Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Last weeked, we headed to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Although it sounds like an exotic location, it is actually located just west of Italy on the Adriatic Sea and is a short 1hr 40 minute flight from Geneva! With impressive infrastructure (despite being heavily damaged just 20 years ago due to war), unmatched scenery, and friendly locals, Dubrovnik is a popular stop for tourists and cruise ships. And, if you stay away from the old town, the city is remains relatively cheap due to the Kuna (Croatia's currency).

We arrived on Friday late morning, checked into our seaside resort, and started our trip by sampling the local speciality, cevapcici. A dish of grilled minced meat (often pork and beef), cevapcici consists of 5-10 small pieces and is paired with a homemade sauce of red pepper, garlic and olive oil! Let's just say that Jignesh ate way too much cevapcici over the weekend! After lunch we ventured to old town to explore on of Dubrovnik's highlights. Although the old town is small, it is filled with beautifl, narrow alleys that house numerous restauarants and shops. The best part of old town, however, is the wall walk. Orignially used as method to protect the city against invaders, the old town's wall now provides visitors with amazing views of both old town's traditional architecture and the Adriatic Sea.

Day two of our trip called for some simple relaxation. We explored the area around our hotel with a long walk and then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel. I swam in the Adriatic Sea and Jignesh practiced his floating in the pool!

On day three, we became a bit more active and joined a daylong sea kayaking tour. After a short boat ride to a small island near Dubrovnik and a quick lesson in basic kayaking from our trusty guide (Thomislav), we loaded our kayaks and hit the seas. As Jignesh and I were in a double, it took us a few minutes to find our rhythm but we were soon crusing the beautiful sea! About an hour and 45 minutes later and with very full bladders, we landed on the small island (only a few hundred inhabitants) of Sipan where we hiked to an old, beautiful chuch that provided a home for bats! After a long lunch of yet more cevapcici, we traded the kayaks for some bikes and pedaled across the island where I swam across the bay and Jignesh again practiced his newly found floating skills (the high salt content sure does help!). The day ended with more kayaking and a sunset boat ride back to Dubrovnik. What a great day!

Even though we woke up to rain on Monday, it did not make it any easier to leave this amazing place. However, we had a flight to catch and reality to return to. Lucikly, we did get have some time to enjoy a late breakfast overlooking the sea and quick browse through some shops where we picked up a few things to help us remember a great weekend.
Au Revoir.

Dubrovnik, Croatia Pictures

Old Town's Wall Walk

Old Town

A scenic shot of the Adriatic Sea

Old Town Harbor

Some more of Old Town Harbor

One of the many small alleys in Old Town

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup Mania

I grew up playing football (soccer) as a kid and loved running around the field and chasing the ball (ok, I also loved the post game snack and knew whose mom brought the best stuff!). During football season, my Saturday mornings were spent at the fields and my parents ran from game to game as they tried to get glimpes of both mine and my sister's games. However, like many kids, I lost interest at a certain age and moved on to other sports and activities. With almost no coverage in the US media, I certaintly did follow football at the professional level. Instead, I enjoyed attending the occassional Red's game and doing my homework while watching American football on Sunday afternoon. In Europe, things are completely different. As the one main sport, football is the heart and soul of Europe. Parks and backyards are filled with football nets instead of basketball hoops. Young kids can discuss the defense of their favorite football team in depth. So, as you can imagine, the World Cup is more than popular. Country flags can be seen hanging from balconies and stores are jammed with jerseys. Offices have brackets similar to those popular in the U.S. for the NCAA basketball tournament. Jignesh's company even installed a big screen tv in the lunch lounge for the event! Last night, Switzerland defeated World Cup favorite Spain in a shocking upset. The minute the whistle blew, the city became completely crazy. I am convinced people were just driving around the streets so they could honk their horns (which is illegal except in the case of emergency) and wave the Swiss flag. People were yelling in the streets and shouting from balconies. And, guess what? I love it! I probably will never be able to discuss a team's defense or name more than 10 players but I have come to respect the athleticity of the players and the intensity of the game. I think it is safe to say that I am a football fan. Go Switzerland! Go USA!

Au Revoir.