mi ruta de la seda » 2010 » March
Some pictures of the place, I think it deserves pictures not only video.
Moments I´m sure I´ll remember at the end of my trip.
To destroy the beauty of the pictures in the post my good friend Morís has done a counter-video of my Acqua Alta video I did in Venice, I’m not saying my opinion I add it here and you decide by yourself. I have to thank him for adding the subtitles on my request so it can be understood by all the readers.
I always tell you about the soundtrack, in this case I don´t know the music, I don’t recognize the band, I have no clue where my friend has gotten the music from, Probably Morís has taken a random cassete from a dusty cassete bag bag and he’s Ripper it into MP3 for the video but that doesn’t makes sense… If he tells me who’s the music from I’ll write it here as documentation…
See you soon from an island.
Train is ten minutes late, it is one of those times that you come running and while waiting you think the effort to arrive on time is a waste of time, recording Metelkova for the previous post took me a bit longer than expected. I want to sleep but I can’t because the landscape next to the Sava river along with the Slovenian mountains is too good.
After two hours of landscape the trains stops, by the window I can read Slovenja, I’m at the border, I get ready, bring my passport out to give it to the Croatian border police, a big young, serious guy. I give it to him smiling as if I have to convince him to let me in. He brings a magnifying glass out of his pocket. After a while examining it he returns it to me and I feel a bit of satisfaction.
I like Zagreb, I get the tram that goes everywhere, reminiscences of Yugoslavia. It´s a pleasant city, but not too beautiful, the austro-hugarian buildings here are not too impressive however there are hundreds of cool bars, and the people are incredibly helpful. Can be a good place to go for a stag party.
I get into the Naïve museum, there are landscapes as the ones in Dragon Ball and this woman with her cat, don’t miss the onion on the right side.
I spend a while taking pictures of Dolac market, I’ve always like countryside people in the city, there are no weird products and in the end this is a similar climate to Spain, I see a lot of Mediterranean products.
After buying some fruit I buy a piece of smoked cheese, very smoked cheese, super smoked cheese, having that cheese in my mouth is like putting my tongue in an neighborhood bar ashtray.
I want to buy some Turbo-folk, I’m curious, it is a mix between traditional music and modern rhythm, it started as a joke or criticism and became a Balkan hit after Yugoslavia, has some nationalistic undertones. It’s obvious that the shop assistant of long hair, goatee and hidden piercing doesn’t like the style of music, but he helped me to choose it.
I also ask him for current music, he get’s happier, for being a country of four million people they have a huge music scene. He explains to me each of the Cds on the shelf. There’s a woman that is like Dido but more instrumental, a guy inspired by Tom Waits, one that is supposed to be similar to Moby but if you hear it you fall asleep, a girl that sounds like Dolores O’Riordan(The Cramberries), REM support band that Peter Bucks has said are amazing, he shows me the first CDS of a guy that recorded during the Yugoslav era and that due to copyright problems of the country you couldn’t buy before, he’s excited about the idea, and many other Cds of suggestive covers and incomprehensible tittles. There are also compilation CDs with Yugoslav hits from different decades. I buy the one that Peter Bucks likes, I trust him, also buy old hits that. Music is very cheap here.
From the city itself I just have two pictures, a panoramic view from the top and one of Kapol square where it seems everything happens, every minute there’s a tram arriving. The rest is not very photogenic, so I go to the coast. The most modern sculpture in Zagreb, the musician was there for three nights I walked by, however after running the ball over him I’m not sure if he’s been able to play again. I used to play well.
I wait three hours for my rented car in Hemingway’s café, the most modern place in town, high heels, porches at the door, gel in thinning hair, shirts with crocodiles and sun glasses with big letters, the music is very good, the wifi is fast and free and the tea is nearly the same price as in other places. I write and read.
Cool, in two hours I’ll be in Rejica(read Reica, the j sometimes is an “I” and the other just goes with it with no pronunciation). When I thought I’d be in Rejica I’m not even half the way, the snow, my Smart with small wheels and no chains in the trunk make my trip hell, the 60km/h winds don’t help much, I arrive super tired.
Rejika is interesting as is a normal non touristy city, the port is the most important in Croatia and the buildings are prettier than in Zagreb. Keeps snowing, I see snow over the sea for the first time and decide not to move. I eat recently fished octopus. There’s a European chess championship, in my hostel there’s a German player, he tells me a lot about chess, very interesting, I find him funny.
