Cape Town 2019

Waterfront Cape Town – The South African

It’s fantastic being back in Cape Town! A location that stole my heart during the first visit in 1987. The beautiful coastal city is surrounded by incomparable Table Mountain.

View of Table Mountain from My Gardens Apartment

I arrived on May 2nd after a series of flights beginning in Catania Sicily and passing through Rome and Addis Ababa Ethiopia – including two plane and terminal changes more tiring than the thirteen-hour flight.

Cape Town at Night – wpblink.com

During the flight from Addis Ababa to Cape Town naughty Indian children commandeered the aircraft running wild through the aisles disrupting everything. A passenger complained in a loud way and the children were forced to sit down and behave themselves. Upon arrival in Cape Town, they continued wreaking havoc in the immigration hall, running races through cordoned off lines, clearly undaunted by their reprimand on the airplane. Their parents seemed amused.

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Cape Town – Rhino Africa

After Berlin, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Sicily, passengers on Ethiopian Airlines were more diverse than any of the places visited, except maybe Berlin. I’m still processing the time spent in Europe and the Balkans – a valuable learning experience with priceless memories!

Table Mountain from Melkbos – Discover Africa Safaris

When returning to Cape Town I always notice changes – some subtle, others not. I’ll be here through mid-June and then on to Hermanus, Onrus Beach, and Walker Bay.

Cape Town – Independent.ie

My apartment in Gardens neighborhood is in a high-rise building with retail and parking garages on the lower levels and residential above. I’m on the 17th floor and look out at Table Mountain. It’s thrilling to watch the mountain constantly changing depending on weather, wind, and sky. It almost seems close enough to touch!

Pink in Cape Town’s Sky that Artists Try to Capture

The building is secure and comfortable. Everything is within walking distance including a great choice of restaurants.

Walker Bay Sunset – Unsplash

I have a rental car for day trips and places further away. After seven months without driving, it’s nice to be mobile again – even though South Africans drive on the wrong side of the road :)…

Table Cloth of Fog Over Table Mountain

Today the wind is howling – yesterday it was calm. Earlier the Table Mountain Table Cloth was visible as fog gently spewed over the flat-topped mountain. It’s mesmerizing watching sunrises and sunsets and spectacular scenery changes from foggy to clear and back again. Hiking on the mountain is part of my agenda.

Walker Bay Grootbos Nature Reserve – Robert Harding

The drought crisis is over but water and energy conservation are everyday concerns in Cape Town. Hopefully winter will bring significant rainfall. May temperatures are mild in the 60s and 70s but forecast to reach the 80s next week.

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – springbokatlas.com

South Africa’s General Election is May 8 with another ANC (African National Congress) victory predicted. Elections are always exciting. South Africa’s economy and social inequalities create an emotional, volatile atmosphere with protests for change.

The Company’s Gardens Cape Town – The Heritage Portal

There’s considerable voter apathy in South Africa, especially among young voters. The ANC disappointed and is under pressure to improve the failing economy, address unemployment, provide better services (especially power), improve infrastructure, and curb crime, violence, and government corruption. All are complicated issues with unemployment, the economy, and a looming energy crisis heading the list.

Views Onrus Beach and Hermanus Bay – Pinterest

One thing I’d forgotten about (almost) is the Hadeda Ibis – known as the “loudest bird in Africa“. With Hadedas nearby, you don’t need an alarm clock!

More later…

Kotor Montenegro to Sarajevo

Sarajevo Vista – samed

Tomorrow I leave Kotor for Sarajevo – the capital and largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s exciting to visit Sarajevo even in the winter when it’s cold with snow flurries in the forecast.

Sarajevo – FIBA

Emperor’s Mosque Sarajevo – otarikkic Pizabay

Although I appreciate the medieval cities, exceptional nature, and beautiful coastal areas in Croatia and Montenegro, I also enjoy the energy of cities. Sarajevo is the “political, social, and cultural center of Bosnia and a prominent cultural center in the Balkans”. It’s also known for religious and cultural diversity.

Sarajevo Rooftops and Catholic and Orthodox Cathedrals – Charles Bowman

Roman Bridge Sarajevo – Elvira Bojadzic Islamic Arts Magazine

There’s a cable car and like San Francisco, Sarajevo has an electric tram network running through the city. I’m staying in Old Town near the city center and looking forward to exploring!

Sarajevo Trebević Cable Car – Monocle

Sarajevo Bridges Miljacka River – Sarajevo Travel

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“Sarajevo is one of few European cities with a “mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church, and synagogue all in the same neighborhood”.

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Sarajevo Tram – commons.wilkimedia.org

In 1914, Bosnian Serb teenage activist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria sparking World War I and “ending Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia“.  Years later during the Bosnia and Yugoslav Wars, Sarajevo suffered the “longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare”. The city is still undergoing post-war reconstruction.

