Next trip: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania

It’ time for another Balkan trip.

This is the first time that I am posting my tentative itinerary before I travel, in the hope to solicit advice from locals or fellow travelers, learn about interesting stories/places/people to write about, find somebody for a hike in the mountains or even to find places to stay. Here is my Couchsurfing profile with plenty of reviews, so that you can be sure that I am an easy and friendly guest and that I can reward you with travel stories that will change your life for the better (or at least entertain you for a few hours).

23 October 2014 - Timișoara, Romania

This will be my first time in Timișoara, which several Romanians have advertised to me as their country’s most beautiful city. I’ll only have one day though, because the next morning I continue to Serbia by train.

Timisoara

24 October 2014 – Belgrade, Serbia

I was in Belgrade in February 2009 when the city was covered in snow and ice. It was so cold that I couldn’t spend much time outside. This time, I will have only one day because I will fly to Montenegro early next morning. (In 2009 I stayed at Hotel Moskva, the grand building on the postcard, but it seems to have become unaffordably expensive since then. Or maybe I was still rich back then.)

belgrade old postcard

25-27 October 2014 – Podgorica, Montenegro

On Sunday, 26 October 2014, I will take part in the half marathon from Danilovgrad to Podgorica. The day before and the day after, I will be in Podgorica as well, although I might have to spend the day after running 21 km in bed or a bathtub instead of seeing much of the city. After such a physical endeavor, I am usually limping for two days.

Podgorica

from 28 October – Montenegro

And then I will explore Montenegro. This is the part which I haven’t planned in detail yet. I won’t have a car, so I will have to rely on trains and buses or the kindness of others.

I definitely want to visit Cetinje. I like these smaller towns, especially if they once were the historical capital. They usually have a lot of the old grandeur left, but are less crowded or busy than the current capital (although I am aware that the President resides in Cetinje again).

My biggest dream is to go to Mrtvica Canyon for a whole day of hiking.

Mrtvica canyon

But I know it’s hard to get there, so I am looking for someone who wants to go there as well or who would borrow/rent me a car for a day. I was thinking of staying at Kolašin to have a base in the mountains.

The Biogradska Gora National Park is enticing as well, but it too would require a car.

I would also like walk from Kotor to Tivat, across Vrmac, which looks like a doable hike (15 km).

From Tivat I will fly back to Belgrade. (I haven’t decided on the date yet, and at this time of year I hope that I can simply pop up at the airport and find a seat.) Originally I had planned to return to Serbia with the famous and fantastic Bar-Belgrade Railway to enjoy the spectacular views and to get off at some smaller cities in Serbia. But it seems that due to the floods in summer 2014, it is currently rerouted in Serbia and the service only runs at night. – I am still in Eastern Europe until May 2015 and I hope I will have another chance for this scenic journey after the track will be repaired.

2 or 3 days – Shkodër and Lake Komani, Albania

This summer I spent a wonderful week in Albania, but I didn’t have time to go to the north of the country. Thus, I plan to visit Shkodër on this trip and spend a relaxing day on the ferry on Lake Komani.

ferry Lake Komani

I know it’s a long trip – and I still have to make it back from Belgrade to Târgu Mureș, but it may be the last chance for a long trip before winter.

(Hier gibt es die Reiseankündigung auf Deutsch. Allerdings werde ich unterwegs wohl nur die englische Fassung aktualisieren, falls ich überhaupt dazu komme.)

Posted in Albania, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Power Breakfast

There are three objectives to a breakfast:

  • read the newspaper
  • wake up properly
  • gather energy for the day

Because I haven’t found any international newspapers yet in my small town in Romania, we shall focus on the two latter aspects.

In order to become fully awake, modern man drinks a Cola of course. Preferably from the fridge and additional ice cubes are welcome. I have heard that some people boil coffee, but that is medieval. Extremely complicated and you can only prepare it by using numerous gadgets, powders, machines, spoons. By the time the first cup is ready, half the day is already over. Also, coffee comes from Arabia, and I guess you don’t want to support the terrorists of ISIS. Or do you?

