Saturday, November 28, 2009

Croatian #21

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

hey there folks - happy thanksgiving to everyone who is american and happy start to the
holiday season....hope everyone had a fun black friday.....and tasty thanksgiving....and
time off for those who got it :)

i am well...this will be a very fast update as not much travel-wise has happened for me....
croatia is decorating itself for the holiday season and with advent starting tomorrow the
xmas booths have gone up and my favorite chocolate covered gingerbread booth is back!!
yummy....we also have our xmas sausage and mulled wine places back and things are
getting is crazy busy and things are quickly moving toward the longer
winter break in three weeks....

so you might be asking travel for dani....what the heck???? well here's a
little story....the travel i was supposed to take to serbia for speech and debate was
cancelled due to H1N1 in this part of the world....many international schools actually
had to close for a period of time and therefore we did not go....

and then things here became difficult....
my good friend and travel partner suffered a brain aneurysm a few weekends ago....and
luckily she survived and looks to be recovering without many side effects....may even be
back at school by february..she is a more travel adventures affected....we
were supposed to be in portugal in the moment for thanksgiving....but obviously that did
not work out....and i have been dealing with expedia and lufthansa for the past three weeks
fixing the freakin has not been fun or easy....may never use expedia again...
don't care about their reduced means really sucky customer service.....

so that is my story......some of you were asking about me last time and what i am going to be doing next year.....

me.....hmmmmmmm.....things here are okay and i am not really working to find a
i have tentatively accepted my contract....but not definite... i have not really looked at
jobs for next year too hard...i did apply directly to seven places....
and have heard back from most as a because i am not married....two places
because i will not be at a fair... so that's where i am....i will look over things in the next
week and make a final decision in the coming two weeks...but it really looks like i will
be here....i am not soooooo excited about that....but such is just may not be time
for me to move i have an "admin" title with my job this year and one more year
in this position would look that is where things stand.....

that's the quick update i have for folks....i am not going to send out another one before this
years holiday card....but i did feel like i had to let folks know i was alive and well....just
not traveling....i have included a few pictures from graz, austria....we were there yesterday
for black friday - it is sort of becoming a croatian one else is celebrating, so
it's a quick drive up to ikea and their xmas market to start the holiday shopping season
we had a wonderful day and the weather was snow this year...and we
returned to a fantastic sushi place - conveyor belt....very i have included
some recent shots from around zagreb....the first is from the very large outdoor market those chili peppers...the next shot is for my friends from bucharest times....
this spider is what the croatian's use effectively to deal with people who don't park
correctly on the streets...there are about ten of these trucks that constantly roam the
streets and pick up offenders...its amazing!!!! the next two shots are from the major
cemetery here....mirogoi....all souls day happened again and again it was covered in
candles....simply stunning....but before that there were chestnuts on many of the graves...
which i just loved.....and then finally the pictures from graz....these are not from this year
but sum up our trip from yesterday quite well....tasty shopping and awesome
xmas lights and booths in their xams market.....the last with some of the
young wine here in croatia....they have a celebration just for when they can open the
bottles of new wine here and we went and celebrated.....yummy!!!!!

so i wish you all a very happy beginning to whatever holiday you celebrate.....

for those in the philly area....i will be in town for a short time & drinks will be happening in
mckensies in malvern or somewhere in king of prussia on december 27th....will let you
know more soon on that one....if you are interested in joining in the fun, please let me
know with a preferred place to meet of those two....i am thinking some time around 7pm....
so after dinner....til whenever they close :) come have a drink and catch up :)

talk soon....peace out.....

Have a fab day :)


"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."

~ Ralph W. Sockman

Monday, August 31, 2009

Croatian Update #17 - Summer Vacation Part 3

August 31, 2009 - I am back at my blog again and will hopefully be able to keep this more up to date this year....sorry i was such a slacker last year.....sorry about the weird format, i will try and fix that in the coming months.....

hi there folks and happy beginning of school to all those with kids or teachers out there...i know some parents are very excited that the kids are back in and that life can get back to normal....i have been back for about a week and half now... and our first whole day of school was this past friday....we start off with three half days, followed by a whole day friday...and then we have a's a nice ease in....

i have to say that the second year is always more unpacking or stressing about what the school, kids and other teachers will be's nice....but the the major curiosity is missing....which is a bummer....but i am happy to be back....the kids are excited and we have some cool new, its great to see the returning teachers and outstanding staff folks and get back into a routine....

