Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bosnia and Montenegro

No rain in Sarajevo this trip so I really got to enjoy the city. The first morning we met up with a street art photographer. We saw some amazing art, visited some unusual buildings, and heard wonderful stories about the artists and the city. 

We also took a day trip to Sutjeska National Park and hiked five hours (round trip) to Lake Trnovacko. The scenery was magnificent but the hike was not easy - narrow paths with steep drop-offs, huge loose rocks, etc. I am still having trouble believing I made it the whole way without falling.

For logistical reasons we decided to go from Sarajevo to Montenegro through Mostar. It gave us a chance to take a fabulous train ride on a brand new train (outlets, WiFi and movies!) and make our second visit to Mostar's famous bridge. The train ride was fantastic but Mostar was absolutely packed with people attending a Red Bull diving contest. We couldn't wait to leave.

Our base in Montenegro was Kotor.  We spent three days wandering around the old cities of Kotor, Perast, and Budva. The fresh fish was delicious and the scenery was incredible.

What I Learned
Follow travel advice. For example,  always keep an extra credit card in your main suitcase, never put your wallet in the outside pocket of your backpack, and take special care when traveling on public transportation.  If you don't, a really creepy guy might bump into you on the tram and steal your wallet on the first day of your vacation. Then you would have to visit the US Embassy to start the paperwork to get a new passport, cancel your credit cards (and not have a spare) and deal with the police. If you are lucky you might get an email like this:

  

I got back everything but the cash but unfortunately all of the credit cards had been cancelled. My sister Susan is now paying for everything and hoping I pay her back when we get home.

Buregdzinica Bosna still has the best burek in Bosnia and perhaps the world.

When you are 65, a hike rated as moderate is not.

Sarajevo street  art

Hiking


  
Perast and Budva

Friday, September 8, 2017

Retirement


To commemorate my semi-retirement, I prepared this handy summary chart of how my life has changed.

Pre-Retirement Post-Retirement
Spent hours researching school supply ads from Walmart and Target and planning multiple shopping trips to each store, based on perceived need, price, and convenience all while factoring in Dollar Tree alternatives. I went to Target twice and did not visit Wal Mart.
Cleaned my city-supplied garbage cans once in a while or at the first sign of maggots. Cleaned my city-supplied garbage cans every other week.
Spent a lot of time sitting on my porch reading in between bouts of gardening and cleaning. Spent a lot of time sitting on my porch reading in between bouts of gardening, cleaning, and trip planning.

I have been planning a trip to Eastern and Southern Europe (using the United Nations definitions) or Eastern Europe (using almost everyone else's definition). This time I will be traveling with my sister. I am returning to Romania and Bulgaria, two of the places I went to in 2015, and visiting countries I missed on the first trip. 

I have made changes:
  • Convertible wheeled backpack - My beautiful, four-wheeled French suitcase is staying home - it is way too heavy and hard to maneuver on cobblestone streets.
  • Hiking poles – hopefully these will reduce the chance of ankle breakage.
  • Allrounders – A birthday present from my cousins David and Shirley - perfect for hiking.
  • Belt - Although my Bulgarian and Romanian language skills range from poor to non-existent, I am fairly certain I heard people saying “Don't they sell belts in the United States?” when I would pass them in the street.
  • Everlast Notebook – This is a notebook with erasable pages. Once the notebook is full, I can use an app to scan the pages and send them to Google Drive, Gmail, Evernote, etc. Beside the fact that I won't have to worry about losing my trip notebook, I can use different colored inks, always a plus. I realize this sounds overally complicated but I find it hard to resist Indiegogo.
I will be posting as I go -- thanks for reading (sorry about the font issues).





Bosnia and Montenegro

No rain in Sarajevo this trip so I really got to enjoy the city. The first morning we met up with a street art photographer. We saw some am...