Graffiti in Ciglane district of Sarajevo

Sarajevo and the Great War’s 100th Anniversary

Today’s Pic du Jour was taken in Sarajevo’s Ciglane district two years ago today; somehow I let the date and the anniversary it marked pass by at the time without much fanfare.

The day marked 98 years since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand unleashed a chain of events that led to the first world war. That didn’t seem to matter much in Sarajevo that day, a city that was and remains massively scarred from the war of the early 1990s. The assassination was already more history than memory for a city that had spent a century associated with war. Little more thatn just another historical marker among many commemorative markers.

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Sarajevo Olympic Bobsled course

Sarajevo Olympic Bobsled Run, 30 Years Later

The 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially get underway today, just one day shy of the 30th anniversary of the opening of the 1984 Games in Sarajevo. Above, a shot of what the bobsled run looks like today, part of the Bosnian capital’s Olympic legacy.

Constructed in 15 months at a cost of 563,209,000 Yugoslav Dinars (US$4.5 million), the bobsled and luge facility on Trebević Mountain, which overlooks the city from the south, was a major point of pride for Yugoslavia’s Winter Olympic organizers. The venue hosted 30,000 spectators for the bobsled competition, and 20,000 for the luge.

Eight years and two months after the Closing Ceremonies it served as a Bosnian Serb artillery position during the siege of Sarajevo which ultimately killed more than 10,000 people. These days the facility’s visitors include young lovers, tourists, an occasional shepherd and plenty of graffiti artists.

Here’s a 17-photo slideshow with shots taken when I visited in June 2011; I posted briefly back then with a link to a video of a four-minute high-speed walk down the run, but haven’t yet posted these photos.

With chirping birds as my guides along the battered and bruised concrete monument, it was a peaceful stroll through a landscape well on its way to becoming a reclaimed forest. It was surreal, too; I felt as if I was walking through a set of a post-Apocalyptic film.

And below, a four-minute video, the Trebević Mountain Polka. Enjoy the stroll.

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The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Line and Shape From Across the Planet – a Series in 15 Photos

The #FriFotos theme for this week is ‘Geometric’, which sent me to the archives looking for lines and shapes that I found to be slightly unconventional. That search was whittled down to this selection of fifteen taken over the past five years in ten countries.

The first two are among my personal favorites: the ground up view from the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (top) and the Graffiti stairway in Sarajevo (below).  Enjoy!

Graffiti Stairs, Sarajevo, June 2011

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Sarajevo Cycle

Two Poems and a Ljubljana-Sarajevo Connection

More than three years have passed since I visited Sarajevo; rare is the day that goes by without a memory or sensation taking me back, even if just fleetingly, to that four-day visit.

That’s why I was delighted to agree when an editor of Text Box, the online anthology of works published over the years by the Missouri Review, asked to use some of my photos to accompany two works by poet Andrea O’Rourke.

Above is a shot from Ljubljana for her poem “Sarajevo Cycle: 1992 to 1996“. Below is a photo from Sarajevo used with “Would It Surprise You I Don’t Like Mornings?” The former is a fragmented visual feast of life during wartime. The latter is about the secrets families keep.

Would it surprise you I dont like mornings

A native of Croatia, O’Rourke lives in Atlanta where she teaches composition at Georgia State University, translates and paints. The Missouri Review has also published an insightful interview with O’Rourke, conducted earlier this month, here.

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Previously from Sarajevo:

Poppies and Shrapnel / Sarajevo Siege Tour
Sarajevo Siege + 20
Beggars
Sarajevo Tunnel Museum (Sarajevo Notebook III)
Things you’ll find in the basement of Sarajevo’s Academy of Fine Arts
Michael Jackson meets Christopher Reeve?
Sarajevo pics, Part deux
Trebević Mountain Polka (Sarajevo notebook II)
Sarajevo notebook I – time lapses
– more pics from Sarajevo on my flickr stream

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Recuerdo Profundo by Jimenez Deredia

Circles, in the Round

Recuerdo Profundo by Jimenez Deredia

In her travel theme this week, Ailsa asked for circles. Who am I to say no?

I threw in a few orbs and spheres, too, beginning with Jimenez Deredia’s phenomenal chocolatey sculpture, Recuerdo Profundo, which I was fortunate enough to see near the Colosseum in Rome in July 2009. A few more snaps from that exhibit are on my flickr stream here.

Istanbul, March 2012

This one I found near the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. What’s not to love about this version of the Crescent Star?

