Blurp – The Door to Summer (re-reprise)

Industrial gig & party in Overtime. Lemmy special at the Paranoid Club.
Sounds like a great combination.. Prolly is.

And I’m sitting here wearing my Garfieldfeet-house-shoes, the cat is sleeping on the pillow next to my monitor, having a hot cup of coffee, & mumbling “I’ve already BEEN outside today”, remembering warm summer nights riding on my bike through a lively neighborhood going back & forth to a party and ending up at a park with a klezmeh band playing…
where is that teleport device when you need it?

ok.. the cat just asked to go outside. I open the window. Cat complains.
There’s another frikkin layer of snow….
No way I’m gonna ride my bike anywhere.
*puts Garfield-houseshoes back on & makes another capuccino*

Blurp – Nature when you least expect it

To see cats & rats roaming the streets of a big city at night is quite normal.

When I moved here, I was happily surprised by the amount of squirrels foraging and flying from tree to tree. I almost got used to foxes feeling quite at home in my street.

But on my way back from the giveaway shop tonight, I spotted a big fluffy tail, not red enough for a fox or a squirrel, and legs too short for a cat. Yup, bumping into a feral ferret was relatively new experience I gotta admit. And the look in its eyes were something like “wtf are you looking at”. I guess this one didn’t like life as a pet….

(Note from december: a friend of mine pointed out it was probably not a ferret, but a stone-marten. These seem to have found their ecological niche in the cracks of civilization, causing stories about poltergeists because they have found their way to the attics of the old buildings, and car problems since they love chewing the wires and tubes…)

Impressions – Una National Park, Bosnia

Forget Plitivice. Here’s Una National Park. And hardly anyone around.

Utterly btw, I could do two waterfalls today, thx to almost EVERY car stopping when I was hiking & give me a lift. Really, it seems the rougher the landscape, the nicer the people 🙂 Including a guy bringing his really old, gold-toothed mum home, a young Saudi family, she was completely covered up, but started video-ing at the moment they stopped & asked me if I needed a lift (bye bye privacy 🙂 ), a little van with husband and wife who just came from fruit picking, so I now have ANOTHER kilo of apples to eat, the owner of a new campsite near this waterfall, a friend of the ranger (ok, he was friends of almost anyone we drove past..) and.. and.. and… I will leave this trip with a vitamine overdose.. I still haven’t finished the grapes and figs I got in Mostar.

Last big hike: Una Park in Bosnia, near the border with Croatia. On the croatian side, there’s Plitvice Lakes, lots of tourists. Here, hardly anyone…

Hiked towards Martin Brod, the southmost village in the park, and about 10 km walk in almost 40 degrees and no shadow. Again, proof, the rougher the landscape, the friendlier the people. Almost immediately got a ride from a man bringing his gold-toothed mom home, and a few km further, from a saudi family (and she making vids of me the whole time)…

Started walking around Martin Brod, a village just simply teeming with smaller and bigger waterfalls EVERYwhere. Got another ride back to where I slept in Kulen Vakuf. On both sides of the village there’s old Ottoman forts (like everywhere near the river) but it was just to frikkin hot to hike up that hill. So I decided to try for another waterfall.

Thx to another ride, of a local couple in a van full of freshly picked fruit (got another 2 kilos of apples), I made it to Ocasan, a village 20km north of Kulen Vakuf, with another Ottoman ruin, and the biggest waterfall nearby. The waterfall was supposed to be ca. 6km from Ocasan. There was supposed to be a hiking trail, but.. I didn’t SEE the trail, neither did I see any signs pointing out to it, so I kept following the maybe longer off-road along the river.

And though I was afraid I wouldn’t make it before dark, and certainly not back before dark, hiking along the river to Strbacki Buk waterfalls was frikkin 100% worth it. The Una River is blue blue blue blue. Locals kept telling me the waterfall was 3km away, and again 3km, and again. Luckily I got another ride from a local camping owner (who complained his camping site stayed so empty.)

Walk along the Una River. Listen to the sound coming from the hills on the other side of the river: that’s not a dog. When I came here, I saw my first glimpse of a wild lynx (omg, they are BIG cats). On the trail next to the river were signs, “watch it, bears crossing”. Guess no car could survive a collapse with a bear (pity I didn’t take pics of that sign). And I know there are wolves.. But maybe it is “just” a fox? Dunno what sounds they make. Later on, someone told me it was probably a deer in heat.

