Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (Bags and Purses), Museum Willet-Holthuysen, and Rembrandt House Museum

I slept in a tad this morning and took it easy since I’ve been getting up early since I got here. I did a bit of my work for the day and set off late morning for the third museum in Amsterdam that I might have visited had I had to pay piecemeal for each entry: the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, the largest such museum in the world.

The sky was a strange colour as I stepped out of my flat.

I love this purple building at the end of my block, a good example of how a building can be colourful, but not garish.

Moped parking spaces.

What is that blinding thing in the sky?!

A museum devoted to cat stuff. Sadly closed today.

The Museum of Bags and Purses is in a canal building and the exhibits cover the history of bags from the 16th century to present day. The building housing the museum was built in 1664 for a former mayor of Amsterdam, Cornelis de Graeff, and restored as the museum in 2007.

I took about 50 billion pictures in this museum, but since everything was behind glass and I couldn’t use a flash, not many came out well. So I will show restraint. 🙂 I went through twice, so the pictures are going to be out of order. You enter the museum into a ground floor bag shop and then go up to the third floor to then work your way down.

Gaming purses.

Beaded bags were quite a luxury. They were first knit, then woven. Some have as many as 50,000 beads.

The need for sturdier bags made leather popular as the train travel age started.

Tortoiseshell was popular, but expensive and finicky. Advances in plastics made it possible to create replicas.

Snake skin with ivory clasp.

Prickly pear fibres and lace, dating back to 1789!

Chatelaines, which hung from a belt and then things like a thimble, watch, keys, sewing kit, etc. would hang from them.

Bags with silver frames were passed down from mother to daughter. The frame would be reused with a new bag.

Men’s leather bag. Bags for men fell out of favour as their clothing got pockets.

Very similar to chainmail.

Until recently, it was mandatory for Dutch schoolchildren to have a leather bag like these. Now, many use backpacks.

These were used before the leather bags. They held a tablet and stylus and served as a lap desk.

Novelty bags.

I like the stegosaurus look with the turquoise knobby bits.

All sorts of travelling cases.

These were popular as plastic became a common material.

Tulip bag.

I had to pay a 1.50 euro surcharge as they have a special exhibit about royal bags. I breezed through this on my first pass as it was crowded.

These belonged to Queen Elizabeth II.

I had kind of sort of thought to treat myself to a cream tea in their café, but it was closed today. I was told to help myself to free coffee or tea and cookies, though! Wow! Am I glad I didn’t get a coffee before going in and, of course, this rather makes up for the supplement I had to pay. 🙂

The café setting is extraordinary.

The crowd had gone through, so I went back to the top and started all over.

This 16th century bag had secret compartments. Intriguing.

Very pretty. Kind of looks like Mount Fuji?

Closeup of chatelaines with “stuff” on them.

Yup, Charlie Chaplin.

Very heavy cut steel bags.

See the teeny pencil?

Art Deco bags.

The SHOES!

Peacock feather bags.

Lobster bag, LOL

Margaret Thatcher’s “Weapon.” Google it!

Gateau (cake) bag.

“Socks” bags after the Clintons’ cat. To the left of it is a picture of Hillary Clinton holding it.

Versace bag used by Madonna at the premiere of “Evita.”

Sunflower bag.

Love the budgies.

*Swoons* Love that snake head clasp!

This bag was held by a member of the Dutch royal family and we got to see how it was selected and dyed to match the dress.

This jewel was in a toilet stall!

And this one in another stall!

Wall hanging.

Amusing donations box.

I’m always attracted to bags with such bright colours (we’re in the shop now!).

The Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses was incredible. I am a real bag nut, but not in the sense of wanting expensive designer bags that I’m afraid to use. I love finding unique bags at thrift shops, especially well worn leather ones. I have little patience now for bags made of PVC that will age quickly. There were so many bags in the shop that I would have loved and not all were at terrifying prices. I would definitely consider this museum a place to shop for a nice bag and I think it would be lovely to have high tea in their café, although if you factor in the price of admission, it’s extremely pricey. Definitely something I’d consider if I was a Museumkaart owner living here full-time, as that would reduce the total cost immensely.

I didn’t get anywhere near the next museum on my list when I passed one that was right up my alley, but hadn’t been on the list of Museumkaart member museums I’d consulted. I’d figured out that that list was outdated since none of the admission prices were right. So I went in and asked if I could get in free. Yes! It is the Museum Willet-Holthuysen, which gives you the opportunity to wander all through a canal house that was willed to the city of Amsterdam for public use in the 19th century. I’m a bit of a voyeur in that I like to go through houses and see how they’re decorated, so I could not miss this!

You know straightaway that the family was rich because they had one one set of stairs but two leading up to the front door. But you enter the building through the basement door.

Looking down the basement hallways to the kitchen and the back of the house.

All of these items were crocheted, LOL!

Some of the kitchen wall tiles had interesting details.

Even the clock was crocheted!

The secondary kitchen, for messy chores.

The garden at the rear of the house.

Look towards the front of the house.

You then go up this magnificent staircase to the first floor of the house, with the public rooms.

The front door.

The house had a doorbell.

The women’s salon, where the owner, Louisa Holthuysen, received her guests.

The ballroom, where they had parties.

The stunning blue “club room,” where the husband, Abraham Willet, received his male friends.

Love that painting at the top.

The ceiling.

Love this painting too.

The dining room had a low ceiling because there is a pantry above, halfway between this floor and the next. The brochure said the pantry was not open to the public, but it was. Signage throughout the property indicates that they are constantly renovating it, so I guess the brochure is a tad outdated.

Now into the conservatory at the rear of the house.

Signage says this room needs a lot of work to return it to its former vibrancy.

Heading upstairs to the private rooms, I found the entrance to the pantry. This room would have held a lot of valuable items, so only the mistress of the house would have had a key and the room would have been regularly inventoried.

Heading up from the pantry.

Skylight.

This staircase would have led to the garret, which had the laundry facilities. To the left is Abraham’s library.

Can you see the door in the corner? It led to one of Louisa’s rooms. This way, they could go see each other without having to pass any servants.

My flat has a seat like this. Really like it. 🙂

Can you imagine sitting at that desk looking down to the garden?

There is another “secret” door in the library, but there was no mention of where it leads.

Stained glass in the hall.

Garish carpet in the “collection room.” Louise and Abraham were very well to do and did not have children. They spent their time collecting art and socializing.

The incredible wallpaper in the collection room.

The rest of the house was “modernised” by Louise and Abraham when they married, but this room kept the traditional dark wood Dutch furnishings from a hundred years prior.

Then, the bedroom.

The bed was actually two twin beds pushed together.

The wash area. Hot water had to be brought up from the basement.

Another secret door.

Chest in the hallway.

Abraham and Louisa. She inherited the house from her father. They married in their late thirties.

The final spaces exhibit some of Louisa and Abraham’s things.

Hat and umbrella stand (I think) by the visitor entrance.

