Belgrade blog

Better late than never, I’ve spent this evening editing and uploading my photos from the 5 days Phil and I spent in Serbia for Teodora’s christening (and my birthday), and writing up the highlights for Ben Haines’ guide.

Photos, by day, are:

And seeing as I’ve just discovered that Phil’s at home in bed with a cold, time for me to return to do my Florence Nightingale duty!

December 2012: Following Fotopic’s demise, I’ve uploaded the photos onto Flickr – Belgrade and Novi Sad, April 2004

Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia

In honour of Teodora’s christening, Phil and I flew out to Belgrade for a 5 day tour of Serbia. Not your average weekend break destination, but that made it all the more interesting.

With masses of help from Snezana and Voja (thank you both), and armed with various items sourced from the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree – principally the Guide to Belgrade (PDF) and Ben Haines’ excellent guide – we explored Belgrade and Novi Sad. There’s no Guide book to Serbia, and only a couple of nondescript pages in Let’s Go 2004 and the latest edition of the Lonely Planet to Eastern Europe.

Not surprisingly, with tips and transport from S&V we actually got to see lots of old and new Belgrade. Top new spots were the floating cafes on the Danube by the Hotel Jugoslavija and the riverside path that runs all along the New Belgrade side of the Danube and the Sava past the bridges that join New and Old Belgrade. Very walkable, and pleasantly free from fumes, with lovely views out over the rivers and Old Belgrade. Belgrade Fortess and the Kalemegdan park remained as pleasant a hang out as I remembered from last time (Snezana and Voja’s wedding in 2002), as did the regular strolls along Knez Mihajlova, the pedestrianised shopping street that forms the spine of Old Belgrade. Later on Saturday, once we’d generated some small dinar notes (pizza lunch at the Snezana restaurant, serenaded by the Police Marching Band. It turned out to be part of the city’s 600 birthday celebrations), we also explored Princess Ljubica’s Residence (aka Konak Kneginje Ljubice).

Foodwise, we ate pizza at a cafe on the cobbles of Skadarlija and sushi (excellent sushi!!) at the Ikki Sushi Bar and Japanese Restaurant on Gospodar Jovanova (No. 46) only a 5 minute walk from Trg Republike and the National Museum. G. Jovanova wasn’t marked on any of the maps we got, but it runs parallel to (and between) Gospodar Jevremova and Strahinjica Bana. Admittedly, not your typical Serbian cuisine, but it was recommended by japan-o-phile Snezana, and they do do beautiful sushi, a lot cheaper and a lot better than some I’ve had in London.

On Sunday, we joined in the family celebrations marking Tea’s christening, in the beautiful Saborna Crkva (across the road from Princess Ljubica’s Residence), followed by a fantastic buffet lunch at the Hotel Intercontinental. Together with Lawrence and Heather we walked off our gluttony, and the delicious chocolate christening-and-birthday cake, in the spring sun, strolling from the Intercontinental, down to the river, along the north bank and crossing back to Old Belgrade over the Brankov Most, winding up at the iconic Hotel Moskva.

On Monday we took a bus (*) an hour north and spent a lovely couple of days in Novi Sad. It’s a complete contrast to Belgrade – beautiful Baroque architecture and a lot less traffic. The excellent Novi Sad tourist info office was a fountain of suggestions, maps and booklets, just a pity we only found it on day 2! It’s at Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 9, but lots of info is available on the Novi Sad Tourism website.

At Ben Haines’ recommendation, we stayed in the Hotel Vojvodina which has a prime position on Trg Slobode. Excellent location and a fantastic old hotel – we felt like we were living in luxury, albeit with a tinge of faded glory. To atone for our Japanese indulgence, on Monday night we dined at the Restoran Lipe, Mileticeva 7-9, which offers Serbian specialties…. Phil feasted on 5 (count ’em!) homemade sausages and I managed to find a variety of veggie options scattered across the bi-lingual menu. Earlier on in the day we’d had great coffee and cake sat outside the Figaro Poslasticarnica cafe just off the square behind the church of St Mary’s Name. We can confirm that every cafe we visited offered an extravaganza of excellent cakes!

On Tuesday we crossed the Danube and explored the olde worlde streets nestling at the foot of the imposing Petrovaradin fortress. Back in Novi Sad centre, our tour of the Vojvodina Museum was an experience too, with the ticket girl opening up the rooms for us as we went along and switching the lights off behind us! The exhibitions became more interesting and accessible as you progress from the stone etc age sections to social and cultural history rooms.

Postcards seemed hard to find other than at the postcard, card and map stalls in Old Belgrade. In Novi Sad we chanced upon some quite good ones in the Forum shop (newsagents-y) on Kra. Aleksandra.

One thing that struck Phil and I is that Belgrade and Novi Sad both seem to pander to the Serbian Shoe Fetish – as evidenced by the number of Office shoe shops in both cities!!

Back by bus to Belgrade On Tuesday and pasta dinner with Snezana, Voja and Tea. A lovely lovely visit.

