Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 6: Osijek

Would you believe I took no photos today? Maybe that is because most of the day I had my nose to the computer in the library of Evangelical Theological Seminary. They have moved the workroom out of the basement into the daylight of the main floor. (The two I am posting are from my archive of two years ago.)

I got through several boxes of donated books. I was pleasantly surprised at how new and relevant most of the books were--until I got to box of early- to mid-20th c, heavily underlined, not particularly significant in the first place books. Those went into a "we don't need this box."

Deborah is now assistant head under Andrew the IT guy. It was great to see her again. She took me bicycling last time. We went downtown to where the youth were holding an outdoor meeting. Had some interesting conversations in this Catholic culture.

Went for a vigorous walk in the mist after work. Disappointed to see they have torn up the walk along the river. Looks like they are putting down drainage pipes. Hopefully, the path will be rebuilt, but now in the next two weeks!

We get our main meal with the students at noon. Rice, pork chops and sauce with pickled peppers as vegetable. Flavors were nice, but it was all room temperature. Different priorities, I guess. For supper we picked up some fresh bread at the bakery on the corner and made some cup-a-soup. We'll go out some evenings, but not tonight. Not in the rain. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Day 5: Zagreb

The name of the bus company that brought us to the Dubrovnik airport yesterday was DARE. I had to laugh at that as we raced up a one lane road--that is, single lane, up only, no shoulder--clinging to the side of the cliff. The view was fabulous, and we made it in one piece!

We stayed at the Barba Niko Hotel, an easy walk from the airport (shorter than reaching concourse A at MSP). We've stayed there several times before so finding the place while dragging our suitcases behind us was no problem. We got a nice dinner at the hotel for half the price of restaurants in Dubrovnik. Things were quiet, and we worked at our computers in the dining room in the evening.

This morning we walked back to the airport and caught the bus into town. We had arranged to meet with Marcos, a graduate of Osijek, at the bus station. He stuck our luggage in his car, dropped us off at the Ethnographic Museum and picked us up at 4 PM in front of the cathedral. In the meantime we enjoyed the Croatian costumes in the ethnographic museum. I need to ask someone how they managed all the tiny pleats without electric irons. I can't imagine doing them WITH electric irons. Costume seemed to be the main thing at the museum other than a room of miscellaneous ethnic stuff from around the world collected by Croatians abroad in the late 19th c. After what we learned about Dalmatian seafarers in Dubrovnik, that was not surprising.

From the Ethnographic Museum we wandered north through the main square, past a huge market and up into the upper city, which seemed to be mainly 18th c in origin. It's pretty steep in places and required steps to get between blocks. At one place we thought we were coming to a dead end, but people seemed to be coming out so we went to investigate. The brick street went into a building (with 1769 painted over the door) and curved up hill and 90 degrees to the right. The weird part was that the shelter we were passing though seemed to be some kind of chapel. A nun was praying at a shrine on the left and there were several short pews facing her on the right. I would have loved to stop and take a picture, but there were enough people around that it felt invasive to do so, so you'll just have to imagine.

We ended up at the Church of Saint Mark, a very nationalistic place on a square surrounded by what looked like government buildings.

Since we knew we would miss supper, we ate a late lunch in the cafe here on the left.

Wandered some more and then stopped for coffee. (Croatians love their coffee shops. I had a cinnamon latte. Wonderful.) Got back to the cathedral about quarter to four, in time to shoot this picture of the door. I took one earlier of the whole church. At least I thought I did. Evidentally it didn't actually click because it isn't in my phone. No great loss since one tower is being renovated and is covered in scaffolding.

After a three hour drive to Osijek with Marcos, we are settled in the same efficiency apartment where we stayed two years ago--one room with a sink-fridge-and-two-burner unit plus a bath. Married students live in this kind of place the whole school year. I think most of them have a hide-a-bed so that it looks like a living room during the day.

Tomorrow Steve starts class and I start in the library. They recently received a container full of 25,000 books! I will be busy.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 4: Dubrovnik

Last morning in Dubrovnik. This afternoon we will take the bus back to the airport and head for Zagreb. Of course, I couldn't resist more pictures, but I swear I skipped many more because of the poor lighting!

The market outside our hotel from a more traditional angle.

The hall where we attended the concert last evening. Still can't stop thinking what an exciting event it must have been for the kids to play with the symphony orchestra.
I had noticed these weird columns on the main street and wondered how they fit in architecturally. Then today I saw someone manufacturing more. Gave one of these a tap. It's hollow! Plastic? It seems Star Wars has hired a portion of the city in March for filming the next movie. You didn't hear it from me. I guess it is all hush hush, but I think that is the content of the movie not the fact of the filming.

