Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween is one day away, and for today's post I wanted to share 5 Spooky Settings to get you in the Halloween Spirit. Today's Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries, some of which have pagan roots.

Halloween is a celebration and remembrance of the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. Halloween is commonly reduced to scare and fear, when indeed it is so much more then scary masks and trick or treating.

There is something about the mood around Halloween, that makes me want to pack my things and venture out into uncharted territory, celebrate the fact that I am alive, and maybe, just for a moment, let the darkness come close. And in that sense, here are some locations that will surely, get you into the spirit of the season.

click on the images for a bigger view

Alone in the Woods...



A lonely hike


What are you planing for Halloween? Is your city decorated? Here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Halloween is not celebrated traditionally like in the USA, but some people do dress up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When the north of the country is preparing to dive into the cold and dark season ahead, here in south Bosnia and Herzegovina, the bright autumn days are in full swing.

We are having some winds right now, that bring a lot of fresh and cold air from the north, but the days are still very sunny and enjoyable. Tourists are still in Mostar and surrounding country, and on the other hand, the fruits of the season are also coming into bloom. From fresh pomegranates, pumpkins and all the way to some great southern olives.

Here are a couple of reasons why I love autumn in these parts of Europe and why I think that this is a perfect time for a visit.

click on the images for a bigger view

It's that time of year for olives
This might be a strange reason for you, but I just love when olives ripen. Every year for the past 10 years or so, my dad goes and buys lots of bottles of extra virgin olive oil that last us all the way through summer next year. It's unbelievably delicious when the olives are organic and grown locally, and you get the olive oil from the first cold pressing. The store-bought stuff can't compare. This is definitely a reason why I love autumn in Herzegovina.

Sunny Days are long and warm
Yes the nights get cold, but the days are so enjoyable, like you wouldn't believe. You can visit all tourist and nature spots during the day, without the summer heat, and really enjoy everything that the landscapes have to offer.

The Ruby Seeds of Pomegranates
Sure you get the occasional sour dispositioned one (although my mom would jump and say, that those are the healthiest and full of vitamin C), most of the ones that are harvested here in South Europe are sweet, juicy and gorgeously red. Definitely an autumn treat, that because of the great weather ripens much faster then in other parts of Europe, where it is commonly known as a winter fruit.

Autumn lasts longer 
Because of the great weather we get to enjoy autumn much longer then the rest of the country. This results in leaves being longer on trees, and gives you more photo ops during the autumn months. How could you not love this region for an attribute like that?

The Colors of the Season
Admittedly, this is not a feature that is just common to these parts of the world. Autumn is jaw droppingly beautiful everywhere. But I couldn't write a post about why I love autumn and not include a word or two about those intense and vibrant colors. They are a gift of nature and I try to cherish them with every step I take outside.

What are your favorite attributes of autumn in your corner of the world?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany. It has a rich history and many sights and stories that warrant a visit. I had the chance to visit the city in Winter, and it's really one of those places that are just magical during that season. The best time period to visit is at the beginning of December, if you plan to go home for Christmas.

There are many reasons why you should visit Cologne this Winter, and I will list the top 10 reasons in my opinion.

click on the images for a bigger view

1. Christmas Markets
There is nothing quite like it really. You have the main Christmas Market right next to the Cologne Cathedral, but that's not the only one. The main reason why you should visit Cologne this winter is the annual celebration of Christmas. The town lights up an transforms. Besides the main Christmas Market, you can find various other ones, spread out in the inner city. For a detailed look at the Cologne Christmas Market click here for my post from last year, that goes in depth.

2. The River Rhine
There is a river front that you can walk on, but crossing the various pedestrian bridges in the city, will also tell you why this is one of the reasons to visit Cologne. When you visit the riverside during sunset you will be rewarded with the most amazing cityscapes. At night the lights of the city reflect beautifully in the river.

3. Modern Cologne
There are a lot of old things and buildings to visit in Cologne, but the city will surprise you with it's modern architecture as well. The Mediapark, for example is a great spot in the city, where the modern aspects really shine through. Definitely worth a visit. Recomended: the Cinedom movie theater and cafe inside of it.

4. Cologne at Night
On of the reasons why I love Cologne, is that you don't have to spend a lot of money (in fact you can visit this city on a budget) in order to experience it. Winter nights can be very charming. From the amazing city lights to pubs and bars that offer a cozy place to rest, drink the obligatory Kölsch (beer) and get something to eat.

5. Getting Around
Transportation in Cologne is top notch! You can get a weekly ticket at any station (electronic machines or at a counter in the Bahnhof, the train station) and simply roam the city and get to every place. There are not many lines, and the ones that are there are nicely marked and get you everywhere.

6. Cologne Triangle
For a small admittance fee (3 Euro), you can go on top of this great viewpoint. Tip: Visit Cologne Triangle during Sunset, the sights are gorgeous. You get a full 360 degree view of the city. The top of the building, where you stand, is surrounded with glass, on which you can find small printed icons of the various sights, pointed in the direction, their real life counterparts stand in.