The two entrances.

What an extraordinary treasure this museum was!

I headed towards my next destination and kept my eye out for food along the way. I’m really not into the whole holiday thing, but there are some decorations that I really enjoy. These are so pretty.

WHAT IS THAT???!!!

Drawbridge over a canal.

Chipotle-style burrito shop.

Back of the house, with the garden again.

Approaching Rembrandt Square. I went the opposite way of my next destination, but this area was my best bet for lunch.

Statue of Rembrandt with The Night Watch.

Lunch!

NOT New York style pizza, but it hit the spot!

This is a cinema.

I prefer the real kind, thank you very much (yes, this is candy sushi!).

There are so many wonderful cheese shops in Amsterdam.

I found a second-hand store where you pay by the weight. A tee-shirt is about 5 euros and a kilogram costs about 35 euros. They had really lovely stuff.

My final destination of the day was the Rembrandt House, which he owned before foreclosing and going bankrupt and in which he painted many of his masterpieces. Again, I’m not a fan of Rembrandt, so I wouldn’t have paid to do this, but I thought it would be interesting to see his studio and, of course, I like house tours.

Well… I was about to start in the museum when a staff member told me I had to check my purse. That was not going to happen! I’ve never been asked to check it before as it is not huge. I told her that I had all my valuables in it and would take care to not have it hit walls or anything. She sarcastically retorted that I don’t care about my stuff since the zipper was open! What business is it of hers if I choose to have my bag open somewhere that there is nobody around?! So that set a sour tone for the tour.

Then, employees hovered around me during my entire time in the museum. I thought I was imagining things, but one guy followed me almost all the way through and whenever I’d look up, I found him staring at me. Finally, I got told off for trying to take pictures (no flash) when literally every other customer was taking pictures and not being told to desist! All I can think is that because I didn’t pay for admission, I wasn’t considered a real guest?

So needless to say, I didn’t get much out of my visit because I was so distracted and I rather regret expending the energy of getting to the Rembrandt House. It is crazy expensive (12.50 euros) and quick to tour, so I don’t recommend anyone go unless they have a Museumkaart and/or are huge fans of Rembrandt.

At any rate, the audio guide was really good. The most interesting thing I learned is that people at the time slept in a sort of cabinet and that they reclined rather than laid flat.

When Rembrandt declared bankruptcy, an inventory of all his possessions was made. That combined with sketches he made of his home made it possible to furnish the restored space very realistically. It was interesting to see his collections room with things like seashells, exotic stuffed animals, and books. A few of his works are exhibited in the house, including those of four of the five senses, the first of his works that I actually rather like.

But, of course, the pièce de résistance was his studio. What struck me when I came into it was the light. It was a good reminder that I should place my own studio where it faces north to get that soft consistent light that is so perfect for a painting studio. There was someone there demonstrating how Rembrandt would have made his own paints and I got to smell that wonderful scent of linseed oil I love so much.

Upstairs from the main studio was another studio where Rembrandt’s students studied. It must have been cold up there in winter as there was no obvious source of heat the way there were two stoves in Rembrandt’s space.

Finally, there was a series of rooms with drawings and etchings made by some of Rembrandt’s students. I was tired by this point and ready to leave, so I rather breezed through this and didn’t even catch the artist’s name. I just wasn’t keen on his style.

It was mid-afternoon by this point and I was done. I asked Google Maps to get me home and decided I couldn’t justify a tram, so off I went.

Amsterdam is very damp so you see mossy footpaths all over the place.

I was afraid to ask the price of that cute Batman purse in case it was affordable!

While I knew that Maps was sending me in the right direction when I set off, I found myself walking longer than expected without having to turn. I realised that Maps had stopped navigating and that I was farther from home than when I’d started! This would happen three times before I figured out that because I was asking Maps to navigate to a landmark that was closed, it figured I was an idiot and didn’t mean to go there. Google’s idiocy never fails to astound me! And I was using the landmark because Maps doesn’t recognise my address. *sighs*

I put the app away in disgust and decided that even though I was really getting too close to home to make it worth taking a tram, I would. I passed the blumenmarkt on the way, a floating market selling all manner of flowers and bulbs.

There was a bit of a wait for a tram when I got to a stop, so I popped into the supermarket right there to get some dinner stuff (been shopping daily) and when I got out, the tram was just pulling up. It felt absolutely ridiculous to pay 4CAD to go about four stops or just shy of 2KM, but I was footsore (still breaking in my new boots) and really tired as I hadn’t sat down since I left except for the few minutes when I had my coffee. My tram driver was really sweet!

I got in and went straight work, then made a curry for dinner. The Patak sauces that I like that are such a luxury in Canada are super cheap here (but of course), so I’m working my way through all the flavours I haven’t tried yet. Why not? 🙂

This will be my last really full day out for a bit as I have larger quantities of work to do every day. But I should still be able to go out to do a museum every afternoon.

My Museumkaart has already paid for itself and I am 22 euros or 32CAD ahead!

Walking Tour of Amsterdam

I slept really well last night! I’m so lucky to be staying in yet another place with true blackout blinds. I left home around nine since I had a walking tour booked for 10:30 and I hoped to be able to buy my Museumkaart at De Nieuwe Kerk beforehand as it was the best recommended place to get a Museumkaart (little to no lineup) and right on Dam Square, where my tour would start.

Google got me to Dam Square without any problems, but it seriously overestimated how long it would take. Here are some things I passed along the way:

Very expensive tacos:

A quintessential Amsterdam scene:

The work of a crazy person who drove an RV in downtown Amsterdam:

Houses leaning forward (I would later find out why):

And now, Dam Square:

And De Nieuwe Kerk:

Magna Plaza shopping centre:

And the Royal Palace:

I had almost 30 minutes to kill before De Nieuwe Kerk opened, so I wandered around a bit, sort of thinking of getting a coffee, but I was put off by the prices of 3 euros or more for a basic espresso. It was cool and damp, but I was comfortable. After I had almost circled back to De Nieuwe Kerk, I found a café that offered me an Americano for just 2 euros! I later learned that a coffee here is about 2.50 (compared to about 1.20 in Spain). So I did very well! It was still pricy and wouldn’t be a daily treat, but I was pleased. The clerk even assumed I’d want it to go. I had it black since milk was extra.

I continued my wanderings in the gloom.

The Royal Palace is included in my Museumkaart so I may squeeze it in.

The National Monument.

Another shopping centre. So pretty with all the lights.

 

De Nieuwe Kerk opened right on time and there was no lineup. My Museumkaart was just shy of 60 euros (almost 90CAD) and came with a really cute shopping bag that folds up into a pouch. Nice bonus! If I see all the museums on my list (not counting any of the possible extra ones I discovered on this tour), I will save 90 euros, or almost 140CAD! I really love this kind of card because it’s a one-time expenditure that forces me to get out so I maximise my value.