We wound up back at the square for the Saturday morning folk dance presentation. Except they moved it into the one-screen cinema instead because of the drizzle. Lots of fun. I think the stomping was probably better on this stage than it would have been in the stone plaza. For a couple numbers the boys wore jingle bells around their ankles. We changed seats because of the guy with the selfie stick who kept sticking it in the middle of the scene. I'm managed to mostly crop him out of this one. Here's a bit of video to give you an idea.

Since this is off season and the hotel didn't need our room, they let us use it until we left for the bus at 2, so we went "home", put our feet up for a bit and then went for lunch. The sun had come out and we briefly considered the patio where we had coffee the other day, but there were smokers. We chose this place because it had both what I wanted and what Steve wanted. Mine is grilled squid buried in tomatoes, green onion, capers and olives. Yum. You can see Steve's order in the background.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pucic Palace Hotel

Love Steven's choice of the Pucic Palace Hotel. Off season rates make it affordable.

From the square. Our room is the lit window.

Pucic (POO-tsich) Palace, a 17th c merchant's mansion at the corner of two of Dubrovnik's narrow streets. To the right you can see a bridge that connects the palace with their terrace restaurant on the roof of the next building. Unfortunately it doesn't open until summer.

We are on the third floor (fourth floor American style) so we mostly used the elevator for up and the stairs for down. We are getting no shortage of stair climbing in the streets outside.

Our room. Much cooler than a Holiday Inn.
The elegant bathroom I promised you. Only problem is that the shower floor slopes away from the drain.

View from our window in the mornings in the square below. Below is the table where we have taken breakfast. To the left are the windows overlooking the square in the first picture.

Day 3: Dubrovnik fort

We were NOT as exhausted and consequently did NOT sleep as well. Jetlag is always worse the second night. We did manage to wake up earlier, so we were down having breakfast around 8. The weird part was seeing some of the same people at breakfast as we had the day before at 10. Mayb they are trying to get un jetlagged too. :-)

We set off for the fort whose originas are in the 11th c as protection against the Venetians. It supposedly opened at 9, but at 9:30 it was all locked up. That's quite a climb to turn around and climb back down, but there are great views from up there.

View looking west from a delightfully placed bench just below the last push up to the door of the fort.

View from the base of the fort looking east to the old city where we walked on the walls yesterday. 

Having failed to get into the fort, we wound our way through narrow streets back to the main road. We followed it west along the coast looking for a park that turned out to be farther than expected so we turned back, but got some great views of the sea along the way. The other side of the narrow, but very busy road is lined with 18th and 19th c mansions. Some of them are crying out for TLC. Too bad I don't have the money, or the know-how, or the money, or the language skills. Did I mention the money?

When we got back the sun had actually come out. Sort of. Steve decided to have coffee rather than climb back up, but you know me.

Completely empty inside, but still pretty cool.

And then there was the panoramic view from the top.

We rested a bit in the early afternoon. By the time we were stirring, it was raining. Streets nearly empty. Also pretty slippery. We did the Ethnographic Museum, the Maritime Museum, Marin Drzic's house, and the Cathedral of St. Basil. The Cathedral was pretty dark, but lots of gold up front. The stained glass windows are very modern art. Obviously replacements since the Homeland War. The receptionist at the hotel had told us about how after the war, they went around to local villages offering to replace people's rooves if they would give them their old tiles, so this is the only building in the old city with old roof tiles. Marin Drzic was a 16th c playwright whom the locals compare to Shakespeare, Moliere, etc. It was more an contemporary art museum with a lot of portraits, but we weren't sure what we were looking at. The Mritime Museum included a lot of paintings of ships at sea. Many of them showed storms and had the Madonna and Child watching from the corner like a blessing. Boats looked REALLY frail for open sea. My sympathies with St. Paul and others who were shipwrecked.

Wandering home in the rain, we ran across this bookstore, with an exhibition of photos of the destruction of the same house during the Serbian bombardment.

