Friday, January 27, 2012

Back in Skopje!

I had a great time with my mom in both Macedonia and in Italy! We had a blast. Of course, I already miss her, but we made some great memories.

Now I have two weeks of traveling to update you on, as well as catch up on my actual research blog and make more appointments and meetings for the reason I am here.

In other words, I make no promises how quickly the posts will make it up. No promises!

See you around the globe!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Once again, I will be gone...

Not only have I not done anything interesting really, but my mom will be in town for the next two weeks. And expect a bunch of posts after she leaves. Not only will we be exploring Macedonia, but we will also be going to Italy for 4 days! :)

I did go to the Vevcani Carnival, but I have to wait until I get together with Jen and Lizzie again- because I took videos on Jen's Flip camera while they took pictures of the festivities. That was a day!

See you around the globe!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ljubljana Day 2!

We once again split up on Sunday. We wanted to see separate things! I started out early with a lovely (pretty cold) walk to the Ljubljana Zoo! I had seen a card for it, and they had some animal feedings that looked interesting. Also, I knew the museums I wanted to visit wouldn’t take all day and I didn’t want to hang out at the hostel.

When I got there (about 3 minutes before they opened), I wrote down the feeding schedule for the day. Then I started wandering. For the first 30 minutes, I was the only person there, besides the workers. It was kinda cool. They had all sort of animals there! California sea lions, giraffes, an elephant, wolves, mountain goats, and meerkats! Some pictures for your enjoyment:

oh- the entertainment with breakfast is back. Pretty small showing today.

Then I walked back to center and to the ethnographic museum. They had four floors of exhibits. On the first floor was “Styled in Africa” which had original signs from hair stylists in Africa. They had different pictures that you could choose from to style your hair.

The second floor (this is US style, not rest of the world style), had a temporary exhibit on the Orinoco. It is a river basin in Southern Venezuela. This collection is the largest “and most beautiful” collection of ethnographic artifacts in Venezuela. It includes around 700 ritual items, jewelry, canoes, dishes, textiles, and baskets.

Then the third floor had one of their permanent exhibits “I, we and others: Images of my World.” It is “an exhibition about man and his place in the world; about personal, communal, and universal heritage- what it is, how it comes about, and what it means. It is a space in which to pause between everyday responsibilities, to contemplate yourself and others, to reflect on the world and the life we live. It is a space in which to ask questions and seek your own answers, a space for exchanging ideas and experiences. It is an exhibition that wishes to delight in questioning and which strives to bring about a simple joy and wonder at the lively multitude of images of many different worlds.” Or in the words of the lady at the front desk “It is about you.”

The top floor had a bunch of old stuff from Slovenian history: from chairs, to dresses, to cradles, to icons, to whatever else you can think of. There was also a section on “a reflection of distant worlds.” There was apparently a Slovenian guy who brought the story of Pocahontas back to Slovenia!
One thing I really really want to give props to this museum is how they dealt with stereotypes. I have been recently having a tough time in museums that deal with culture, because they often seem to "other" the other culture you are 'observing.' But this museum actually acknowledged them. They commented on how often museums often do that. Then they said to combat this, they will be show casing two items from their collection to show how often these museums do this. And they do this acknowledging that it is problematic. They showed, in these little special rooms that you had to wind around to get into, a shrunken head (with description on how to do it) and foot binding shoes in China.
Then I went next door to the second part of the National History museum (there are actually many different parts, not just two). This one had old print thingies on it. Yea, descriptive- but they weren’t that interesting. The second floor was better- they had old chairs and candlesticks. lol. There were also old chests of drawers and clocks. They were kinda cool. There was also info about a few famous Slovenian athletes. Then there was stuff about TOYS! They had those set things that chemistry students use to model molecules and stuff- who knew those would (1) be toys (2) already history!

I then ate lunch at the central atrium between the three museums located in that area. I went to go see if I could get into the Contemporary Art Museum- but it wasn’t free and I was just doing it to kill time. I don’t really understand modern art. If I can do it, it don’t really consider it art. Then I wandered towards the castle (after stopping at a church and getting batteries). The castle had been around since before the Romans. It has been everything from a house to a prison to barracks to a museum. In 1905, the city purchased the museum and 60 years later turned it into museum. I rushed up to the tower to get some pictures of the city before the sun set. Then waited about 20 minutes for the sun to set.
I also took some video:


Then I went to the Chapel, a few art exhibits and then to the Slovenian history museum. The castle is a MAZE. It is so easy to get lost in there! I got turned around sooo many times! But the museum was pretty cool. It took you through pre-Roman times to now. You need at least one hour to really appreciate this museum. And you need to do it early in the day, so you can stand and read all of the little excerpts. So much history, so much information. It was a little overwhelming, and at this point in the day I was tired of standing all day.

Mandrin Schweppes-aka Sunkist. The food was good, but my stomach had been acting up this whole trip (as before mentioned). We then caught a shuttle to the airport. It was driven by the owner of a transportation company who has a PhD and is working on a second one. Like where is This work ethic America?

