As I look out my window here at home
it is clear that winter has started to take hold in Amsterdam. People
have resorted to wearing shades of black (well it could be Melbourne),
covering the walkways and there are less tourists around
to run over on the bicycle paths. So, before we head for
hibernation I thought it about time reminisce on the past
summer months and what has been keeping me out of trouble (well most of
Around the Balkans
the month of August Michael and I headed off to Croatia
for a two week holiday. We started our little adventure in the Adriatic
city of Dubrovnik. The walled part of the old city is quite lovely with
its red brick roofs and eclectic architecture reflecting the numerous
reconstruction efforts due to earthquake, invasion and war. The newer
part of the city is built up into the hills which is where our
apartment was. Planning was the key to our survival in an effort to
the number of journeys each day.
At the entrance to the city is a map which shows "the sites of damage
caused by the aggression on Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav army, Serbs and
the Montenegrians in 1991 - 1992. Sadly there are similar signs in
almost every Balkan city...
We made the most of the opportunity
where the water is warm - well compared to the North Sea - and did a
scuba diving. It had been a while since either Michael or I had gone
for a dive.
From Dubrovnik it is an easy drive across the border to Montenegro
where we headed for a day trip. We still can not work out why it took
us over an hour to cross the border. After crawling through a traffic
jam we finally got to the border guard who simply took our passports,
stamped them and waived us through. Now I want to know:
a) Do Michael and I look that honest and innocent that there is no need
to search our car - the only one amongst a group of at least 20
b) The Australian and Dutch government's have been so kind to
Montenegro that citizens of both are welcomed like long lost family
c) They just couldn't be bothered by the time they got to us.
Despite the wait we found ourselves in the little town of Perast. The cool water and lovely views meant that
we were not traveling any further. In the middle of the fjord or two
islands, one with the Abbey of St George and the other Our Lady of the
Rock, the island on which it is built being total artificial.I am also
not sure when the town last had the need to call out the fire brigade -
note the Bedford trucks in the pictures below.
My charming boyfriend thinks I look like
to Dubrovnik we made our way to Sarajevo in Bosnia. During the siege
of Sarajevo a tunnel was constructed in order to link
the city, which was entirely cut off-off by Serbian forces, with the
supposedly neutral area at the Sarajevo airport set up by the United
Nations. The tunnel is 1.5 metres in height and width and ran for
approx. 800 meters. During the time it was used, it is estimated that
20 million tons of food entered the city and 1 million people passed
Driving around the region you are
often reminded of the
tragedy that was the Balkans war. Throughout you see bullet scarred
One of the more moving and sobering parts of our holiday was a visit to
Srebrenica in Serbia. The area around the town is absolutely lovely
with green hills that rise into the clouds and wonderful scenery.
Unfortunately the name Srebrenica will forever by infamously remembered
for the 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were murdered during the war. At
the time they were meant to be under the protection of NATO and Dutch
forces. Across the road from the burial grounds and memorial is the
shell of the DutchBat HQ. As you walk around the building you can still
see graffiti from the Dutch soldiers who were stationed there. Below are a few pictures of the site.
There are more in the Bosnia
From Serbia we made our way back
into Croatia and Zagreb where we had 2 nights before heading back to
weekend in Singapore
Crazy as it might sound, Michael and I headed to Singapore for a
weekend. He had to fly for work so I simply flew stand by and hitched a
ride. I had never been to Singapore so this was a good opportunity to
see the city - and shop!
I had got over the shock of having to turn right when
entering the cabin rather than left towards business class I was
grateful that he was able to pull rank and find me two seats to myself.
During the flight I did get an appreciation for how
unglamorous the job of a flight attendant can be. At one point I was
left to look after the galley while the rest of the crew were running
around the plane being so busy. For those who want to know what it was
like just watch the video to the left.
After recovering from the flight we then spent the two days playing
tourist. One of the more interesting things we came across with the
National Museum of Singapore. Whilst we were there they had an amazing
exhibition entitled VOOM. You can watch some of the portraits by
At one point I was stopped in my tracks when Michael, a Dutchman, from
the land where the population density is over 400 per square km said
"this place is so crowded"... well he was right. Now, I pride myself on
my command of the English language. 16 years of
formal education, an enjoyment for reading and theatre has allowed me
to develop and master the English vocabulary (not that you would know
from reading my newsletters). Whilst walking through the market place I
commented that a particular object was "nice to see". Before I had
uttered the final word, a well dressed gentleman walks past and says
"it's good to see, not nice to see"!
On this little adventure we were once again joined by the adventureous
little rodent Ieniemienie.
A few picture of our get-a-way are in the Singapore
Much has been
written and said about the "great
Australian epic of a movie". For those of us in Holland we will
wait until 18 December before it opens in 'de bioscope'.In the
meantime however the Australian Tourism commission is advertising lack
crazy around the world. The following page is part of an 8 page
promotion in the travel magazine Columbus. Now - can you spot what is
See the bottom of this page for the answer.
It is pleasing to report that my bouncing
between Athens and Amsterdam has come to an end - at least for the
initial phase of the project is complete and we now wait to see whether
the customer will sign up for a full implementation project. If
this does happen
then I will once again be spending time with Zorba.
Now thanks to all that Greek yogurt each
morning (10% fat) I have put on a few kilos over the last few months.
To make amends both Michael and I have started with personal trainers.
I am sure that the pain and sweat will be worth it in the end. I am not
sure waddling around like a duck for a few days after each session is
quite the glamorous outcome I was after.
And finally do not worry, Michael and I did
married or have our partnership registered as the photos below suggest.
They were taken at the wedding of Michael's best friend Renaldo for
whom he was the best man... However, we did sign a Samenlevings
contract or 'living together' contract. Basically it means I can now
fly standby and have Michael's rights with KLM... Do not worry - I will
send you all wedding invitations if / when it happens.
And on that "ahhhh" Kodak moment note....
till next time, enjoy life where ever this newsletter finds you!
So what was missing - Tasmania. How could
an advert in a travel magazine drop Tasmania from the map... well it
has been happening already for years I guess