Monument to Nothing Happening

When traveling I love coming across the quirky things. This happened while I was visiting Kaunas. I came across a monument that celebrates the fact nothing happened on 11 May 2014.

IMG_1198

Today is a public holiday in the UK and nothing much is happening I thought I would share this photo with you.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

 

Hill of Three Crosses, Vilnius

Being Good Friday I thought it would be appropriate to write about the Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius, Lithuania.

IMG_1226

The hill is known locally as Plikasis kanas (Bleak Hill) is found in Kalnai Park.. Crosses have always been popular on this hill. Local legend states that this was the spot where seven Franciscan friars were beheaded. They had been guilty of preaching the bible and putting down the local gods.

In the 17th century to commemorate this wooden crosses were erected. It was soon to be visual highlight of Vilnius. The problem with wood is that it rots away in time and in 1869 the crosses collapsed. Eventually in 1916 they were replaced with a new monument made of concrete. It was designed by Antoni Wiwulski.

In 1950 the Soviet authorities torn down the monument much to the anger of the local residents. The monument was rebuilt during the period when Lithuania was looking for independence from the Soviet Union. The new monument was unveiled on 14 June 1989.

P1030863

The best reason I give to visit the monument is that you get great views of Vilnius. I would recommend that you visit as dusk starts to bring in nightfall. My visit was in September 2014. It is a climb but once you get to see the views it is well worth the effort.

P1030865

I would recommend a visit to the Hill of Three Crosses. It is a perfect place to come and reflect.

P1030858

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Balkans Day 4, 11 September – Wet, Wet, Wet.

An early start to the trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The highlight of this trip for me will be going under a waterfall. I am not sure about jumping into a pool. All of this I believe is strictly illegal. However, Josko knows a way of doing this without getting caught.

The weather looked beautiful as we pulled away from the hostel. The scenery looked stunning. I was looking forward to this despite worrying about the cost. To reach the park it will take about three hours so I took the opportunity to get forty winks.

As I woke up the van was about to enter a tunnel. Once we came out the other side the weather had changed. It looked colder and it was now raining. We were climbing into the mountains. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts does not seem a good idea anymore. Once we arrived it was obvious that the group were looking like a bunch of unprepared tourists. I was fortunate to purchase a waterproof poncho from Poundland before I left the UK. While it felt cold once we started to move it soon started to warm up.

Me & my poncho

The park itself is beautiful. With all the waterfalls and mountains it simply took my breath away. There were plenty of photo opportunities. Even if we looked a little foolish with our posing. The park itself was popular with visitors despite the weather. So progress along the paths was slow. There was a crossing of the lake by boat which gave us the chance to rest our legs.

Natural Posing

When we reached the other side Josko took us to one side. Our fun was about to start here. First stop was the waterfall. There were no park rangers around which Josko saw as a good sign. We then reached the waterfall. The instruction was to remove your shoes and run into the waterfall where Josko would take a photo and we would run straight out. It was too cold to remove the shirt. It was a experience to tick off the bucket list. Sadly, no photo ever turned up.

Next up was the jump into the lake. I declined due to not being a good enough swimmer. Last thing I wanted was to drown especially as we were technically breaking the law.

After everybody had dried off we took a bus that took us to the caves. Every time I have travelled I always pack a torch but never felt the need to use it. That is until now. The cave experience was good. We carried on walking where we had one last chance for a photo opportunity that took my breath away.

Inside the caves

We left the park in mid-afternoon. After a hearty weel deserved lunch we made our way to the town of Knin. The main sight is the castle which was held by the Serbs during the war. Josko's mood changed when we got there. He was not as jolly. It was the reminder I needed that while the war had finished nearly twenty years ago, the scars will take a long time to heal.

The walls of Knin Castle

We arrived back at the hostel at around 7pm. The weather had turned, you could feel the thunder and lightning in the air. A group of us wanted some beer and snacks to enjoy back at the hostel. As we were on our way to the store the heavens opened. It rained hard and I was soon looking like a drowned rat. The things I will do for a beer. Overall, it was an excellent final day in Split. Tomorrow I leave for Dubrovnik.

Beautiful. The backdrop, not me.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Balkans Day 2, 9 September – My Feet Are Not Touching The Ground

The coach pulled into Victoria Coach Station at around 1am. It was only an hour and ten minutes late. Still meant that I had missed my connecting coach to Gatwick Airport. There was another coach due to leave at 1:30. The driver said there was plenty of room but I had to get my ticket changed first. This was done easy enough and soon I was on my way to the airport. As much as I tried to get some sleep I was feeling too excited to settle down.

