A Flight Through Italy and the Balkans

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These are some photos of my highlights and lowlights of a trip through Italy, the countries that used to be Yugoslavia, then into Bulgaria, Romania and ending here in Budapest, Hungary. It’s just a quick spin to give you a feel about these great places with all kinds of different people. Lets go…

These images are of the Air Ethiopia jet that flew me into Rome on February 1st.

As I’ve said before, “when in Rome do as the Romanians do.” But then there were these other guys doing I didn’t know what to get tourist money.

 

But after being in Africa for a long time, this didn’t seem so strange, so I just carried on.

So I just took in a few of the cliche sights.

 

And a horse.

And some of the beauty of Rome.

One of the great stupid phrases is “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Of course it wasn’t. You don’t get buildings like this overnight. If someone says that to you, I recommend saying: “ya, it took just about as long for it to fall apart. Decadence had a big part in the fall of Rome.” See what happens.

Further up the road a place called Venice caught my attention. Mostly because I had to look for bridges on a regular basis.

Venice is one of those places that far supersedes the photos. Walking its backstreets is quite magical. It is a place designed when boats and water ruled the world.

 

 

This aerial view (borrowed from the Internet) shows the beautiful symmetry of Venice.
 

When near Trieste, I had lunch with a good friend at this restaurant which had the Ferrari of meat slicing devices. Italians take things seriously.

 

This is the lighthouse at Trieste. Again, the Italians know about style.

And I had the great fortune to tour a place called Palazzo Coronini Cronberg, in Gorizia. That’s in that corner of Italy where it meets Slovenia and Croatia. The Palazzo was built in the 1500’s and recently refurbished to show what day to day life was like way back when.

This is the breakfast table.

A weapons room and a meet and greet room (so long as you like green)

But what really struck me was the vast reserve of antiques stored in the attic.

 

 

 

 

Jumping over to Ljubljana, Slovenia, winter was just letting go.

 

 

 

And when leaving Ljubljana, this is the cup of coffee I happily received before jumping on a train.

The route to Zagreb was still in winter.

 

When in Belgrad, Serbia this communist-era building showed a high tech light show from five windows.

Much further down the road I travelled the coast of Montenegro.

I call the place Mountainegro, because it has amazing and peaky mountains.

These shots are from one of its popular beach towns call Budva. You’ll note the Eiffel Tower replica.

 

 

The road from Montenegro to Bosnia is full of steep valleys.

 

The capital of Macedonia has some fun streets.

 

 

 

Zipping over to Sofia, Bulgaria the streets were alive with folks enjoying spring.

 

 

In the spring the folks of Bulgaria have a great tradition. For a month or so before spring arrives people give each other wristbands of red and white. Then, when they see the first tree in blossom, they put the wristbands on that tree.

 

A side trip from Sofia got me to one of the most famous monasteries in, well, I’m not sure. But it’s famous, nonetheless. They call it Rila.

Note the wall murals that show the folks what torment awaits them in the afterlife, if they don’t follow the rules being promoted by the monastery. And by such nasty beasts, too.

After Sofia, I went to an ancient city called Plovdiv. This is what I saw:

 

 

This statue of a guy with his hand to his ear is actually real. Sure, it’s bronze, but it celebrates the life of a guy who was, to some, the village idiot. But to those who commissioned the statue, he was an anchor, the heart of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He lived there and he was hard if hearing.

 

And these are the paintings of one of Bulgaria’s most famous artists, Ziatyu Boyadzhiev. I hadn’t heard of him either. What’s amazing is that he had a stroke part way through his life, so had to start painting with his left hand. These are from his left-handed period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in Plovdiv, Bulgaria the Romans thought an amphitheater would be a good idea.

 

A reminder to you: I am not going from town to town with this story. I’m skipping through the trip I’ve done here for the last three months.

So lets continue. These are the highlights and the lowlights.

After way too many bus rides, when I was crossing the border from Bulgaria to Romania, I had the chance to get back into trains. I gladly jumped at that. This is the train station in Ruse, in northern Bulgaria.

Great old building. Almost nobody around. These places of emptiness do make me sad. Like the many deserted factories, with their broken windows and rusting limbs. So much of Bulgaria and Romania has now gone idle. The economic doldrums have set in. Sad to watch so many people with one choice, to sit around.

There’s always lots of telling images around train stations. These dogs need food.

 

 

Some aging bobsleds in Romania.
 
An image of the square in Brasov, Romania.
And finally in Budapest, Hungary these are a few of the sights.

 

This is a fountain dedicated to one of the great kings of Hungary shown celebrating his killing of an elk.

 

This is my favorite lunch spot.

 

 

And just when you thought you’ve seen everything that’s part of the tourist trade, there’s always one more invention to get tourists to spend money. That’s right, a bar that is pedalled by the patrons as they drink from the keg.

 

And as a final note, this is a painting from the National Gallery. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.

 

 









About This Place…

"This website is dedicated to the many people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have suffered and died."

 

The writer was a journalist, prosecutor, and Canadian soldier who is now trying to help the people who live in the DR Congo.

 

The photographs and the commentary here are solely those of the writer and his pet dog named "Bark." The United Nations and MONUSCO have nothing to do with this website.

Similarly, the township of Puskokum in eastern Tennessee is equally not interested.