Absolutely beautiful. Pots and pans and some spoons, knives and glasses, too. I wish I was there.
This study by the European Cyclists’ Federation, released yesterday in the run up to next week’s Velo-City 2013 international conference, served as a strong reminder of how far ahead the old continent is in terms of bicycling culture, at least in comparison with South America, and presumably, Central and North America. While traveling through South America over the past 19 weeks, I’ve only seen dedicated bike lanes in a few areas of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Quito, Popayan and Medellin, and none in Bolivia or Peru (Cusco and Lima).
By the way – Slovenia ranked #12 among the 27 EU countries, pretty much where I expected it would fall in such a study.
Robert Burns would have been 254 today. Some are taken from us much too soon.
This was taken last summer during the Olympic Games in London. The red flower? I’m not absolutely sure, but I think it was the work of this Brazilian art project, Rio Occupation London, who were quite busy in the British capital during the Games with caipirinha-charged guerrilla art, street performances and concerts to ultimately create what they called an “endless poem”.
Do you think Burn ever wore a similar red bonnet?
If you ever make it to the Bulgarian Black Sea coastal town of Kavarna, you’ll likely find yourself staring at this two-and-a-half story high mural of heavy metal journeyman Glenn Hughes which graces a building just up the block from city hall near one of the city’s main squares. Further up the block you’ll find yourself standing between a giant shirtless Billy Idol and a crooning John Lawton of Uriah Heep fame.
This heavy metal urban beautification is the brainchild of Mayor Tsonko Tsonev, whose primary quest since taking office has been to turn this city of 12,000 into Bulgaria’s rock capital. By any measure he’s been wildy successful.
An avid hard rock and heavy metal fan, Tsonev has attracted dozens of top metal bands to his hometown –Deep Purple, Motörhead, Manowar, The Scorpions, and Robert Plant among them– as part of the annual Kaliakra Rock Fest, later renamed the Kavarna Rock Fest.
How deep is his passion? In October 2010 Tsonev unveiled the world’s only statue memorializing former Black Sabbath frontman Ronnie James Dio. The 250 kilogram bronze, dedicated just five months after Dio’s death, has pride of place in the center of the city’s main park.
More of the murals are below. Can anyone help with the name of the Bulgarian musician?
I came across the Thomas Dolby song Windpower earlier tonight, which led to a much-needed final look at some photos I took in Kavarna, Bulgaria, in October. Among them this quick snap of one of the area’s ubiquitous wind farms. Bulgaria boasts one of the fastest-growing wind power production industries in the world, much of it in this region along the Black Sea.
For the 80s music fans among you, here’s a live version of Windpower in what was apparently Dolby’s only appearance on the BBC’s Top of the Pops. You’re welcome.
At a quick glance, Tomaž Drnovšek–Vinči’s roadside home and barn in Spodnji Hotič, a village just a few kilometers north of Litija, isn’t too different from many others you’ll typically find in smaller off-the-beaten path settlements in Slovenia: aging and modest, a bit rough around the edges, but functional.
Then you notice the quizzical look radiating from the nude life-sized burlap figure standing next to the first out building. When you catch a quick glance of a broken down van sporting a panoply of colors brighter than the clear afternoon sky, you know something quirky, and worthy of further exploration, lies just ahead.
It’s not easy to describe what is typical in present-day rural Slovenia, but this definitely isn’t it. A few steps later it all becomes less hazy. Towering over an extended tribe of those mangy burlap beings is a large barn with the words Muzej Premoderne Umetnosti, or Museum of Too Modern Art, stretched across the unfinished front. You really do come across the unlikeliest things on bike rides around here.
The roots of the museum date back to the late 1990s when some local frustrated artists were refused a show by a local gallery. Drnovšek–Vinči answered the call. In 1999 he sold his cows and turned the stables into a gallery. The space has since evolved into a contemporary art venue, a performance space for local and regional musicians and a hosting ground for numerous art workshops.
Its website has more info on some recent exhibits, but note that the English language section is woefully out of date. No worries, though – you’ll get the gist.
Muzej Premoderne Umetnosti/Museum of Too Modern Art
Spodnji Hotič 19, Litija, Slovenija
It’s located on the main Litija road that winds along the left bank of the Sava River. Look for a nude burlap gatekeeper.
Like this quickie from Brussels a few months ago, this post about another European capital was, from start to finish, an exercise in speed. And again with my upcoming 14-month trip* in mind.
The working plan will be to post something daily, which oftentimes will require an extremely quick turnaround, or preparing some posts in advance. Logistics along the way might thwart that plan. So might posting burnout or fatigue. Nonetheless, that’s the plan I hope to stick to.
These were taken over the course of two days in Stockholm last August, a city I’ve grown quite fond of after several working visits over the the past decade. There’s no theme per se with this selection, just things that caught my eye during relatively quick strolls around the central part of the city. Seven are posted here, while 59 in all are on my flickr stream here.
*Ten (!) days to go!