With the sun I go to Rovinj on the west, the Istria peninsula(love the name) I enjoy the center with marble stoned alleys, it’s very quiet, I walk slowly by this charming place.
Finally sun, no hat and no jacket! I have breakfast in the street, I’m a bit cold but I want the sun to fill me with energy. Today I’ve Slept Alone in a hostel for 200 people.
The sixth biggest coliseum in the world, it’s wonderfully conserved and being next to the sea is strange, I never imagine roman buildings by the sea, maybe because they are not like that in those roman films I don’t like.
It is possible to walk under the coliseum where the gladiators relaxed after killing their adversaries, the nicest thing to see is this amphora.
I get a boat to one of the islands in Brijuni National park where Tito used to expend half of the year inviting state heads. This is the biggest island on the park and I wouldn’t call it a natural park, it’s not wild at all, it still has government buildings and kind of an run down zoo it also has interesting roman ruins but all quite artificial, there’s a 1600 year old olive tree that still produces olives and these cows that are endemic of Istria.
Continuing to the south I stop by the Plitvice Natural park where 16 lakes are connected by waterfalls and where I want to stay all day to breath in the nature and maybe if I have infinite luck, see a Lynx. But nature itself changes my plans the snow is blocking the paths and after a short walk I’ve seen it all, it’s nice but not impressive, the Japanese in front of me love it but I know in Japan you have nicer things. They have huge mountains there.
From the waterfalls I go to Zadar, a city I like and I’ll recommend to anyone asking me about Croatia. There’s an afternoon with clear sky and I can see the still Adriatic islands while the sun sets.
What is this? This is a shot of the next video.
See you soon.
In 1993 the the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army were squatted, now they have a different look than when the army was using them.
Sorry about the editing mistakes, I´ve got some problems with it and haven´t been able to polish it too much.
Metelkova is totally unexpected, an ex-Yugoslav country with something like that? If you have the feeling of wanting to know more, here is their web page. Metelkova was really near to my prison hostel so I stopped by every day to have a drink and take a look.
The music in the video is from Autechre, an English band who composed the music which was called IDM(Intelligent Dance Music) in the early 90s. The song is the first one on the Incunabula CD, a CD that when I heard it first time surprised me as much as seeing Metelkova.
With the video I finished my trip to Slovenia, the train I took just after recording the last scene took me to Zagreb in Croatia. The first new country on my trip!!! Also the first time I crossed a border on a train where they stopped for passport control.
The car rental company owner was a fan of Spain, he liked Almodóvar, Bigas Luna, Azucar Moreno and El Duo Dinámico, what an image of Spain he may have!!! It was fun talking with him, he even knew sentences of films and pieces of Lyrics, a fan.
He rented me the cheapest car in town 35 Euro picking you up at home. I’m driving again much sooner than what I expected, It’s good, I feel like driving. Being such a tiny country in a day you can even go to the most remote place or even being close to cross to Germany by mistake…
My first stop was the Julian Alps, named by Julius Caesar when he conquered them over 2.000 years ago. This was fundamental to the roman empire commerce as during the time most of it was done by land and this opened the routes to the east which was incredibly important for the silk commerce, the roman empire achieved a great deal of richness due to this successful time of commerce.
This is Triglav national park that surrounds the mountain with the same name(the highest in the country at 2854 meters), I don’t stop seeing snow and busy forests. It’s probably here where all those bears are living!
The snow doesn’t’t let me go through Trbiž pass to the Soca river but I don’t mind too much, there are things I want to see in this area. I stopped by this ski resort on the way, there were many. The dog ran away, he may be shy about having his photograph taken.
The second stop and the place I wanted to visit the most is Bled village, one place that seems to have been done for postcards. Would be difficult to do it so beautiful on purpose, it has it all, a castle, a lake, an island, a church with a sharp roof and mountains in the background.
Here finishes my short visit to Slovenia, a small country with helpful people and a curious recent history, it was the first country to leave Yugoslavia with a just 10 day war and 66 people dead.
If you want to see magnificent landscapes in a country that is easy to move around, this is the place. Perfect for quiet nature and relax.
The stew was just 4.20 Euros as Slovenia entered into the Euro in 2007. Before that they had the Tollar for a limited period of time since they left Yugoslavia in 1991. I guess everybody wanted to move to the Euro just to get rid of such a silly name.. Tollar??? Probably a spoonerism of Dollar.
