Sunday, June 23, 2013

Austria - y u so creepy?

Just came home from a draining weekend in Austria for Cricket tournament - Velden Sixes 2013 .. Found the hotel Waldschlössl on for Saturday night, without realizing that Latschach (where our playing field is) has a namesake city called Latschach ober dem Faaker See, just 14km apart from its brother.

You know somethings not quite right, when yours is almost the only car on road .. street lights are dim .. GPS can't trace address .. you ask drunk people for directions .. you drive through few km of jungle .. its full moon! .. hotel doors are open, with a note in German, mentioning your name and room number .. plenty of towels in room but no soap .. Wi-Fi password "silenceappartement" .. and the only thing missing - a dead body!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Norse-talgia: an epithet spontaneously occurred in my mind .. describes a state of addiction to visiting Norway and cherishing bucket-full of memories. A demented friend of mine who happens to live in Sweden is fully responsible for dragging people into annual Norwegian pilgrimage, hence causing Norsetalgia!

I first got a taste in June 2010 .. a week long itinerary through fjords starting from Norway's oil capital Stavanger to Hardangerfjord, Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord .. 3 years went by, I was busy in less fortunate Europe, while other "Norsemads" kept performing their annual duties, visiting Trolltunga, paragliding at Voss, modeling at Kjeragbolten .. all I could do was envy :(

June 2013 - the moment I set foot on this piece of earth again, I was made to realize that in these 3 years, Norway's splendor still comprehensively outshines collective beauty of several square miles I had covered in Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Europe! .. I for one have no more words to describe other than acknowledging the fact that Lord Almighty has created Norway an absolute gem on earth.

June 2013 - in its core, still a déjà vu of previous trip .. except BMW for Alfa Romeo .. cozy wooden cabin for camp .. clouds for sunshine at Preikestolen .. "different" drivers behind the wheels .. Trollstigen for Geiranger .. Atlantic Ocean Road for Flåm railway .. Heddal stave church for Atlantic Sea-Park .. BBQ for Peppes .. Cricket in Västerås for Bergen .. Splitwise for Billmonk .. many differences yet one striking similarity - Norsetalgia :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Slovak Easter, Polish May Day

Ironically, this year's Easter Monday coincided with April 1st .. perfectly coupled with misty, drizzly and snowy spring. To make it even more greyish and easterly, we decided to visit Eastern Europe. We reached Bratislava late Friday evening, checked in at luxurious NH Gate One (which probably was the only pleasant thing on this trip). Night-out attempt in city center was halted twice in the space of 15 minutes by Slovak cops, each time picking us solely on foreign license plates for a bloody alcohol test. The look on cop's face, when I told him I don't drink, was priceless though. A day later we had another encounter with them in Trenčin, this time forced to haggle a bribe of 10€ (initially 40€) for a parking flop. Shitty weather and Slovak cops didn't stop us from reaching as east as Spiš castle. The price we had to pay was to drive 9 uninterrupted hours back to Ljubljana through wet, muddy, icy roads full of potholes. Climax was reached when I commuted to work directly and fainted on my desk!

My obsession with the East iterated further around International Worker's day, when we agreed on visiting Southern Poland with a group of Slovene friends. As "work brings freedom" (Arbeit macht frei), we started with a tour of Auschwitz Birkenau museum. Scholars may not dispute the fact that large numbers of Jews, Soviets, Slavs, Gypsies and Hungarians were deported to the camp, and that many died there unfortunately under humiliating living conditions. But the compelling evidence that Auschwitz was an extermination center of mass killings in "gas chambers", has for decades only served Zionist agenda of covering their heinous crimes against indigenous Palestinians.

Done with Auschwitz, we moved to lively Malopolskie capital Krakow. Had coffee and Zapiekanke in Market square followed by a stroll around Wavel castle. Rest of the day (mostly in ticket queue) we spent visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine. Legend states that Princess Kinga, The Hungarian noble was about to be married to Prince of Krakow. As part of her dowry, she asked her father for a lump of salt, since salt was precious in Poland. Her father took her to a salt mine. She threw her engagement ring in one of the shafts before leaving for Poland. On arriving in Krakow, she asked miners to dig a deep pit until they come upon a rock. People found a lump of salt in there and when split it in two, discovered the princess's ring. Kinga had thus become the patron saint of salt miners in and around the capital.

Our final destination was Zakopane, the crown jewel of Tatras. After some struggle with language, a Polish grandma guided us to her cozy and affordable cottage. Zakopane's city center resembles food street full of 'Karczma's offering fresh local cuisine. Giving up on schizophrenic weather, We drove briefly through Wielka Krokiew ski jump, towards Prešov, experiencing stunning peaks, with an odd stave church in the middle of nowhere, crystal clear streams running parallel to 'Tatranska Magistrala'. Spiš castle surrounded by blossoming nature was revisited. After dinner with partial electricity, rest of journey to Ljubljana was a Deja vu from April, albeit me fainting on my own bed this time :)