Finally, my photos are up!:

December 2012: Following Fotopic’s demise, I’ve uploaded the photos onto Flickr: Belgrade and Novi Sad, April 2004

The weather in Belgrade
More Serbia searches
Tea’s Christening

Belgrade Blog

* The procedure for the bus was a learning curve – maybe not for those more used to travelling by bus. For other novices, the main novelties to get to grips with are:
a) Buses have designated departure stands. These are numbered, and the number is on the ticket underneath the departure time on both tickets we got. In Cyrillic it looks like “nepoH”.
b) You get given a token when you buy your ticket. This gets you through the gates/fencing that separates non-travellers from the buses and the departure stands.

Chile photos finished

… as in I’ve finally got them all up on (aka the fantastic fotopic).

The main reason for the delay (unusual for me I know!) is that I had to resize some of the larger ones I took in Chile. Over-enthusiastic use of all the Ixus’ maxumum settings for dimensions and resolution/smoothing meant that I had pictures that were 1+MB in size…. waaaaaaaaay too big to do anything useful with. So I used a batch process in Phil’s Photoshop to scale down all the ones taken after 21 November, and then had to file them in amongst the full scale photos, and then select the ones to upload to fotopic. Except that I wimped out on that last step and just uploaded everything! As you will see if you look at the El Chalten / Fitz Roy collection …………..

December 2012: Following Fotopic’s demise, I’ve uploaded the photos onto Flickr – Chile & Patagonian Argentina, November – December 2003

Chile adventures complete: Back in Blighty!

Can’t quite believe that the 4 weeks has gone by, but then again looking back we did do loads…. ended up having a lazy last few days – nothing much to do in Punta Arenas apart from visit the penguins in Isla Magdalena, which we did on Tuesday 3rd, and by a total fluke H and I bumped into Nodoka and Chako – or rather they came flying out of Lomit’s to catch up with us walking past after an hour in the Swiss style cake/chocolate shop – on the Wednesday so we had a nice final meal, preceded by Patagonian strength pisco sours in La Luna, before leaving the south, flying back up to Santiago on the Thursday.

Santiago was hot hot hot in comparison to Patagonia, and we spent Thursday afternoon seeing the City centre sights, primarily the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, and people-watching from a pavement cafe whilst struggling through mammoth ice cream sundaes…..

On Friday we headed out to the craftshop village of Pomaire (where I bought a Pomaire Piggy bank each for Barney and Rosa – the type you have to smash to extract your pennies), and returned to Santiago to take the funicular up Cerro San Cristobal where we sat in the shade and wrote post-cum-Christmas cards to all and sundry. For our final dinner we took the metro to Providencia and ate in “Santiago’s best veggie restaurant” (Rough Guide) – La Huerta – I had Thai green curry…… not an egg or an omelette in sight.

Saturday, we mooched around the City centre again for a couple of hours in the morning, before many people were up and about, taking in the Plaza de Armas, the Post Office, the Cathedral, La Moneda and the Central Market (cast iron structure made in Birmingham at the end of the 19th century and shipped out to Chile) before returning to the Youth Hostel in Los Heroes. Of all the places we stayed in during the month, this is the only one I’d actively discourage people from going to – rude staff and inexcusably shabby accommodation; relatively expensive too.

Long flight home, involving 5 hour stop over in Sao Paulo where I got my one and only mozzie bite (b*****d), but it was worth it all to see Phil waiting for me at LHR….. and he’d got flowers, lunch and home made mince pies waiting for me when we got back to CJ. Lovely.

So now it’s just a question of getting back up to speed with things at work, and sorting out the 500 odd photos on my digital camera….

Chile photos finished

New World Hostal, Ancud
Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine
Snow at the border….
Drying off and warming up in Chile

Chile Weather – 2 weeks to go…
Chile Planning
Chile weather
Chile mind maps
Hazel’s in Huancayo, Peru
Chile – the countdown commences…
Chile Confirmed
I’ve got four weeks holiday…

December 2012: Following Fotopic’s demise, I’ve uploaded the photos onto Flickr – Chile November – December 2003

Four seasons in five days in Torres del Paine

We’ve just returned from a great 5 days in Torres del Paine National Park:

Day 1 saw blizzards, hail and force 12 gales (it felt like force 12 anyhow…. and we both almost got blown over despite large rucksacks) en route to Glaciar Grey, which made it worth the 4 hour hike from the ferry drop off.

Day 2 was better – no wind, and we saw our first condors as we backtracked along the shore of Lago Grey to Lago Pehoe and skirted the north shore of Lake Skotendbild (?) under the vast bulk of Los Cuernos. Stayed 2 great nights in Refugio Los Cuernos, which meant that on day 3 we could walk up the stunning Val de Frances under clear blue skies, getting amazing 360 degree views out over the lakes, of Los Cuernos (from the other side) and the avalanches coming from glaciar Frances. Amazing.

Day 4 we hiked onwards in light drizzle to refugio Chileno, which lies un the valley leading up to Los Torres, and as we whiled away the afternoon under grey skies, the clouds lifted enough for us to see them… and today (day 5) we woke to clear blue skies again and marched off double quick along the 2 hour return path to Los Torres… making it in under 3, including the vertiginous bouldering section to reach the lake at the base fo the Torres. Lovely.

We’re now clean and fresh and will be meeting up with Nodoka and Choko and Simon for pisco sours at El Living in the not too distant future! And do you know what…. Puerto Natales isn’t too bad in the sunshine…..

Off down to Punta Arenas tomorrow, hopefully to see the penguin colony on Isla Magallena before flying back to Santiago.