Musee Olympique, Lausanne, 31-Aug-2008

There are lots of circles to be found at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne that have nothing to do with the five rings. Above is the view up from the library level.

Sticking with the Olympic theme, this is a bit of graffiti decorating some shrapnel damage to a wall of the 1984 Olympic bobsled run on Trebević Mountain just outside of Sarajevo. The hour or so I spent there, strolling down the destroyed and graffiti-covered run with just the sounds of forest birds and bugs as a soundtrack, remains the most surreal I’ve experienced in recent memory. There’s a high-speed video –and a few more pics– of that stroll here.

1984 Olympic Bobsled run, Trebević Mountain, near Sarajevo.

Vietnamese People’s Air Force Museum Hanoi, 27-Oct-2010

This is at the Vietnamese People’s Air Force Museum, or Bảo Tàng Phòng Không – Không Quân, in Hanoi. How many of these countries still exist? Below, a ‘Do Not Enter’ variation, seen in Paris.

Fun with road signs. Paris, April 2012

Istanbul, 14-Mar-2012

Above, Istanbul again, fresh catch caught from the Galata Bridge. Below was taken in London this past August, just before I watched this guy getting man-handled by private cops.

London, Aug 2012

Shanghai, May 201

This is a 10-second exposure taken inside the Bund Tourist Tunnel that runs under the Huangpu River in Shanghai. It’s hideously tacky but a fun place to take long-exposures. There are four more here.

Dicobole Lancant le Disque, by Mathieu Kessels

We return briefly to the Olympic theme with Mathieu Kessels’ Discus Thrower at the Royal Museum of Art in Brussels and conclude in Shanghai with these orbs that you’ll see when you exit the hideously tacky Bund Tourist Tunnel. Full circle.

Shanghai, May 2010

Now, go check out more circles, spheres and orbs at Ailsa’s Weekly Challenge here.

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Dom Policije Vranjače, near Sarajevo

Poppies and Shrapnel (Pic de Jour)

Dom Policije Vranjače, near Sarajevo

This is was taken at what is left of Dom Policije Vranjače, a former Club/vacation home for police officers, in the hills south of Sarajevo. Not a day passes that I don’t think about my visit to the Bosnian capital last year. I’m also a sucker for poppies.

This spot was one stop on a day-long Sarajevo Siege Tour which I’d highly recommend to anyone who visits and has the time to spare. A two-and-a-half minute video I shot of that tour is below. And if you happen to have another 150 seconds to spare and can only follow one of the links included on this page, please check out my Sarajevo time lapses video. And remember, sharing is nice. Thanks. :)

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Previously from Sarajevo:

Sarajevo Siege + 20
Beggars
Sarajevo Tunnel Museum (Sarajevo Notebook III)
Things you’ll find in the basement of Sarajevo’s Academy of Fine Arts
Michael Jackson meets Christopher Reeve?
Sarajevo pics, Part deux
Trebević Mountain Polka (Sarajevo notebook II)
Sarajevo notebook I – time lapses
– more pics from Sarajevo on my flickr stream

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Sarajevo 125

Sarajevo Siege + 20: Fifteen photos

Time flies. Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the beginning of the siege on Sarajevo. Not a day passes that I don’t think about my visit there last year.

Even then it was difficult to imagine that nearly two decades had passed since the longest siege in modern times had ended. Plenty of buildings were still sitting as shells of ruins or in disrepair. Everywhere you turned bullet holes still marked buildings like violent graffiti tags. After a few hours of walking around and snapping pictures, I asked myself that time-tested question: How many photos of aging shelling and sniper fire damage does one man really need?

Quite a few as it turned out: in keeping with this month’s A-Z blogging challenge, here are fifteen, which will take care of today’s entry which was assigned the letter F. Or, you can go with a less safe-for-work theme: F for fucked up. Either will work and both interpretations are fine with me.

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Despite the battle scars, there were plenty of signs of moving forward. Cosmetic ones mainly, the kind that arrive on the artificial coattails created by foreign capital-financed construction projects and pedestrian malls lined with boutiques where most of the locals can’t afford to shop. Just as striking were the remnants of a past not too distant, the Yugoslav days and daze where Sarajevo was the country’s cultural and creative capital that hosted the world for nearly two weeks in early 1984. The city’s main train station, where an old rusting sign built for those Winter Olympic Games still greets visitors near the taxi stand, hasn’t changed much in three decades.

