Saturday, November 01, 2008

Croatian Update #3

hi there....i am back after a crazy three weeks since my last update....
i went to the coast with the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, and went to 
 for oktoberfest....& of course i have been exploring zagreb to get 
to know it better for when all of you come to visit :)  plus, later this 
week we are on october break....and i am headed to vienna with four other 
women i teach first time....i am very things over
all are going well....

i finally also started to focus a bit more on my teaching & curriculum...
i decided i needed to see the big picture of the year & now can focus 
more on all of the topics i will be trip with the kids was 
great....i got to know a lot of them better as well as the super cool middle 
school team i teach with...very excellent people....the kids
surprised me & got me birthday gifts as my birthday fell during the trip.
it was very sweet....and the coast again was was bit too 
cold for i am not sure if the water in istria, the coast 
area we were in, was a salty as the last it sure was as 
beautiful....and i have been told i haven't even come close to being in 
the most beautiful spots....can't wait to get there....on this trip with 
the kids we visited a school (roc) where they study the ancient croatian
language and alphabet (glagolithic alphabet), the smallest town, according
to the guiness book of world records, in the world - Hum, a coastal 
town with an ancient roman arena - pula, a great seaside town with an
ancient basilica - porec, an old mining town on a hill with an excellent
view - labine....we stayed on the coast in a quaint town known as rabat...
it was a fun filled trip with lots to see and do...the only thing that was 
tough was all of the bus riding....but i saw some amazing sites, as you 
will see in the pictures below....

then i was off to oktoberfest, where i met up with two of my friends from 
romania - kathleen and bonnie....we stayed with excellent friends of 
bonnie's right in munich and enjoyed two days of craziness....i never have
seen so much beer in my i really didn't understand the sheer
magnitude of oktoberfest....yes...thee are ten tents - which hold upwards
of 5,000 people each for beer...but outside of the beer tents there is a 
huge festival going on with rides and games & food and fun for the entire of the coolest things about oktoberfest was seeing the older
couples in their 70s and 80s, dressed in drndls and lederhosen, going to
the beer garden for a some beer and tradition...we made it into a tent on
friday....from about 3pm on....and on saturday we couldn't get in due to 
the crazy people that had started dinking at 9am....we couldn't get in a 
tent throughout the day and early evening....instead we were outside of 
one of the tents at the beer garden....and it was a beautiful sunny day 
so it was perfect....but i have to say if i go back, which i hope to do
as it was such a blast, i would try and reserve a table for the nights i
knew i would go downtown to the tents....they are where its at....the 
ooohm-pah-pah bands were great fun and the atmosphere was sooooooooooooo
darn was incredible....if you ever get the it
you'll love it....

on to the pictures....the first shot is my zagreb art shot...the cool 
thing about this shot is that it is of my friend's from the ice amy and 
stefan who stopped by for two days to say hi on their trip around the 
area eastern european trip...they are standing with one of the most 
famous croatians of all time - nikolai tesla...and his story is pretty 
cool....what a smart guy....amy and stefan enjoyed their time here in 
zagreb and i was very excited to have my first house guests....

that week another friend was in town - rick from bucharest....he came to 
the school as a consultant for outdoor education and team building...
we had a fun two days together before i hit the road with the 
good to have seen him :)

the next two shots are from the first town we stopped in called 
this town they teach their kids to use the old style croatian alphabet
as well as modern day croatian...the kids from the school worked with our
kids, which was really cool to watch...they knew how to speak english and 
they taught our kids the glagolithic alphabet....the second shot from this 
town was this cool sculpture on one of the buildings...i just really liked
it :)

from roc we went to hum (pronounced hume) - the smallest city on the 
planet and it was way quiant...the next two shots are from there...the 
first is from the bronze doors to get onto the city - if you look at the 
top set of letters you will see the glagolithic alphabet symbols and the 
bottom set are modern day croatian....the second shot from this town was
one of the houses people live in....they take great pains to make their 
town quaint and cute and very clean :)

the next shot is a view from the town we stayed in- rabatz...look at that 
crystal clear, cold, salty water....simply stunning....again you can see
how hilly 
croatia is....again, it was stone beach, no sand to be seen...