Hiking back from Strbacki Buk waterfalls (try to pronounce it… took me quite a few tries, prolly lost the skill by now), I got company from another doggie showing the way. And got another ride back all the way to the main road. To view the sun slowly setting over the old town in Ocasan.. and just on my way to Kulen Vakuf, I got another spontaneous ride (this time, I did not see a lynx, like yesterday). To arrive in Kulen Vakuf just to see the sun set over the fort (with the moon sickle above it) and the river..

At the guest house where I was the only guest, and the lady didn’t speak english (my bosnian is very slowly improving…) I told where I hiked today. The conclusion was I obviously was in need of a lot of calories :). And got crunchy pancake is filled with honey, nuts & apples and very yummy.

Impression – The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

Arrived in Mostar safely and yes, got a good internet connection & a great (new!) hostel with a very friendly host and a gooooooooood shower.

Had one hell of an amazing time hiking in the mountains in Zabljak and Sutjetska. And today a crazy day of hitchhiking from Sutjetska to Mostar. Did I already mention my guardian angel? He must be banging his head against the walls again :).

At the busstation in Foca, again, that hospitality & friendliness. Though I speak like 3 words of bosnian, and most people don’t speak english or german, the busstation chef not only got me a relatively cheap ride to where I was supposed to stay, about 30km more south, but also threw about two kilos of fresh prunes in a bag of the huge carton box he had in his office to give to passengers (No pesticides he kept telling me 🙂 ). I will so have to get used to “normal” hospitality back home.

This time I was in Sutjetska on my own, and on my own two feet. Not with a jeep like last year. Though my goal was the mountain of Maglic, this was too much for one day on foot. One day, I WILL make Maglic..

The Czech people I met hiking with full backpacks up towards Maglic, and we chatted and chatted, so even though they were a lot slower because of their heavy backpacks, I stuck with them, and said goodbye when they were preparing to make camp. The officially restricted path into primeval forest Perucica with the remains of another partizan monument wasn’t actually guarded, so I sneaked in for a couple of 100 meters until it became too overgrown, and I didn’t want to damage anything there. Made it down just in time again, and back before nightfall to the place where I slept, thx to (again) some people who just stopped and offered me a ride.

Since I promised my host in Sutjetska to text her that I got safely back down from the mountains, but my phone died after being completely drowned by the hiking-in-the-rain in Durmitor, and no internet connection, I had to find some sort of human contact. So I hiked back in the pitch dark, over a scary, scary, wobbly bridge of which I knew from daylight, was full of holes in the wood, towards the main road. Here I found a restaurant where the cook not only spoke dutch, but turned out he used to live 3 streets away from where I lived in Rotterdam. And I got another variation of the fried cheese, or “kaassoufle” as the cook called it.

Went back through that same pitch dark to the guest house where I was staying, and spend the night looking at simply amazing stars. It being pitch-dark has the advantage of being able to see the milky way (I forgot it has actually a lot of different colors), and just too many stars to recognize the star signs. Even caught the last bits of what is actually a minor meteor storm…

Next day, I left Sutjetska. Took a quick peak at the partizan Monument in Tjentiste, since I was near anyway. Again, people from a little coffee shop down didn’t speak english or german, but too friendly, and guarded my backpack when I went up here in the burning sun.

Got a ride from a truck carrying fresh ALIVE baby fish in the back. Because of the blazing sun, we had to stop regularly to check if the fish were still alive (and boy, were they trying to jump out of those tanks!), and feed them oxygen from rusty gas tanks.. The truck driver didn’t speak english or german, but he was so happy every time I wowwed about the next view on the dried-out mountain highlands of Bosnia (those views… those VIEWS).

The truckdriver dropped me off at Gacko since he was traveling to the sea to deliver the young fish to be grown up. Got a very fast ride from Gacko to Nevisinje from 3 bosnian guys. None of them spoke english or german, so I had to improve my little bosnian fast.

Got a ride from a wonderful guy who not only gave me the ride, but insisted on buying me good bosnian coffee on the way, insisted on inviting me in his house for food and more coffee, and gave me two kilos of grapes and figs before he dropped me off close to the hostel in Mostar. And though we didn’t speak each others language (he had 3 words of english and german, I had, again, to pick up bosnian fast… hitchhiking is a frikkin good way to be forced to learn a new language quickly!), we got along really well, he had great music in his car too :). The hospitality here is making me feel reaaally guilty. (and no, not once I could sense some “hidden meaning” behind his friendliness)

Everywhere in Mostar you see posters with “Refugees are welcome”. Yep, even though Bosnia isn’t the richest country *cough*, they ARE welcome here. Just as the host of the hostel where I stayed said, yep, we know what it is to live in a country at war.

