Archive for the ‘International’ Category

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Not just Abba

January 7, 2009

Classic pictures of 1970’s Swedish Dance Bands.

For once I decided that I should learn a bit about that which I mock. I googled about a bit and learned that Dance Bands (Dansbands) are still a big thing in Sweden.  The matching outfits are the result of a tax code that only allows deductions if there are ‘Fantasy Costumes’ involved.

My favorites:

  • ake Lindh’s
  • Teddy Boys
  • Saints
  • Hick
  • Skip’z

Hopefully my friend Kristofer will eventually stumble across this post and enlighten me on Swedish Dance Bands.  After spending 30 minutes or so reading about them, now I want to go see one.

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Trogir, Croatia

November 23, 2008

While we were in Split, we took a day trip to the walled town of Trogir.  We grabbed a city bus and were there in about 45 minutes.

It’s a small town, probably not more than a mile on a side.  There’s been a town on the same spot for the past 2300 years, inhabited at various times by Greeks, Romans, Venetians and Croats.  It ‘s on a small island between the mainland and the much larger island of Ciovo and is surrounded by calm waters.  There were some amazing yachts from all over the world tied up along the promenade outside the city walls.

It’s a gem of a town with narrow streets that wind among it’s beautiful buildings.  The centerpiece of the town is the Cathedral of St Lovro (Lawrence) with its 150 ft bell tower.  From the top you can see out across the city and beyond but but be prepared for some narrow steps.  Add in a lively breeze and you have a hair-raising climb.

Anyway, here are our better pictures.

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Open Mic Night

October 28, 2008

During a recent lunch with two friends at a local pizza parlor, the band Slade came up.  My friend Adam, a Scottish chap, was a bit surprised (in a dry, British Isle sort of way) that Denny and I, two Americans, knew as much as we did about Slade, a Scottish band.  Unfortunately, our knowledge came from the band Quiet Riot, who rose to fame on the back of two Slade cover songs.

In honor of Adam.

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Split, Croatia

October 15, 2008

On our fourth day in Zabreb we reluctantly checked out of the Palace Hotel. Our train wasn’t until 9:00 pm so they held onto our bags while we spent another day exploring Zagreb. We spent the day in series of lazy visits to outdoor cafes sandwiched by the Botanical Gardens, the Archaelogical Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art. After a tasty, filling (always filling in Zagreb) dinner, we headed to the train station.

We showed up at the train station 30 minutes or so before our departure time and checked the overhead board to see what track we were on. For the first time, our inability to speak Croatian smacked us in the face. Up to this point, we were spoiled Americans, relying on the fact that we could usually always find at least one person in each establishment who spoke English. No luck here. Michele was like a U.S. Ambassador, moving from person to person, pleading, arguing and negotiating to try to figure out where we were supposed to go. We had reserved a sleeper through a US based company and the pursers were looking at our tickets with a “what the hell is this” kind of expression. Michele kept persisting and they finally led us to a private cabin.

On Croatian Rail, private cabin does not equal sleeping berth.  The seats folded down but that was the only nod made towards sleeping.  Throw in some Limeys (the soccer hooligan kind, not the Hugh Grant kind) and a loud squeak that seemed to be an integral part of the train and you get a long night with little sleep.  Still, we made it from Zagreb to the coast with little hassle and didn’t lose a full day traveling. And when the sun came up, we peered out the window and discovered the beautiful Croatian Coast.

Our pictures from Split.

We were met at the train station by several locals with rooms to rent. If we spoke Croatian, we may have considered renting a place but we took the safe route and headed to a Travel Agency recommended by our guide book (Thank you Lonely Planet). With the help of Atlas Travel Agency, we found an awesome apartment in the city center for around $100.00 a night.

I had never heard of Split before we decided to go to Croatia for our Honeymoon.  It’s a convenient hopping off point to the islands in the south and it was highly recommended by the guide books (again, thanks Lonely Planet) so we decided to add it to our itinerary.  Fortunately, it was a great choice.

It’s a beautiful, bustling city.  It’s the second biggest city in Croatia and the largest port in the country.  It is also the home of Diocletian’s Palace.

Diocletian was a Roman Emperor who abdicated his position in AD 305 to retire to his villa in what was then part of the Roman Empire.  The city of Split grew up around his Palace.

It is an amazing structure.  A walled city, it is not a museum, but a integral part of the center of Split.  There are restaurants, hotels, shops, museums and private residences all throughout the grounds.  Walking through at 11:00 pm, the drinks are still being served and the music is still playing.  It is one of the coolest places I have ever been fortunate enough to visit.

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Iceland

October 14, 2008

Wow!

You think our economy melted down. Iceland is in really rough shape.

And really, with a name like Iceland, you wouldn’t expect anything to melt down.

And now, for no reason, a funny picture from Iceland.

(h/t Iceland Studio Journal)

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Iraq

September 17, 2008

On the way in to work this morning, there was an interview on NPR with a NY Times reporter, Dexter Filkins, about his new book, The Forever War.  It was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal news report.  He has spent a considerable amount of time in Iraq and while cautioning against being too optimistic, he reports that things have improved drastically in some parts of the country.  Interesting what you can do with a pocketful of cash.

You can listen here.

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Zagreb

September 16, 2008

Our Honeymoon began in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. We flew an Airbus A330-200 from Seattle to Amsterdam Northwest/KLM then an A319 from Amsterdam direct to Zagreb. The flights were nice, much better than I expected. It was cramped but the crew was friendly and the food was actually pretty good. Getting a shoulder/neck massage at Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) helped (a LEGAL massage).

We left Seattle at 1:00 pm on Friday and were on the ground and through customs at Zračna Luka Airport in Zagreb by 2:00 pm the next day. We grabbed a cab for a 25 minute trip to the our hotel for 240 Kuna (about $50 dollars). There was a bus that would have only cost about $15.00 but we were exhausted and not quite sure where we were going so a taxi seemed like the best choice.

For most of the trip we stayed in relatively inexpensive lodging but we splurged in Zagreb. We stayed in a Junior Suite at the Palace Hotel right in the middle of the Old Town. It’s the oldest hotel in Zagreb and has a ton of Old World charm. We only stayed a few days but really enjoyed the experience.

Here’s a picture of the Palace Hotel from Flickr.

Picture courtesy of xinegasparac

Zagreb was a real treat. Driving into the city from the airport, you pass through the newer/outside ring of the city first. It’s the first ex-communist country I’ve been to and well, the outer ring looked like I would have expected. Large, dull, gray buildings with the graffiti that is ubiquitous throughout much of Europe. Then you pass over the Sava River and you’re in a completely different place.

The older/inner part of the city is an active, charming scene. It’s filled with people, mainly locals but plenty of tourists, milling from shop to shop, stopping for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at one of the many sidewalk cafes while chatting with friends. And it’s not just your urban hipsters, it’s the whole family, Grandparents down through the smallest Grandchild. And everyone is eating (and I am not making this up) Ice Cream or Corn on the Cob.

We did not leave the middle of the city the entire time we were there. We spent all of our time in the medieval Upper Town and the newer Lower Town.

Here are some of our better pictures

I’ll post the pictures from the coast in the next few days.