Ljubljana Dragon

1 June – Ljubljana, Capital of Slovenia Ljubljana is said to be founded by the Greek hero Jason, who stole the Golden Fleece and along with his Argonauts sailed the Argos across the Black Sea and up the Danube and Sava. In transit they stopped at the Ljubljana Marshes where Jason slew the Dragon. Thus, the Ljubljana Dragon depicted on the coat of arms. Like Jason, I am happy to be here. (more…)


Mary Ann and Roland, Plitvice Lakes National Park

30 May – Zagreb Croatia

I bus thru northeastern Serbia, its breadbasket. Good highways, flat farmland and lovely wild flowers of red poppy, lupine, yellow cornflowers and thistle.

Because of its ragged horseshoe shape, we reenter Croatia, requiring us to once again get off the bus and individually go thru customs. Shaky relations between these two countries – a continuation of East verses West? (more…)


“Don’t want NATO” around Belgrade

27 May  – Beograd aka Belgrade Serbia

Driving thru the Dinaric Alps, the fifth most rugged and mountainous area of Europe – one reason Slavs are so tough. The Dinarides extend for 401 miles along the coast of the Adriatic and stomp thru every Balkan country with its highest peak of 8839′ in Albania. Over the centuries many armies fought within these mountains, their isolation and ruggedness providing refuge for those hardy enough to survive them. The history of centuries can be told as we drive thru passes, past villages and over rivers. (more…)

BiH – BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Two Names One Rugged Country

Rugged landscape of BiH

25 May – Mostar and Sarajevo – Tito’s official birthday

Left sunny Adriatic to enter the Dinaric Alps. Only 8 % of land is below 300′ as I weave through canyons amid mountain peaks between 2000-6000′. Every plot of flat land has a garden or grape vines. What a landscape in which to fight gorilla wars!  Tito marched thru these mountains fighting the Nazis, Ustaše, Chetniks, and Italians with little more than rifles and horses. Here, respect remains high for the partisans. Landscape is rugged and daunting. Bosnia is mountainous primeval forest while Herzegovina coast was denuded of forests used for shipping and naval lumber by Turks and Venetians. Goggle Maps only shows a big white blank dotted with major cities.  (more…)


Dubrovnik from atop Srd Mountain.

18 May – Dubrovnik Hrvatska (Croatia)

Arrival into Dubrovnik amid blue seas, sun and warmth. Short walk to Rooms Kaja where my host reminds me of Dean but with an accent and curlier hair. Quickly set off for Dubrovnik – among the 10 best medieval walled cities in the world. Explored the 1.24 miles of wall encircling the old city. Almost all roofs in the city were destroyed by the 1991 aggressions. The regime in Montenegro led by Momir Bulatović, installed by and loyal to Serbia’s Slobodan Milošević, claimed Dubrovnik was historically part of Montenegro. This was in spite of a large Croat majority population with few Montenegrins and a mere 6% of Serbs residing there. Many considered Bulatović’s claims as part of Milošević’s nationalist plan to build a Greater Serbia as Yugoslavia collapsed. The citizens of Dubrovnik were sitting ducks as Serbs, Bosnians and JNA (Yugoslav National Army) fired down from Srd Mountain directly behind the city. (more…)


Church tower in Ravenna

10/11 May  –  Flying has changed since my first long distance trip in 1972. Priority Access meant no waiting. Does anyone here not know how to connect a seat belt?  Wifi on board, a good movie and generous cans of Pepsi and tomato juice – and that was the domestic flight. Alas no peanuts. All running on time so a movie, a book, three podcasts, and a meal and I arrive in Milano. A train south takes me to Modena.


The Balkans

Dubrovnik Croatia

I graduated from Purdue University a history major. Yet, what I know of the Balkans could be counted on one hand 1) where it is 2) Tito lived there 3) Milošević was there 4) the Saracens, Mongols, Huns, Manichæans, Romans, Byzantines, Christian Crusades, Venetians, Ottoman Turks, Napoleon, Italians, Austrians, Hungarians, Nazis and Communists sacked and pillaged at their pleasure over the centuries, and 5) if Franz Ferdinand had stayed home instead of traveling to Sarajevo in 1914, the world could have waited a little longer before plunging into World War One. Therefore, my goal before I dock there in May is to read as much as possible and arrive less ignorant.  If I offend any Croat or Serb in this process, it is out of my ignorance, not out of my efforts to understand a complex situation.