See the ship at the top of the Royal Palace? It symbolises the Dutch empire and its trading all over the world.

So that was the first thing of real note on my free Amsterdam walking tour with Marius. I picked this tour because it had the best reviews. The tour was a bit slow to start as people were really late showing up, long enough for me to realise that I was going to be cold if we spent a lot of time standing, just because the damp was seeking into my bones. But we finally set off. I will not be able to do justice to everything Marius told us as he was full of trivia, but I’ll do my best!

We headed first into the Red Light District and stopped outside Condomerie, which had a very festive Christmas tree in its window that should tell you everything about what the store sells.

We then went into an alley way and were directed to this plaque above a doorway, showing what would have been sold in this building in days gone by (this is apparently a roll of fabric, not rotten sausage).

These blue and white signs indicate that the home had collapsed in the muddy, unstable foundation and been rebuilt.

I noticed a store advertising all manner of magic mushrooms.

And then we went to see “the girls.” That was surreal, to say the least and I refused to ogle. It was interesting to learn about how prostitution works here. The ladies pay 150 euros per day to rent a window. This is double what they paid a few years ago because the government is trying to cut down on how many windows there are and so landlords jacked up the prices. Each woman is an independent contractor who pays taxes and has some benefits. I’ve known a range of prostitutes from the ones who are in the business to support a hard core drug habit to those who do it because they genuinely love it and find it an easy way to earn good money. So I definitely cannot generalise about the lives of these women. All I can say is that prostitution has always existed and so will likely always exist. The way to protect women is to empower them to do this job legally and safely, not to force them into back alleys.

On we continued.

This is the old church, as opposed to the “new” church at Dam Square.

An illegal sculpture that popped up one day.

The houses are crooked because the foundations are bad. There is now work being done to find the houses that are in really bad shape and about to collapse. It costs about 150,000 euros to secure them.

At the height of the tulip craze, a single flower was worth the price of a house!

We didn’t go in, but this is the entrance to a museum for a hidden Catholic church in an attic. Another one I may have to squeeze into my stay!

This house is crooked both to the front and to the side.

 

See that hook? Many of the houses slanting towards the front have them. They were used to bring goods up from boats on the canal. If the house had a straight façade, there would have been more risk of damage if an item moved in the wind.

Look at how high up the water comes!

I asked a few questions at this point.

  1. Do people routinely fall into the canals? Yes. They’re usually drunk.
  2. How deep is the water? 3 metres, 1 of mud, 1 of bicycles, and 1 of water.
  3. How dirty is the water? Not at all. It is renewed daily and only looks grungy because of the plant material. Any garbage floating on the canals is routinely cleaned up. (The canals do not smell at all!)

This is the oldest secular building in Amsterdam, the Waag (weighing place).

This was a hard place to stand, right where the Jews of Amsterdam were herded onto trains to be sent to concentration camps. Marius even showed us a period photo of the Waag surrounded by barbed wire.

Now looking towards what had been the Jewish ghetto. So many houses were left abandoned for decades until the 1970s, hence the more modern look to these buildings. There had been an attempt made to build a subway, which makes no sense for Amsterdam. The idea started a riot.

A skinny house (to save on taxes), but ornamented to show the owner had money.

Headquarters of the… Dutch East India Company.

Canal boats, even as modest as these, can go for 1 million euros or more. You pay for the spot, not the boat. The boat is worth nothing if you don’t have a place to park it. They have sewer, water, power, internet, etc.

This guy is going around looking for illegal parkers. Parking in Amsterdam is some of the most expensive in the world. Notice the three Xs? They are a symbol of Amsterdam. There is an urban legend that they stand for the great fires that prompted Amsterdam to be all rebuilt in brick, the Black Plague, and the flooding. But the use of the symbols actually predate the Black Plague.

A Banksy! At the University of Amsterdam.

There was another one here, but it was ordered covered up by this minister of education is apparently wants to jack up tuition prices.

Courtyard in the university.

A row of expensive homes, as signified by the fact that they are white and many have stairs leading up to the front door.

This cosy alley would have been very smelly back in the day. It is behind the rich houses.

Entrance to another hidden church. This is a residence for women only.

One of the last remaining wooden houses in Amsterdam.

Marius told me that Van Gogh liked to come here as he found it quiet and contemplative.

We did not go into this church.

But we did go into this one. It is not a museum so we popped in and out and were quiet the whole time. It was very beautiful. And warm. I was pretty cold by this point!

We then went into the lobby of the Amsterdam Museum, another one to add to my list…

Here’s those crosses again.

And Napoleon.

More of those occupational plaques, taken from torn down buildings.

“Woman riding a surfboard,” LOL.

“The dancing nun taking a selfie.” LOL!

Our tour ended shortly after this. Again, I have not done justice to how much information Marius shared. He was a wonderful guide, very warm and knowledgable about his city.

He directed me to an area with restaurants, which happened to be on the way home, so I headed that way. I thought I’d grab lunch and go to a museum, but I realised that I was done for the day as I’d already walked a ton. I haven’t broken in my new boots yet and so didn’t want to push their limits too much yet as they’ve been rubbing a bit since I don’t have the right socks to wear with them. Plus… work came in. Yes, after my clients told me not to expect anything, every single one of them bombarded me. Thankfully, it’s all easy work and will not ruin my weekend.

I investigated restaurants and prices were all above 10 euros. There are a number of Ethiopian restaurants around my house only open in the evenings that I really want to try, so I decided to go home and make a late lunch there instead since I had everything needed to throw together a curry. I mean, why pay for a meal out when I had a treat waiting for me?!

I got to this foreboding church…

…and cool house when…

… my ?@$%@% iPhone went from 40% battery capacity to dead. Amsterdam is not an easily city to get orientated in and there I was who knows where with no map or way to find my way home. I had a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself, that I could follow a number 1 tram back. I was too close to home to make it worth actually taking the tram, though.

That worked a treat and I got back to familiar territory very quickly, even if that route was a little less direct.

Amsterdam is a very dark, gloomy, and damp city, but there’s a vibe here that I wasn’t expecting. The city feels very much alive and its residents seem to be thriving. Most are friendly, even if the cyclists have no mercy, and being able to get served in English is a bonus. Dutch is really hard to pronounce, having a lot of guttural sounds, and there’s almost no point in trying.

Most food packaging at the grocery store has Dutch and French on it, which is awesome for me. Even though there are tons of words that look like English, I actually find Dutch food labels more intimidating than Bulgarian ones were because words that are not like English are not like anything I’ve seen and I can’t even make an educated guess. A good example is chicken, which is “kip” in Dutch. If there hadn’t been a picture of a chicken, I would have had no idea what was in the package. In Bulgaria, though, I would have seen пиле, sounded it out as “pile” (pi-lay) and thought, oh, that sounds almost like the French poulet (pou-lay) and made an educated (and correct!) guess. Or how about grapes, which are “druif” in Dutch versus “grozdov” in Bulgarian. The food available here is most like what I’d expect to find in a North American supermarket, with lots of foreign foods, and it’s easy to get things like unsweetened almond milk (my host picked up a carton for me!).

