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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Geography of a Year

Last year I was on the road for 58 working days which is more than 1/4 of a working year and 1/6 of the whole year. It occurred to me that one could analyse a year through different prisms and for this post I chose the geographic prism. I was thinking that the years of all travelling people comprise of a sequence of places and emotions and impressions that they evoke. All these inevitably interfere with everyday life. We take our lives to the places which become brighter or sadder and we take the places to our everyday lives. To me, the perception of a place is a result of the encounter of our state of mind and the place itself.

I also made links to the blog posts that were dedicated to the trips and I also chose one photo per trip which is a visual summary of my impressions.

Istanbul (Turkey)

My travelling year started in January with a trip to Turkey plunging from Budapest winter to a Marmara spring. The light was bright, the air was mild, I had lunch by the water in Arnautkoy and long walks in the evenings. I remember the light from the office in Kabatas (below) and the spectacular view over the Bosphorus during a 3-hour meeting in a bank in Kabatas. This was the trip of the seaside views and the sudden passage from winter to spring.

Kabatas, Istanbul

Ohrid and Skopje (Macedonia)

February was a travelling month and it started with a visit to Ohrid. I remember the lead colour of the lake and the snow on the tops of the Albanian mountains. I took a regular walk to my favourite place in Ohrid - Sveti Joan Kaneo - when I came upon these stranded boats. This was the trip when one of the motors of our propeller plane stopped and gave us a good scare.

Boat in winter slumber

Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

February Sarajevo was lots of snow. The carsija in the old town is quiet and mystic when it snows, the yard of the mosque is peaceful with an occasional believer crossing it hurriedly, the smoke of the cevapi places is more palpable and the copper objects stand out. This was a trip of copper, quiet and cevapi smoke.

Gigantic Copper Kettle (photo: Christelle Kapoen)

Pristina (Kosovo)

In February I went to Pristina for the first time. This was the freezing trip. I was lucky to be there with my friends Ellen and Peter who are real insiders. We had two culinary evenings with good wine and the company of UN and EC stuff. I also had the honour of seeing the library which was ranked among the ugliest buildings in the world.

Frozen Pedestrian Street, Pristina (Photo: Ellen Baltzar)

Salzburg, Innsbruck, Zillertal (Austria)

As always, first week of March was dedicated to skiing and Austria. This was the trip of lonely skiing but also endless scrabble in the evenings. This was sunny and cold Salzburg, crossing the bridge where Mozart allegedly dropped his notes but also Innsbruck and memories of singing incessantly 'Innsbruck, ihc muss dich lassen...' - an old song I know from my choir years.

Genova (Italy)

If I have to rank my trips last year this will be among the first. It was Liguria, Genova and deserted Portofino. It was the first spring air, the eternal Mediterranean and the sea light seen through the olive trees. It was a hanging full moon on a palm branch and a glass of campari.

Portofino, Liguria, Italy

Regretably, I forgot my camera in France where I went early April. I had not been in Paris for many years and it was so good to be back. This was the trip of sunbathing in the Luxembour Garden, having morning coffee at the Place du Contrescarpe in the Latin Quarter where the April light was reflected in the fountain.

Vienna and Zagreb were other two trips in April which were good but not particularly memorable.


In May I had a couple of trips to Brussels and I could have long walks after work because of the long days. This was a trip when I had the time and luxury to look at the facades of the buildings for hidden signs. I liked the photo below - a fragile tree which sprouted on the wall of an ancient cathedral.

Hope, Brussels

Ancona, San Marino, Urbino, Venice

This was my second Italian destination in 2009. This trip was so great that I dedicated three posts to it. I remember being a bit dissapointed by Rimini and its tourist industry but overwhelmed by Urbino, the Rafaelo museum and again Venice. The bridge below in Rimini is from 1st century and still in use. Ancona was flowery, yellow and elegantly decadent.

Roman bridge, 1st c., Rimini

Lazarevats (Serbia) - May

As the summer approached the work trips were intersparsed by some family trips. Below was a fly-hunting trip to Serbia.

Boris and Andrej, hunting

Brussels and Bruge (Belgium)

I spent another week in Brussels in June and this time Jelica and the kids were with me. We visited a long forgotten Bruge where we had great time with Adriana, Zoya and Vida and the day changed from torrential rain to warm afternoon afternoon by the canal.

Canal, Brugge

Sarajevo - June

In June I was in Sarajevo again, ate another five portions of cevapi and strolled along the carsija a dozen times. I tried to take pictures if Muslim architecture. This trip was also a nice long drive with my colleagues from Budapest to Sarajevo and a fish soup by the Danube in Mohacs.

Miljacka River

Thessaloniki and Halkidiki (Greece)

During the past several years my Bulgarian friends acquired the nice habit of spending a week in Greece. This year Boris and I decided to join them but camping. This was a trip of absolute freedom, no schedule, Boris falling asleep on the table and me carrying him to the tent, Boris' excitement with the warm nights in the tent, fresh grilled fish and quiet sunsets.

Vourvouru, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

Mljet (Croatia) - July

This was a trip with no Internet, 'Discovering the Balkans' by Maria Todorowa, crystal clear water, biking at 40 degrees at 2 pm, eating tons of fish while watching the sunset and regular 200 m. walks in the night combined with lying on the warm cement under a pine to watch the stars and discuss the boats with friends D and I.

Mostar and Sarajevo (BiH)

Coming back from the sea we crossed Bosnia and Herzegovina and I finally visited Mostar for a midday walk along the carsija. It is also quite interesting to climb the peninsula from Croatian Adriatic, through Herzegovina, Muslim Sarajevo and Republika Srpska. I remember the sad story of the destruction of the bridge but also the beautiful meadows of Romania Mountain in Republika Srpska.

View from the bridge in Mostar over the carsija and Neretva river

Rhodope Mountain, Bulgaria

This was our regular summer pilgrimage to Bulgaria and the Rhodope Mountain. This year it rained a bit which can be seen from the picture. The village and the hills are particularly beautiful when the sun shines after the rain. This was also a trip of blueberries, lots of wine and long walks around the village.

Solishta Village, Bulgaria

The autumn was full of trips again but mainly to Brussels. The problem with the autumn trips in Brussels is that it is dark so early that no pictures are possible. These were great trips because I rediscovered the pleasure to stay with friends. I almost got adopted by my friends R and A as well as E and S for which I warmly thank. I immensely enjoyed the stays and the bottles of wine drunk.

Belgrade, Serbia

The last business trip of the year was quite dramatic because of the big snow and the crazy schedule of meetings in a deadlocked city by the taxi drivers' strike. Somehow, on the last day I managed to take a walk and make some pictures at the Kalemegdan fortress.

View of Sava from Kalemegdan

1 comment:

Ruslan said...

Haha, I fully agree.