Last Day in Sarajevo

Today is my last day in Sarajevo. My check out is 10:00 am so I am getting a later start this morning while I pack up. I snack on my leftover cheese and bread. Last night I remembered to carry my ziplock with me so I can have what I call purse cheese – a term I coined because I love ordering cheese plates but as a solo traveler it is too much dang cheese for one person. So I am not wasting I try to save some it to enjoy later if the temperature allows or I have a refrigerator in my room. I pack up and put my bags in the lobby to explore what I may have missed.

I had potato burek yesterday and today I try the one with meat. I realize it is a mistake because not being hungry since I already had morning cheese. They give me way too much burek even though I stress I want the small portion. Also it is very greasy. I throw a big amount of it away because I don’t think it will keep well while I explore town due to the excessive grease.

I wander around and see some things I missed previously.

I stop by the market. It doesn’t seem to be a busy day today. Also I don’t see booths available to sample local cheeses like I’ve read online. I wonder if COVID took this industry out?

I walk by the eternal flame of Sarajevo for the victims of the Second World War.

I visit a highly recommended Gallery 11/07/95 and I dont regret it. The museum is a display of photographs from mostly one photographer of the time of the war in the 1990’s. The first exhibit is the photographs of those brutally murdered in the massacre of Srebrenica in July 1995. These photos and the photos of the aftermath paint a clear picture of the horrors that happened. The audio guide is essential for this tour. After there is some Sarajevo advertisements and finally a film at the end called Miss Sarajevo. I took the 30 minutes to watch the documentary. It is a very powerful documentary that focuses mostly on the school kids and students during the war of the early 1990’s in Sarajevo, set to powerful music of U2. It made me emotional because I was finishing high school and starting college at the time of this conflict. I couldn’t imagine having to dodge bullets from snipers while trying to attend college classes. We see students doing just that in this movie. If you have a chance to watch it online then do so.

This is hard to see. Basically the UN failed this town.

The museum is so emotional I don’t have it in me to visit another museum today and learn about more atrocities. I go have an afternoon wine instead. I am still not hungry but I know with my train ride it will be a while before I can eat later so I stop to get cevapi once more. Again it is very good but very filling.

Pistachio cake thing

I pick up my bags and head to the train station. I assume the train station was a very nice place for the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics but unfortunately it has not seemed to be renovated since. The government has a hard time with infrastructure projects post war. While waiting for my train I get in trouble for taking a picture inside. I joke that the reason no photos are allowed because they don’t want the world to know they haven’t updated the train station since the Yugoslavian era.

Despite the shaky infrastructure I am sad to leave Sarajevo. I am certain I could have spent another 3 days here with just exploring local museums and other day trips. I must return some day.

Now I head off on the scenic ride to Konjic. The train ride from Sarajevo to Mostar is supposed to be one of the top train rides in Europe. (I stop half way in Konjic). Unfortunately I choose the wrong side of the train. The sun is setting on my side and between the sun blocking and the reflecting on the dirty window I don’t see as much. It is very beautiful on the other side of the train. So I say if you take the ride in the morning sit on the right and for afternoon sit on the left (facing the direction of travel).

I arrive in Konjic to my apartment rental. I can tell already I should not have done an overnight here (I almost eliminated this as an overnight and changed my mind when hotel alterations were challenging). It is slow season here and many things seem to be closed. It is cold out and no one wants to be out I guess. Thank goodness I am still full from earlier because I cannot find any restaurants that are catching my eye.

Dublin, Kilkenny, sheep dogs

Kilmainham Gaol

It’s my second day in Dublin and my friend is on her way. Her flight gets delayed a little so I get breakfast and get some trip planning done for my next set of adventures (note this morning I accidently book a ticket from the wrong airport in Croatia but more on that later).

Good but greasy sausage roll.

We are supposed to do one of the high end Guinness experiences today but we miss out because of airlines. Unfortunately this experience is limited and completely booked during her entire visit. They do work with us and give us tickets for all the other Guinness experiences instead and that is scheduled a few days from now on St Patricks day. More on that later.

I do score us tickets for the Kilmainham Gaol Museum that are hard to get last minute (they sell out a month or so in advance). I remain flexible to skip if she is too tired from her travels. She is up for it so we head out there soon after she settles.

