Giant Rat mural in Ljubljana

Out and About Daily ~ For January 2, 2014

I think that huge creature on the wall is one of those giant post-Chernobyl rats. Given the size of the cloud that hovered over this part of central Europe back in 1986, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen more of these around Ljubljana.

This shot is also one photo of 14 that makes up the Inaugural edition of ‘Out and About’, a new project which, according to my list of New Year’s  resolutions, will be a daily feature both in my life and on my blog. The idea is to capture a bit of the everyday every day from wherever I happen to be, from the ravishing and exciting to the drab and mundane. Today, like this day, it’s definitely the latter.

To expedite the process, the photos will be snapped on my smartphone, undergo the most minimal editing possible and then uploaded to a separate daily album on my Google+ page. All my albums there are public so you don’t need to have me in your circles or even own a Google+ account to take a look. (But if you do, why not take a moment and add me right now?) Check out today’s entire 14-picture album here.

I fully realize that publicly committing to a daily upload is folly, but I’m hardly the first to make unrealistic proclamations in the days of January. I’ll try to post at least one on Piran Cafe with a link to that day’s album, but that’s not a promise at the moment. I’d rather surprise myself. Please wish me luck.

Upcoming travel plans? With the exception of a few days trips in Slovenia, I’ll be mostly in Ljubljana for the next five weeks. In February there’s a quick trip to the U.S. midwest on the agenda, and about five or six days in (hopefully) snowy Bavaria. A ski weekend to either northeast Italy or Austria is on the somewhat realistic wish list as well before the winter is out.

In other blog news, as I alluded to last month I’ll be making some big changes –exciting changes!– with both layout and content shortly, most likely within the next 10 days. I’ll be leaving the WordPress.com fold, but that shouldn’t affect email subscribers or those who visit via the WordPress Reader. More details on that in the next few days.

Vietnamese People's Air Force Museum 01

Vietnamese People’s Air Force Museum 01 (Photo credit: Bob Ramsak)

And this unrelated random photo? For some reason the Zemanta plug-in suggested it as the lead photo for this post. So who am I to say no?

It was taken back in October 2010 when I visited the Vietnamese People’s Air Force Museum in Hanoi. The reader who can come up with the best (i.e. most creative) reason it appeared will be gifted a copy of my South America travelogue*. Upon publication later this year, of course. :)

*Minimum of 10 separate entries required, please. :)
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Video: 195 Seconds at Ljubljana’s Christmas Market

Ljubljana’s December holiday carnival has been on the receiving end of growing attention in travel and holiday circles, and for good reason. The light display is phenomenal, fanning out in all directions from the Slovenian capital’s historical city center, connecting a network of gift stands, food stalls and mulled wine stands.

Service with a smile, always.

Service with a smile, always.

It’s a popular time for locals who meet up for get-togethers throughout the month, but others are coming, too. On weekends there’s nearly as much Italian and English heard in the streets as there is Slovenian. German, Japanese and Chinese is not too uncommon.

In all 64 kilometers of light sculptures are strung around the old town center for which the city shelled out €166,000, or $228,000. Live music will be featured in five squares throughout the month while the lights and stands will remain through New Year’s day.

Here’s a quick video –195 seconds quick to be exact—of shots collected over the past few days to give you the general idea. It’s a bit on the dark side, for which I apologize; it’s also heavy on sausages, for which I do not.

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Late afternoon light reflecting off the Kamnik Alps north of Ljubljana

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Not quite, but pretty close.

These were all all snapped late yesterday afternoon just before sunset from the rooftop terrace at the Kavarna Nebotičnik, or Skyscraper Cafe, in the Slovenian capital’s city center. Above is the view due north towards the Kamnik Alps that form the border with Austria. Below is a shot of castle hill and its 15th century fortress, east/southeast from the Nebotičnik.

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At 13 stories high, the Nebotičnik isn’t everyone’s idea of a skyscraper, but when construction was completed in 1933, it was the tallest building in the Balkans and the ninth highest in Europe. At 70.35m (231ft) it’s now the fourth tallest building in Ljubljana and in Slovenia, affording terrific views in all directions.

A few more shots. These first two continue eastward from the Alps shot at top.

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Next up we continue to the southeast from the castle towards the Ljubljana Moors, the southernmost wetlands in Europe.

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Above due east and below east/northeast with Roznik hill and Tivoli Park in the distance.

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Ljubljana 0644

And finally, above, back to where we started, but obviously, not in chronological order.

Let there be light was the headline for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, the exact word that a friend uttered when the violet rays began hitting the mountains. That’s a good enough connection for me.

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Azram’s Blue Fish

Azram’s Blue Fish – LJ Pic of the Day

Today’s Ljubljana Daily Pic reminded me of a fish. Maybe that’s because I read another story yesterday morning about the high levels of radiation in Pacific blue fin tuna thanks to Fukushima. If it’s not, my sincerest apologies. In any case, it’s a great mural, spotted in the railroad underpass on Kajuhova Street, not far from the nightmarish BTC shopping center sprawl.

Azram is fairly ubiquitous around the Slovenian capital. If you’re not up to searching the streets, you can find more on his/her flickr page here. Or check out this album on my Facebook page, the second in my almost daily ‘About town’ series, which includes a few more of his/her works along with a handful of unrelated mobile phone pics all taken yesterday afternoon.

Gradisce Street, Ljubljana

My Favorite Street in Ljubljana – LJ Pic of the Day

One of them anyway. It’s definitely on the short list.

Today’s pic of the day from the Slovenian capital is this snap of Gradišče, a small dead-end street located just behind the Slovene National Theatre-Drama Ljubljana. It’s in the heart of the city center, but very quiet, with little traffic. It’s the way the architecture comes alive that I find most appealing. There are stories, a breathing history of the city, layered in each of those exposed exteriors, slightly cracked windowsills and patchy facades, witnessed by the three wreath-bearing cherubs, their heads so admiringly shielded from the elements and the birds.

Speaking of drama and favorites – marginally related is today’s WordPress Daily Prompt, asking us to respond to the same ten questions James Lipton always poses to his guests on his show Inside the Actors Studio, most of them sharing variations on the theme of favorite. I’ve got 15 minutes to get my next film screenings today, so no time to dawdle or reflect:

What is your favorite word?
Fluent.

What is your least favorite word?
Blob.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Passion.

What turns you off?
Racism, greed and self-absorption.

What is your favorite curse word?
Pizda. (That’s Slovenian.)

What sound or noise do you love?
A violin, for one.

What sound or noise do you hate?
A sorrowful cry.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
An artist, as in painter.

What profession would you not like to do?
Public toilet cleaner. To them, my utmost respect.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Thanks for trying your best to make the world suck less.

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Caligula in Ljubljana – LJ Pic of the Day

Today’s pic of the day –the tenth (!) straight in the project’s latest run– is quite likely the goriest poster you’ll find in the Slovenian capital these days: this one announcing the Slovenian National Theater’s upcoming production of Albert Camus’ Caligula.

The ketchup-covered ruler? Noted Slovenian actor Marko Mandić. Poster design by Danijela Grgič.

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