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Saturday, May 7, 2011

NO SWIMMING, FAT BOY

BOSNIAN SAYING

"A smart guy takes notes, a dumb guy remembers."



BOSNIAN SLANG

If the Bosnians wish to be more obscure (from Croats, Serbs, etc) they say many of their words backwards. It is common enough to have become slang. Sexy would become Yxes, for example.



SMOKING

Smoking is as common here as in 1920's to 1950's America. Smoking in restaurants, smoking while eating, smoking while preparing Logan's food.



POOL PRICES

5 BAM - 3 hours in the pool area.
7 BAM - Access to pool, sauna and gym.
20 BAM - Massage for 25 minutes on back and arms.
35 BAM - Full body massage for 45 minutes. This is the one I wanted. Fortunately, they have a set rate rather than charging for surface area.



NO SWIMMING, FAT BOY

After arguing with the ticket selling, non-English, German, French or any other popular language speaking lady who kept denying she sold the daily pass for the tram until she sold me one (and she is the only one who sells them), I made my way onto the tram.. Mirza had kindly circled the stop I needed to get off in order to get to the swimming pool. It was at this point I noticed that none of the tram stops were labeled. At all. Nothing. Nada. I suppose the thinking (if any) was that tourists would never go out there and the locals would know which stop they needed. Fortunately, a nice lady on the tram told me which stop I needed to disembark at. Before we reached it, someone claiming to be a ticket inspector asked to see my ticket. Having read about the scam involved, I asked to see his laminated plastic ID card. He grumblingly produced it so I showed him my hard won ticket. Never has a ticket been so scrutinized but in the end he had to admit defeat. The prospect of fleecing a foreigner for 40 BAM (or so) had really appealed to him. He took out his wrath on some argumentative old woman and his squad removed her from the train, possibly for later execution. I smugly stayed on the train and disembarked at the large, obvious swimming pool.

It was closed.

When I say closed, I meant to me. Apparently, they were having some kids doing a swimming match. I inquired whether my shorts I had brought for swimming would be sufficient to enter their pool but they weren't. In order to get into the pool, it looked like an investment of 40 BAM for regulation shorts and (believe it or not) a swimming cap would be required. Fuck that. I have no interest in buying what would essentially be single use clothing. Also, the swimming trunks would be tight enough that it might cause distress to those viewing me. And mental trauma. The shorts I had brought would have been kinder, but they wanted to make some money.

I said it was OK, I could skip the swimming, how about the massage? In honor of the kids doing their swimming thing, the massage place was closed as well. What if one of the kids needed a rub down after their competition? Will no one think of the children? Or the fat guy? So, it was all for nothing.

As in the USA, I got to see a lot of parents trying to live vicariously through their kids.

After glowering dubiously at the hairdresser they had in the swimming place, I decided to wander around this neighborhood.

I'd be very curious to have one of those walking counters to see how much walking I actually do - I'm sure it's right up there.

I got to see a lot of the 'soviet style block homes' as I looked for a cheap place to eat.

After wandering through a pretty grim neighborhood, I found a place within some sort of shopping center that sold food. I'm not clear on what the shopping center actually sold. The food I ate there was probably the worst I've had in Bosnia.

I asked the German only speaking waiter what one of the selections was. He said what sounded like 'hoon'. I asked 'hund'? This means dog. We eventually got it sorted out that it was chicken. Not fish is fine with me. I would have been OK with dog. The last time I ate dog was in Korea. Before animal lovers get their panties in a twist, the dogs served in Korea were raised for that purpose. It's not like when you ordered dog that a little kid would come out crying as the family pet was butchered. Though, honestly, I'd be strangely comfortable with that.



COUCH SURFING

I think on Monday I'm going to try to get a bus or train ticket out of here. The problem is that I have no idea where exactly I'm going. I have a couple of people who have said they are willing to host me in Couch surfing but others are wary because I have no references or 'friends' on Couch surfing. I did point out to a couple of these people that everyone starts off with none - don't they? I didn't see an option to 'get free friends' when I signed up but I may have missed that. So, they'll just have to suck it up and try Logan out. I think (aside from my snoring which I can't control) I'm a pretty good guest. Note, I've only been contacting people who don't have a 'shared sleeping space' - ie in the same room because I know that any lodging I got there would just be for a single night then "Logan I like you but your snoring makes me want to stab you in the eye".