See you around the globe!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ljubljana, Day 1!

We split up again in Ljubljana. I had been told my multiple people that there was a Free Ljubljana Tour at 10am, so I got up to go to the tour and hit the post office before hand for me and Jen. Together we had 26 postcards to mail. I was able to buy stamps for all of them and a collective one for Jen’s friend who collects stamps. The lady gave me “priority” stickers to put on all the post cards. I asked if I needed them, and she then said that “they are good.” So I put them on all put one of them (Ashley) to see if they all get there at the same time. I then went down to the Tourist Information center to buy the Ljubljana Tourist Card, which I highly recommend if you want to go to many different museums or attractions that are on the list. It was 30 Euro for 2 days, but when I did the math for all of the places I wanted to go, it was only like 2-3 euros more, and I figured I would catch a bus or something to make up for the other euros. Turns out that I used it way more than expected!

Well, I waited around for the tour, but they never showed. So I gave up and went to the City Museum of Ljubljana. IT WAS AWESOME! They had old Roman artifacts all the way up to independence in 1991. I started off with the “Faces of Ljubljana” exhibit. They showed how the family whose house the museum was located in had been. Complete with funny audio guide. They had the whole family tree, some jewelry, suit of armor, and other nicknack's.  The next room had an exhibit about the different women who had made an impact in Ljubljana. From the women who helped build the first stilt houses to the first woman mayor of Ljubljana (1930s?). You could listen/read an excerpt of their letter or diary and see things that they had used. Then the next room had an exhibit about the children and town during WW2. In 1942, the Italians encircled Ljubljana with a wire fence- the only town (according to them) to have this happen to. They were prisoners in their own city, but because of this they were able to preserve their monuments/buildings- why bomb an occupied city?

Did you know that in the past, the mayor had a throne? And the judges had a staff? I didn’t.

The old Roman part showed a bread oven, sewer and part of the old road. You need about 2 hours to really see this museum.

Next I started walking towards the next museum on my list, but by the time I made it back to the center, I was just in time to catch a boat tour! I learned a lot about the history of the city. Like, only citizens were allowed on one side of the river- and they could only build their houses two or three windows wide. But on the other side, they could build as big as they wanted to- they didn’t have to listen to the government. The river was drained as part of a reconstruction effort in the 70s? 80s? Sometime, anyway, they were worried that during the fast moving seasons of the river, that it would eventually erode the side of the river and collapse the city into the river. So when they were building a canal to help with drain off, they also drained the river and paved the bottom and built a slope. Now the river is a constant 5 meters (16 feet)deep. I also learned a bit about the different bridges that were built in Ljubljana throughout the centuries.

The Triple Bridge: When the city was being built up, traffic was getting too busy they needed more space. The architect Plecnik (he designed EVERYTHING in Ljubljana) decided to add two walking bridges to the one driving bridge, that way to not destroy the older bridge.

Dragon Bridge:  Completed in 1901, not designed by Plecnik, it is guarded by 4 dragons- the city symbol. The story goes that way back when, their was a dragon that was killed by a local boy who saved the city.

Shoemaker Bridge: back in the olden days, shoemakers used to set up on this bridge because it was over the river (and therefore there was  not taxed), and they could get more profit.

Lovers Bridge: recently built, but there had been a plan since Plecnik’s time, it i designed in the shape of a square. Since it has railings, unlike the other bridges, lovers are locking their love together on the bridge, and throwing the key into the river.

After the boat tour, I walked over to the Contemporary History Museum. It housed a temporary exhibit on women of Slovenia (but this was all in Slovenian, so I breezed through this floor). The second floor was their permanent exhibit- it started in WW1 and went until a little after Independence. Their was a nice guy there who played two movies specially for me! The exhibit went through the history of Slovenia during the world wars, a bit through the communist history, and a very little bit of the 1991 history. It was still pretty interesting, but there wasn’t a lot in English. (not that I expect the national museum to have stuff in another language, but just letting you know). This takes about 1 hour to see.

After the history museum I walked to the National Gallery, where I realized that I had left my souvenirs at the other museum. So I walked the 10 minutes back to the other museum then back to the National Gallery. The gallery had national artist's work. Some of them were pretty good. Some were haunting. Sometimes when the museums are in old palaces, you need to look past the artwork and admire the building that has been restored. It can be very pretty at times. There was also an exhibit of new acquisitions- some older stuff some newer stuff. This takes about one hour to complete.

Then I went off to the National History Museum (part one) and the Natural History Museum. They are located, currently, in the same building. The national history museum was very interesting. One room went through pre-historic to about the 16th century- the oldest flute ever found is in there. Along with fibulae, and other recovered things. Then there was a very interesting room. It was about the development of the Slovenian language. It was nice to see how they didn’t try to justify their language and history. It seemed like unbiased history. I liked it, it was refreshing. It traced the history of the development of Slavic languages, and specifically Slovenian.