Tomorrow and Sunday will follow a similar pattern of an early morning of tourism (I have a time slot at nine both days!) and then coming home to do a little work. I’m actually rather glad for that because it’ll save me from burning myself out while I’m here.

Monday in Málaga

Today was the day I had to get myself sorted in terms of footwear and a coat. My host in Almería told me about a place called Cudeca, which is a charity shop. There happened to be one right by my flat, so I went there to look for a coat.

They had tons of coats for 15 euros each. Unfortunately, most were way too big or too small for me. I found a camel coloured one that would have been awesome had it been three sizes smaller. As it was, I was wearing every layer I plan to where under a coat and I was swimming in fabric. So pass. I settled on a really lovely charcoal one that was just a smidgen snugger than I would have liked and with slightly too short sleeves, but it was clearly the best I was going to do and I’d spent enough time looking at new stuff to know I was getting a bargain. Four ladies in the shop told me that they were voting for that one, so it must look okay. 🙂

I ambled to my next destination and found the Sherlock Holmes pub. Rather random!

So many churches…

I found myself at Plaza de la Merced.

Where they had a great beer and wine special for breakfast.

My destination was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and museum about his life, not to be mixed up with the museum where you can see his artwork. So here’s the house where he was born. His family had an apartment within this house, but the museum now encompasses the whole building. Admission is 4 euros, which includes an audio guide in several languages.

Am I glad I came today as they are closed tomorrow and all the other museums I want to see are closed Mondays and open Tuesdays!

Photography is not allowed in the museum, which was small but very interesting. The most memorable part for me was seeing Picasso’s original sketchbooks with his initial ideas for Les demoiselles d’Avignon, arguably his most famous painting, sketched out in ink. I also saw documents and photographs related to Picasso’s life and learned about his passions for bull fighting and flamenco as well as the enormous influence Málaga had on his life, as he spent his formative years here. It was  wonderful little museum and the audio guide was interesting.

Here I am back outside in front of the Picasso statue. By the way, I didn’t get a single guess or even request for a hint yesterday as to the statue I photographed. It was Hans Christian Andersen!

The obelisk that anchors Plaza de la merced, which hasn’t not changed much since its early days.

It was about 12:30 by this point and I hoped to find lunch. So I ambled my way back to the touristy core of the old town. Here’s a neat fountain. Wolves or dogs on this side…

…frolicking ladies on this side. Name of this side is “Diana’s bath.”

I must have a sushi radar or something because I found an all you can eat for 13 euros restaurant! But I went for the 8.50 menú del día as it promised as much food as I really should be eating at one meal. I started off with a beer, then my first miso soup in way too long. Even though it was sunny today, it was still very chilly and this hit the spot! Yum!

I also got fried noodles with veggies (mmm!) and ten pieces of sushi that were very good. For the menú del día, I wasn’t allowed to choose what I would get, so I advised the server about the egg thing so I wouldn’t be brought anything with mayor or, heaven forbid, the omelette sushi (tamago) that featured prominently on their menu! The server was very understanding and I was very happy with the selection.

Their windows were neat as they had barcodes!

Next, I found this hilarious store, the perfect place for those who crave 9-euro bags of Oreos and 10-euro boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal.

Please do not give me this gift basket. I don’t miss American-type food. 😉

The stars have no boyfriend” is the first line of a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca. Like all good poetry, it’s very evocative, but I have no idea what it means. 🙂

This part of Málaga is all very narrow alleyways, but, for some reason, it wasn’t hard to get orientated.

I passed a Chinese bazaar store as I headed towards the El Corte Inglés department store for footwear and decided to pop in to see what clothes they might have as I want a second fleece. I found one I liked a lot at a “nice” store for a reasonable 15 euros and one that I didn’t like quite so much (pull over versus zip up) at a different Chinese bazaar store for 10 euros. I hoped to find a third option to help me make a decision. Well, this store had the exact same 10-euro sweater, but for 8 euros. Decision made! I brought it to the till and the man told me that he could not get rid of that colour (a coral pink) and if I had exactly 5 euros so he would not have to make change, I could have it for that price. SOLD. 🙂

BTW, I am XXXL in Chinese sizes. LOL I’m anywhere from a 38 to a 40 in European sizes (encompassing the variability that is a North American size 8). I was worried I’d have a hard time finding clothes here as there are so many tiny people, but, thankfully, I’m just as average sized here as I am in North America and I can shop in any store that isn’t focused on “plus sizes,” which seems to be 50 and up here. Clerks here also seem to have a better eye for a client’s size. While I’m still mistaken by Canadian and US store clerks for being a much larger size than I am, Spanish clerks have been correct every time. It’s definitely been a lot more pleasant to shop here.

At any rate, with the fleece bought, I was all set to brave the weather I’m heading into… Well, I may add a hat, but with my scarves covering my ears, they may be enough. I’d rather wait. I have “glittens” I brought from home, fingerless gloves with a mitten cover, so I’m set on that end. I will need wool socks at one point, but I haven’t found any here. I can definitely land on Wednesday with what I have and not freeze.

Where was I? Oh, right, on my way to get boots. 🙂

There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts across from the El Corte Inglés department store that made me laugh. Look at the Cookie Monster doughnut!

After checking out many shops, I conceded that if I could afford them, which I could, a pair of Panama Jack boots would be an investment I would never regret. They are handmade of Spanish leather and while not easily found in North America, known enough there for me to have wanted a pair for a long time.

A pair of boots of comparable quality in Canada has set me back over $400 and the pair I bought today were $230… These are not the ones I wanted, but rather their base model. The ones I wanted were more aesthetically pleasing yet functionally identical and $30 more. Part of financial responsibility is conceding that you really don’t need pink soles and laces for traipsing through puddles, snow, and jungle! 🙂 These were phenomenal value in that they come pretreated to be waterproof and you get a cleaning kit with leather protecting wax, extra laces, and a carrying bag. Last time I bought boots in Canada, I had to buy all those things separately.

The shopping experience was good. You have to ask for service in Spain, so I had lots of time to comparison shop and think through my decision. I saw these on Saturday night so I’d already had time to pretty much make up my mind, but it was good to have a moment before making the plunge without having a sales clerk breathing down my neck. When I was finally ready for help, I went to a cash register and asked the lady there if she could help me. She said she could and followed me to the boots. I showed her what I wanted and said that I might be a 39 or 40. She went to the storeroom and came out with several sizes. I think 40 was the biggest pair they had for all models and it felt just a bit snug for me, especially since I was only wearing thin socks. The clerk reminded me that leather stretches and had me walk around a bit. Doing that made me realise the boots were going to be perfect once I’d broken them in  as they were a little loose at the heel and toe. So sold!