Inside one of the station’s logistics offices, a portrait of Tito still hung on the wall. Inside a station cafe, four men, all retirees, sat chatting over their 9:30 am cocktails and grumbled about the lack of vacation options to fit their budgets.”Screw it,” one said, before losing his train of thought. The others burst out in laughter, cajoled him for his apparent senility, and ordered another round.

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11,541 red chairs, one for every person killed during the 44-month siege, were arranged in 825 rows today to commemorate the beginning of the siege. Check out my twitter feed at right or online (@pirancafe) for links to photos published and tweeted throughout the day.

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__________________
Indeed.
F is for Fifteen
in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge 2012.
Check out more participants here.

My explanation for this is here.

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Piran Café will be inaugurating a free monthly newsletter in May. It’ll be loaded with travel tips and wine reviews, updates on CC licensed free-to-use photos, musings on my obsessions of the day, plus an exclusive FREE giveaway EACH month available to subscribers ONLY. Giveaway No. 1: Sign up now and you’ll be automatically entered to win a FREE major publishing house travel guide of your choice. Drawing is on 1 May, so do it now!

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Previously from Sarajevo (Jun/Jul 2011):

Sarajevo Tunnel Museum (Sarajevo Notebook III)
Things you’ll find in the basement of Sarajevo’s Academy of Fine Arts
Michael Jackson meets Christopher Reeve?
Sarajevo pics, Part deux
Trebević Mountain Polka (Sarajevo notebook II)
Sarajevo notebook I – time lapses
– more pics from Sarajevo on my flickr stream

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Sarajevo 038

Beggars

It was just as I decided against buying some pens made from large bullet shell casings that I felt a slight tug on my shirt. It came from a gaunt woman with very long straight jet black hair and rotting front teeth. She was holding a young girl by the hand whose complexion was just a shade lighter than her own pale kidney bean brown. I pretended not to understand her first plea, and then ignored the next four.

“Please, please,” she said, “we want to have some of your money.”

Her limited command of English was too direct. Which was likely why she tried Croat, Albanian, Macedonian, Italian and German first.

“I have young daughter. She very sick and we very, very hungry.”

The girl was clean, nicely dressed, appeared healthy and aloof. She was also very quiet.

I politely told her no and continued walking. She followed for a few more steps before turning her attention to a couple who were strolling the opposite way.

I saw them again about 20 minutes later, just as I was waiting for the grounds to settle in what would be my last Turkish coffee of the day. The girl wasn’t quiet this time. Her pestering ruined the calming call to prayer that was pleasantly wailing from one of the nearby minarets.

“I want to go home,” she said in Croat, gently tugging at the women’s loose fitting blouse. The woman tugged back hard and smacked the girl on the back with a plastic bag full of fruit.

“Silence!” she yelled, her raging eyes bulging, commanding respect. “Your mother said she didn’t want you home until 10!”

The girl was quiet again when the woman stopped another couple. It was getting late. This time she muttered in English first.

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This was in Sarajevo’s Baščaršija, or Turkish Quarter, last summer. You can check out some more Sarajevo-related posts here, or browse through some photos on my flickr stream here. Oh, and I really think you should invest 150 seconds of your day and check out this 17-scene timelapse I shot. Thanks!

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__________________
If you haven’t guessed,
B is for Beggars
in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge 2012.
Check out more participants here.

My explanation for this is here.

 

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Vidblog for June/July 2011

Since August has almost wound down and I’ll be away for most of the next three weeks, there’s no time like the present for my second vidblog, combining bit and pieces from June and July 2011.

Shots taken in Rabat, Morocco; Lille, France; Menton, France; Sarajevo; Monaco; in and around Ljubljana, Slovenia; and during a long train ride between Zagreb and Sarajevo. I’m hoping to put together a piece on that train journey itself, a leisurely 17-hour jaunt (Ljubljana-Sarajevo, one way) through Bosnian countryside during which I finally experienced the term vukojebina. (To my Bosnian friends, no offense intended. It truly was beautiful. That’s just how I felt.)

Enjoy and feel free to share! :)

Music:
Baba Bobo Mastered by Cobra (avec logo panthère)
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Cobra_avec_logo_panthre/

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License

May’s vidblog, with bits and pieces from Doha, Qatar; Hengelo, The Netherlands; Ostrava, Czech Republic; a few airports, and in and around Ljubljana, Slovenia is here and here.