Croatia, Venice and Dobro Jutro
Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 02:17 PMLast week Stefan's parents came to stay with us. It was lovely to see them again and as they were here for a whole week we were able to travel around a bit. We picked them up from Venice and arrived back in Ljubljana only to find the main entrance to our flat had a broken key in the lock! Luckily we didn't have to wait too long for someone to let us in and the next day we set off to Piran. We witnessed a huge storm while we were having lunch but it didn't stop us from doing what we had planned as soon the sun was out again. From Piran we went on the Vrsar in Croatia, a small and very pretty town near Rovinj. We hadn't actually planned on spending much time here but we were surprised at how nice it was so we spent the night here before heading to Pula the next morning. After a wander around the ampitheatre we went to Rovinj for lunch and swim in the afternoon.
The next few days I had to be back at work in Ljubljana but also Floor was back in town so it was great to see her again. On Saturday we drove to Venice again but this time made a weekend of it. The weather was great if not a little too hot with so many people in so many narrow streets. It was beautiful though and we had breakfast by the Rialto bridge and wandered around St. Mark's square before seeing Eva and Berndt off at the airport.
I started back at orchestra yesterday for a week of Mahler 5 only to find out that to my surprise I had appeared in a free newspaper, Dobro Jutro that weekend. I took part in an interview about a month ago about my reasons for moving to Slovenia etc and was expecting it to appear along with other expat interviews and a small photo but no...the picture was embarrassingly big and one of the headings read..'she only misses chocolate'...I wonder what the readers think of me after that! Here's the link if you want to take look here
Logarska Dolina and a small car accident
Friday, September 14, 2007, 09:49 AMLast Friday I went to Logarska Dolina with Matt. We drove right through the valley and parked near the foot of the mountains. From here we walked first to the Rinka Waterfall and then climbed our way right up to the top of one mountain. The views along the way were stunning and there was even a bit of snow at the very top. We stopped at the cafe on the top next to the Austrian border before heading down at a much faster pace than we went up! It was a really good day out and I would definitely like to go back and explore more of the landscape around there.
This week got off to a bit of a bad start however. I was driving back from the airport on Monday when a truck full of rubble drove in the opposite direction too fast over a bump. This meant some of the rubble went flying and landed on my windscreen causing a big bang and an even bigger crack in the glass. Thankfully it didn't go through and hit me in the face but it was quite a shock in any case. This meant I had my first dealings with Slovene Police and insurance claims and I have to say although I was a bit confused by how it all worked in the beginning it was very efficient. It was good Slovene practice too! The accident happened on Monday evening and I got the car back on Wednesday afternoon with a new windscreen...maybe I was just lucky but I definitely give credit to Slovenes for that!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007, 06:07 AMI've finally got around to sorting through my photos. The Bosnia/Croatia road trip can be viewed here and other Summer holiday ones can be viewed here
Vinjerac and Zadar
Tuesday, September 4, 2007, 12:50 PMWe spent this weekend in Vinjerac, a small village by the sea near Zadar in Croatia. After a very heavy storm when we arrived on Friday it turned into a beautiful and hot weekend. There was a small beach area a few metres from our hotel which we had to ourselves most of the time. It was such a quiet little place and because it was the end of the tourist season there were even fewer people about despite the great weather.
One evening we went into Zadar to have a look around. We entered the town through the old city walls and wandered around for a while before heading to a restaurant by the sea. We walked back to the car along the seafront where we witnessed a really beautiful sunset.
On the way back to Ljubljana yesterday we went to the Plitvice lakes. Initially we thought the entrance price was a little expensive but once we saw the extent of the lakes and beauty of the landscape it was definitely worth it. The water was such an amazing blue colour and the 4 hour walk also included a boat ride and a trip on a very old bus! View more photos here
Dubrovnik and Opatija
Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 12:47 PMI just got back from a weekend in Dubrovnik with the orchestra. I have to say I feel pretty lucky to get to go to such a beautiful place and get paid for it! We just had one concert on Saturday and we played outside in the old town. It was extremely hot so the concert wasn't until 21:30 but even then the conditions were very hot to play in.