I went home for a bit and then headed out to start the breaking in process. I found this rather fancy alley:

And this not so fancy alley:

So many stockings!

Here I am back at the American store. I agree with them that, “Clients don’t expect us to be perfect. They expect us to deal with things when situations arise.”

Sign outside an apartment building: “Your right to smoke ends it impedes the rights of your neighbours to relax. Let’s respect the silence of the night and avoid police presence.”

I walked for a couple of hours in my boots and while they were stiff, they felt very good. They will mean having to drop my Keens, a decision I feel better about now that I found a charity drop off box. I’m sure someone else will get some use out of them. I’m at the point where I’m sick of them and I know I won’t have occasion to wear them again for a long time. So there’s no point trying to find room in my suitcase for them. I will also have to dump a couple of tee-shirts to fit the new fleece. I’ve worn through two of them, so that won’t be any hardship either.

Another thing I found in my travels was a train station my host told me about where I can catch a ride to the airport. She said it’s faster and cheaper than the bus! So that’s where I’m headed Wednesday morning. I just need to solidify the trip from the airport in Amsterdam to my hosts’ place. They gave me instructions, but I’m still not quite sure where to get off on the tram. I guess I should email them. 🙂

It was another good day here. I should have time tomorrow to do a little more exploring!

A Salvaged Day in Kotor

Let me tell you, I’ll take the adhan at 5:30 am over church bells at 8:00 am any day… I had a late night and that was a rather rude awakening! I tried to go back to sleep, but failed. So I got up and my only thought was food. I woke up in the middle of the night to raid the peanut butter jar! I can’t believe I’ve woken up twice in as many nights to eat. I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that in my life!

I’m in Kotor for three days and there’s endless rain in the forecast. Today seemed to be the lightest day of it and my best bet for heading out and exploring as it would also be the warmest day. Moreover, I needed food! It made sense to go find some breakfast and then come back with some groceries as there is a conveniently located fridge right by my hostel room.

I debated what to wear as I knew I was going to get soaked and settled on my iPanema sandals (gals, remind me to do a shoe review), a pair of jeans, a long-sleeve top, my fleece hoodie, and the “rain coat” that was wonderful in London but has since failed me. 🙁 I thought I might be able to pick up a cheap umbrella “in town,” about 3KM away. I specifically picked this hostel because it’s walking distance to Old Town Kotor, so I was in the mindset of walking there this morning, needing a leg stretch after yesterday’s long bus ride. The rain had let up somewhat, so I figured the stroll would do me some good. I obviously get stupid when I’m hungry because any sane person without adequate rain gear would have taken a taxi to as near an umbrella shop as possible. No… I walked the whole way, it started to pour halfway there, and I arrived soaked in Kotor.

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The directions to my hostel said it’s above the cemetery. Literally!

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Even English-only speakers should be able to recognise what part of this sign made my French self cringe.

Let me pause here to say that I’ve never been a fan of umbrellas as I tend to be in climates that are rainy and windy. I don’t really have a lot of extra room in my luggage, so I decided I would get a cheap folding umbrella along the way if I needed one. Today was apparently the day. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So how did I come to be in Kotor? The Serbian couple I met in Zemun told me about it and it seemed a good alternative to very expensive Dubrovnik as a scenic destination on the Adriatic Coast. I had hoped this would be a bit of a working holiday by the sea, but it’s not looking that way yet.

The mist does give Kotor quite a bit of atmosphere. Here, I am approaching the walled Old Town.

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There are three gates into the city. This is the main one.

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I wandered a bit looking for that elusive place that serves both real food before lunch and coffee. I was shocked that I found it, a cosy restaurant called “Museum Cafe” that serves a full menu all day and knows how to make me a coffee with just “a little” milk. I had two coffees by the time my delicious balsamic vinaigrette chicken and roasted veggie wrap came. The food did me a world of good! But, of course, going back out into the rain was uncomfortable and I felt chilled after the warmth of the restaurant.

In my wanderings to find food, I’d spotted the Maritime Museum and decided that if I could find it again very quickly, I would head there. Otherwise, I was going to find a food store and head home to change.

Old Kotor was purposely built like a maze for defensive purposes and is full of alleys going off in all sorts of directions. One of the things I looked forward to was getting thoroughly lost and disoriented in it. I figured it would be easy because I never did manage to truly orientate myself in Baščaršija, even with all the walking I did in it. But for some reason, I had no trouble with orientation in Old Kotor today, probably because it’s so small. So I refound the museum without any trouble. It is inside a beautiful old house.

The entry fee of 5Eur surprised me, but made more sense when I learned that that included an audio guide.

Let me digress here for a second to say that Kotor is very expensive compared to what I’ve experienced since coming to the Balkans. I don’t know if this is because of the touristy location or because they use the Euro, but I would feel the pinch if I was here for any length of time and trying to keep up the pace of the last few months. Western Europeans seem to find prices cheap, but they are expensive by what I’ve been used to. 1Eur is 1.53CAD (almost at par with USD), so something like a cab ride that is “only” 5Eur is almost 8CAD. I found bathrooms, ice cream, and groceries to be comparably-ish priced to what I’ve been used to, but coffee, beer, and restaurant meals have been high.

So back to the museum. There are two large floors of exhibits, plus a few things to see on the ground floor.  I was thrilled when I was told to, “Please, make many pictures!” But here’s a tip: do not get too close to the exit door with your audio guide or it will start shrieking and the museum personnel will get very cross with you…

I headed up the first flight of stairs to start my tour. The walls were lined with old maps of the area.

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The exhibits are themed and of high quality. I was very impressed by this museum. There wasn’t a ton of signage as you get most of the material from the audio guide So I don’t have much to remind me of what things are and all the interesting stories I heard, sorry. Guess you need to come to Kotor and visit its Maritime Museum for yourselves. 🙂 The audio guide, by the way, was really good, narrated by a native English speaker and quite entertaining.

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This guy was interesting. He was a slave of the Turks for eight years and eventually rose up against them.

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Some of the shields of Kotor.

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I had never heard of lemonwood before today, but a bit of Googling tells me it can refer to many different species from all over the world, so I still have no idea what this furniture is made of!

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Original flooring. Stunning!

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This is an oil lamp, not a candlestick.

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I love this painting!

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I had never seen black on white “blue willow” before! For those of you who haven’t been following me since forever, I used to collect blue willow china in my pre-RVing days of travel and still have it all.

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If I ever get a “forever house,” I’d love to get a desk like this as a statement piece for my office!

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Amazing pottery from “the Orient.”

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The little boy in this painting? He would become the best known photographer in the region! What an amazing overlap of time periods. He was born the year photography eventually started (1830s, I believe).

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I have to say that firearms used to be works of art…

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This is Herceg Novi. Another gorgeous painting.

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Here, I am on the second floor of the museum.

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This captain circumnavigated the globe!

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My favourite thing about history museums is seeing period documents showing the mundane details of daily life at the time. This is a travel permit/log book for a sailor.