This is Michal Elia Kamal, vocalist for the Istanbul-based band Light in Babylon that I came across on the city’s busy Istiklal Avenue pedestrian thoroughfare last March. After a pair of cold and rainy days, finding them blanketed that chill with a smile. The trio apparently has that effect on lots of people since a Light in Babylon post late last winter was the most visited on this blog in 2012. Michal, Metehan and Julien, thank you. I hope you’re all doing exceptionally well.
With just 11 days to go (!) until departure on my round-the-world trip I’m trying to close the book on as much of 2012 as my limited time will allow – mainly by trying to put a few more photos and notes collected over the past year to some use before purging them from my hard drive. It’s also a useful exercise to glance back briefly to what brought people here, and what they enjoyed while spending a few moments here.
So, in case you missed some –and some of you quite likely did– here’s a rundown of the most read posts from the past year.
10. If you were wondering where the Northampton Transport Peace Bus Wound up..
You do find the darnedest things on bike rides around here. I was happy to see this one gain a bit of traction.
9. French Presidential Election Posters
A visit to Paris and Normandy in April nicely coincided with the French Presidential elections. Which meant lots of political posters. And books, too.
8. Trains and Stations – A Fetish in Fifteen Photos
A compilation of rail-related photos I snapped over the past six or seven years. Trains will always remain my favorite mode of travel.
6. Anti-Austerity Demonstrations in Ljubljana
This mid-November demonstration in Ljubljana presaged Slovenia’s Autumn of Discontent.
5. Five Long Exposures Inside Shanghai’s Bund Tourist Tunnel
Taken during a five-minute train ride below the Huangpu River. So hideously tacky that it almost works. At least for long exposure photography.
4. The Devil’s Sonata – A Piran Portrait in 19 Pics, Part I
It took me more than five years to publish a longer post about the city whose name this blog carries. And I even made the terribly sophomoric mistake of adding ‘Part I’ to the title. Which means I have to come up with a second part and I’m desperately running out of time. Good thing there’s no strict deadline.
3. 30 Minutes in Istanbul’s Spice Market
Exactly what the title implies. Sugar and spice and (almost) everything nice.
2. Carnations, Neo-Nazis and a Water Cannon – More Demonstrations in Ljubljana
I was glad to do my very modest part to spread the word a bit about the autumn demonstrations in Slovenia. Mention and a link from Boing Boing helped. They’re continuing, by the way.
1. Light in Babylon – Istanbul Street Music Quickie
Some really beautiful music. Be sure to check the post for lots of links to the band’s tunes.
All-time most read post? I doubt anything will ever match ‘Did anyone tell the Amazon swimmer about the candiru?‘ unless I come across another fish that enjoys lodging itself into a penis.
What to expect in 2013? Bar none, the best year ever for Piran Café! That’s a promise I intend to keep. As always, thanks for visiting, and enjoy the pic gallery.
I tried to make a star trails photo tonight which turned out to be a miserable failure. But I did get to spend forty minutes staring at a clear naked sky –a true luxury for a city boy like me- so it was hardly a total loss.
I’ve been organizing, storing, packing and prepping for my upcoming trip at my grandmother’s (empty) house in Pregarje, a small village in southwestern Slovenia’s Brkini Hills. It’s a beautiful part of the country, just an hour from Ljubljana, and about 45 kilometers from both Koper on the Slovenian coast and the Croatian port city of Rijeka. Trieste is just 30 kilometers away as the crow flies, yet that bustle seems far removed from the small villages that dot these hills that now sit uncharacteristically snow-less. I’ve never seen an early January here without any traces of snow.
I’ll be here a couple more days before I return to Ljubljana to take care of some loose ends; I doubt I’ll have much time for photos or blogging until then, so a few photos from my roots are in order. These were all taken yesterday (Jan 5) just before, during and after sunset, from the top of Karlovec, a hill just above Pregarje. The first one below is of the Kamnik Alps, the same range I’ve posted pics of several times but as seen from Ljubljana. Here, illuminated by the day’s last light, they’re about 140 kilometers away.
And three shots capturing part of the spectacular light show. Enjoy!
I’m leaving for my extended trip in 19 days, but the moving van will be here in 33 hours. Why I’m playing with photos when I’m surrounded by half empty boxes that need to be filled remains a mystery.
That’s one we can all easily aspire to as we begin what will be our best year yet.
Wishing you lots of love in 2013, along with plenty of health, happiness, serenity and peace. Thanks everyone for visiting, liking, commenting and sharing over the past year – it’s all very much appreciated, more than you’ll ever know.
I took this photo six years ago yesterday during a hike around Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj, one of the most beautiful corners of this country of many beautiful corners. I really liked how the late morning mist was beginning to rise from the slowly melting frost. For a snap from a Canon point & shoot set to automatic, the colors worked out remarkably well.
While looking through old hard drives a few days ago I reacquainted myself with the original file and played around a bit to see how it would look in black & white. I didn’t spend too much time with it – after straightening and cropping it a bit I chose to only make some slight contrast adjustments, before and after desaturation. I’m not very well versed in post-production and prefer to focus more on how the image will leave the camera.
All the elements here lend themselves nicely to black & white and I think I prefer the monochrome version. Thoughts?