Rainy day reflections, Zagreb, 2007

Mannequin Monday 11

It’s summer’s dog days, a perfect time for Mannequin Monday to make some time for reflection.

Too serious?  OK, never mind. Just wanted to try something different, a break from the bruised and battered figures that have featured here since this series began in the early days of June.

This was taken during a light rain in Zagreb when my attention wasn’t on the (gasp!) mannequins, but rather on the tram that’s about to pass. My apologies.

If you’re new to this weekly series that’s taking and breaking the internets by storm, you can and should catch up here. Enjoy and please tell all your friends!

By the way, this image, snapped on 4 July 2007 in the Croatian capital, also serves at today’s Pic du Jour, the 211th (!!) straight. In yesterday’s I asked for some advice: if you have a moment, I’d love your thoughts.

Mali Losinj, Croatia, from the bay

Mali Lošinj Revisited, from Afar

Ljubljana is generally empty of locals for most of July and August. Most head off to spend some holiday time on the nearby Croatian coast and islands, either in Istria in the north, or further south in Dalmatia. In that sense, I’ve never been a very good Slovenian.

I’ve been based here for more than ten years, and not counting two work trips to Split, I’ve only made it to the coast south of the border twice for anything remotely resembling a holiday. And even then, it was only for a few short days each time. This year won’t be any different.

So I decided to revisit, if just briefly, the town of Mali Lošinj, pictured here, on the island of Lošinj. This was taken in Spring 2009; a brief notebook entry on the island is here, another on the neighboring island of Susak here, and a 35-second review of the Hotel Apoksiomen here.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 206th (!) straight, was snapped on 06-May-2009. Please click on the photo to view the full uncropped version.

Trg Republike at dusk, Split, Croatia

Trg Republike, Split, Croatia (Pic du Jour)

A quiet moment on this large square surrounded on three sides by attractive neo-Renaissance buildings known as the Prokurative. With a population nearing 200,000 –its metropolitan area is home to about 350,000– Split is the largest city on the Dalmatian coast and the second-largest city in Croatia.

Split, Croatia, 12-Feb-2008
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Cablegate in the Balkans – And the winner is:

Croatia, apparently.

[NOTE: New link to cablegate site is http://213.251.145.96/cablegate.html ]

Of the 251,287 secret US Embassy cables which Wikileaks began making public yesterday, 2,053 relate to Croatia, according to the ‘Cables by Country‘ graphic on Wikileaks Cablegate website. Bosnia & Hercegovina is next at 1,419, followed by Serbia & Montenegro, with 1,244. Slovenia comes in a distant fourth with 947, with Macedonia (783) and Montenegro (503) bringing up the rear.

While it’s not as high on the list as its southern neighbors, Slovenia-related cables were the first to score points in the media avalanche which began last night CET. Advance material supplied to The Guardian, Der Speigel, Le Monde, and The New York Times included in passing a mention of a strongarm deal the US offered to Slovenia. Most of the accounts went something like this:

The (New York Times) also cited documents showing the U.S. used hardline tactics to win approval from countries to accept freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. It said Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if its president wanted to meet with President Barack Obama and said the Pacific island of Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees.

Milan Balažic, spokesperson for Slovenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied that any such deal making transpired, insisting that Slovenia cannot accept Guantanamo detainees on legal grounds and that PM Borut Pahor does still have a  visit to the US scheduled for next year. The statement I read didn’t specifically say however, that Pahor would be meeting with Obama. [See update for the ‘real’ story in this, according to the actual cable.]

As of 19:30 CET today only 243 documents have been published so far; nothing Slovenia-related has been posted yet. According to the Cablegate site, the documents will be released in stages over the next few months.

Updated 30-Nov @ 11:00 CET – Not sure how much time I’ll find for updates here; I’ll try to post any applicable (former Yugoslavia) links I come across via twitter.

Susak Notebook

Dolphins as PR/tourism icon are everywhere in Mali Lošinj. So it made my day to see a school of 10 or so during a relatively brief boat ride to Susak, a small island about 10 nautical miles southwest of Mali Lošinj.

Only about 200 people live on the island year round. It’s a quiet place, relaxing. It appears that it’s been that way for some time and quite likely will stay that way. There are a small handful of stores, restaurants and cafés – most were still shuttered in mid-May — but absent are night clubs, large or even medium-sized hotels, and most conspicuously, roads.