In Mostar, at the ruins near the bridge, someone called me “hippie girl” and invited me to smoke pot….. “Hippie girl”. HUMPF. I’m 48, all dressed in black, with worn down boots, smelly and sweaty.. and I’m a “hippie girl”?

A portuguese couple from the hostel offered me a ride from Mostar to Sarajevo. Original plan was to go to Kravice first, but since that was 3 hours back end 3 hours forth, we decided against it, and in favor of another tourist attraction, a 15th century monastery half in a cliff near Mostar. Well. tourist attraction indeed. But beautiful, yep.

Between Mostar and Sarajevo, every time you think: I’ve seen enough beautiful mountains, I’m immune to it by now, there’s another view to prove you wrong…

Sometimes during my trip even I myself thought, FUCK, I’m insane. Hitchhiking on my own through wild, empty mountains and hills in a country I don’t speak the language….

But I keep meeting the most wonderful people…

Impressions – A Tourist Haven in Montenegro

Tara Bridge. The bridge is amazing, it’s actually a WOODEN bridge… All of a sudden I’m in tourist country. Souvenir shops and the like. Yep, time to leave Montenegro, though I most definitively will come back.

The busride was fun, again, the hospitality and helpfulness of the people here is amazing. They helped me make sense of the bus system, for the second leg to Tara bridge (turned out I the bus I took from Kolasin actually went further in the right direction) I didn’t have to pay. Left the minibus with telephonenumbers of people who said I should please stay with them the next time, and should consider moving there. And the couple I stayed with in Kolasin not only brought me to the bus station, but they packed me a HUGE lunch with still warm, self-made sweet bread (sort of an “oliebol” for the dutchies) and home made plum mousse. I keep getting adopted….

Zablak/Durmitor Park used to be a popular holiday destination for eastern europe people. Therefore, there’s still a lot of abandoned hotels and the like around. For the “new” western (more spoiled?) tourists, they build new hotels and apartment buildings. Good thing I immediately started hiking, since the next day these mountains were hidden in the clouds. But it was VERY touristic… Did one day of hiking and decided to move on.

The mountains are extremely beautiful, but even after the tourist season is actually over, the place is still crawling with them. And the village looks like it gets a lot of them, unfortunately. So, no matter how beautiful it is, and again, the people here are so friendly it’s almost scary, I will leave for Bosnia on Friday. I sorta prefer the less busy tracks, such as Mrtvice canyon where I actually left a piece of my heart. A Serbian couple I met told me later Mrtvice means Little Dead Things.. Weird I always find the morbid things the most attractive 🙂

The internet connection here is not trustworthy, also the electricity doesn’t work 100% of the time (and the water switched off between 22 and 6). Here up in the mountains the people are preparing for winter, it’s almost zero degrees at night and the wooden furnace, which is used both for cooking and heating the house, is blazing hot.

It was a rainy day in Durmitor National Park. The bad side was the paths were slippery and the clouds hanging too low, so no beautiful views, & I had to cancel any ideas about hiking the high mountains. And well.. I was wet to my socks.

The good thing was, even though the village was crawling with tourists, only hardcore idiots like me were still doing the trails. Plus, my feet loved me for not doing elevations of over 1,000 meters. Plus, actually walking THROUGH the clouds has its own charm. So I only did three of the seven lakes.

Crno Jezero (Black Lake) was a beauty, even without a view on the huge mountain peaks around it (good thing I saw them yesterday), and the easiest accessible. The other two were actually a disappointment after that, though the hike through the misty forest was very beautiful (though…. yes.. WET).

The second Lake, Zmijinje Jezero, in Durmitor National Park is not as deep blue and beautiful as Crno Jezero, and a lot harder to find and reach (especially because the forest paths were slippery from the rain), still very beautiful.

The third lake was Barno Lake. Well, actually more a swamp. A very dutch lake imho. I was already pretty wet after 7 hours hiking in the rain. Trying to reach this one and sinking knee deep in the swamps soaked my socks.