So I say goodbye with the phrase Ljubljana’s mayor said when they gained independence on June 25th 1991. “Tonight dreams are allowed. Tomorrow is a new day”.
Slovenia’s video is nearly ready, I’ll update as soon as I have it ready.
With the word “castle” images of walls, towers with battlements and a lot of stone comes into your mind, maybe that’s why Predjama surprises so much because it has nothing of that, well, also because it’s just beautiful. One of the most dramatic places I’ve seen in my life, a castle built in an empty space on a cliff and it’s so hidden that you don’t see it until you are less than 100 meters away. However I’m sure you won’t be able to imagine it until you see it, so here you have some pictures.
This is one of the most important erosional cave systems in Europe, 9km from the castle the postjonia caves can be visited where a unique animal lives, it has bones, can live up to 100 years and spend years without food and still it’s not known how they reproduce.
Even the place was so unique and beautiful it was hard for me to enjoy the day. At 8.30 in the morning I received a text; a friend had drowned in the river. I’ve been kayaking 14 years, you know it’s a possibility and it’s something you take into account every time you paddle, this is why we take as much precautionary measures as possible. David is the first person that I’ve lost in the river. He was not a very close friend but he was a person I’ve shared good moments with; we had explored amazing rivers in the Pyrenees mountains, enjoyed good food in Galicia where he was from, had a laugh out at night and shared stories, he was a great person that now only remains in our memories
It was a difficult day in which every river I crossed filled my head with thoughts and memories.
The grafitti speaks for itself.
The situation is easy to imagine, after a long trip you normally feel like going out to wind down. Once out, why not have a drink? You get a beer or two and being more tired than what you thought, the alcohol affects you. It’s not difficult either that in a crowded bar someone hits you on the side when walking out and that with your two beers you throw a ‘dirty’ look. If you are unlucky and that person hasn’t like your look the situation may finish with some bar furniture broken and some “policizja” agents inviting you to go with them.
The other option, and the one I chose, is to sleep in a former prison turned into hostel. Celica Hostel is that, the possibility of sleeping in jail without the inconvenience of being beaten up and knowing that you can leave when you want.
The hostel is also a restaurant, art gallery and cultural centre.
Each cell has been designed by a different artist, mine was 117.
The current bars.
Over the terrace some of the windows with the old bars.
Chillout is where you can smoke a water pipe.
They played for four hours.
Crossing the border from Italy has no mystery, slovenia is part of the EU(in 2004, it was the first ex yugoslav country) and there´s not really a frontier and there´s no need to show a passport. A few years ago I came to kayak in the stunning Soca river(I´ve found a good gallery of this world class all kayaking river that you may want to check), Slovenia was not in the EU and you had to stop in the frontier with that bit of nervousness that is produced getting into a country which was ex Yugoslavia. I remember a big uniformed man with an over “busy” mustache requesting the passports under incredibly heavy rain. Fortunately all was fine, but even at a frontier it is unavoidable to be a bit expectation-nervous.
Slovenia is a tiny country completely full of mountains and forests full of emotional landscapes so unspoilt that even being in the heart of europe it is the country in the world with highest density of bears. My idea was visiting the capital and a few sights around, and being so small I decided to stay in the capital Lubjliana for the few days.
Zmajsky Most, Dragon´s Bridge. This little dragon has managed to attract the attention of every person that visits the city and has become one of Ljubliana´s simbol.
It’s said that whe a virgin crosses the bridge it liftes his tail, but I don´t relieve it.
Panoramic view from castle tower. All sorrounded by mountain.
The townhall the three titans fountain representing the three rivers of Carnolia: the Sava, Kraka and Ljublianica.
The triple bridge, and the wierd thing is that it has three Bridges one after the other, you can see the side bridges in the side of the picture.
Late afternoon in the Ljublianica river that crosses the city, on the sides: cafes, restaurants and terraces. One of them has the terrace just under a Ljublianica bridge making it a superb place for a drink if you decide to ejoy the night in Ljubliana which is very lively with it’s 55.000 students. There are cafes with terraces all over, that even being only 2 degrees, are full all day!!!!
After the Venice video that took so long to prepare, this week I´m going to change the way of posting a little bit, I´m going to do 4 smaller posts of slovenia, hope they are easier for you to read as well as easier for me to prepare.
Ah! After quite a few days and even with the water and humidity of Venice, my cold went away!
See you soon.