23 May 2007

Holy Dubrovnik Batman….

Every where I went in eastern Europe, I heard a common theme. If I go to Poland, go to Krakow. So that's exactly what I did. I wasn't sure what to expect in Poland. I mean, after years of hearing Polish jokes growing up as a kid, I could only imagine what this place must be like. I must say that the advice of going to Krakow was very, very good advice. For starters, Polish people are some of the friendliest I've met in my travels. Always wanting to help out even when they weren't obligated. We even took 2 cab rides and neither driver would accept a tip. We stayed at Momo Hostel in the old Jewish section of town along with about 45 German women all in their early 20's. It was tough but we got by J The town itself has a castle area surrounded by a large, fortified wall. Inside are several museums and churches, there is a story of a dragon that is attached to this area and there is even a large metal dragon sculpture just outside the wall. The architecture there is right out of the book for eastern Europe. Rows of buildings 3 to 4 stories high all painted different colors as you make your way down the ally. In the center of town is the large town square lined with restaurants and vendors alike with hordes of people all around. Unfortunately, the one day that we were there it was a bit rainy and cloudy the whole time. And with limited time we could only explore a few of the amazing restaurants and clubs that we found in abundance all over the town. Most of which were up to date with the latest designs and cutting edge ambiance. I'm not sure exactly what that means…..but you get the idea that they all seemed like very cool places to hang out and enjoy a meal or drink. It just seemed like you couldn't go wrong….
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When we left Krakow, we caught a flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I have heard in the past that the Croatian coast is something that needs to be seen. What I had heard was correct. Dubrovnik is a city that has so much to offer. Whether it's a stroll through the old town or hoping a boat out to one of the many, many islands around, you really can't go wrong here.
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The old town is an ancient walled city that has been revitalized and is now the focus of many tourists as well as multiple cruise ships. A 15 foot wide wall encircles the entire town and you are permitted to walk around the top of it for a small fee where you can soak up all of the breath taking views out over the town and surrounding ocean scapes. It takes just about 45 minutes to make it all the way around stopping for pictures here and there. Something worthy of note is that back in '91-'92 the Yugoslavian Army decided that the old town's walled city was a threat and proceeded to mortar the town destroying several buildings and damaging almost all of the roofs. You'll see below that most of the roof tiles are nice new red clay tiles that show little signs of aging. About 80 % of all the roofs in the town had to be replaced. Some buildings still lie in ruins as a reminder of the senseless attack. The port is also a spot where you can hop a quick ferry out to one of the many islands and is attached directly to the old town.
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On one of the islands we found dozens and dozens of peacocks. I was surprised at how close we could get without them being startled. We even had one show off and display their feathers in all his grandeur. During our hike the day before around the old town wall, we noticed a little café on the outside of the wall perched on the rocky cliffs below. It was just about 15 tables with umbrellas, offering a perfect view of sunset with the ocean crashing on the rocky shore about 50 feet below. The next day we venture to another island this time a little further away. On our boat ride out we passed what looked just like the new Zakim Bridge in Boston, but only half of it. This island was much larger and had more inhabitance than the first. Hiking straight across the island to the main beach in a hidden little cove we caught some sun and enjoyed our last few days in Croatia.
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After traveling with my friend from London through several countries, she fell in love with Croatia and decided that she was staying. Wanting to see some other friends in Munich I ventured on and made my way to Germany. Staying in the heart of Munich, there were people every where. Walking on the main drag from the train station to Marianplatz I saw plenty. Everything from clowns on stilts, to paparazzi, to members of the red cross descending from a church tower, to beer gardens full of people, to a soon to be bride with all of her friends being entertained by a swan on a bicycle, to an organized parade that was in protest of a new runway at Munich's airport which would accommodate the new Airbus 380, to finally, my old friend Sonja. It was good to see an old friend in a familiar city. While only there a few days I was able to explore all over and was even shown an area in the middle of town where the river and the concrete blocks underneath formed a stationary wave which is big for surfers from all over town. Surfing in the middle of a city….who would have thought.
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Getting up early I caught a 6:00 am train to Prague. I was in Prague 10 years ago backpacking around Europe, and I've always wanted to go back. It didn't take too much time before I found myself walking through the old town square over to Prague's Astronomical Clock. This is a huge tourist attraction as on the hour 4 animated figured appear and ring in the hour. According to the stories, these 4 figures represent that which is despised, death, vanity, Judaism and Turkish. Regardless of the meaning it's a huge tourist attraction, large enough for me to grab a picture of the crowd staring up at it. Next on the list was a trip to the café on the water with an amazing view of the Charles Bridge, followed by a tour of the bridge itself. Be sure to rub the brass plaque for luck as you cross the bridge, people would line up for the chance. With statues surrounding the bridge and vendors all around, the Charles Bridge is a place in Prague that you'll find yourself over and over again.
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Waiting in the tower on the bridge for sunset, I was able to capture a few key shots as the sun fell. I even grabbed some more from the street with the North Star shining bright….
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The last day was off to the castle on the hill. This brought back a lot of memories from 10 years ago. Sitting in that square watching a friend sketch the church spires and the buildings all around. There I was again 10 years later staring up at the magnificent building wondering where all the time went and where those friends are today. You could say I had a moment, but it was a good moment and it made me glad that I made the extra journey out to Prague once again. Leaving the castle I chose the path less traveled and ended up in the King's Garden, a pretty cool little place to rest for a spell and catch up on some reading. Then I ventured over to the park next door for the postcard view of the bridges in downtown Praha.
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Finally I hopped over to London to meet up with my friend and wait for my flight back to Boston. I did run around London but left the camera at home….hey…I needed a break! That and it was raining the whole time. Who knew….rain in London! Anywhoo……I did see the quick sites in town and made my way back to Boston. Now I am 2 days away before leaving for a trip to Peru with 10 other friends. In a few more weeks I should have some nice shots of the Inca trail and Machu Picchu. What a way to end an already unforgettable journey. And I honestly hope that most of you have enjoyed the pictures and the writing as much as I have enjoying taking them and presenting them to you. One more post to come….stay tuned….. 
 
-Brian

2 comments:

  1. awesome, awesome! i think the night shots from the islands off the coast of croatia are some of my favorites of this series - the exposure capturing the vibrant blues of the night sky and the surreal glow of the life on the streets - beautiful! thank you again for sharing your adventures and travels with all of us bucky! someone needs to get you a job at National Geographic so you can get paid to keep doing what you've been doing!

    Posted by lianne on 23 May 07 Wednesday - 11:08

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  2. thank you for sharing your incredible journey with us. Have fun in Peru!

    Posted by Luba on 07 Jun 07 Thursday - 19:58

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