Monday, January 26

Status updates

I completely forgot Australia's invasion day. Oh well.

I have had 3.5 excellent meals that involved VEGETABLES and VITAMINS in the last 4 days. One of the meals was brilliant Vegetarian Club take away, another was vaguely asian (soy sauce and ginger, and the third was CURRY! My taste buds are entirely overwhelmed at the unaccustomed flavours, and my body won't know how to deal with all the health factor. I will now go eat chocolate to compensate. And tomorrow, while hitching, I will be on my normal hitchhiking diet of pretzels, bread, cheese and chocolate spread. This is bound to balance out all that healthy stuff.

I can't believe how much stuff I've accumulated in the short time I have been in Sarajevo. I am leaving some here and will have to come back to get it sometime in the future.

I have, however, completely failed to accumulate new boots. My old ones are still held together with tape (at least I've replaced the strips of plastic bag) and I'm really hoping it's not rainy or snowy tomorrow. Although I suspect it will be both.

The thought of hitching to Zagreb tomorrow is a little daunting now that I have stupidly stayed up way too late and still aren't going to bed even though I'm down to only 6 hours sleep, and hitching on not-enough sleep is silly.

I haven't found a room to rent in Zagreb yet, but I at least have somewhere to stay for the first few days.

Cindi Lauper's songs seem to get better with age. I think I'll go play True Colours again.

Wednesday, January 21


I had resisted posting anything* about Obama or the inauguration, as it really shouldn't concern me (not my country, why should I care) except that as self-appointed rulers of the universe, US politics affects everyone, doesn't it.
But here I am catching up on reading Slog's coverage of yesterday's ceremony, and I just saw the new president on tv for the first time (for me, I mean. I'm sure there's been little else on tv lately, but I hadn't seen it, had I), and I find myself somewhat moved. I'm sure Obama will do plenty of things that piss me off while he is President, but for the moment, it seems pretty amazing to have a leader that inspires something other than scorn, derision and all the other negative feelings. And, as a bonus, he's literate! And can speak in whole sentences!
I'm so impressed.
I think what is most affecting is the feeling of hope and the promise of great things to come. And I agree a lot with this post.

I felt just like this about a year ago when Rudd replaced the midget methodist master Howard. Of course, as I've pretty much completely stopped following australian news, I have no idea how that is going these days. I'm sure I will hear lots about Obama's presidency though.

*yeah, I know. I've successfully resisted posting anything at all lately, haven't I... I'll get there sometime.

Saturday, January 17

The people you meet

This has been on my phone for a week waiting for of to find wifi to upload it! I've had net access but no wifi! Anyway, i'm now back in sarajevo, and made an effort to get this online!

The people you meet.
I've just spent a night in Zadar, and an in the middle of an adventure trying to get out of the city to my chosen hitching spot.
I worked out from the extremely non-geographical bus map that bus 2 was probably my best bet for getting to vaguely the right part of town. But i was at the wrong bus stop for the no. 2, so i attempted to walk to the right one. I had no idea if i was on the right road (the bus mass don't have anything as useful as streets marked), and the stop i found was the first one i had seen with absolutely on information. Typical, no? So i asked a little old lady if the next stop would take me to the bus station (where all the buses go, so i could transfer to the 2 there). She said yes, and then proceeded to tell me lots of things i didn't entirely understand, despite my 'samo malo hrvatski' protestations. She told me about her bells palsy that made it hard to talk, and then about ads brother in canberra. The next bus arrived, and happened to be a 2, and on the bus we continued our conversation. And she gave me not one, but 2 four leaf clovers, laminated onto cards with the dm drugstore logo, but still, very sweet of her.
Of course, when we arrived at the bus station, i had to explain that i wasn't taking a bus to Rijeka, but hitching, and therefore wanted to stay on the bus. Communication was being a little slow, but a lady behind us suddenly piped up in german, and said the bus was just going to the centre. I got off to check the bus map again, which didn't help, and in the end decided to ask the driver if he was going where i wanted.
To my great surprise, he answered my pigin croatian question in an accent more australian than mine. One of those old fashioned european immigrant accents that make me think of melbourne. And sure enough, it turns out he spent many years in melbourne, but left a few decades ago.
So i was able to explain where i wanted to go, and he said 'are you hitching?', to which i said yes, and he told me to wait 20 mins, and his next run would take me exactly where i wanted to go. He said he'd drop me off in a good place.
So i spent to 20 mins waiting, and now i'm back on his bus, presumably heading the right way!

A few hours later... Well, since then, i've spent ages standing waiting at toll booths, including one in the snow, 3 rides, including one sharing the back of a tiny car (a yugo, i think) with 2 dozen eggs and a dead wolf, and one offer to take me to Rijeka in return for services i wasn't willing to render.
And now i'm in a truck heading for zagreb. I had both signs out- for rijeka and zg, as standing in the snow was not being pleasant, and i wanted to give every car that passed (there was only about 1 or 2 every 5mins) as many options as possible. Rijeka was a late addition to my plans anyway, so it seems somehow right that i'm not going to get there. I was sorry to miss the coast road, anyway, but it seemed risky to in that way- the highway was likely to be faster, and i didn't want to get stuck at dusk in some tiny place. I'll have to come back sometime in warmer weather, when i can hitch the coast road with a tent, and not care where i end up.
That truck dropped me at the toll booth in zg, which wasn't the most useful place to be in the freezing cold and the dark, but i managed to get a ride in only about 10 mins or less, with a lovely young guy who took me all the way to a useful tram stop that took me to where i an staying. And told me that today was the coldest winter day this winter, with temps from -13 to -7. Considering i had planned to stay on the coast today and had therefore dressed for the positive temps, it's no wonder i was cold!

Monday, January 5

Here's another adventure. The last guy who picked me up just outside Ploce, is so excited that i'm australian, he now wants to drive me 80km out of his way all the way to split. He has a sister in sydney, you see, and visited her 20years ago for 3 months. His few words of english, german, and my collection of random bosnian words are enough.
So now i'm in his holiday apartment block in some small town, drinking nescafe and attempting to make conversation without really having a language...
3 hours later... My friend Stipe got me all the way to the centre of town in Split, and managed to only be slightly inappropriate once. And then he was so guilty, he drove me all the here. And gave me a pack of socks and a zip up cardigan (he apparently sells them) and a bunch of food, so i did ok out of it!
The 2 rides i had before that were good, too. Once i got to a decent spot out of Dubrovnik, the second bar stopped, with a lovely lady who drove me 20km past her house, just for fun. Then i waited a half hour or so before a small truck picked me up. We spoke entirely in croatian. Interesting that i seem to manage that now. Big difference from the last hitching i did here! I still resort to sorry i don't understand a bit, though!
So now i'm in the main square in Split, using the free net, as the one in the hostel is down, so my fingers are beginning to freeze, and i think it's time to go inside!

Leaving Dubrovnik

So yesterday wasn't good. Today is/will be better. I got nearly enough sleep, buried under 6 blankets in the unheated hostel room, the sun is attempting to shine, the shops are actually open, so i've eaten something that isn't pizza and managed to change some BAM into kuna, and there's an easy bus to what i hope is a good hitching point to split. It just doesn't in very often, so i've got half an hour to wait. But then i should be at the spot by 2.30 (late start, but it's only 200-something km to Split). My shoe is still held together with plastic bag string, but hopefully i'll find something better sometime today or tomorrow. Like a shoe repair person. That would be good.
Dubrovnik, i'm told, is the most expensive town on the coast. It's definitely very pretty, and the walk around the walls was very impressive, but it feels like a town that only exists for tourists, and is only a shadow of itself in the off-season. The combination of shops and services that close completely for the winter, and the few remaining professional tourist-hasslers, is not a good one.
Here's hoping Split is better!

Sunday, January 4

crap things that happened today

I woke up cold due to the heating being turned off overnight.
I woke up in a HI hostel with institutional bilious-yellow shiny walls.
The 'coffee' that came with breakfast wasn't. It was chicory, and horrible chicory at that, served with old milk.
The coffee I paid for after that was watery.
The sole mostly separated from my boot (technically last night, but still). They are my only shoes here.
I discovered Croatia's new law that prevents shops opening on sunday. I couldn't buy even sticky tape to fix my shoe, or anything to eat that didn't come from a restaurant.
I spent the first hour stopping every 5 minutes to fix the bit of plastic bag I was using to hold my shoe together. Eventually I worked out a system that worked. It's so stylish to have a strip of plastic bag tying your shoe together.
I failed to get a single response to any of my messages to couchsurfers on the Croatian coast.
I ended up paying 18euro for an unheated hostel room (not in the horrible HI though).
I've spent the last two hours in the hostel cafe/common room thingy with no one but the girl behind the bar, and the music is loud and awful.
I don't know what I'm doing because I suddenly don't feel like my original plan (Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka, Zagreb, Sarajevo) is a good idea, given the lack of couchsurfing possibilities, and the expense of the coast, even in the off season.
Maybe I should find a ferry to Italy instead.
This place is about to close, and I still don't know where I'm going tomorrow. And if I'm hitching, I should probably start early!

and montenegro makes 58

Early in the morning of january 2nd, Anne and i set off through the snow to find the Sarajevo East bus station, way out in scary Serbian SJ. We managed quite successfully (travel tip: follow the people with suitcases. They're probably going to the station! Or to grandma's house or something, which could be just as interesting...) and the bus to Podgorica that we wanted really did exist, which was nice (wikitravel provides the most extensive and reliable bus time info i've found in SJ!).
Next came 6 hours of amazing snowy mountains, icy one-lane, two-way windy roads, with sheer cliffs on either side (one side going, up, the other down, obviously) and precisely zero toilet breaks (two girls tried to have one at one of the bus stations and got left behind! They were delivered back to us 20mins later by a car that caught up to the bus. The driver seemed quite unfazed.) In the last half hour of the trip, the snow suddenly disappeared, and the hills became greener, and by the time we arrived, it was about 15 degrees or something ridiculous.
We met our couchsurfer host, Steve, who showed up his place to leave our stuff, then took us out to explore podgorica while it was still light. It's not a big city, but with 2 rivers running through it, there are some pretty corners. Mostly, though, we wandered randomly and talked to steve, who is another nomad like myself, really, and has only been in the city a few months. He's working on opening Podgorica's first hostel, which is a bit of a foreign concept there!
The next morning we were again up early to get a bus to Kotor, the prettiest town on the Montenegrin coast. A few hours wandering about there, sheltering from the cold winds and fans drizzle whenever we could, and we were on another bus to Herceg-Novi, another seaside town, but on the open sea, not a big sheltered bay. We had just enough time to wander from one end of town to the other, pausing for a hot chocolate on a seaside terrace (yes, outdoors! In january!)

Friday, January 2


On new year's eve, i finally got to make pizza. Anne and i had an impromptu party of people we barely knew at her place, and she made pumpkin soup and apple and ginger desert.
We were in the centre for midnight, dodging fireworks (fireworks in the streets let off by drunk kids should really be illegal! It was scary!) and then on to kino bosna for new year reveling.
Quite a successful New Year's eve, i think!