but, i have realized i am still behind in updates and blogs and felt the need to get something out this this is part three of my road trip around europe....this one will cover salzburg, austria and bratislava, slovakia....two VERY different places from each other....bratislava is a city of a mixture of communism, medieval and modern day's wild....and salzburg is like out of a fairy all of austria i have's perfect....castle on the hill included :)

bratislava first....i have to say that the roads in slovakia are horrible...EXCEPT the highway to bratislava, once you get on it....they are trying to make it go across the entire country...but it doesn't the roads are bad....bratislava has a lot of old world charm and is the ONLY place i have found in europe that actually has bagels....i was soo just don't find them....there is a chain there that was started by an american of course :) it was nice to have a taste of the states in a place that is really far removed from there....bratislava has excellent public art as you will see in my pictures, as some of their art was some of my favorite shots from, they have some really weird architecture from the communist times....and of course they have an old town with a huge cathedral, with jewels from the monarchy of old inside and a really cool crypt you can was perfect the day i was there as it was at least 10 degrees cooler in there and there is a castle that looks over the city and the danube flowing through this city that separates old and new bratislava....its small and quaint and two days was a perfect amount of time to be there...on to the pictures....

the first shot is one of the cool art i found...just in front of a store...very cool..

the second picture is the UFO bridge (ew-f-oh) has a revolving restaurant and everything.... some slovakians love this, but most hate is a tourist draw....i thought it was cool looking!

the shot above makes me smile just to look at it is the picture used by a game i play about geography and wikipedia to represent cool is that i have a shot of that now too :) this is looking down over the old section of town from the castle on the hill that was under renovation :)

the next three shots are some more of the public art of this place....i like the first one because the building framed by this piece is the opera house....another beautiful building..

the next two are some of the coolest and most photographed statues in all of europe, according to the guidebook....the first is the "watcher"...and he is coming out of a man hole notice the "golder" parts...that's where you rub him for good luck....

and the next piece is my favorite public art in bratislava of them all...the "paparazzi"...this statue is actually shooting his camera around a corner over the heads of diners in a clever....i just love it...

the last picture is one of those bizarre buildings left behind from communism in this town....this
is an upside down pyramid and is actually a radio was during communist rule as well...wild huh....for those who do not know....slovakia is half of what was once czechoslovakia.... the other half is where prague is...the czech republic...and man, they are two really different places....

on to austria...the expensive land of everything that is perfect...i do have to say i was REALLY surprised at how many wind turbines there were throughout all of austria that i saw along the road...hundreds and hundreds of them....very cool....there are also quite a few sunflower fields....just like hungary...although i think they had a few less :) austria has amazing landscapes, tasty food and beer, beautiful buildings, mozart, and excellent art...and of course salzburg has the red bull headquarters and the sound of music everything...and yes, i did the tour....many folks sung along the entire time :) but i learned a lot of that was just the movies...and that the real family von trapps live in vermont!!!!! wild the things you learn....
with the i said before...salzburg is where mozart is this first shot is from the square he overlooks....every time i walked past this statue, some one was playing a piece of mozart's...either on the violin, guitar, accordion or was incredible....
the next shot is another cool piece of art....this was big enough that a person could walk into this sculpture and not be able to touch all of the other words, it was big...
the next three shots are from the sound of music tour...the first is the garden maria and the kids were running through singing doe a can see the castle that overlooks the city of salzburg and i went to a live chamber music performance up there one of the nights i was in town - amazing :)

the second "SOM" shot is from the cemetery of the abbey where they were hiding before walking over the alps to safety....BUT, this shot is a lie.....the one you see in the movie was shot on the movie set in california.... this is the cemetery they made that scene from though....i guess they did that a lot....for example, the front and back of the von trapps mansion....different houses!!!!! those tricky movie people....
the next shot i am sure you will all remember and start singing...i am 16 going on 17.....yep...its THE gazebo....locked though....someone fell once when they used to have it open to the public, because they were jumping from bench to bench and missed.....hahahahaha....
the next two shots utilize the castle...the first is from in front of it....more cool art, that i didn't understand...but i could actually walk under that gold ball and not even scrape my head, just to give you an idea of size..