the next shot is from pula - where they have an ancient roman colesseum you can wander all through....we brought a rope and the kids actually played tug-o-war, and the rest of the visitors cheered them was tons of fun....
from pula we headed to prosec and saw one of the oldest basilicas in this part of the world that is excellently is an UNESCO site and quite amazing....they have a mosaic of a pregnant mary - one of the only in existence on the planet...

and the final shot from my trip wth the kids is of labine - a hilly mining town...its a pretty shot of the countryside....very hilly and quaint little town..
the next shots are from oktoberfest....the first is kathleen with ron and bonnie...all in traditional dress...nope, i did not dress in a drndl...not for me...but i wore a traditional hat that my grandfather wore when he went to oktoberfest many, many years you can see it in the next shot of me and ron and one of the HUGE pretzels they sell there....YUMMY!! the food and the beer were amazing...even for a veggie like me :) the next shot is me carrying some of the 1 liter was incredible to see men and women waiters carrying between 12-18 of these at a about blew my mind...i am holding just four and they are heavy....what a work out....the next shot shows you just how crowded the tents were...and this is what the waitstaff has to work through with the beers in their was mind blowing!!!!

the last shot in this series is me on the second day outside at the beer garden....we had a blast and met some cool folks to drink and "cheers" with....all in all i am sooooooo glad i went...i loved it :)
okay...another update has been told....thanks to those who have emailed
to answer one question....someone wanted to know if i am missing anything
from home they can send me....what's really interesting this time is that
they have just about everything i need - i have found tabasco, tortillas,
tofu in many flavors and even black beans....plain black tea is missing, 
but i am picking some up in austria this week...i even found some peanut
butter many ways the stores have more for me than 
i am not missing anything as of yet....

i hope all of you are well and enjoyed this installment...happy fall and 
here's to the changing of the colors...the trees are incredible...drop
a line if you wish and more will come your way in the next two or three
weeks...peace out...dani

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Croatian Update #2

September 14th, 2008 - here is me and my new car...nope, i haven't named her yet...but i will soon....below you will find my latest update from croatia...enjoy :)

hey there are you all doing today??? i have been exploring parts of croatia since i last checked in...and what a cool place it is...its been a busy few weeks...i am still getting used to the apartment is coming together slowly but surely and i bought a car...that's the big purchase of the month...i have been shopping at the open air markets and testing my horrible croatian....its a hard language, but i seem to be improving and can now be polite when i ask for things and use the correct words for numbers....i also now how to ask for things without meat...which has come in handy for a veggie like me in a town that is very meat oriented

school is moving along...we had a picnic this weekend...even though its rainy and chilly....the parents all cooked homemade style foods from around the world....YUMMY!!!!! this week is back to school night...should be interesting....i have almost 80 kids...which is the most people can it should be fun :) my room is coming along and so is my curriculum...although the kids work a bit slower than my last group and the schedule is a bit confusing....1.5 hour long classes for middle schoolers is really long....i have to change what we are doing every 20 minutes or so....its crazy....but i like it so far and the kids seem to like me...we have just started more difficult labs, so we'll see what happens when they have to write their first conclusion....the first bunch of pictures are from zagreb...the first is from this amaizng bakery around the corner from my house...that's a cake of a party animal...too funny and so excellent looking....this bakery has quite possibly the best gelato i have ever had....

the second shot is the house of croatian artists...its a gallery these days, but at one point before the war, it was a there aren't many of those in this country, as serbia is where most muslims choose to live in the balklans

the next three shots are of my apartment - the first is the kitchen, the second is of my HUGE tub which would fit 6, i don't know this for a fact....BUT its HUGE!!!! and the last is of my dining room and living room....i also have a and spare bedroom so come visit if you wish :)

all around zagreb there is tons of interesting i think i will be including a piece in every update of croatia....this one is of a woman taking her wares to the market and is at the dolac...which is the large outdoor market of to go shopping there...i have a smaller market closer to me and there is one woman vendor who is a trip...she talks italian/spanish/croatian to me...its hilarious....