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A navigator made this incredible log book with exquisite drawings detailing the Bay of Kotor and environs.

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This painting is almost photographic in nature!

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Especially when compared to this one!

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This top floor was dedicated to maritime education, as symbolised by this painting of a captain with his students.

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Notice all the modern, for the time, tools of the trade.

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A French atlas of the ports of the Mediterranean.

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Here’s my audio guide. You hold it up to your ear to listen.

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I took a second to peek out the front door to see if it was still raining. Yes. Harder. So I went through the museum a second time!

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The museum covers maritime history in the area through the Second World War, so you get photographs of captains in addition to paintings.

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You can see in my reflection that I took off my top layer in the hope that my fleece would dry out a bit… I have to say I was shocked by how comfy my jeans were, even when wet. I tend not to like to wear jeans because I don’t have the body type for them, but I went to a jean store and had a professional look me over and find the best style for me. So I have “skinny jeans,” which are rather like socially acceptable leggings. I’d avoided jeans all summer, but am rather happy to find them now as I’m getting rather sick of my skirts!

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I thought it was neat how the lock on this door is curved.

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It was still pouring when I was done, so I decided my day was done. 🙁 I managed to get a picture of the exterior the museum and then ducked into a conveniently located full service grocery store almost right beside it!

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I picked up a few things to leave in the fridge by my room and I came out of the store by its exit door to find myself facing another store that sold cheap foldable umbrellas at a price I was willing to pay (5Eur).

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I wandered around a bit more, but I was soaked through. My bottom half wasn’t uncomfortable in the least (not even my wet bare feet!) as it was quite warm (in the low 20s), but my shoulders were for some reason. I conceded that the weather had won and that it was time to back to the hostel.

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I had no trouble getting a taxi and the ride was just under 4Eur. I had the driver let me off at the bottom of a very short hill to save him the trouble of trying to turn around at the top. I got in one last picture before I hurriedly headed off in direction of a hot shower when…

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I got “ambushed” by the owner who offered me coffee!!! I wasn’t that cold, so I happily accepted and went to wait on the covered terrace. She brought me a small pot of coffee (about 1.5 mugs worth), milk, sugar, and this:

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The mandarins come from her garden! They were fresh picked this morning! After I enjoyed my coffee and thanked her profusely, she sent me upstairs with the fruit! I just had several pieces of both fruit with my picnic supper. YUM. I think the purple things are a sort of prune. She said they come from the store. I like them too. 🙂

I had a hot shower and changed into dry clothes, which included my second pair of jeans! It was that or my skirt, and, let me tell you, a heavy soaking wet skirt wrapped around your ankles isn’t very comfortable!

Then, get this, the sky freaking CLEARED. The forecast had been adamant it would be 100% rain for 10 days straight and was worsening, not improving. Yet, after about an hour, the rain hadn’t picked up again! So I decided to head back out and try to get a bit of dry time in Kotor.

There were cruise ships in port.

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What an unusual cemetery!

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It is about 2KM to the end of my road and the limits of Kotor and then about 1KM to Old Town. I barely got away from the hostel when a man pulled over and offered me a ride. Funny how this is something I’m okay with here in the Balkans, but would never consider back home! It’s just part of the culture. The man spoke English, was very nice, and had no “creep” factor. He said he would drive me to the end of the road/to Kotor town limits as his house was right at the corner, and that’s what he did, saving me about 20 minutes of walking.

Can you see the fortress?

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How about now?

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BLUE SKY!!!

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Since it wasn’t raining, I was able to enjoy my amble and actually notice things, like these fish in the river by the entrance to Old Town.

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Kotor’s Old Town is a UNESCO heritage site. I was starting to understand why!

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The old town is roughly triangular in shape. It must be incredible to live here. Can you imagine trying to give directions to your house?!

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What a difference sun made!

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So many alleys leading into squares!

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This is where I had my breakfast.

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This is the way up to the fortress. I wasn’t shod for that and didn’t want to get caught on slick rock when it would start pouring again, so I didn’t head up.

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This is their garbage truck! There are a few golf carts for folks to get around, most of them being affiliated with the hotels.

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It took a bit of work, but I finally found a restaurant that was happy to serve me a late lunch. One of you lovely readers who knows who she is sent me a gift this week that was expressly for a meal out, so thanks for lunch today! 😀

I was going to go with some sort of seafood, but couldn’t believe the prices. This is grilled veggies (same as what was in my wrap this morning — peppers, eggplant, and zucchini), with chicken breasts, and smothered in gorgonzola sauce. I had picked out a pasta with shrimp even though this is what I really wanted (I mean, gorgonzola!), but when the server came to take my order, he asked if he could make a recommendation. I said sure and this is what he pointed out! It was almost half the cost of the pasta, so it was a no-brainer. I did not eat the potatoes since the garlic bread was so much better (but, no, I did not eat the entire basket of it!). It was a pretty pricy meal by Balkan standards, but still quite reasonable (almost 20CAD with the beer).

Eggplant is not something I normally eat. I remember eating it once 20 years ago when I was in Colorado and possibly more recently (within the last 10 years) in an aunt’s ratatouille, but that’s it. It’s something I’ve been wanting to experiment with and with today’s experience with it being so positive, I’m further motivated to cook with it!

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After lunch, I noticed that not only was the rain still holding off, but it was getting quite warm. I had a lunch to work off and inappropriate shoes be damned, I was going to climb to the fortress! I took a few detours along the way to the entrance, though, to make sure I covered as much of Kotor Old town as I could!

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I like to send my friend Bast a postcard from every country I go through. I was unable to do so in BiH as I never found postcards for sale nor a post office. It seemed like their postal system is a mess as they have two. So I was hoping I’d have better luck in Montenegro. Well, what do you know, there were tons of postcards and the post office was open on a Sunday afternoon! The clerk stuck the stamp on the card for me and even mailed it herself instead of sending me out to the mailbox.

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Kotor is known for its stray cats and there are a lot of collection boxes set up to support their feeding. The cats are necessary — I saw a rat evading a flood this morning!

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The cats museum sounded interesting, but it was closed today.

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I finally circled back to the entrance up to the fortress. 3Eur entry fee. I started to climb…

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And climb some more. I was surprised by how “grippy” my iPanemas were and not as inappropriate for the climb as a rude man made them out to be.

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There were often long columns of people coming down. I got out of the way when I could.

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You can really see Kotor’s triangular shape here.

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There was a woman selling cold drinks out of a cooler at this church. I decided that if she was still there on the way down, I would pay the hefty surcharge for a cold bottle of water to reward her enterprise for getting the cooler up there!

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The climb wasn’t too difficult thanks to my Bulgarian conditioning, but I was not dressed for it at all as it was getting super hot! What a contrast to the morning!