Arriving into the airport gave me the first chance to relax. Maybe arriving an hour later was a blessing in disguise as I spent less time waiting around in Gatwick. After drinking a cup of coffee to help keep me awake I checked in my rucksack. Typically it was classed as oversized. Time to wait for a member of staff to come and take it off me. After getting through check-in I was fighting to keep myself awake while I waited to board the flight. It was 4:00 and the duty free shops were opening. What a time to start work.

The flight to Split went smoothly. I must admit to not being one of the world's greatest flyers. Flew by Easyjet and it was not too bad considering it was my first experience with them. After collecting my rucksack Josko from the Split Guesthouse was there to take me to the hostel. Talking to him gave me the impression that he seemed a decent person bad I was going to enjoy my stay at the hostel.

Upon arriving Josko went out of his way to introduce me to everybody in the hostel. After a quick shower and change of clothes I was ready to hit the town. Charles from Canada suggested that I could tag along with him, Pavel, Manfred and Jeanette. Manfred was going home later that day so we wandered into the old town.

Pavel, Manfred, Charles & Jeanette
Pavel, Manfred, Charles & Jeanette

It was busy as it was lunchtime so we decided to climb the Bell Tower of St. Domnius. A tight climb but once at the top you are rewarded with excellent views of the city and harbour. Walking along the waterfront with Manfred we were stopped by reporters from RTL. They asked Manfred for his thoughts on Split. I was waiting for my turn but alas they ignored me. Another bid for stardom thwarted.

One of the many splendid views of Split.

Walking back towards the hostel it was suggested that we should hire bicycles for the afternoon. Somehow I agreed it was a good idea. So I paid 40kn for four hours. I had forgotten that I had not ridden a bike in over ten years. Yes, it is true you never forget how to ride one. Good job we were going downhill and the roads were quiet. Soon we were at the beach. A large beer was called for. Maybe this was not the greatest idea as I had not eaten since 1am. I was surprised that I could keep control of the bike.

Manfred suffered a problem when the chain on his bike snapped. Manfred, Charles and Pavel were looking for a cliff to jump off. There were plenty of them, the problem was how to climb back up. Manfred took his bike back while the rest of us went to find somewhere to eat. Josko had recommended the Fife as a popular and cheap place to eat. I ordered a local variation of Bangers and Mash. It tastes excellent and it had been well earnt.

Bangers & Mash - Croatian Style

The afternoon had been great fun but it was soon time to return the bikes. One tip when hiring a bicycle, make sure you know your route back. We ended up having carry the bikes up a load of stairs.

My Trusty Steed

Back at the hostel Josko treated everybody with a bottle of Absolute Vodka to share amongst us. Joined by a Australian and Welsh couple we were enjoying the vodka along with some beer. At 11pm it was decided we would venture into the old town to find some bars. It was a enjoyable night. The bars themselves were only a small room but the atmosphere was perfect. Even though I started to flag a little towards the end, it had been a great first day of my trip. Hopefully, the shape of things to come.

Thanks for a great night

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – Birmingham Central Library

This is the third photo I have posted of the new Birmingham Central Library.

Costing £189m the library was opened on Tuesday by Malala Yousafazi. She was the schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for speaking for education for girls in her native Pakistan. She was treated in Birmingham and her family have made the city their home.

In her speech Malala said “A city without books in a city without a library is like a graveyard.” She also added that books were precious and they were the weapons to beat terrorism. Wise words from one so young.

There are nine floors to the library of which three are closed to the public. There are also two viewing platforms which were proving popular with people enjoying the good weather. This building could become an icon for Birmingham.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – Beethoven’s Residence in Vienna

This week's photo takes me back to my trip to Vienna. It is of the stone plaque that commemorates Beethoven's residence in Vienna.

Though German by birth Beethoven ended living in Vienna for the majority of his life. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhoff.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Liverpool Street Station, London

The hub of the walks I took part in on Sunday was Liverpool Street Station. It serves the east and south-east of England. It is also acts as the terminus for the Stansted Express. Despite over 55 million people using the station (April 2010 – March 2011) in my eyes it felt smaller than some of the other railway stations in London. The station itself does have some sites that are worth checking out.

Outside the main entrance is the Fur Das Kind Kinderstransport Memorial sculpture. It shows a group of children by a railway track. Liverpool Street Station was where many Jewish refugee children arrived into the UK.

Once inside the main entrance there is a large memorial dedicated to the workers of The Great Eastern Railway who died in World War 1.

If you can allow yourself some time just have wander around the station. There is surprisingly plenty to see.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve