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Entries about culture

"Hvala - from everyone"

#BalkanBants - Sarajevo

sunny 36 °C
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After our mosque hunting drive through the Bosnian countryside, we headed to bed before our full day of sightseeing in the historic capital of Sarajevo began the next day.

Starting off with the practicalities by buying our onward travel tickets, the following morning we headed down Sniper Alley towards the Historical Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina, where we began our day viewing images of the Bosnian War, and the aftermath and in particular Srebrenica, of which the twentieth anniversary had occurred just a few days before. With the historical mode firmly on, we headed past the parliament building with one of the many Blood Roses outside, symbolising the blood shed caused by the shelling during the siege of the city in the mid-90s.

Latin Bridge

Latin Bridge

Before long we had already reached another historical site, the Latin Bridge, a beautiful bridge over the river, and on which the northern end is the site of the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand - the trigger point for the start of WWI.

Plaque marking the shooting in 1914

Plaque marking the shooting in 1914


The gun that triggered WWI

The gun that triggered WWI

After taking a look inside the small museum dedicated to the Austro-Hungarian rule of Bosnia, including the actual gun used in the assassination, we headed back out and over to the City Hall, where the Archduke and his wife were photographed just moments before their untimely death, before making our way to the old city.

The Baščaršija

The Baščaršija

The old city has a very distinct Ottoman feel, with the Turkish markets and food, cosy shops and towering minarets. And yet, just down the street is the westernised High Street with a completely different feel, with the cathedrals on side streets. We then headed for a view of the city and valley by walking up to the Yellow Bastion for a cool down drink.

One of the many Muslim graveyards in the city

One of the many Muslim graveyards in the city

Looking down over the city with its different cultures all intertwined, as well as the surrounding mountains that were used to shell down over the city and the hundreds of Muslim graves on every remaining green patches not already built on gave a fascinatingly beautiful yet deeply upsetting image of the city that will live with me forever.

One of the many Blood Roses in the city

One of the many Blood Roses in the city

The fact that just twenty years ago, and therefore in my own lifetime, this city was under siege by former residents in a truly intolerant circumstance is truly upsetting. However being able to view how this city has recovered and now, which to me at least seemed to have resolved itself to live side by side in harmony gives me hope for a better future for the world as a whole.

Visual image of how the siege occurred

Visual image of how the siege occurred

Heading back down the hill we made our way to join the Siege Tour that I had booked for us. This would give us an even more informed image of how the city was during the Bosnian War, being able to visit the Siege Tunnel used in the war to provide relief to the residents without the fear of being shot as they crossed the runway to the rest of the free Bosnian territory.

Reconstructed Minefield

Reconstructed Minefield


Inside the Siege Tunnel

Inside the Siege Tunnel

After viewing this area, we then headed up to the mountains to see just how easy it was for the residents to be shot by snipers from the mountains in Snipers Alley, before making our way to walk on the, now abandoned, bobsleigh track from the 1984 Olympics.

On the Bobsleigh Track

On the Bobsleigh Track

As we got back in the bus to take us down to the city, it was noticeable just how hilly parts of the city are. It was now rush hour and trying to meander the small hilly city roads with passing traffic was particularly difficult. Although things were made easier by help from a local - to whom the Australian on the bus exclaimed "Hvala - from everyone!"

As we arrived back in the city from a very informative and enjoyable tour, we made our way to the city to grab a bite to eat - luckily taking this just as the thunderstorm occurred, meaning we didn't end up caught in it, and then headed back towards our hotel via the Olympic arenas and a crazy Bosnian throwing herself on traffic and subsequently being arrested by the local cops.

Despite only having a day in the city, Sarajevo was crammed full of exciting things for us to see and I would highly recommend it as a place to visit, along with Bosnia as a whole.

Onwards to Mostar!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged culture history war olympic macabre balkanbants Comments (0)

"You have ze smallest room in Rotorua"

RTW - New Zealand, North Island

sunny 23 °C
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After spending some time with my family in the south, I flew up to Auckland to spend a few days exploring Māori and geothermal activity. #GeographyYAY

Mount Eden

Mount Eden

Flying up in the morning I spent the afternoon of the first day on the North Island seeing Auckland - starting with the port area, before making my way over to the Domain, where the Auckland War Memorial Museum was located, and then over to Mount Eden - a dormant volcano that has the highest point in, and gives the best free 360˚ view of Auckland - one thing I really noticed being how much hillier Auckland was compared to Christchurch!

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum


Sky Tower

Sky Tower

The following morning I took a coach over to Rotorua - home to the most geothermal and Māori activity accessible. Arriving in blissful sunshine I checked into my hotel, where I was told by a German that I had "ze smallest room in Rotorua", which was in fact no larger than a walk-in wardrobe...not that it mattered, as I was there just one night and it was perfectly comfortable!

Māori Culture

Māori Culture

After treating myself to another piercing to mark the halfway mark of my trip, I went off to explore the local area and seeing my first open hot springs that were only 212˚C, and getting lovely whiffs of Sulphur, I eventually ended up at the supermarket where I decided to cook my own food - in the end I opted for Schnitzel and pasta, whilst wearing a Berlin T-Shirt and surrounded by Germans...just like old times!

Te Puia Geyser

Te Puia Geyser

The following day I went off to Te Puia - the home of the Māori Geothermal activity in Rotorua, where I got to experience Geysers, Mudpools, Māori culture, and see a Kiwi bird - ticking off nearly all of my checklist for the country, and well worth the entrance fee.

Mud Pools

Mud Pools

I then took an afternoon coach back to Auckland, and spent my last night in the city before flying off to destination number 8 - Fiji!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged culture history city hill geothermal maori rtw geography Comments (0)

"I like your T-Shirt!"

RTW - Tokyo

sunny 32 °C
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Having left Dubai at a disgustingly early 2:50am (and being told by the air hostess that she loved my T-Shirt, not realising it was actually dedicated to Copenhagen, despite the red blob looking rather like the Japanese flag), I was flown over Afghanistan and the Himalayas and then China and Korea before touching down in Japan in the early evening.

By the time I worked out and bought all the transport cards for the entirety of my trip and made it to my hotel it was already 9pm...and so finally making it to bed was a relief, and I treated myself to an extra long lie in, getting up at around 2pm, after the maid had already called. However this was to be one of the many appreciations for the Japanese I was to encounter...the maid had left me all the essentials for night (sheets, toiletries, dressing gown) just outside my door without disturbing me! So lovely of her!

I then took the metro to do a bit of sightseeing that and I once again witnessed some of the Japanese behaviour, this time in terms of personal space - when a train is half full, Japanese people will automatically space themselves so that their is a single seat between each other. However when the train is more busy this becomes more difficult, and so if there are 3 people sitting next to each other (where there will be a visible gap between them) and the person on the end gets up to the leave the train, almost instantaneously, the middle passenger will move to the edge...such a funny thing to see!

Asakusa Shrine

Asakusa Shrine

I then arrived at my first sight, the Asakusa Shrine, a short distance away from the Tokyo Skytree - and the two could not be more different! One being a historical place of worship, and the other a modern commercial tower! This was then followed by a visit across town to the Shibuya Crossing, the busiest crossing in the world where people cross in any direction, fun to people watch!

Tokyo Metropolitan Towers

Tokyo Metropolitan Towers

On the second day I realised how warm it was in the city..despite being 10 degrees colder than Dubai, it was still over 30! More refreshing, but still pretty humid. I had first visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Towers, where free views of the city are available, and then gone through the park areas to see more Shines.

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine

After this, I finished up at the Tokyo Tower, before eating and then going back to the Asakusa Shine to see it in darkness.

Asakusa

Asakusa


Edo Castle

Edo Castle

On my final full day I saw the very heart of the city, including the Imperial Palace grounds, which I had booked in advance and were free. For my final night I had decided to spend it in a capsule bed, which was also offered by my hotel and was only one step up from a dorm room. However being Japan, there is so much respect for others and I had an easy nights sleep before making my way to the airport for my onward flight.

Capsule Bed

Capsule Bed

The hotel I stayed in I can easily say is the best hotel ever, being so cheap, in a great location as well as friendly and helpful staff and very modern and clean - although this could easily sum up Japan in general! The small bit I have seen has been so wonderful that it makes me want to visit again, and I would recommend it to all of you!

Next stop: Hong Kong!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Japan Tagged technology tower culture history palace city shrine rtw Comments (0)

From Russia With Love

Moscow

sunny 26 °C
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As many of you know, my recent trip to Russia took a lot of planning, involving a lengthy process taking months. However everything was approved and a couple of weeks ago I flew to the capital, Moscow.

Meeting my friend Lisa at Domodedevo Airport she acted as my tour guide/translator for the majority of the time in the city.

Christ The Saviour Cathedral

Christ The Saviour Cathedral

On the first day we toured the west of the city, passing through the Arbat area where I collected most of my souvenirs (Russian Doll, Novelty T-Shirt) before walking along the riverside and seeing the Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

Lenin's Mausoleum

Lenin's Mausoleum

This then led onto the iconic Red Square with the views of the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral.

Red Square

Red Square


Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre

The following day was filled with views of the Seven Sisters, the Bolshoi Theatre, the lavishly decorated Metro and Tsaritsyno Park, before going to a Ukrainian restaurant to celebrate Lisa's grandmother's birthday.

Lavishly Decorated Underground Stations

Lavishly Decorated Underground Stations

On the Saturday morning we visited the inside of the Kremlin before making our way to the Luzhniki stadium where a free concert with many popular singers from all over Europe were singing, after which we took the trip to the hill by the Moscow University where views of the whole city could be seen.

Kremlin

Kremlin

On the final full day, we visited Cosmonauts Alley, as well as VDNKh, where Soviet Exhibitions were held. On each evening we were joined by Lisa's friends and spent the evening talking and laughing in bars, making the trip even more entertaining and welcoming.

One thing I did notice was how cosmopolitan and global the city felt, being much less foreign than I had expected, and making every trip to Red Square feel even more surreal.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Russia Tagged culture history city friends Comments (0)

Cymru A Mwy

all seasons in one day 20 °C
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Hello everyone..hope you're all well! Once again I've been off travelling...but shockingly enough it was actually in the UK still! Last week I travelled up with my brother to Newcastle-under-Lyme, where he has a student house, and we then made many excursions to many locations across the area.

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle

On the Monday, we made the trip to North Wales, where we stopped at the small town of Conwy, visiting the remains of the Castle, the city walls, and the port side (where the smallest house in Great Britain is located), giving us some traditional Welsh heritage. Afterwards we carried on further into the country, crossing the Menai Straits onto Anglesey, where there were some stunning views of not only the strait and the bridges crossing it, but also of Snowdonia.

Llanfair PG

Llanfair PG

We then arrived at the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (the place with the second longest name in the world), where we had some photos taken outside the signs, and visited the gift shop, before driving to the other end of the island to Holyhead, where the ferries leave to Dublin. Shockingly enough, it was even necessary to use sunglasses!

Chester

Chester

The following day we visited the historic town of Chester, walking around the city walls and looking at the beautiful buildings. We then made the trip up the Wirral to Birkenhead, where we got a view over Liverpool - staying just a few minutes before quickly exiting Merseyside

Mersey

Mersey

The following day was our last full day in the area, and was also the nicest, reaching 24˚C, spending it at Alton Towers. Despite arriving at park opening time, the queues for the largest rides were still over an hour long, however we did manage to ride most of the biggest rides at the park that day, topping off what had been a thoroughly enjoyable few days in the area.

Next stop, Malta!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged culture history castle wales themepark Comments (0)

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