Utterly btw. WHY do I tend to pick places with names with dark associations? Crna Gora (Black Mountain), Crna Glava (Black Peak), Mrtvice Canyon (the canyon of little dead things) and now Crno Jezero, Black Lake?

And last but not least :(. Sitting with my hosts in their living room I saw what the rain did to the refugees in Belgrade… I tried talking some german backpackers, who were still undecided where to go next, one of them wearing a “Refugees Welcome” shirt, into going there & volunteering. I still sorta feel bad about traveling on for my own leisure, & not staying in Belgrade or Budapest to try to support them.

But one of my plans when I go back home, is not only to try to find a way to get necessary stuff (of which we have more than plenty) on a structural basis to Belgrade, but maybe, if the situation continues, or worsens, to apply at my work for a 3-month “sabbatical” next spring/summer, and go there..

Leaving Zabljak by minibus. The roads were good in Montenegro, notably worse in Bosnia, where I had a good view from the window of the minibus HOW close we where to the edge sometimes. Crossing the border and getting a stamp in my passport without any trouble…

Impressions – How to block a hiking trail

Hiking in Biogratska National Park, over the high mountain valleys towards Crna Glava. Almost reached the top, looking down at a mountain lake, and a view on the huge mountain ranges surrounding it in any direction.

Crna Glava. Started by taking the “red” relatively easy path up, taking the “orange” difficult path over the mountain tops back. The map didn’t tell me they put a television tower right on top of that path.. which resulted in me balancing on the edge between rusty razor wire on the right and a fall deep down to that nice lake on the left. So, as soon as I saw a gap in that fence, I went through. On the other side, I saw a sign you were not allowed to trespass or to make pictures… Well, I did both :). Good thing I came from the other side..

Impressions – Mrtvice Canyon – The “Canyon of Little Dead Things”

The good luck I’m having on this trip is getting close to truly absurd, or my guardian angel is getting way too good in his job (he’s pretty well-trained anyway). It’s too weird, I do stuff most people with common sense wouldn’t even start thinking about (going up slippery mountains just after a cloudburst, yes, alone, hiking (yes, alone) into a canyon the tourist office deemed too risky to not do in a group, hitchhiking after dark in a country where I don’t speak the language) and I experience the most wonderful stuff and meet the most awesome people…

Today I met a 60+ guy, the last guy still living in his village. I had to walk over his land to get to my goal of today. So, within 2 minutes, I sit in his orchard, with a cat on my lap, tasting his self-made raki, honey from the local bees, and a few fresh apples. Within no time, we exchange life stories, and I almost forget I wanted to hike. He walks me to the right path, and tells me he’ll make food for me when I come back. Since I still would need to hitchhike 35 kms back, I didn’t want to say yes. I start descending to Danillov Most, a medieval bridge. Not easy to find, you had to fight a few bushes 🙂 The road crossing the bridge didn’t lead anywhere, just to forest paths.

I have a most amazing hike in that hidden canyon… Mrtvice Canyon. Later some people told me it translates to “the canyon of little dead things”. Well…. it sure is alive: the climate in the canyon is steady all year around, warm and VERY wet. And no people, so nature can go wild. The trees grow beards, the moss can grow wildly, and create a true “Moss Cathedral”. To get there, you have to cross some private property, and the owner hung signs everywhere to point this out to the few people trying to reach the canyon. I didn’t meet him, and anyway, the wonderful elder guy who lived at the beginning of the canyon and invited me in his house had given me a “freepass” 🙂

I found the “Gate of Wishes”, a strange rock formation with a view on the unreal blue water of the river. This is where I met the only other hikers, who were followed by some local puppies :). And this is where I left a piece of my heart…. One of the most hidden treasures (& not easy to find!). The path I was taking was not risky at all, just, well… don’t stumble :). Made by the partisan army during WWII. Very grateful to them, since otherwise I couldn’t have hiked there. It’s not a canyon for rafting. Water, however, always finds a way. No matter how big the rocks are which are trying to block its flow. Sometimes, you only realize the size of a block of stone in the river in comparison with the trees around it.

Going out of the narrow part of the canyon, found a way down the forest to the old wooden bridge (with roman fundaments!), had to get up through more bushes again and another sorta-bridge made out of a few logs. Again, no roads lead from or to it, just forest paths.