and the second shot is from on the the rainbow....this past summer was really rainy in europe...and i did experience rain, but it usually happened when i was driving...not in salzburg though...and i got a rainbow after a HUGE storm....awesome to watch from the castle, let me tell you :)

the last shot in the set....well, probably does not need any my right you
could have stood with the family picture and pretended to be singing with them...i thought
that was just a bot too tacky for was a fun tour and salzburg was a great
town...and i stayed at a great B&B recommended by rick rocked and the owner
was really nice and very laid back....let me know if you are headed that way and i'll let
you know more.... part 3 has been written....i still have a few more parts in europe....three more
countries...but i think switzerland will get its own update as we, my friend candi and i,
toured all over the place there....and then of course i was in the states there
you have it....the plan for the next few updates...i am hoping to have them out sooner
rather than later as my folks are coming and then i will have our trip of italy and croatia to
add to the mix....should be fun :)
i hope each of you is well and happy...feel free to drop me a line...and maybe next time i
will start the blogging idea instead of email idea...thanks to all those who offered to help
me get this organized...i know how to do it, i just have to do soon and happy
fall to those in the north and happy spring to those in the soon
catch you on the flip side :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ghana at Xmas - Part 1

March 15th - Beware the Ides of March - especially when you are about two months behind in your blog....this was the update from the trip to ghana this past xmas...there are two parts...enjoy and drop a line if you have any questions
hi there all and happy 2009!!!! hope you all had wonderful holiday seasons
and have started this new year off right!!!  I am back in 
croatia after my
trip to 
ghana and wowowowowowowow....what an in croatia
it's cold...we actually had a snow day this week with school, plus one day 
we started two hours was a nice easy way to start work again...
one bad thing that happened this week was that i got food poisoning...not 
in ghana...but here in croatia...i think it had something to do with pork
in my meal that i didn't know was there....its been about 14 years since i
have had i don't think my system liked it....anyway...

some folks have been asking of we have gas here in croatia for heat...the 
answer is yes we do...but i am not sure how much....and the ukraine and 
russia are still not letting the gas could this become a 
problem....yep, it sure could....but someone told me the other day that
croatia has its own supply of now i am confused....i will try and
find out what the deal is so i can pass it along at some point....too bad
my croatian is still not so good....if i could understand the news reports
i would be able to tell you more....oh well...

ghana....what can i say....what a vacation....i had a few 
first warm xmas and new years....even went swimming in the atlantic ocean
on january first "black" santa...and he was a hoot...and my 
first really mellow and relaxing oriented trip....i was visiting friends
greg, di, kelsey and alysha...they have moved to ghana for teaching and 
are quickly adapting and adjusting to the way of life there...which 
seems to me to be quite mellow...i read quite a few books...six i think
and slept late, drank coffee and watched some was mellow...and
i think that stems from just how hot it is during the day in ghana and 
how you have to drive everywhere from their place....

my friends live in a teacher's compound with guards...and not necessarily
for personal protection...more for personal items protection....i have to 
say i felt very safe...and even though most houses/compounds have guards,
its to protect stuff...many people in ghana have nothing and so things 
getting stolen is common if you don't have security...the other big 
difference between ghana and here is that everyone is black....i think i 
was one of ten white folks on the plane down to ghana....its not 
necessarily a tourist oriented doesn't have big game parks and 
safari....but it does have amazing beaches...but they are working beaches
and have not been set up for tourists....but man, are the ghaneans
friendly....and everywhere we went people wanted to say hello and welcome
us to their country....

we really did stick out...which at first can be rather disconcerting...
especially if you have no idea what will happen when people are staring..
in china when people stare, they do not smile and its what they do....
in croatia when  people stare and you wave and smile they turn away 
quickly realizing they have just been caught staring....but in ghana when 
people stare and you wave and say hello, they break into huge grins and
wave back and say 
good afternoon sister...or  welcome uncle....its really

i have decided that when you are in a place where people have nothing, 
many times they are able to make due with what they have and seem to be 
happy....of course they want to better their situation...but they deal
with what they have been dealt....i've seen it in cambodia and ecuador
and china and tibet....and they deal...and they smile and they enjoy what
they have....if you have never been in a poor country and experienced this
it makes you truly understand the human spirit and gives you a sense of 
what humans could really do without all of the materialistc aspects of 
life...if everyone has nothing, than everyone deals with their situation..
i also think it has to do with the weather....the warmer, the easier to 
deal...that's what i think, but of course its an opinion....

okay....enough of my soapbox...let's just say i was really happy to be in 
ghana and happy to see people pleased and enjoying their lives....i did 
take lots of pictures, so this update and the next will be pictures from
ghana...i have tried to put in a mix of what life is like there....enjoy

this first set of pictures will be of accra, the capital and kumasi...
a large town north of accra where the largest market in western africa is
located....we drove there...about 5 hours one way and when we were driving
there it was also the day before the presidential election - so it was 
like a holiday...two men were running....and this was the second round....
as the first time the election was held many did not vote....they felt the 
same man would be elected again...he was, but with a very low voter ghana decided to vote a second time and this time most of
the country voted....and what a race it was....