Kilmainham Gaol is famous for holding prisoners during the many conflicts over the years. It is a very unique looking structure and many executions took place over the years.

After prison we head down Temple Bar to get the whole experience. The place is probabably always busy but it is especially busy tonight because it is St Patrick’s Day coming up. We stay for one beer and listen the band a bit. We then head to another historic bar that is way less crowded.

The next day we have a day tour scheduled. First stop is the town of Kilkenny, a very cute town. We get bad advice from our tour guide. She tells us an option is to visit and tour Smithwicks. It is bad advice since not only does the tour start late, the tour guide doesn’t seem to know his stuff and stumbles slowly, and the beer isn’t even brewed here anymore. We don’t even have time to drink our beers at the end because they are too slow to pour. We have to run back to our bus. In our minds it is a waste of our too short time. I will have to come back to stay in the town to truly experience it. We did see a nice rainbow though and learn about some agreement about turkeys.

Much more of the tour is hey look out the window at this thing while we drive past it fast. This is the number one thing that bugs me about bus tours, number two being ridiculously short stops. Here are some things I saw really fast.

Photo stop at the Wicklow mountains.

We visit an old monastic sight in glendough founded by St Kevin, we try to find the trail to view the nearby lakes but again after bad advice or directions we never find the trail start. We waste our time going the wrong way and staring at some sheep. I get some greasy fish and chips that I soon regret. I am already tired of fried foods.

Finally we reach the best part of the day, the sheep dog trails in Wicklow. We watch border collies round up sheep like it is in their nature to do. We also meet some lamb. Another day making it harder for me to not be vegetarian. They are so adorable.

We head to dinner, both wanting to avoid fried food, and stewed food, we find a place that has smoked salmon. I am a enjoying my salmon on Guinness soda bread.

Tomorrow is St Patricks Day so time to rest up for another long day.

Last hours in Girona

I am leaving Girona today to head to Barcelona. It is a quick train ride – less than an hour. Barcelona hotel check-in is later so I have some free time in Girona this morning. I take a morning walk and order a breakfast and a coffee. There is a flower market down the main shopping district. It seems like this market might have had more vendors in the past, perhaps another covid casualty?

There is a laundromat close to the hotel. This is a great opportunity to clean all my clothes one last time this trip. There is a nice view out the back window. I drop my bag with clean clothes back at the hotel to hold while I go out.

The Cinema Museum or Museu de Cinema has caught my eye so I decide to visit.

The museum starts with an introductory movie then you follow a series of interactive exhibits that build chronologically with the technical advancements.

The first exhibits are about the use of shadows.

I learn how they discover how to take images and make movement appear.

There are so many different cameras and projectors on display.

After the museum I walk around the city and notice a foam party in the park. Kids are digging it (no pictures out of respect).

I couldn’t resist one more stop at the Rocambolesc. I later discover this is an international chain so I have a feeling I’ll see this place again.

I stroll back to my hotel to grab my bag and head off to Barcelona. I will miss Girona. I like this quiet non-crowded town.

Day trip to Figueres

Dalí Theatre-Museum main atrium

Today I am taking a day trip to figueres. The draw in this small city is the El Teatro-Museo Dalí, an interactive art museum created by Salvador Dali. The museum contains traditional art pieces and some interactive pieces are coin activated or that you have to view at different angles to see the “trick” (for lack of a better word). It really is a sight to see. I spend most of today exploring the museum.

During this trip to Spain I have been booking tickets for major attractions in advance because I have feared things would sell out, but I didn’t really need to pre-book the Dali – Museum since there are tickets still available when I arrive and I end up waiting around a while for my start time – in this case I wish I would have waited until last minute.

While I am waiting I step into a nearby church and wander around the Teatro building.

Finally its time for my entry. I get to begin the wonderful Dali playhouse.

When you first enter the directions take you straight out to a courtyard where there is the first interactive exhibit. The museum quite busy inside but if you are patient enough you may get some alone time with certain exhibits. There is an order to the museum but no one really stops me when I decide to backtrack to revisit exhibits that were super crowded earlier. This exhibit, the rainy Cadillac starts a rain shower inside a Cadillac filled with mannequins when one puts a coin in the exhibit.