After the concert I went to one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It was a bar by the sea on several different levels built into the outside of the city wall. From here we had magical views of the moon over the sea and if you walked right down to the bottom you could stand level with the sea and watch the waves crashing in against the rocks. By the time we left here it was almost 3am and of course the old town was fairly empty by then. It felt nice to wander around as it was so quiet compared to during the day when it is overcrowded with people. We finished the evening off with a 5am swim in the sea back near the hotel.
So apart from the one concert and rehearsal before that we spent most of the time on the beach or in the old town...not bad for a weekends work. Understandably I didn't really want to come back so as it was a UK bank holiday yesterday Stefan and I decided to head to the coast again for the day. Of course there wasn't time to go too far in a day so we took a trip to Opatija in Croatia near Rijeka. Again, the weather was perfect and we had a long swim in the sea in an area a bit further around from the touristy part which was much less crowded.
Now we're planning some more trips to the coast while the weather is still good. Hopefully it will last a while.
England and Holland
Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 07:29 AMI'm now back in Ljubljana after a hectic visit back home. I was incredible lucky with the weather in Devon and we went to a birthday party in Torcross. Torcross was at its best that day and we even went swimming in the sea and it didn't feel too cold!
From Devon I went to Worcestershire with my brother and on to see my friend, Lynette in Malvern. It had been a very long time since I had seen her so we had lots to catch up with. Aside from talking a lot we set ourselves the task of finding the worst possible outfit when we were out shopping! The staff in the changing rooms must have wondered what we were doing but it was hilarious and the way we looked in some of the dresses we found had us laughing for hours!
From Worcestershire we went up to Shrewsbury for the day to go to Gemma and Dan's wedding, 2 friends I studied with at Guildhall. It was a great day and fun to catch up with other friends I hadn't seen for a while. Unfortunately we had to leave quite early in order to get to the hotel near Stansted that night.
I flew from Stansted to Rotterdam early the next morning to visit Floor. I was a little bleary-eyed but that didn't matter as I was visiting a new place and meeting Floor. We spent the first day in Rotterdam and the next day we went cycling in Floor's hometown, Dordrecht. It had been a very long time since I had been on a bike but it was really fun and made me think I really must get a bike here in Ljubljana. However there was one unfortunate incident just before we got back when I dog kindly decided to rush in front of me causing me to almost fall off. Luckily neither the dog nor I were hurt. I had a really great time and ate so many delicious Dutch things!
Before heading back here I spent 2 days in London and again caught up with more friends which was great. I have to admit it was a relief to get home having been living out of a suitcase and having stayed in about 10 different places in 2 weeks!
It's been good to be back here although quite quiet as so many people are away. The sun has been shining although today is horrible. I went to Bled the other day with some friends and swam to the island again and we've had other friends visiting and staying with us. Now I have to get back to making oboe reeds. We are off to Dubrovnik on Friday to play in the festival on Saturday so I need to practice!
July and Facebook!
Friday, August 3, 2007, 06:54 PMIím not quite sure where July went and suddenly itís the 3rd of August. The orchestra season has now come to an end and although July seemed a busy month we only performed 2 concerts. The first one was a much bigger event than I first thought. It was a performance of Beethovenís 9th Symphony in the market square in the centre of Ljubljana. String players joined us from Belgrade and singers from many different countries formed the choir. It was the opening of the World Biblical Congress and was televised on big screens in the town. It was a little disconcerting and distracting seeing the screens while playing! The concert didnít start until 10pm but even then it was very hot and my oboe reed wasnít very happy.
The other concert was part of the Ljubljana festival and we played music by Wagner. This finished the season for the orchestra and my 2nd season in Slovenia. We now look forward to a concert in Dubrovnik in August before the next season begins in September.
So far this summer life in Ljubljana has been great with visits from friends and family, parties and fantastic weather. Iím now in England and luckily escaped the terrible recent downpours here. Letís hope I havenít spoken too soon! I met Hamali in London yesterday and it was great to catch up with her before she heads back to Iraq. Iím now in Devon and looking forward to catching up with more family and friends.