Princip Gavrilo – Wikipedia

Sacred Heart Cathedral Sarajevo – Sygic Travel

Latin Bridge Sarajevo – FlixBus

Festina Lente Looping Bridge Sarajevo – Dezeen

More later…

Kotor Montenegro

Slave Žižek – The Mountain Wreath Epic Montenegrin Poem

Montenegro is decidedly different from Croatia. I spent the first day in a cloud trying to accomplish basics – getting bearings, buying a local SIM, finding food, and determining a loose itinerary for the week. After days of rain, the weather was warm and sunny!

Kotor Wall at Dusk – On the Luce Travel Blog

Some tours available in summer aren’t running now, but there’s still plenty to see and learn. I’m checking into boat tours of nearby islands in the Bay of Kotor. Since it’s winter group tours are hard to find and private tours expensive.

St. George Church Kotor – Kathmandu & Beyond

Walking Kotor’s Walls to St. John’s Fortress

My first adventure was walking Kotor’s walls and the “seemingly never-ending switchbacks along the ancient ramparts” of St. John Mountain to St. John’s Fortress. The stone steps and loose rocks were challenging but not difficult. The path leads to interesting destinations, depending on how far you go and which turns you take at forks in the path. You can end up at Church of Our Lady of Remedy, Sveti Ivan Fortress, or the partially hidden Church of St. George.

Hiking the Wall

Petar II Petrović Njegoš – Montenegrin Ruler, Governor, Poet, and Philosopher

Kotor Old Town – New Location, Different Apartment

Moving between countries causes some disorientation – at least for me. Just when you’re getting comfortable in a location, it’s time to move on and everything changes. Moves keep you on your toes. My Kotor apartment is in Old Town. At first the medieval city with its narrow cobbled streets, stone archways, and dead ends seemed like an impossible maze – especially at night. My landlord gave a good orientation which didn’t make sense at the time but after a day of exploring does.

View from St. John Fortress

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“Kotor’s history is parallel to the rich culture of the town ruled by many conquerors –  Illyrians, Venetians, Austrians, French…”

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Kotor Bridge Old Town – 360monte.me

Every morning at 7:30 am Old Town church bells begin tolling. If you’re staying here and not already awake, it’s your unavoidable alarm clock! Throughout the day the bells ring at predetermined times – noon, 5 pm, 8 pm. Sunday is a day of wild church bells.

Kotor Montenegro – featurepics.com

Cars are not allowed in Old City. You can hear reverberating conversations from cafés, carts rolling along the cobbled pavement, and people passing in the narrow stone streets below. The last medieval city time I stayed in was Split Croatia. It’s a fun, interesting experience and mini taste of life in a medieval city.

Culture, Poetry, Art

Kotor’s history includes invasions by many would-be conquerors, yet Montenegro maintains a unique culture and national pride. Balkan neighbors from Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia often label relaxed Montenegrins as lazy. Not sure that’s fair. They have a “deep love and respect for family” and clearly are proud of their heritage and country. I still struggle to differentiate between Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians.

Sveti Ivan Fortress – Meanderbug

Poetry is an important part of Montenegro’s history. Gorski Vijenac (The Mountain Wreath) is a “vast epic poem focusing on the coming together (or lack thereof) of Montenegro’s many tribes”. Petar II Petrović Njegoš, Montenegrin ruler, governor, poet, and philosopher wrote the poem. It’s not an easy read but a must if you really want to understand Montenegro.

Dado Đurić Painter, Engraver, Draftsman, Illustrator, Sculptor – OKF Cetinje

Milo Milunović Painter Impressionism and Cubism – maletic.org

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Montenegro’s most formidable foes were the Venetians and Ottomans. Both cultures left a strong impact on the country.

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Saint Tryphon Cathedral Kotor

Dado Đurić Montenegrin Artist

Njegoš brought “modernization” to Montenegro in the 19th century. Between 1970 and 1974 the Montenegrin people built the highest mausoleum in the world to honor him. It’s on the second highest peak of Lovcen Mountain.

Art is important to Montenegrins. Milo Milunović and Dado Đurić are two notable contemporary artists. If possible, I’ll visit local galleries and see their work. Most major galleries are in Cetinje, Herceg-Novi, Podgorica, Bar, and Budva.

Church of Our Lady of Remedy Kotor – Photorator

Independence, Politics, Economy

Like Croatians, Montenegrins have a “relentless desire for independence”. Over centuries they’ve fought fierce battles against large invading armies.

Milo Milunović – Pinterest

Montenegro has been independent since 2006. The President Milo Đukanović is also President of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro. He’s known as a “Balkan political strongman” and has been in power since 1997. I’ve heard that Đukanović is unpopular with younger Montenegrins.

President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović – bne IntelliNews

My landlord expressed concern that the current situation in Kosovo might have a negative impact on Montenegro. I don’t know much about it and am educating myself.

Dado Đurić Traces of Ancient Montenegro – mne.today

There’s considerable poverty in Montenegro. The average monthly salary is between 300 – 600 Euros. Montenegro’s economy is said to be “in transition”. Currently it’s service based and still recovering from the impact of the Yugoslav Wars. Montenegro experienced a real estate boom in 2006 and 2007 when wealthy “Russians, Brits, and others bought property on the Montenegrin coast”.

Steps to Sveti Ivan Fortress – Meanderbug

More later…