when you vote in ghana you get three days to accomplish to
travel to your to vote with your thumbprint and one to 
travel back....people were very excited....

the first shot is of a tire store on the side of the road near my friend's can buy anything....and i mean anything on the side of the 
road...clothes, furniture, food, water, cleaning supplies....anything....
i found this to be cool....whenever we were stopped in the car, there would be men and women, mostly with items on their heads, at the window to
take care of amazed me how much they could hold on their heads...
a picture or two will show you....

the second shot is of a termite hill...this one is about 3m or 9ft....they are huge and found everywhere throughout the country...

the third shot is santa at the hotel we had christmas lunch at...this man, paul, who we met out of costume later in the vacation, was hilarious...and so good with
all of the kids....he loved coming to our table because we would sing the
12 days of xmas wth him....especially the 5 golden rings part :)  too 

the next bunch of pictures are from the kumasi region...the first is the 
market in was a very mellow it was sunday and
everyone was at church and then went to vote....there are tons of 
missonaries in religion comes in many shapes and sizes and
jesus and god is the names of stores, on the backs of 
buses and trucks, in names of restaurants....its the market
shot...people live in the part higher up...and the stalls are covered 
because the sellers were not there....we were the only white people in 
the market and our arrival was spread loud and clear....people really
wanted to say hi and meet was wild....the cry "abruni! abruni!"
white person, white person.... could be heard everywhere we went....we 
learned how to say "black person" back and did with a smile...which put
everyone at ease and was wild....

i loved the title of the next the fine print carefully...and then realize the store sold asian made electronics....gotta love it...

while in kumasi we went to a cultural center and were allowed to walk 
around the grounds....this was one of the many murals on the walls....its
a great shot of ghana and all that makes it, artwork, beads, 
tribes...its a great representation....

kumasi is also known for its kente cloth....and we got to see the men weaving it....yes, the men are the weavers....and its amazing stuff...they make strips and then put them together as big pieces...
as you can see in the shot with one of the main the picture the black and red kente cloth is for was my favorite, but not really appropriate to wear on a daily least not in ghana :)
the last two shots from kumasi show some banyon trees located at the 
largest man-made lake in ghana...

you also can see the crew i was travelin around with....and mr. thomas was our guide....all ghaneans loved luca...he is the small boy....he had a hard time with all of the attention at times....but people just loved him....and kelsey and alysha and i kept getting marriage was interesting....
on the road back to accra we encountered some people celebrating the the end it took a few days to call the winner, because in 
the end 
atta mills only won by 2% of the vote....and no...they did not 
hold a was wild....along the road we saw this guy in 
this costume celebrating the future president....

plus people were out selling food and bread and you can see the three women selling food to make sandwiches with...on their was like the country was having one big party...even though a winner at this point had not been called in the was a cool experience
the last three shots are back in accra....the first is di with the two 
little girls that come to visit my friends every night they are with 
their dad...he is one of the compound's guards....they come into the air
conditioning and watch the tv and sometimes have some dinner....its 
something very different for them and di loves to play with them....

the second shot is the aussie/african xmas tree...notice the new golden stool 
greg and di picked up while we were in is the style of stool
the king of each tribe sits on....the symbol of theirs is "except god"...
not really sure how to interpret that....

the final shot of this long story is me....with a ghanean beer....very light and not really good unless its really, really cold....but we were at a cool bar after shopping at a market and it was vacation....

okay...that's the first round of pictures....the next update should be
out in the next week with the second set of pictures from ghana....if you 
can't tell, i really liked it there....was even offered a job...but i am 
not the type who breaks contract....maybe something will be open in two never know....

one last thing before i sign was really cool to be an american
in ghana...they are really excited about 
barack obama there....every time
i said where i was from people would dance and shout obama, obama....there 
was a song we heard on the radio every day about him and his picture
was everywhere....its a world wide thing this time and it made me proud
to say i was from the country that had elected him....i know some people
are not excited...& i sure hope he can work with what he has been left...
but it is cool to think that people around the world are excited for this
as well....its an exciting time....i hope tuesday goes well for the man
and his family....and i wish him well on his quest to improve and re-
vitalize america....its gonna be a tough and long road....but he's a 
strong guy....

okay....enough from me....this one was really time
will just be pictures and explanations about them...again, i wish you
all the best in 2009...and thanks to those who sent me holiday greetings
its sooooooo cool to get guys rock my world :)  and i'll be 
back in the next week with some more pictures....