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I still had a surprising amount left to go when I checked the time and saw that it was past 5:00! That was it for me! I knew that even though it was blazingly sunny out (!), the sun would start to set any minute and it would get dark fast. There was no way I was going to pick my way back down to the bottom in the dark in the shoes I had on. It would have been great to reach the top, but I thought I wouldn’t get to climb at all and I was quitting for a valid reason, so I was okay with turning around.

The descent was slow and much more difficult. The water vendor was still at the church and a bottle was 1.50Eur. She accepted 1.20Eur as that’s all the change I had and would have otherwise had to pay with a tenner. Dang was that water good! 🙂

I knew I  was taking a taxi home and with the guy this morning having a hard time giving me change off a 10Eur note, I decided to get an ice cream to break my bill. Ice creams tend to be very small, hence why they’re cheap, so I was shocked by how much the gal piled into my cone, thinking I’d been had. No, my cone was still 1Eur! She was very put upon with me for paying with a “large” note. Even the gal who sold me my umbrella this morning did not have 5Eur change for my umbrella. I am going to have to figure out a way to break my two remaining 50Eur notes! My host says there is a grocery store five minutes in the opposite direction from Kotor, so I’ll head there tomorrow for more food and see if they’ll break one of the notes.

Here’s the map of Old Town found outside of it by the main entrance. It’s much smaller than I expected. I’ve covered the whole of it.

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I wandered a bit out front and along the water after coming out of Old Town.

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The parking fee structure at a shopping centre was unusual. The bottom language is Russian, but, dang, it is super close to Bulgarian. I was bemused on the climb to the fortress that I noticed the Russian/Bulgarian word for “caution” (внимание) before the English word! On the way, I chatted with some Spanish, American, and French folks and frequently said “Excuse me” in Serbian, so I can say that I used six languages on my climb! 😀

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I found a taxi stand by the mall and got one there knowing this was the point of no return for getting a taxi. My written instructions for getting to the hotel got destroyed after my bag got soaked (and transferred dye to everything!), but the driver knew where the hostel is and spoke a bit of English anyway.

Here is my host’s mandarin tree… and her lemon tree!!!

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The carpark is over her apartment!

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Kotor Old Town was as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be. All I wanted was one clear afternoon to explore it and I got it. The odds are ever in my favour!

There’s lots to see and do in the region, but I never meant for this to be a tourist stop because of the higher cost of living. The point was to get to the shores of the Adriatic and just breathe a bit. So what I’m hoping for is a work project to cover the next two days, but I know I can’t count on anything tomorrow as it won’t be Monday in North America. So I’m probably plop myself down on the terrace to catch up on bookkeeping and other admin tasks and also start working on a few blog posts I’ve been meaning to do. I also need to figure out how I’m going to get to Skopje!

I’ll be back to the shores of the Mediterranean before I know it!

Sarajevo City Hall, Downtown, and Brewery

I awoke to a super cold, grey, foggy, damp day. Yuck. Last thing I wanted to do was go exploring and I was so grateful I had heaps of work to do! By 12:30, I’d put in a full day of work, could call off with only one hour more to do in the evening, and the sun had come out! Talk about timing!

It was only 10C outside (brr!), so I pulled out my jeans for the first time and paired them with a long-sleeved top, fleece hoodie, and my cosy Tiek flats, my expected “fall weather” attire.

My first thought as I headed out was lunch and I wanted to try burek, “Bosnian pie.” I’d had no interest in it, but so many people told me I was nuts for not having had it and also pointed me to Buregdzinica Sac that I decided to try the experience today. I made a few wrong turns but eventually found the restaurant. The server spoke English and told me she had meat or potato, cheese, and spinach. So heads up, my vegetarian readers, there’s a burek for you!

I went with the meat and accepted sour cream, which was unfortunate since she drowned my pie. I ended up scraping it all off and only having what had soaked in. But you can’t really ever have too much sour cream, so my complaint is only that you didn’t get to see this pretty thing in all its glory. 🙂 It’s basically phyllo pastry that is assembled in a spiral and has filling mixed in.

My meat burek tasted like the  Bosnian answer to tourtière, with heaps of savoury and perfectly seasoned meat mixed in with caramelised onions. Absolutely amazing. I might not have been a fan of Bulgarian and Serbian food, but Bosnian is great!

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Then, I went back to the Baklava Shop to try their Nutella baklava and have the coffee I’d been craving all morning. The interior of the shop is so pretty. (pauses to listen to the adhan)

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Love the alarm clock collection.

Next stop was Sarajevo City Hall as I was told the interior is impressive. It was devastated during the war and was rebuilt in stages.

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Outside, there is a cable car and information on the plan to rebuild the cable car system to Trebević, the mountain I went up yesterday. Both of my tour guides are skeptical that it will happen and my guide yesterday reminisced fondly of taking the old cable car up the mountain with her family.

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I was a bit surprised by the 5KM fee to enter city hall so I could take pictures, but figured that’s how they’re funding the reconstruction and, really, it’s a token amount. What I didn’t know is that city hall doubles as a museum and there are heaps of exhibits. So you get a lot of bang for your mark!

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Austria-Hungary built the original city hall and felt it was their duty to help with the reconstruction. I’m trying to remember why Spain got involved, which I know one of my guides told me.

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The ceiling mosaic. Wow!

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One thing that I finally get after my two tours is why Sarajevans are so open to talking about the war and hold no punches. This is because they see themselves as victims, not as an equal culprits in the aggression. So when they talk about horrible events, they are not owning up to things that they did to themselves, but are pointing the finger at things that were done to them. That is my interpretation only and should not be taken as a judgement of the validity or not of this interpretation if it is accurate. But it makes a lot of sense and further helps me understand what happened here and why the impacts are so long-lasting.

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City hall was the national library before becoming city hall again. It was the national library when it was bombed in the war. My guide yesterday said that this was an incomprehensible action by the Serbs because they were destroying their own heritage. Neno, from the walking tour, said that his grandmother still talks about seeing the ashes from all the books floating in the air.

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This picture is of two soldiers on opposite sides of the war post-war at Srebrenica, site of the massacre of 8,000 Bosniak Muslims. I wonder what thoughts are going through their heads.

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I was surprised by how much of city hall was open to visitors. Cordons and closed doors served as gentle guides telling us what areas were off limits.

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This was a thorough exhibit about the history of city hall and Sarajevo in general. City hall was completed and opened in 1896. It was built in a pseudo-Moorish style, seen as a “cultural misunderstanding… regarded as a retarded form of foreign culture.”

Pardon the glare in these, but there’s too much information to just summarise it:

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I saw video of the shelling in full colour. Tragic.

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They began to rebuild almost immediately, just as it was one of the first major buildings to be destroyed.

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There was an interesting section about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The building that was a café and is now a museum has not changed much!

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I was surprised that his marriage to Sophie Chotek was one of love and very controversial. She could not accompany him on official functions and their children could not inherit his title. To add a further sense of destiny to the assassination, it was the first time Sophie accompanied Franz Ferdinand on an official outing.

