused at first – did they mistake us for some beautiful celebrity couple?…Hmm, I don`t think so. Some of them explained us that we just look unusual and different to them and they want a photo because… you know, that`s how the world works now, we all fight for some likes… and that`s how we ended up being celebrities in India. And you can be too! Another thing about people in India – they are generous and they really like to help. When you feel lost or curious about something don’t hesitate to ask. They will almost always be happy to help you. However, as the old proverb says “one hand washes the other” be prepared to return the courtesy in some situations – to visit their shop, take a ride with them if they drive taxi or tuk-tuk, or whatever else they offer you. That is also a way how you can organize your trip around India – for example book a ride to somewhere, find a tourist guide, find a restaurant or any other activity… just go to the street and ask the first person that passes by – they will happily recommend a friend, cousin, neighbor who has exactly whatever it is that you need. And the price of literally everything is negotiable so it will all depend on your negotiating skills and patience. Street Market (Crawford Market) You will be surprised at the number of shops and street sellers trying to sell you everything: from food to fabrics, dishes, clothes, jewelry, toys, tools, perfumes… A good advice is better not to ask for something if you are not really interested in buying it, otherwise it will be very difficult to escape; they are very persuasive sellers and you will end up buying things that you didn’t really want to buy. One more tip – if you go to a shop early in the morning just after they open, you have a bigger chance to negotiate a bigger discount since the morning is the most important moment of the day for them. If they don’t sell anything to the first customer that stops by, they believe the whole commercial day will be a reflection of it. Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija"  In any case, bargaining in India is mandatory and any price anywhere is negotiable so it is almost a rule that you will pay less than the original price. In any case, they tend to give much higher prices to tourists than to the locals, so obviously you will have space for bargaining to a more reasonable price. However, considering that you will be mostly buying from street sellers who maintain their families and probably live in poor conditions, don`t exaggerate with bargaining – India is still probably much cheaper than where are you coming from. If you are lucky enough, or better still, if you are planning your trip to India in March, you will have an opportunity to visit the famous Holi festival – yes, that colorful one you always wondered about. FOOD in India – one of the most controversial topics among non-Indian visitors to the country. Street food in India It`s almost an extreme sport for foreigners and might be as difficult as doing a bungy jump for the first time but once you let yourself go you will love the feeling of adrenaline and taste of hot spicy curry. I will not lie to you – it will not be easy! But, I guarantee – it will be an unforgettable experience. Keep in mind – not all that you heard about India is true – there is much more that you have never heard of. Namaste! For more information about And and Ignacio please contact them by clicking here.