the next shot is a popular tourist restaurant in zagreb...called hansel and croatian of course...very cute and they have excellent strudel...

last weekend i went out of town to the a town just above crikvenica (crick-ven-itza)...6 of us headed down to another teacher's place...lots of croatians here have a cottage somewhere...usually along the coast...this place was amazing....we got to go to the beach...although no sand was to be, we got to experience seeing some of the nude beaches from a had to climb down rocky paths...but the water was divine as was the view...absolutely amazing!!! the water was REALLY salty...floating was easy and you could see the bottom no matter how far you were was just incredible....we went to an island for dinner one night....the town we went to was vrbnik....very quaint, really tiny cobblestone streets with an excellent view of the kvarner gulf...and had this delicious meal...homemade pasta....everyone in the town spoke croatian and was incredible....

the next shots are from the coast...the first is the view from the "cottage" stayed at...the second is a shot from the water looking back up the hill where the "cottage" is and the last is the place itself, with my cute car in front of it....i am driving a two door, black renault clio
it gets good gas mileage and moves pretty quick...and its easy to get around the city with it....the last shot in this set is from the town of vrbnik...its a place near the church where people can stop and pray and the building is considered to be a protector of the town itself..

this weekend i was in a small town just outside of zagreb for lunch...called samobor...on sundays its a big deal here to go to relatives or out for dinner around 1 or 2pm....because this country is so religious most places, except restaurants are closed on sundays...even markets are only open until around laws are definitely in effect here...the town we were in was really cute...and all of the buildings had lights on we need to go back and see them at, there was a ruined castle up on the hill overlooking the town, which we want to hike up was too rainy and sitting inside, eating a terrific meal and having a belgian beer was perfect...but i know i will get back there soon....

the last three shots are from the town samobor...such a cute centar section of town...cobblestones...pedestrian parts and a beautiful church..there is a stream that runs thru the center with walking bridges over it...there was even one covered bridge you could drive over...very quaint...the stork is a piece of art...i think they consider storks good luck, just
like in even though this one was fake i think it was good luck anyway :)

the last shot is of my boss's place...she hosted a TGIF for the folks of the school and she has an amazing place with an amazing view of the entire city....we had a blast...
okay...there you have it...a second update...thanks to those who emailed me...if you have any questions, please be sure to send them along...someone asked about food....well, a lot of meat....but along the coast you can get fish and shellfish and i had some of the best calamari i ever, there is a bakery or three in every block of every city i have been in...lots of folks stop and grab a breakfast treat...luckily i don't have any on my route to school...if so, it could be deadly...also there is a dish called struckli which a crew of us are trying everywhere...noodles baked with cheese...its people drink lots of coffee and beer...its a cafe oriented culture....another person asked if zagreb looks ruined in places because of the war...i asked a few croatians about this and they said that zagreb was never really hit hard by the war...they said i can find places that are still in ruins, but that is not zagreb....thanks for the questions....feel free to email and say hi i will try to answer in a timely manner...but seriously...write.... hope all is well and happy fall :) peace out...dani

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Croatia Update #1

August 31, 2008-

hey there all....well, i have now been in croatia for two full is a beautiful day and
i am prepping for my first full week of labor day here....below you will find my update from yahoo...with some added info and if you get the updates, most of this will be the same....but in places there will be more...

for instance...the first shot below was taken this past summer in seattle, by my friend steven...we were on the way to whitby island to have dinner with his wife and daughter at our good friend gordon's restaurant...and per normal gordon did NOT disappoint....wowowowow....i did realize on that trip how much i miss living on the water....and although i am closer this time, next place i go i need to be on water i think...we'll see....
while i was in the states this summer my mom and i went to longwood gardens near where we was stunning and definitely not crowded...we saw fountains and trees and amazing lily pad with dragon flies...this is shot is of the main greenhouse, beautiful....