I even had one guy tell me I should put up more information on the site - I asked him if he had seen the numerous references to my blog. I think this constant, nearly daily stream of consciousness stuff gives a pretty good indication of who I am and what I'm about.



PETE MAY BE RIGHT

I like Europe but the prices in Asia (inc India) probably got it beat hands down. If my money gets down to a certain spot, I'll probably jet off immediately to India and find somewhere cheap to sit for awhile. Or Thailand. Or where ever.



SARAJEVO

The city of Sarajevo - what I've seen of it reminds me of a race track - an oval. The racetrack itself is the street car tracks. On the curves at either end are shops and such. One end is the tourist area of the 'old town'. Not a lot of Americans here that I've discovered - believe me. The other end of the racetrack has the place where the Bosnians seem to shop and such as the prices aren't jacked for whatever tourists come here. The straight aways between the two curves, residential. By residential I mean predominately depressing concrete Soviet block housing with only one window per room, even for the corner apartments so that nobody gets a better deal than their neighbors.

With the women here, I've noticed a lot more of them have 'normal people shapes' rather than the 'fashion models' of Prague. No doubt they are missing the effects of the 'Czech Stairmaster'.

With the men, the point of hair in the middle of the head seems popular as does the Mohawk, when they have a 'non-standard' hair style. Those who are balding are saved from this fashion indignity.

Health wise, the food here sucks. It tastes good but no nutritionist in the world would call it at all 'healthy'.

In some of the guides I've read, they talk about the air pollution being a problem. I've seen it in a couple limited areas but overall it doesn't seem that bad.

The people themselves fall into one of two different classifications much of the time - either cheerful or 'withdrawn and bitter'. Perhaps that should be whether they have a job or are among the half or more unemployed but it doesn't seem to work like that.

The people who don't speak English or German seem to fall into one of two categories most of the time - either the type that try to 'talk to you in Bosnian regardless and hope you will figure it out' or the 'I am angry you haven't learned our language that isn't in the top 40 languages spoken in the world'.

How would I describe the mood here? In some ways, it is just like every other European city. They have people busy wandering around on mysterious errands, coffee shops, bars, metal and glass buildings, old women with strangely colored hair, men with sunglasses and baseball caps, serious looking kids, old men who walk even slower than Logan and look like they're ready to fall and break a hip given the slightest provocation. Beggars, banks, cars, commerce, etc. The war has come and gone leaving little trace but some old bullet holes in the walls. This country, like every other former communist country I've been to has lots of the pre-fab slap together buildings that I've been told were suppose to be temporary housing.

But the mood of the people themselves? Wary? Waiting? Helpful and good natured? Despite this country having over half of it's population unemployed, brightly colored balloon sellers ply their trade selling 'Sponge Bob' balloons.

Maybe this is a place of good natured people frustrated by the government? I think that whatever the 'mood' of the people, it is something subtle. Although I'm told revolution must come, it doesn't feel close.

[In writing this, I realize that if it comes within the next couple weeks or a month, I'll look like a complete tool.]



THE MUSEUM

While I was nodding off on the tram headed back to the old city, I saw a big building labeled simply 'museum'. Since I didn't feel like falling asleep and getting pick pocketed, I hopped off of the tram. It turns out that the museum is across the street from the famous Holiday Inn where reporters during the war really got a close up look at the action. Kitty corner to the museum, the bunker like American embassy - where even Americans seem forbidden to go - squatted.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the strange European hours. On what should have been their biggest day of the week when everyone would be off work to be available to take their kids to give them an infusion of culture (like it or not) the museum was.... Closed. Closed at 1 PM. What the fuck.

So, I got back onto another over packed street car. In most European countries, street cars are a good way to see the city. Not so here - they are packed with people.

So, I got off in an unfamiliar part of town and went to visit a really large mosque.

In Bosnia, God is closed for business on Saturday as well.

I'm guessing that not a lot will be open tomorrow (Sunday) so I'll probably just wander around.

On Monday, the big plan is to visit the dentist and see how much that will cost me. Maybe even go get a ticket out of here...

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap |

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