Sunday, July 31, 2016

Country #103: Speeding through Montenegro

Country #103 was a toss-up. From Dubrovnik, there are two days trips that are widely available. You can either head north to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina or go south to Kotor and Budva in Montenegro. Both sounded promising. Mostar has the middle eastern architecture I love and one highly photogenic bridge. Montenegro has beaches and a miniature walled city version of Dubrovnik. Since a good portion of the day was going to be spent going to and from, it came down to which was the more scenic drive.

Everyone I asked had the same answer. "The one with the Bay of Kotor!!" Either this is very common knowledge or I asked some all the right people because stunning does not begin to describe the vistas around this meandering bay.

Out of practicality and because I wanted to see as much as possible in a limited amount of time, I opted to do one of the organized bus tours.  And then I remembered why I don't like them very much. If it was up to me, I would have been pulling over at every village, every overlook and every roadside cafe. The bus driver thought otherwise.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Country #102: Croatia, the search for Khal Drogo

One would think that the "sport" of counting countries would be relatively free of controversy. There are no banned enhancement-performing drugs, no need for instant replays and the balls are very rarely deflated. But this was one trip that lead to a bit of soul searching for me.

Back in 1988, I did a summer study abroad program in what was then Yugoslavia. We spend two weeks in Dubrovnik, one in Belgrade and one in Zagreb. In a probably unrelated move, not too long thereafter, the country came out from behind the iron curtain and eventually split up into seven independent countries. Although I had been in what would become Croatia and Serbia, I have always counted this as one country, placing an asterisk next to my listing of Yugoslavia.

And then Game of Thrones happened. Like everyone else who chooses to live among humankind, I'd heard about the show but it wasn't until this spring that I decided to watch the first episode.  That one episode led to another and soon I was staying up all night binge watching the series.  While in the midst of a battle with the condo association manager, I found myself asking "What would Cersei do?" and wondering if the local shelters had any pet dragons up for adoption.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Seeing Red in Cardiff

What do you do when you have just flown across the Atlantic, slept for only 3 out of the last 48 hours and then caught another flight that brings you to Cardiff, Wales. Well, if it is the day of the Wales/ Portugal Eurocup match-up, you simply keep going. Even if you are bit cross-eyed from exhaustion, are continuously reaching into your purse for pounds but pulling out euros and have often stated that soccer is athletic equivalent of Sominex (seriously, if the score is so often a tie, why even bother). You keep going because Cardiff is a place you haven't been and who knows when you will return.

So that is what I did, even if it meant risking falling asleep on the bus ride into town and ending up in a place where the language was possibly more unintelligible than Welsh. This turned out to be an unfounded fear because the people of Cardiff are one chatty, friendly people.  The bus driver told me all about his visit to Miami as his one other passenger was narrating the drive as it related to his own life (ie: And that is where I bought my car, that is the pub I go to, that is where my wife works).