since bulgaria i’ve been on an asphalt bender… trying to get back to amsterdam with enough time to sell my bike before re-entry…
belgrade was a disappointment, though i did stay in hotel splendid which was a few heaping tablepoons shy of splendor.
ljubljana… was so happy to be back in slovenia… the teletubby landscape is otherworldly… its like a giant golf course without the electric carts and bad wardrobe… and golf clubs… and, well, all the things that make a golf course so… it is just very green. stayed at hostel celica, a converted former prison centered in a bohemian compound of rehabilitated industry… really cool place. artfully chaotic… made me happy.
and i hate pigeons… lago como, italy
…but they are nice in flight… lago como, italy
…and pastilla lago como, italy
lake como north of milan was an unbelievably welcome paradise after an entire day fighting massive highway traffic across northern italy. the sky was unusually hazy all day… i don’t think i’ve ever seen italy uglier… at the end of the day, i just couldn’t take a big city, so i turned north from milan and headed into the alpine foothills. not 50 km along was the turnoff to como. knew nothing of it. took the turnoff, dropped down a series of hilly roads til a turn brought me round to a stunning lake. dined on pumpkin ravioli in a walnut cream sauce and drank away the day’s ugliness with a tall cold beer at an outdoor cafe in the old town, stayed at the hostel, played cards all night with some turkish students… the day ended better than i thought possible.
dijon… couldn’t make it to paris. couldn’t have cared less about dijon. pity. it looked like it was worth caring about. ate at mcdonaldﾕs just because i laugh that the french allowed that to happen…
yes, that’s a real sign. manifested. bansko, bulgaria
the commute. visited. bansko, bulgaria
the commute revisited. visited. bansko, bulgaria
brown bear fornerly known as “dancing” doing the slumba on the road to plovdiv, bulgaria
i tried hard to make bulgaria look as modern as it really is in the metropolitan areas, but the time-gone-by hasn’t quite gone by and i find it visually more compelling than the stuff that maks bulgaria look just like everywhere else on the planet.
while on the road between bansko and plovdiv i saw a sign for dancing bears park… how could i resist? me love bears. though i shamefully admit, i anticipated a horrid 3rd rate bear kennel full of circus freaks, i was happily surprised to discover that that place is a sanctuary for rescued bears. when i say rescued, i mean bought from gypsies for $7K. the place is well funded and first rate. the bears live better than many bulgarians. i’m not kidding. i got my own personal tour from one of the workers, who heaved up the hills chain-smoking Gitanes as he spit out bits of broken english between bits of broken breath. (i have a difficult time holding down a conversation with someone who smokes Gitanes… the nicotine fog-breath just crawls down my throat and renders me mute.)
the macedonian side of the lake ohrid, macednonia
they watched me pack up, giving the play-by-play in macedonian, then tried to keep up ohrid, macednonia
the trout he seeks has been banned, and is therefore, lucrative ohrid, macednonia
albania is so love/hate, but macedonia was pure love. not intrinsically, though it may be, but coming out of albania alongside lake Ohrid which divides the two countries, really brought home just how medieval albania can be… trashy shoreline, bunkers crumbling on the periphery… i’m cerain that the endemic pollution in the lake has a lopsided source.
i spent the evening in ohrid with loren and cindy… i’ll carve that tale when i can better do it justice… the short version is that the world is VERY small and paths cross inexplicably and unexpectedly… then there is the issue of timing… and the evening capped itself off with guinness, which also has a history of unexpectedness…