during one of my first days in croatia we took a walking tour with one of the croatian teachers from school...jasna (pronounced "yaz-na" - the j in croatia sounds like a y) was great and that is where i got my first glipse of what a cafe town this truly is...although, unlike in many places, here you can only get food....its wild...and people sit outside for long periods of time watching people and the day go about mellow....the "outfits" here are not as 80s as in romania...but its fun to watch folks none-the-less...and someday soon i will know what to ask for if i am looking for a they are not called that here.... below is one of the main cafe streets in zagreb....

here are some of the pictures from the update i sent out...the first two are of the school....we rent space from a seminary....and i guess they charge a lot of money from the school...the first shot is of the school from the front...

this next shot is of the courtyard of the school....its a mostly vertical school...which means lots of steps...and in order to get to school i hop a tram (2-5 min) and then walk up a HUGE hill...its good exercise and really beats sitting in traffic like in bucharest...although i am buying a car this i can get out of town easier than relying on a bus or train....

the shot below was taken at the main square in zagreb...trg bana jelacica...i have not really figured out how to speak and read croatian thus far...its crazy...trg - no vowels...and its a real word...crazy...but i will start taking croatian classe son wednesdays after school with the other teachers who are interested, we'll see if it goes better than my romanian...although in the end i was doing okay...sort of :)

the next few shots come from the old part of town in zagreb...the first is what is left from the burning of a bridge that connected the old part of town to the new town...the only thing left was the madonna which is still seen here...

then there's st. marks church....isn't it pretty...i love the tiled roof...i guess they have renovating the building for the better part of two years....i'll keep my eyes peeled to see if they finish anytime soon :)

the next shot is a tower where a cannon is set off every day at noon...called the burglar's tower...we were actually on it when the cannon went off...freaked out this guy that was there and didn't know it was going to go was waaaaaaay loud and made the building shake...but it was cool :)

this is the view from the top portion...and this is actually facing the can see the silver domed building and then to the right, farther in the distance, you can see a greenish dome...that's the school...on a different hill....
i have already traveled outside of the slovenia, its capital ljublijana...what a cute town...has a river running thru it where we had 
lunch...the reason i had to go was because i applied for my visa outside of the romania....and it was approved...but i left the country before it was was not allowed to be sent to about crazy.... however...slovenia is an hour and a half away...and it was easy...and i am glad i went...i will go back for a weekend of fun...that much is true :) the next three shots are some of the pretty views of ljublijana...(lube-bli-anna) the water down the middle :)
i think this building was quite pretty with the river running in front of, if you look closely you can see a fountain going in front of it

this building was amazing...look at the tiles it is made colorful and striking... definitely made the other buildings pale in comparison....i loved it :)

back in croatia...the next shot shows you how there are some amazing looking bldgs right next door to ones that are following apart...everyone in bldg has to agree to fix it up...and in many places there could be upwards of 40 different owners in the bldg...hard to make everyone agree

then the next shot shows a woman i bought some veggies from...check out her scale..
old it :) there is an amazing market just off of the main square called the dolac....i hope to get there more frequently, but its not really near where i live or where i have to go for school...there is a fresh fruit and veggie market around the corner from where i live, which i am excited about :)

the next two bldgs are to show you the graffiti and what my apartment bldg looks like...i am on the first floor...not the ground floor, but the first...more pictures of the place next time...

the last shot is of me...there was a beer festival here in croatia last 
weekend...piva means beer...and name is on the poster...just
too perfect i think...i didn't make it to the festival...but i have had 
some of the beer here...and like it so far....

okay...enough rambling....but i guess it has been a while since i updated the blog...per normal...feel free to send pictures and get in touch....please parents have you cannot mail things to them and have them get to me from the paoli address in pennsylvania....please mail things for me to the school

the address is as follows:

The American International School of Zagreb
Dani DiPietro
Vocarska 106
10000 Zagreb

you can also call my skype name danid769 if you have skype
and if you don't, you can call the following number of skype from
any style phone - 

there is a voicemail set you can leave me a message and if my 
computer is on, i might even pick up :) that's from any phone....i am 
six hours ahead of anyone on the 
east coast of the states...

okay...hope all is well and good luck to those starting a school year...
drop a line when you can and keep me posted on your life :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tibet - What a place! BUT its changing before the world's eyes!