7. Phantasialand
In Brühl, a small town right next to Cologne, you will find one of the main reasons why you should visit Cologne. The Phantasialand is Germany's counterpart to Disneyland. You can find many attractions here, from thrilling rollercoasters to slow rides. Phantasialand has hotels, where you can sleep in, but a daily visit is the best option. It's open during December. During the Chrismas Season THIS is the place to be in. Tip: try the delicious Churros with chocolate sauce and take a ride on the Colorado roller coaster (but maybe not in that order).

8. Cologne Cathedral
It's quite amazing to read about this place, and how it has stood the test of time, wars and everything else. Entrance is free into the main Cathedral, and the feelings of contempt and solace are palpable. You can roam freely and explore the Church, take photos inside and rest. Tip: for a small entrance fee climb one of the two towers (not for the faint of heart, since the steps are very steep).

9. The Region
Why just stay in the city? One of the main reasons why you should visit Cologne is that you can easily visit the many towns and cities that surround it. Make a daily trip to rivalry Düsseldorf (the two cities have a love-hate relationship), or for a more romantic winter trip, visit the dreamy castle Augustusburg and Falkenlust in Brühl.

10. Shopping on the Schildergasse
The heart of Cologne is definitely the Shildergasse. Here you will find shopping centers, fast food chains, restaurants, cafes and sweet shops. Tips: visit the Galeria Kaufhof and experience a classic German shopping center, and definitely try the delicious apple cake or 'Cologne Waffle' in the Cafe Riese.

Thank you all for visiting. I hope you'll have a great rest of the day.

What are your favorite cities or towns that you have visited?

Friday, October 24, 2014

On our way back from Hutovo Blato, we came upon another National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it's this old monastery that I want to show you today.

Zitomislic Monastery is one of the most culturally Orthodox monasteries Herzegovina from 16th century. It is situated in a valley on the road from Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Croatian border.

click on the images for a bigger view

The monastery was built in 1566.

It's very quiet here, which I like. It was a bit windy that day, and the sounds that came from the surrounding trees were very soothing.

A last shot from underneath the trees, and we make our way back home.

What is the oldest object in your vicinity or region?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The wetlands of Hutovo Blato stretch over an area of about 7,411 ha and represent one of the richest wetland reserves in Europe.

Until 1995, when the cantonal protected area was founded, Hutovo Blato represented well-known area mainly for its hunting and fishing tourism. Every winter over 200 species of birds find their shelter inside this untouched nature.

This is a two part photo series, for more check out the links below:

click on the images for a bigger view

When you drive to Hutovo Blato, these are the sights that greet you on your way. You can stop your car freely on the side of the road and take a stroll.

There are only a few places in the world that harbor such a large number of species in such a small region. 

The part of the park which kept its original form and almost untouched nature is the Deransko lake which is supplied by the karstic water sources of the Trebisnjica river.

The trees offer lots of shade from the midday sun.

You can rent bicycles here for tours. These here were freshly returned, and had not been cleaned yet.

After a long walk we make it to the restaurant, part of which is on the outside.

Choosing is always the hardest thing :)

We finally decided on grilled Trout, which was really delicious.

As we drive away, we take one final look at the wetlands.

I hope you enjoyed our visit to the Nature Reserve 'Hutovo Blato'.

In the next Blog Post I will take you to a unique and isolated historical structure that we saw on our way back to Mostar. But more on that in the next post!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hutovo Blato is a nature and bird reserve located in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina that me and my friend Selma visited this past weekend. We had a great time, and in this two-parter I want to show you the sights.

The reserve is on the list of BirdLife International's Important Bird Areas. It is the largest reserve of its kind in the region, in terms of both size and diversity. It is home to over 240 types of migratory birds and dozens that make their permanent home in the sub-Mediterranean wetlands surrounding Deransko Lake.

This is a two part photo series, for more check out the links below:
Part One: Inside the Nature Reserve
Part Two: The Outer Wetlands

click on the images for a bigger view

This reserve is located 57 km (35 miles) driving distance south from Mostar.

A sign with "Nature's Prayer" written on it, telling you that we are all part of nature, and that we should respect it.

Upon arriving you will find a small Motel, where you can spend the night. We also had lunch here.

Other visitors are parked on the lot, and spread out through the reserve.

We make our way into the forest.

I really like the light in these woods.

Our path through the forest begins. There is no paved road here, just a small walking path.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to photography any birds on that day, but there are many people who come here to observe them.

Feeding stations can be found along the path.

The whole zone is well protected from human impact and functions as an important habitat for many plants and animals.

When you come to the wetlands, you can take boat rides on them, but our journey took us somewhere else...

End of Part One
To be continued

In part two we will explore the outer wetlands, see more of the inside of the forests surrounding Hutovo Blato, and have lunch!

Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the sights and stories.

© 2012. Design by Main-Blogger - Blogger Template and Blogging Stuff