Energy is provided by a muesli. No corn flakes or Fruit Loops or other such children’s stuff, but real muesli with oatmeal.

breakfast1And then I had the glorious idea, unfortunately one week too late for this year’s Nobel Prizes, to combine the two. Admittedly, the idea had become necessary because the milk once again had run out of power before its advertised expiry date.

So you pour the Cola over the muesli, and there you have your power breakfast.

breakfast2What a source of energy and drive!

Mmhhhhhh!

breakfast3(Die Weltgesundheitsorganisation hat auch eine deutsche Fassung dieses Artikels gesponsort.)

Posted in Food, Health | Tagged | 3 Comments

Easily Confused (43) Drama

Watching a comedy:

people-in-cinema

Watching a tragedy:

watching Kobane

Posted in Films, Media, Politics, Syria | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Nobel Peace Prize 2014 for Liu Xiaobo

My suggestion for the Nobel Peace Prize 2014: Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer and human rights activist.

Yes, I know that Liu Xiaobo already won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and it would be the first time that one person wins the same prize twice. (Although it doesn’t seem to be a problem for the same football team to win the championship twice in a row.) But this is a special situation which calls for a special reaction: The Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 2010 is still in prison in China. If the Nobel Prizes are supposed to achieve anything beyond some newspaper articles for a week after their announcement, then the Nobel Prize committee can display the determination to continue awarding the prize to the last laureate who is still imprisoned and thereby to name and shame China. They should do so year after year after year – until China will have to release Liu Xiaobo.

The outrageousness of China’s treatment of Liu Xiaobo becomes even more apparent when looking for a historical parallel: in 1936 Nazi Germany released the laureate Carl von Ossietzky from a concentration camp (although he was of course still being watched by the Gestapo).

(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

Posted in China, History, Human Rights, Politics | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Video Blog: Life can be a Beach

On my bicycle tour around Sinis peninsula on Sardinia, I discovered this beach, not without drawing two valuable lessons from its discovery:

Posted in Films, Italy, Life, Sardinia, Travel | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Not even a Factory can destroy this View

After yesterday’s sunset photos, many will have thought: “Well, lucky him caught a beautiful evening and now he pretends that it looks like that every night.”

Thus I took some photos today, noticing that if the sky is in the right mood, it makes even a chemical plant look interesting.

factory sunset 1factory sunset 2

(The photos were taken in Târgu Mureș in Romania on 7 October 2014.)

Posted in Photography, Romania, Travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments

“Why did you come here?”

There are two types of places in the world: those where nobody will bat an eyelid if you move there and those where you will be welcomed with the question “Why did you move here?” – if you want to call that a form of welcome.

Having lived and worked in eight different countries so far, I have experienced both cases.

london-crowdsThe strange thing is that nobody is surprised when you move to a crowded, smelly and noisy city where you will spend two hours every day under the ground and where rents are so expensive that you can only afford a room in a basement. Because everyone considers it normal that people move to New York or London.

But when you move to a quiet and peaceful place where you can reach the mountains or the forest by foot from home and rents are so affordable that you can rent a whole house without working too much, people ask you “Why of all places did you move there?”

It’s no coincidence that I am writing this one week after my move to Târgu Mureș, although this time I did have a good reason for my move to Romania. Often, the question displays merely the lack of knowledge of the person asking. Some people do not know more than three countries beyond their own and the rest of the world is like outer space to them. They won’t be able to associate anything with any other city besides Rome, Paris or London.

Birds move twice a year. Why shouldn't we?

Birds move twice a year. Why shouldn’t we?

I have always found it particularly strange when locals pose that question to me in such a way as if they think that their own city is the worst place on earth. If you don’t like it there, why don’t you move away? We are people, not trees. We can walk away from places.

Having moved 20 times already, I am beginning to consider the question of where one lives to be overrated. A place can be top-notch exciting, but if you have to work all the time, you won’t get much out of it. Another place may offer less at first sight, but it gives you the time to enjoy your time and discover the country, or – as I am planning for the upcoming Eastern European winter – to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate and catch up on my writing.

Different places are for different times in your life. Because you are not the same person you were two or three years ago. Hopefully.

(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

Posted in Life, London, Philosophy, Romania, Travel | Tagged | 3 Comments