I have to admit I think my blog laziness lately must be partly due to facebook. Itís way too addictive and easier to upload photos on to than this. More photos will be added soon though!
Mostar, Dubrovnik and Korcula
Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 07:46 AMI didn't make it to a computer after Sarajevo so we're now back in Ljubljana after a great and interesting week away.
From Sarajevo we went to Dubrovnik but stopped off at Mostar along the way. The old part of Mostar where the rebuilt bridge is is so beautiful but the surroundings were still very damaged from the war. It was interesting how the landscape was so different too. The mountains were suddenly a lot more barren than they had been and it was so hot. After lunch we strolled over the bridge and wandered around the little stalls along the way. We found a cemetery where it was so sad to see every stone marked 1993 and all so young. However, it's good to be reminded of what happened there as it would be so easy to forget in such a beautiful place.
Arriving in Dubrovnik was a bit of a shock as there were so many more tourists. It was even hotter again and the mosquitoes were out in force! The old town was beautiful though and we walked right around the wall where you could look across the old town out towards the sea and Lokrum Island. We went to Lokrum one afternoon for a swim. It was very rocky but the island was so green and peaceful.
The next and final stop of our trip was the island of Korcula. It was definitely time for some relaxation and this was the perfect place for it. Our hotel had its own private beach and despite being quite windy it was lovely to relax down there and go swimming. We took the ferry from there up to Split and then drove back to Ljubljana. It was a lot of driving in one week but well worth it.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 06:58 AMWe arrived in Sarajevo on Sunday evening after a long 11 hour drive from Ljubljana. This could have been a lot quicker but we decided to take what seemed to be the slowest possible route through the countryside. It was well worth it though as we saw some amazing scenes as the landscape gradually changed the further south we got. Green hills and mountains, steep gorges and in contrast destroyed and burnt out houses all featured along the way.
After crossing the Bosnian border we were re-directed onto a gravel track struggling with roadsigns only in Cyrillic. However, we continued in the right direction and ended up at our first destination of Jajce (Egg). Here we saw 2 beautiful waterfalls and strolled up to the fortress which is on top of the egg shaped hill hence the name of the town.
It was a big contrast arriving in Sarajevo with the numerous high rise appartment blocks covered in bullet holes still scarred by effects of the war. Nevertheless, Sarajevo is a beautiful city and a perfect place for wandering around, drinking coffee and watching the world go by. I particularly liked strolling around the little shops in the Bascarsija to soak up the atmosphere. Its such a bustling city its difficult to imagine the horrors that occurred so recently. Visiting the Tunnel museum with our taxi driver guiding us made the war seem more real and opened our eyes to the individual experiences of the locals. Sarajevo is a city full of history and aside from the memories of the 1990s siege the assassination point of Franz Ferdinand also lies in the centre of the city by the river.
Last night we went for a traditional Bosnian meal where the food and service was great. We had to laugh a bit though when a little boy turned up begging wearing ladies high-healed, knee-high pointy boots. The waiter also found this amusing and called out the kitchen staff to take a look!
Today we will travel to Mostar and then onto Dubrovnik for the next leg of our trip.
Orchestra Tour of Slovenia
Saturday, June 30, 2007, 07:14 AMToday is the last concert of our tour in Slovenia. It started last week in Mokronog and finishes today in Ljubljana. We've also been to Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Novo Mesto, Portoroz and Dobrna. Most of the concerts have been outside which always adds a few extra problems aside from the acoustics of playing in the open air. In Mokronog it was so windy that music was flying everywhere and music stands were falling over, in Ptuj the monastry bells liked to join in with the rehearsal every 15 minutes and yesterday in Dobrna it poured with rain during the 2nd piece so we had to go inside and wait for it to stop.
Today's concert is up at the castle so hopefully the sunshine will return. After that we have about 10 days free and it will be nice to have a break from Smetana's Bartered Bride overture! Tomorrow we are off on a bit of a roadtrip down to Sarajevo, onto Dubronik and a couple of days in Korcula.