After dinner in our hotel where I had the local dish of cuddlefish risotto and Steve had a steak, we went for a walk. We wandered in a new direction and ended up by the music school. There were a lot of people standing around. Are they waiting for a concert? Steve wondered. Sure enough, there was a recital in the upstairs hall of an old fortress. A bunch of kids from the music school, accompanied by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra. A couple might have been university, but most looked like high schoolers. One didn't look more than junior high. They weren't flawless, but they weren't bad. Some were quite good. Can you imagine the experience as a teenager? The girls wore cocktail dresses; the boys concert black. The conductor said a few words to each as they came up, no doubt to put them at ease. After they played, they shook the hand of the conductor, shook the hand of the concert master, bowed, and walked back up the center aisle to our applause. Several were called back for a second bow. At the end there were roses for all. Delightful way to spend the evening.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Day 2: Dubrovnik old city

Made my 10,000 steps today and then some. 19,500. Between exhaustion and sleeping pills we slept until 9:30 this morning. We are staying in the Pucic Palace. "Palace" means mansion in this part of the world. Think 17th c Venice without the canals. Full breakfast included. This morning I went English with an omelet and mushrooms. Tomorrow I think I will go more European.

Dubrovnik was shelled during the "Homeland War" in the early 1990s, targetted by the Serbs even though it is a World Heritage City--as a way to demoralize Croatian culture. The girl at reception pointed out that every roof in the city is new. Instead of splotches of different colored tiles, they are all the same. Lots of restoration still going on, especially now in the off season. Tourism is the primary industry of coastal Croatia with 7 cruise ships a day landing in Dubrovnik in summer. Steve read some reviews that talked about the wall-to-wall tourists. Not at this time of year. But the review recommended autumn, which is no doubt drier.

It was not raining this morning, so we took off to explore the old city. Cloudy enough that I resisted a LOT of pictures and only took 80+.
Wandered lots of little streets like this.
We entered last night through the gate directly under us here. Our hotel Pucic Palace is down this main street to the end and then two streets to the right. When Steve looked at a map, he was kind of irritated at our taxi driver for dropping us off here instead of a gate to the left that would have been much closer--until we walked that way today and saw that we would have had to descend a couple hundred steps with our luggage. The guy knew what he was doing.

We paid the fee to walk the city walls. Well worth it for the fabulous views. I was amused by this basketball court in the middle of the old city, but then as Steve pointed out, there are a lot of good Croatian basketball players.

Gave into my fetish for shooting through doorways and windows quite a bit. This is from a guard tower in the wall similar to the one you see in the picture.

Skipped lunch after such a big late breakfast and had afternoon coffee here. I got a kick out of the fleeces they provided to encourage customers not to mind sitting outside even though it is chilly.
Turns out our ticket for the wall also includes this fortress. They were already closed when we found that out, but the ticket is good for twenty-four hours, so we will go tomorrow morning.

For dinner tonight I had octopus ragout with polenta. Wonderful! Steve had roast beef Dubrovnik style. Looked good, but boring by comparison. After supper we walked a bit and enjoyed the city by night.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Croatia Day 1: travel

Long day. MSP to PHI to LHR to FRA to ZGB to Dubrovnik. I got a decent night’s sleep. My Philly/London flight was almost empty. I had a row of five seats to stretch out. Took the meal (with a glass of wine and a sleeping pill) and don’t remember a thing until they were announcing arrival. Meanwhile Steve did not sleep as well on his MSP to AMS flight even though he was business class. I was flying American thanks to a free miles ticket from cousins, Kelvin and Becky Smith. (Much appreciated, guys!) We met up in Frankfurt without a problem.

Steve decided to have franfurters in the Frankfurt airport.

My supper was mauch classier.

We are returning to Osijek, a school with which we have had connections since the early 1990s. Steve will be teaching cross-cultural communications while I work in the library. The area is on the main track for refugees from Syria entering Europe. The local church has a history of social involvement, so it will be an interesting time—especially since Steve will be on a panel discussing refugees our first Sunday back in the US.

[Here's a link to posts from the last time we were in Osijek.]

Our last visit was in the fall. This seems to be a much wetter time of year, so I’m not sure how many good pictures I will get. But before we start work, we are taking this weekend in Dubrovnik, one of the medieval cities on the Adriatic coast. Hopefully it won’t rain the WHOLE time.

Arrived 11 PM.  The taxi couldn't bring us all the way because the old city doesn't admit vehicles--except a few Mercedes Benz on display following a major show of new cars. The driver gave us directions, but we missed a turn. We were asking a waiter in a sidewalk cafe when the guy from our hotel approached and asked if we were Mr. and Mrs. Hardy. The taxi driver had called him to say we were coming. Wow! Cool place. I will definitely have to post pictures of our hotel room in the old city, including the bathroom.

Where the taxi dropped us off just outside the old city