Naval Car. rainy cadillac

In the corridor circling the courtyard there are a number of sketches I found interesting.

In the large hall there is a picture off in the distance. When viewed up close it looks like a ladies behind from far away it looks like President Lincoln. The effect is hard to see with photos so I included a video.

There are a number of small galleries with other works of art.

Also Dali is entombed on site. You can find him in a darkened room.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Mae West room. From certain angles the room looks full of mismatched nonsense. If you climb up a set of stairs and look in just the right spot, all this nonsense forms a Mae West likeness. Initially I waited in a long line to see this effect. I later returned to the room almost empty. It pays to wander back and forth through this museum slowly.

Also in the Mae West room and other interactive rooms …

Example of artwork looking differently when reflected in metal
Photographs of Dali

Like I mentioned earlier there is no time limit so I walked through the entire museum a few times. Eventually I am tired and hungry so I find a place nearby and order an enchilada like dish.

I head back toward the train station. I’ve seen all I really want to see today in Figures.

Example of the reflection of a painting in the metal

Its been a long day. When I arrive back to Girona I don’t have it in me to walk back to my hotel from the train station. I decide this is a good time to rent a bike for the trip. It is easy enough to rent the bike and I take the same path that I walked previously. The only problem is finding a place to return the bike. The return station isn’t quite as close to my hotel as I would like.

At little later I grab a quick meal nearby. I head back to my room and enjoy the free champagne and try to figure out the room lighting system one last time. Tomorrow I make my last hotel change for this trip when I travel to Barcelona in the afternoon.

Wandering the caves of Sacromonte

This morning I walk the streets of Albaicín (Granada) on my way to wander around Sacromonte. I was introduced to the neighborhood last night when I attended a zambra flamenco show. Today I am heading up to a cave museum (Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte) for a lesson on the history of this intriguing neighborhood.

I first read about these cave homes through a fictional book series. In each of the books the protagonist has an adventure in different cities throughout the world. In one book a woman visits the hillside cave town of Sacromonte in Granada. From then on I decided I needed to see these caves in person. A summarized version of the history is that they were inhabited by Gitanos, or what some people refer to as Roma gypsies- but the word gypsy is not really a good way to describe the group of people of this heritage because of all the negative meaning associated by its use. We know now that Romani or Roma people is probably a better way to describe this ethnic group that settled in this area in the 15th century. They brought with them their distinct culture that is reflected in this part of the city.

To get to the cave museum I turn down the street I visited last night for my zambra flamenco show – another distinct Sacromonte thing. The mostly white washed buildings are built into the hill. I climb up a couple of groups of stairs to eventually get to the museum at the top.

A few feet from the entrance there are some poems on the wall.

Granada is hot but the inside of the caves is a comfortable temperature. You see why they were used.

Some of the caves are decorated as they would have been used for living. Individual caves are also used as mini-museums of their own, for instance there is one where they talk about the history of flamenco and another where you learn about the plight of the Romani people in Spain; It is very hard to read how they were mistreated as a group over time. There are also caves that show different skills like weaving and pottery.

Outside of each cave there are plants with diagrams explaining their medicinal use.

I walk along the side of the hill of the museum and get a spectacular view of Granada. Along the hill sides you can see it is almost desert like with plants you typically see in dry and hot climates.

For only 5 euro I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth. I am glad to have marked this off my to-do list.

I walk back down into another part of Granada in search of an authentic tapas place. Again the streets are quiet. It is the warmest part of the day. Most people probably are indoors at this time.

When I get to the major business district of Granada I admire the shades installed along the shopping street – they are very much needed in hot Granada. I need to send a photo of these to urban planners in Florida (hint hint….might be a good idea).

I finally find an authentic tapas restaurant, La Sitarilla, and it serves free portions with each drink you order. I probably could have sat there for hours trying a good number of dishes; but I only try two today because the servings were a good size.

There are still more things I can do in town but I have already visited everything on my must see list. I head back to my hotel to chill there for the rest of the evening.

I finish my evening with the dessert I have been eyeing (Casa Ysla Pastelería) and finishing off the bottle of wine I bought a couple days ago. Tomorrow I fly north to begin another adventure there.