March 15th, 2008 - hey there all...its been a bit since i last updated, but i decided it was finally time to put my summer trip to rest here on the blog, so this is the last entry from my amazing summer of 2007...finally! And i am ending with amazing and wonderful and different and incredible and changing place...this is one place where you need to get to as soon as possible, not just because of the amazing parts, but also becuase it will not be its own entity for much longer due to china...and i felt with the violence there this week that i needed to get this posted....its a magical place, but not for everyone....for me it was mind-blowing and a truly wonderful experience and i hope i can get back there sooner rather than later ....

this is a shot from the day we arrived in tibet....snow was on the tops of the mountains and you know instantly you are someplace different....i did get sick...but i think it was combination of the food on the plane (i was the only one who had vegetarian food) and the altitude...i never really got over the queasiness, so i would recommend if you are going. take diamoxin...i didn't, but am glad i didn' was a short period of time and i am glad i made it....anyway...the drive to the city of lhasa is beautiful as you can see above....

the first day we were in tibet, after we finally got there and weather cooperated...we actually had to boomerang back to chengdu and wait for the winds to die down before we could land...we took it easy....the second day we went to a local house...they are sewers and make money from making things to sell to tourists...of course our crew bought some....this was the sewing machine they used to make these grandfather used to have one of these :)
they allowed us to take pictures of all aspects of their house, but the one i was most interested in was the altar they had in a special praying/meditation room...they of course were buddhists and told us that they were not allowed to have any pictures of or words written by the dali lama...the only picture they are allowed to posses is the one below....the altar was beautiful as you can see...
here's that one picture - the dali lama and chairman happened once in history, and that is the only picture they are allowed to have of his holiness....crazy...if they get caught with any other pictures, they can be fined or jailed or punished in other ways...they can even lose their jobs, especially if they have anything related to was a hard thing to see and deal with....especially me....i believe everyone is entitled to their beliefs and thoughs....
the other thing i was really intrigued by was the way they heated their water for tea and coffee and hot drinks...its a solar panel style method....and these were every where, especially on roofs of cool is this!

after visiting the locals we headed to the potala palace, where i really wanted to go....wowowow -i have had a picture of this place above my bed since i was about this was a dream come i am standing in front of the entrance....

this is the shot of the roof top of the world....the potala palace was where the dali lama lived and learned and grew is considered the most holy spot for buddhists in see tons of pilgrims here...all walking clockwise around the building, some prostrating themselves on the ground every three steps....some who have been doing that for months or years....and tourists are only allowed to stay in the building for two hours...if you stay longer your guide can lose their job or pay a was insane...its all timed...they say its because too many people have been bet is that they will close it down in the next two or three years in the quest to destroy what is tibetan....
no one is allowed to take pictures in the palace...and the place is mostly lit by candle light - from yak butter...pilgrims bring it as an offering and take some away as a remeberance...its amazing....these prayer flags are along the back of the building along with stone tablets with tibetan written on them....its an incredible can feel and even taste the peace from within...although you also realize just how wrong it is that the dali lama is in india and not in his home country of tibet....
this is a front shot of the potala palace...i love this shot, espcially because you can see the bicycle and the the pilgrim next to it...just a perfect view of what it should be...simply incredible....

just another shot of this magical place so you can see it for what it truly is, huge and majestic and empty of what it needs....just mind-blowing and incredible...

from the potala palace we went and had lunch and after lunch had one of the best stops of the entire trip....the travel group i was with donates money to an orphanage that takes care of street kids from is a local woman and her husband that run the place and they fund through donations and a coffee shop they run as well...they take care of approximately 90 children in this small enclosure with only 8 rooms...BUT a new spot is being built for this organization which we stopped by as was an incredible you see the kids singing songs to us in english like old macdonald...too adorable....

