Adventures at home, abroad, and online

Category: Childrens Crusade Page 2 of 7

Italy to the Holy Land, and then on to India


They say that Ljubljana is now what Prague was ten years ago, and they may be right. It has all that Eastern European charm, the Habsburg architecture, the castle on a hill, the punked up kids in nightclubs, but with none of the Brits on stag parties and rampant prostitution.

Hannah and I meant to stay in the Hostel Celica, which was once a jail and is now an “art hostel”, but once again I booked it for the wrong night. Stupid off by one errors are why I’m not booking more than a few nights ahead on these freewheeling trips again. We stayed in the institutional but perfectly serviceable Hostel Tabor, which is a university dorm during the academic year.

Slovenian facade

Ljubljana is a beautiful city, with a great pedestrian zone filled with cafes along the river, and a nice urban planning mixture of historic buildings and new development. We strolled the promenade, perusing the weekly antiques market. Hannah kept wanting to buy old knives, and I beer steins, but we decided neither would travel well. Then we stormed the castle, where we found the inspiration for Trogdor the burninator. Then we got some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had; even though it wasn’t gelato, it fulfilled our church-sweets deal nicely.

Red Hot Horse

At night we scouted around for a fast food restaurant that serves horse burger. However, the map we had was both precise and inaccurate, which made us do several laps of a garden park. We gave up and went to Jose Pena’s (Slovenia’s first Mexican restaurant!), but it didn’t satisfy my need for horse. Then, as we were wandering drunkenly home, we found it: Red Hot Horse! I strolled in and asked for a double horse, prosim. The guy asked “mustard or mayonaise”, but I thought he was speaking Slovene, so I responded that I wanted all the toppings. He rolled his eyes at me, but served me nonetheless. A horseburger franchise must be used to dealing with drunkards at all hours of the night. It actually tasted like a gristly hamburger, and I only ended up eating half of it, but now no one can tell me that I haven’t eaten horse (or pigeon, or rabbit, or boar, or sea urchin, or God knows what else I will eat on this trip).


This is the world’s cutest moutain town. It’s got a castle on a cliff, overlooking a lake with a church on an island. Along the lake is a park, where ducks gather to feed from old men tossing them bread crumbs. Apparently it is also verboten to sleep in said park, as the nice uniformed Slovene policija informed us. After dinner of turkey Ljubljana-style (beaten down, breaded and fried), we heard a traditional band oompah-ing their way across the lake. This is some serious Slovenia right here.

Off to Zagreb tomorrow for the day and an overnight bus to Dubrovnik.

Bled hrad
H and the cute lake church
Triglav at sunset

Edit: found an internet cafe on, get this, Nikolai Tesla street in Zagreb.

Tesla ulica in Zagreb


In the “pearl of the Adriatic”, enjoying some down time by the beach. This city is both more touristy and more expensive than we had planned, so we’re only spending two nights rather than three. Still, the interplay of light and stone at sunset is totally worth the hordes walking down the main drag. Like Venice, get a few steps away from the center and the feeling totally changes. We’re staying at a pension, run by an incredibly sweet old couple. The husband seems to only wear tank tops, which is totally fitting given the heat. It’s at the top of the hill, which doesn’t look so far on the map, but that only covers the horizontal distance. Hannah tells me it’s 213 steps from the old gate to our door, and I’m inclined to believe her. Went to a nearby island today, and got nicely sunburned. Heading inland tomorrow, toward Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croation music video style
On Lokrum Island
The pearl of the Adriatic


After an early morning bus ride, we left Croatia and entered Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sadly, we didn’t get an extra stamp, as the border consisted of them seeing our US passports, and waving us along. Didn’t have lodging booked ahead of time, as my accumulated off by one errors have caused me enough grief and extra expense that I’m inclined to wing it. A nice old lady came at us off the bus, and we followed her to our spartan digs. Hey, for 10 euros a night, I’m not going to complain. It’s actually right next to the place I was going to book, so it has that going for it.

The former front line
Cemetery from 1993 massacre

Mostar was one of the cities most damaged architecturally by the war, and while the Old Bridge has been rebuilt, and the tourist area is thriving, the old front line is still clearly visible. We bought an engraved 50 cal shell. Feels a bit like war tourism, but the old man who made it seemed happy enough to take our money.

Mostar old bridge

Sat and watched divers plunge from the Old Bridge 60 feet to the frigid water below, proving their machismo and garnering tips from passersby. They are real showmen, and stand on the edge for a long time until they have enough to jump. I tossed in my Bosnian change, but apparently they prefer foreign currency. Still took it, though.

Koski Mehmed-Pasa Mosque

As we are rather churched out, it has been interesting watching the appearance of mosques. We also went to a Turkish house, which was nicely appointed, but probably only a shadow of things to come.

Sarajevsko pivo

Still taking pictures of particularly quenching mugs of beer. So Ruth, this Sarajevsko’s for you.

After walking around looking for burek (the typical Balkan meat filled pastry), we stumbled upon a performance by a local student band. It seemed to be part of some summer program, run by the “Brass Brothers”, a group of old guys from Sweden and Norway. They did a stirring rendition of Blueberry Hill, and some Bosnian classics, which we didn’t recognize, but everyone else did. On the way home we passed all sorts of hotties going out to ze clubs, but we had an early train to catch, so I’ll have to wait to get my dance on.

Punk rendition of Blueberry Hill


Sleepy Mostar train station

Got an early train from Mostar, through incredible mountain valleys, along the ice blue Nerevata River. Didn’t see any men plowing fields with oxen, as Jani did on her trip here in the 70’s, but we did see some Monet style haystacks.

Latin Bridge

Sarajevo is bustling on this Saturday morning, and we strolled along the cobbled Ferhadija with seemingly the entire town. Hannah got a B&H soccer jersey, and I pondered getting one of the mounted machine guns at the “War Museum”, which was really just a souvenir shop in disguise. I did actually get the FAMA Guide to Sarajevo from the 1992 seige, but it’s clearly a recent reprint. Still, an interesting cultural artifact. We also walked across the bridge on which Gavrilo Princip shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, sparking WWI. The guidebook says that their footprints used to be encased in the pavement, but were removed in the 90’s, as Princip was deemend a terrorist, and a Bosnian at that.

Chess on Trg Oslobodenja

Hannah sat and watched two men play chess in a park, surrounded by a gaggle of old men providing commentary. She made a friend, and they traded chess tips, although they did not share a common language. She was actually the only woman in sight, a fact that seemed to cause some of the old guys alarm, but when I showed up and took pictures everyone was happy.

Waiting around now to catch an overnight bus to Pristina, Kosovo. Our guidebook says that it wasn’t safe to update as of the last printing (2006), but we checked out more recent guides in a bookstore, and they seem to think it’s fine. Besides, who wouldn’t want to go see a UN protectorate? I love those blue helmets…

The multicultural man holds the world together

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