There are no cars on the island; the only motorized vehicles I saw were a few small tractors hauling smaller trailers loaded with supplies which arrived on an afternoon boat. Otherwise, wheelbarrows, or karijole, appear to be the device of choice to push things around. I spent most of a quick coffee break observing one man, in his late 60s or early 70s is my guess, pushing 15 liters of red wine in his karijola. He stopped quickly at the café, enjoyed a coffee and a piece of baklava, and was on his way in less than 180 seconds.

I can understand quite a bit of Croatian, but am hardly fluent. Nonetheless, I did notice that the locals used a very distinct dialect, one I’ve never heard before. The island’s first inhabitants were the Illyrians; the majority of their surviving descendents left the island in the late 1940s after Croatia became part of Yugoslavia, and emigrated primarily to Hoboken, New Jersey.

It struck me as an interesting place to spend some time for a longer anthro/ag/geog/etc research project, if one was looking for such a thing. You can choose to be very isolated here, but with the luxury of a quick commute to the mainland which also happens to be an island. I came on a day trip, spent just a few hours, but long enough to want to return, at least for a few days. This type of seclusion, remote but still not that far removed, is rare, and fascinating at the same time.

Quick plug for our ship’s captain, Luciano Magazin, who operated one of about a dozen or so boats with daily departures to nearby islands from the port at Mali Lošinj. The cost for the trip, roughly an hour each way, is 100 KUN (13.66 EUR/ 19.16 USD), and he offers an on-board lunch for an additional 80 KUN (11 EUR/15 USD). Definitely worth it. We enjoyed a variety of local and fresh pan-fried fish, a hefty green salad, and a delicious potato/spinach dish, all bottomless portions, plus plenty of red and white wine. And although it isn’t quite as good as Brkinska (none is, really), the welcome glass of slivovec (plum brandy) at a few minutes after 10 was quite tasty.

Some more of my pics here, and here’s a terrific link for plenty more info:.

(Visited mid-May 2009)

dolphins 03, originally uploaded by pirano.

May pic(k)s

This is the Pula Arena (or amphitheatre, or coliseum), in the Istrian city of Pula, Croatia. Built in the 1st C. AD, it’s the sixth largest of 200 surviving Roman arenas. The last time I visited here was 32 years ago.

Well maintained these days, at its peak it was able to accommodate more than 20,000. There’s a nice little museum on the premises (admission 40 KUN/EUR 5.53/USD 8.16/), an absolute must stop.

The rest of my personal dandy dozen or so from the month of May, shot in Losinj, Croatia, and various spots around Slovenia, are here.

Previous: [Apr 09] [Mar 09] [Feb 09] [Jan 09] [2008]

Pula 01, originally uploaded by pirano.

Hotel Apoksiomen, Mali Losinj, Croatia, from the bay

35 second Hotel Apoksiomen (Mali Lošinj) Advisor

Hotel Apoksiomen
Riva Lošinjsih Kapetana I
51550 Mali Lošinj, Croatia
Visited 5-9 May 09

Very nicely done. Casual semi-stateliness. Friendly, pleasant staff, night and day. It’s named after a 2nd or 1st C. BC bronze statue found between the islands of Lošinj and Veli Orjuli where he rested beneath the waves for about 1800 years. He’s being cleaned up at the moment and is expected to return to Mali Lošinj next year.

A terrific deal at 59 EUR/night via HRS, 10 EUR more for a portside room; two have balconies. Mine was nice. Great views and lots of sun. Don’t expect that price during the summer months.

It’s part of Vienna International group, which also has properties in Poland, The Czech Republic, Germany, France, Austria and Romania, and which claims that the cheapest rates can be found directly from their website. If not, they’ll pay you the difference. I didn’t check out the claim, but you can here.

Wifi throughout, and it was free via my HRS booking. Breakfast was OK+.

One complaint: They really need to fix that large bump in the floor that divides the breakfast room in half. That’s not something a guest needs to be wary of when carrying a cup of coffee and a glass of juice across the room before 8 in the morning. OK? Thanks.

hotel apoksiomen 2009-05-06-Mali Lošinj 02, originally uploaded by pirano.