I don’t like Natural History Museums. I know they are necessary, but I don’t like seeing stuffed creatures. I just shudder. But, it was included in the price of the card I had. The only cool part was the complete skeleton that they had discovered of a whale in a bay off the coast of Slovenia. It was basically complete! They had fun interactive exhibits for the kids in there.
Afterwards, I went back to the hostel, because I had about an hour before I was to meet Lizzie and Jen at the BALLET! We thought that we were going to see the Nutcracker. But instead we saw the Nutcracker-A Christmas Carol.
The Nutcracker - A Christmas Story Hungarian choreographer and director Yourija Vamos a "glistening snow, charming, cheerful and expectations of serious performance," with its domestic audience the magic again and again conjures up the December festive season. One of the most beautiful fairy-tale ballet by Marius Petipa, the librettist Mon Dumasovi renovation designed by Hoffmann's fairy tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,the director of a known upgrade the timeless Christmas story by Charles Dickens. In the foreground is a bitter miser who hates Christmas. Realizes dreams through injustice, which he did in life, repent and become a loving and generous man. Big Ballet is a performance hit with a deep message that people can make you happy and kindness and compassion towards others. Although the show, which is a real treat for the children's fantasy world,on stage SNG Opera and Ballet of Ljubljana from the premiere season of 2002 / 2003 saw nearly 60 repetitions over and over again until the last corner of the hall filled, it is perfect for all those who like to enjoy the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and ballet virtuosity.” From the website of the Opera and Ballet. It was actually pretty interesting.

Afterwards we went for Slovenian food! I had fried cheese, potatos and zucchini. Notice a pattern? We choose this restaurant because they gave us a free glass of wine! We also got cream rolls for dessert!


Then back to bed for a big day of exploring tomorrow!
See you around the globe!

Friday, January 13, 2012


We finally made it to Bled on Friday. We got up early and were going to catch the 8 am bus, but misjudged the time it would take us to get ready. So we decided to wait and go get the 8:30 bus. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes to walk form the hostel to the bus station. When we got there, we walked up to the counter and said “Bled.” We then had this conversation:

Her: The 9 am bus?
Me: isn’t there one at 8:30?
Her: Yes, but you have to change buses and it takes longer.
Me: o....k....

According to the bus station website the bus at 8:30 got us there just as quick at the 9, but who were we to argue with her. So we killed some time at the bus station waiting for the bus, when we got on it was pretty empty. I got to sit in the front seat and watch the Alps come towards me. Kinda cool. Just saying.

We stopped in a few stations along the way and I WISH I had gotten out at one and taken a picture. As we were rolling in, I glanced up and saw an add for the “bus pub.” Except for it was a bunch a elementary school kids looking out a school bus window with “Bus Pub” written in black on the top of the bus. No, you read that correctly. We stopped for 5 minutes and I debated getting out, but decided not to. So  so wish I did.

We made it to Bled in about one hour. We stopped at one stop that said “Bled” and I looked around, The bus driver turned around and said “Here town. Next stop lake. ok?” So we waited for the next stop. At the next stop he said “Here lake. Go that road to lake, and that road to castle.” We started off going to the lake. We had planned to walk all. the. way. around. the. lake. And climb up a few different viewing points, and the castle. I didn’t think I would make it through the whole day. It was very pretty lake. Not as pretty as Ohrid, but pretty none the less. Part of the attraction was that we were in the ALPS! I mean come on! Pretty awesome! It took us a long time to walk the lake. We tried to follow the map to get up to a viewing point, and the only thing I kept thinking was “this is a really bad idea. A really bad idea.” But I couldn’t tell Jen or Lizzie that I wanted to back out because they were too far ahead of me. So I just walked really slow and tried to find my footing. Luckily I didn’t get hurt, but I slipped a couple of times.

Lizzie went up to the top while Jen and I went down. Then we waited about 45 minutes for her sitting by the lake. It was cold. Then we continued walking around the lake. We came upon the national rowing practice for the Olympics. Then continued walking towards the castle.  There were some beaches and even a water park for the summer.

We walked up this cliff to get to the castle. Inside the castle there was a print making shop (complete with the first printed book in Slovenian), beautiful views, a small museum, and a wine shop (where you could bottle your own wine for 15 Euros).

Broken? Use duct tape!

First book in Slovenian
Then we walked back down the cliff and caught a bus to this island with a church that we had been walking around (for 12 euros. eek!). In one of the houses on the island they had a small museum with an exhibition of clay dolls with folk dress from around the EU.

Then there was a church, with a bell we could actually ring! Apparently it has some significance as a wishing bell, but at the time I didn’t know that.

We then took the boat back to the mainland and went to this Wine and Chocolate shop. Where we got to taste local wine that Lizzie really loved served to us by a Macedonian man from Prilep! I know weird huh? He came over in the army of Yugoslavia and then stayed to start a family. He goes back to Macedonia once a year. We bought some chocolate. Then with an hour to kill we went and ate Bled Cream Cake at the original place it was made. I’m not sure if this would have been famous if it wasn’t for the tourist advertisement.

But it took longer than anticipated and we had to run to the bus stop. But we made it! When we got back to Ljubljana, we just relaxed in the hostel and planned our weekend. :)