It’s close to dark when I pass his house, but I just had to say goodbye to him. Within 1 minute however, I sit in his orchard, with a cat on my lap, a fresh huge cup of turkish coffee, that honey, great cheese of the local cows, and more apples. And the guy tells me he’s very sorry, but he doesn’t offer meat, since he’s a vegetarian, and all he needs he gets from his garden, or trades (he makes his own raki.. good stuff.. even in montenegro he sells it for 20 euros/liter).

Ok, how lucky can you get? In the middle of nowhere, I meet a vegetarian… a 60+, almost toothless raki-maker, who pretty soon after I trespassed discussed the situation of the refugees in europe with me… Oh, and he has a well-equipped guesthouse in the middle of nature. He doesn’t “run” it, since he asks no money for it, maybe a donation or what people are willing to pay. This guy, who grew up in the half-wilderness in a country like Montenegro, is a vegetarian, and lives the principles of the solidarity economy to the max..

Of course, it gets really dark, so he gets me in his 42-year old, Never would have found it if not local people stopped their car and gave me directions, Tito-car, drives me to the bigger road, and no, he will stay with me until I get a ride.. Which I in the end got from two Montenegrin police guys after their shift :). And I say goodbye to another friend I just made (though I guess from his side, and the amount of pats on the head (!) he gave me, I got adopted…)

And I already was so lucky today… After two busdrivers refused to take me with them to drop me in the small village on the road between Kolasin and Podgorica, I decided to hitchhike. After all, I got a spontaneous ride when I came back from the mountains in the dark yesterday. Got a ride pretty quickly from a guy who I made really happy because of me constantly omg-ing when we turned around the corner & the next beautiful mountain view. He dropped me off in the village, after asking in a local pub where it was best to drop me. Started walking (I had a vague internet description, and knew the path would be hard to find), a few cars drive by, stop, and ask me where I want to go. In between two old iron bridges, I walk past a woman waiting near a crossroad, turns out one of the drivers stopped there, and asked her to give me directions in english.. Never would have found it if not local people stopped their car and gave me directions.

And these are just a few examples… I keep meeting such absurd friendly people… it almost scares me 🙂

Impression – The magic trees of Biogratska

Got off the train in Kolasin, Montenegro and immediately stunned by the view on the mountain ranges.

Almost missed my stop because two kids age 4 and 5 were teaching me serbocroatian (montenegrian?) while playing memory on my laptop, and having a chat with a young guy about what happens to “west-balkan” refugees in Germany. I wasn’t too positive I’m afraid. The whole wagon helped me drag my stuff together and get off the train in one piece, and with my backpacks packed & closed tightly 🙂 (luckily after delivering the stuff in Belgrad they were a lot emptier & lighter).

First day I hiked in Biogratska National Park. A forest untouched by men for 600 years, with many magic trees.

Trees like towers, tree stumps with lots of spiderwebs which make a beautiful sight in the last rays of sunlight. Some lost EU-financed project: and observation tower which was not officially accessible (and the view was actually not that spectacular.

So I go UP those mountains. I can’t help myself. If I see a mountain, everything in me urges to go UP.. UP.. UP…  And end up with coffee at a mountain hut near the top of Mount Bendovac. If I had known before of this “eco village”, I would SO loved to sleep in these little mountain huts, and then, hike on to the next mountain over the high valleys. The last few meters up to the top of Bendovac itself, I kept telling myself, up a Berlin staircase to the 4th floor is worse…
The sun is slowly going down, I always slightly miscalculate. So I leave. I look back at Mount Bendovac while doing a quickie around the center lake, realizing I was actually up there. But I made it down before dark, where I got a ride from a ranger back to civilization.

Back at the guest house, there’s a montenegrian kitty waiting. She blatantly puts herself in the door of the house where I sleep. She can. and WILL not be avoided or ignored. Her meow is… well…somewhere between ear-piercing and very demanding. Yep. She owns me and every other guest. My companion at breakfast & late at night after hiking. How come the freaky cats always pick me.

Blurp – Thunderstorm

Flattened & deafened by the Swans, step outside & the thunderstorm was just approaching.

Best strobo ever, the whole sky lighted up, letting my sweat-drenched hair do some independent headbanging in the wind, see bolts of lightning try striking the Fernsehturm, and thunder trying to be louder than my slight tinnitus. Lying down in the rain watching the sky is a wonderful way to cool down until I was soaked to the bones. Was so smart to hug the still very warm stones of Volksbühne to prevent me from getting a cold.