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This photo of the lady running reminds me of something I forgot to share after the walk with Neno. He mentioned that his mother went to work in full makeup and heels even though her children begged her not to as she would not be able to outrun snipers. She said that she did so because she would be beautiful if she was left wounded on the street and also because there were reporters…

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I learned yesterday, but forgot, that the peace accord was hammered out in Dayton, Ohio, of all places!

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Those exhibits were essentially in the basement. I then went back to the main level and up to the first floor.

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What am impressive building. I can understand how rebuilding it was important to Sarajevans and very likely boosted morale.

Next, I wanted to walk to New Sarajevo (across downtown down “Sniper Alley“) to photograph some of the things I saw on my tour yesterday. Sarajevo downtown is long and narrow as it is sandwiched by the mountains. There is a main thoroughfare that splits at the start of Old Town (Baščaršija), with traffic heading east passing south of Baščaršija along the river and traffic from the west passing to the north. Trolley cars go around Baščaršija in a loop. This map also happens to show the location of the brewery (pivara) across the river that I would visit later.

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There are so many churches and mosques in this city that Sarajevo is known as Little Jerusalem.

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Vicki, there are TONS of bakeries in Sarajevo. Look for signs that say “pekara”! 🙂

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At the market I saw my first day, there is a memorial to the many dead in the war.

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Loved the market!

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Next up was the memorial to all the children killed in the war.

 

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There’s a fountain but I just discovered I forgot to take a picture of it! There were fresh flowers all around it, with heartbreaking notes.

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There was a row of these lists of names, births, and deaths. This is very much  my generation.

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I noticed this subtle bit of art on the sidewalk by the memorial.

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The iconic (former) Holiday Inn. I remember seeing pictures of it after it was shelled because its yellow façade is so memorable. It was never a direct target.

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A museum and I’m pretty sure something else even more important…

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Our guide yesterday mentioned a building owned by a media magnate and I believe this is it. I stupidly stopped to take this picture in front of the huge US Embassy, but the guard who saw me do that did not speak up, so he must have realised I was not photographing the building.

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I finally got to the building that so impressed me yesterday. Can you see the impact crater? This is just one of many.

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Here’s another.

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Without embiggening this picture, I can see at least three impact craters. How can the structure still be solid?! There’s a Costa Coffee on the ground floor, a major chain, so they must trust the building…

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There was more I wanted to photograph, but I was getting tired and still had to walk back. I’d walked 3.5KM since city hall and had to walk it back. I could have taken the trolley, of course, but there was more I wanted to photograph on the return trip.

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This is where the road splits as we come into Old Town.

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This Courtyard Marriott is brand new.

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This is the brand of coffee I bought the other day. There are billboards for it all over the city, so it must be popular. I don’t like it nearly as much as my usual brands, but it is very satisfactory, especially for the price.

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By this point, I wanted a cold beer and decided to head to the Sarajevo Brewery, which for some reason wasn’t on my tourist map. I had a vague idea of where it was, but with the streets being as nonsensically laid out as they are, I knew I could wander around in circles for hours without getting to it. A half dozen, “Molim, pivo muzej?”s and pointing to passersby got me there. That’s, “Please, beer museum?” 😀

Entrance to the beer museum is 3KM, 5KM with a beer at the attached pub, or 25KM for lunch at the pub. I went with option two.

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The museum was really tiny and was only about the history of the brewery, with no opportunity to actually visit its operations. I was rather disappointed.

Sarajevans boast about having the first café in Europe, but beer was slow to come.

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Barrels were the most popular container for beer as for equal volume compared to bottles, the price was about 30% cheaper.

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What a great painting of the brewery! Still looks like that.

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This is the main newspaper in Sarajevo. We passed its building yesterday, but I didn’t get that far on foot.

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The brewery had major operations until the start of the ’70s and then went into a steady decline. It continued with a token production during the war and was fully reconstructed and modernised after the war. There was a three-year contract with Coca-Cola to produce soft drinks, then a new contract was signed with PepsiCo.

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The pub was dead, but pretty cosy.

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It was rather a small beer and I wonder if I got taken as I have a hard time believing this was 2KM worth of beer (plus maybe a few sips as I think I’d tasted it by this time). This was a rather bitter lager, but tasty!

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😀

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I cut through the market to get home and made a purchase! My travel purse has been both a blessing and a curse. I love all the pockets in it and its generous size, but the overly padded straps tend to fall down my shoulders. I also miss not having a bag that I can wear cross-body, keeping my hands free, and in which I can stuff purchases. So it was inevitable that I would end up replacing the bag on my travels and decided I’d start shopping when my sewing job on the handles started to give way, which was here in Sarajevo. Now, this isn’t really a location to look for the kind of bag I wanted so there wasn’t a huge amount of choice. But as you know, I know what I like. 🙂

I’d seen this bag several times over the last few days and when I came upon it on the way across the market, I decided to ask about the price. I’d seen similar bags marked 30KM, which was way more than I was willing to pay. My budget was 20KM (about 15CAD). The storeowner came out of her shop almost the second I started prodding the bag and brought it down for me.

I loved the beading.

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And the colour scheme.

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She quickly showed me the pocket in the strap, which is brilliant. Shame it’s not just a tad wider so my phone could fit in it.

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A zippered top is a must. I had to pass on a bag I loved even more because it didn’t have a zipper.

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There’s also an interior pocket for things I need to keep handy. I will miss not having more pockets, but one is better than none.

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The price was 25KM. but I noticed a slight imperfection in the stitching on the front, so I wasn’t willing to stretch my budget because I will need to fix it as the whole beaded panel could unravel. The clerk showed me other bags in the same style, but I found them hideous. After I passed on two or three of those, she pointed to the bag I liked, crossed out the 25 she’d written down and wrote, “20?” Yes, perfect! We were both very happy. 🙂

I bought dinner stuff and then headed up the hill, which felt about twice as steep as it did the other days. Boy was I tired!

For dinner, I put together a quick pasta that was the best pasta and sauce combo I’ve had since I got to the Balkans! I found these fresh Bosnian noodles and tossed them with a sauce that’s meant to be used as a dip that had much more complex flavours than any of the Italian jarred sauces I’ve tried.

Tomorrow was supposed to be my last day in Sarajevo, but a large work order came in, so I am staying till Saturday! This is a blessing because my next destination is expensive and will be difficult to get to, so I can travel there over a couple of days if I want to and then not feel like I have to take a private room with shared bathroom to save some money. I have to say that my last two weeks in the Balkans are growing murkier rather than clearer and that I’m no closer to knowing from where I’ll be flying to Madrid!

I think I’m done with tourism in Sarajevo because I have three solid days of work to do. I will venture out tomorrow to get groceries (and possibly a coffee if I go early enough), but the plan is to stay in all of Thursday with the hope of being able to finish early enough on Friday to hit a few museums. Somewhere in all of that, I will find time for another slice of Bosnian pie. I’d love to find the one with butternut squash!