this is the woman who runs the place...all of the kids call her mom...this little girl was adorable and was deaf...she was really friendly and came up to most of us to check us out....she was about 2 at the time....such a cutie....
this is me and jaime, he was my personal tour guide for the orphanage...he showed me where they studied and played and slept and was cramped but you could feel the love throughout the played and helped each other and were quite excited we were there...
the next day we went to jokanda temple - the second most sacred place for tibetans and buddhists...this place was filled with pilgrims...walking around the temple grounds clockwise ...with prayer wheels spinning the entire well as pilgrims prostrating themselves along the route around the are some pilgrims...i love the hats on the ladies heads...
here are some more you can see the gentleman has a prayer wheel in his hands and is spinning it as he was a truly friendly place and people seemed to enjoy themselves as they walked...some praying, some meditating along the way, some having conversations with had a great vibe....

this is the entrance to the can see the pilgrims and monks prostrating themselves on the ground of this most holy place...they did this before they went into the temple and after they came was incredible...
this is the inner courtyard of the jokanda temple...i love the colors and patterns here and all of the green, very healthy plants, just stunning...

we were not allowed to take pictures in the temple, so this picture is back out of the temple...i wanted to show you just how much yak butter could be found in this place...and man does it have an acrid smell, if you aren't used to can be quite overwhelming...pilgrims bring it as donations and take it away as rememberance from big vats of it where candles are burning in all temples and the potala palace....they use it at home for burning and fuel, to cook with and to make yak butter tea...definitely a culinary experience you should have, but in a small quantity to start, it can be really overpowering....
that afternoon we went to quite possibly one of the coolest places i have ever been in my life...its the sera monastery...where every day monks have discussions with one another in this courtyard...the one monk standing asks the sitting monk philosophical questions, which the sitting monk must answer....if the standing monk agrees with the answer he slaps his hands together and keeps his palm downwards as he points to the monk...if he doesn't agree, he does the opposite....
this monk was one of the most animated of the you can see he is about to tell the two seated monks they are correct with their answers...its loud, it can get agressive, monks can roll around and hit each other on the head...its a wild scene and really fun...i have taken this back to my classroom, as my kids could tell let them be able to tell me when they get something vs. when they don't....its a fun time :) and this monastery was incredible...and so much fun to have to do this if you go to tibet!!!!

after the monastery we stopped by a village where the new orphanage is being of the newest families and their house was there, isn't it beautiful...the main prayer flag for tibet is white for purity...hence why you see it on the front of the doors, keeping the inhabitants pure and wishing them luck on their new path with their new house...incredible...

this was the construction site for the new orphanage....yes, that's a woman carrying a concrete block on her back...what a job huh...she would then climb the ladders in the back and bring the concrete blocks to the workers on the second floor...all people pitch in and work...not just was wild to watch and i felt like i was on a construction site of the 1920's....
in my opinion tibetans are beautiful people...these two ladies agreed to a picture and just giggled as cynthia and i took them...the women tie ribbons of many colors in their braids and are just beautiful and seem to be quite peaceful to me...especially when they are at the palace or the temples...
the title of this shop in lhasa sums up tibet for me...strange, magical place...i loved it and i can't wait to get back...but am also very afraid it will look nothing like it did when i was there last summer...very frightening i think....because it is an amazing spot in the world....
this last picture is me with the jokanda temple behind was a beautiful day and we were on the roof of a building we were supposed to be shopping in...i liked the view better than the shopping, simply incredible...go to tibet....and go tibet and the dali lama...i hope the world will do something, especially as the olympics are coming closer and closer...but i guess we'll have to wait and see what happens....china is an amazing place, but when you go to tibet you lose some of the faith and awe of the place that has taken them's hoping a peaceful resolve can happen...i just don't think its possible at this point....hoped you enjoyed this up will be either spain or some shots from romania...hope all is well :)