Thursday, June 28, 2007

Glacier National Park (Western Montana)

I have been asked to post pictures of Western Montana in addition to those taken in and around Havre. Here they are. These pictures were taken in August 2006 in Glacier National Park. This park is quite stunning. Hiking in the park feels like being in the Alps. There are more than thirty glaciers in the park. Unfortunately, if global warning continues at its current rate, most of these glaciers will be gone in thirty years.

[Version française:

On m’a demandé d’ajouter des photos de l’Ouest du Montana, en plus de celles prises autour de Havre. C’est fait. Ces photos ont été prises au cours d’un voyage fait en Aôut 2006 à Glacier National Park. Ce parc naturel est d’une incroyable beauté. Les randonnées faites dans ce parc font penser aux Alpes. On y compte plus de trente glaciers. Malheureusement, si le réchauffement climatique continue à son rhythme actuel, ces glaciers seront disparus dans trente ans.]

Les françaises d’un certaine âge de Bosnie-Herzégovine - Very French and of a certain age in Bosnia-Herzegovina

On les trouve un peu partout en Bosnie-Herzégovine. Des petits modèles surtout, que l’on n’a plu vu plus en France depuis longtemps déjà (enfin je crois, à moins que…, dans les villages de campagne…? mais en tous cas pas en ville). Des Renault 4, beaucoup de Renault 4. Cette voiture, ce n’est même pas la voiture de mes années d’étudiant (ma première voiture était une Renault 5, il y a une différence!). Non, la Renault 4, c’est plutôt la voiture de mon enfance, la seconde voiture des Français de la génération de mes parents.

Et voilà que je les retrouve, ces voitures d’un autre âge, à Mostar, à Sarajevo. Certaines sont encore plutôt fringantes, comme la rouge garée sur le trottoir du pont “Lucki Most” (“cela se pronounce “louchki most”) à Mostar. D’autres ont vu des jours meilleurs et parfois même ont changé de function, comme celle-ci, l’orange, garée tout contre un mur de maison et remplie de cartons. Celle-ci, c’est presque sur, on ne la verra plus sur les routes.

Quelques Citoën aussi mais beaucoup moins nombreuses. Celle-là, orange encore, dans la cour d’un garage de Sarajevo, en plein centre ville, est un modèle dont le nom m’échappe. Roule-t-elle encore ou bien est-elle ici pour finir ses jours?

Enfin, une cousine yougoslave (serbe?), la Yugo bleue à raie blanche, dont la photo a été prise à Belgrade en Mai dernier. Celle-là est encore tout à fait active: c’est une voiture de police à Belgrade.

[English version:

One finds them just about everywhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mostly small models that one no longer sees in France (at least I think that unless…?, in remote country villages perhaps? but not in French towns). A lot of Renault 4’s. This car model is not even the car of my student days (my first car was a Renault 5, there is a difference!). No, the Renault 4 is rather the car of my childhood, the second car of French people of my parent’s generation.

And here they are, these cars from another era, in Mostar, in Sarajevo. Some of them are still rather peppy, like the red one parked on the sidewalk of the “Lucki Most” (pronounciation: “looshki most”) bridge in Mostar. Others have clearly seen better days and some of those even have a different function now, like the orange one parked near a house wall and filled with cardboard. This one, for sure, will not be seen on the road.

A few Citroën models also, but far fewer. This other orange one, in the yard of a garage in Sarajevo, smack in the center of the old town, is a model whose name I no longer remember. Does it still run or is it spending its final days here?

Finally, one of their yougoslav (serb?) cousin, this blue Yugo with white stripe, whose picture was taken in Belgrade last May. This one is still very much active: It is a police car in Belgrade.]

PS: Looking at my pictures of Belgrade once more, I see that I have unintentionally photographed yet another Renault 4 while I was there. This green beauty is shown on the right.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Montana, the big sky state - Le Montana, l’état au grand ciel

Yes, I know, these posts should be chronological but aren't. This is because I just started this blog, and I am still catching up. It will get a bit more sensical soon, promised... These pictures were taken during our first trip to Montana (V. and I) in August 2006. They were taken in and around Havre, MT, where we have family. Montana is called the "big sky state," for obvious reasons.

Pour les français qui ont un peu de mal avec l’anglais, ces photos datent de l’été dernier, au mois d’Aôut 2006, quand V. et moi sommes allés en vacances dans le Montana. Elles ont été prises dans les environs de Havre (oui comme “Le Havre” mais cela se prononce “ha-veur,” allez savoir…). Le symbole de l’Etat du Montana c’est le “Big Sky” c’est à dire “l’état au grand ciel,” pour des raisons qui vont d’elles-même.

Balkan magic in Sarajevo

It's friday afternoon in Sarajevio, Bosnia. I arrived last night at 11pm on the bus from Belgrade, and today, after a day at the Sarajevo office of our partner company, I am out exploring the town. After changing to shorts and a t-shirt at the hotel (hotel Emona in Bembasa), I cross one of the bridges which go over the miljacka river and find myself in the middle of nature. The air is incredibly fragrant with what I think is wisteria (I am later told that is not wisteria but "locust tree" (or "acacia" in french), whose flowers are edible). Then I notice music coming from a stereo nearby: soulful bosnian folk music of the kind V. and I sometimes listen to in New York. I walk towards where it is coming from and happen upon the recording of a video. The young film crew is on the right and I can barely see a singer on the left, surrounded by greenery. This is a moment of pure balkan magic. I get closer, turn on the zoom on my digital camera and take the next picture, a close-up of the singer. She is holding her glasses in her left hand and a flowering branch in her right. My bosnian is not very good but I understand some of the word: "... moje bela sarajavo grada..." ("my beautiful city of Sarajevo..."). I stay until the end of the song and move on, filled with a feeling of pure joy.

One of the many cemeteries dotting the hills of Sarajevo. The siege of Sarajevo by the Yougoslav People's Army (JNA), aided by bosnian serb forces lasted three years, from April 5th, 1992 to February 29th, 1996. This was the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.

The people of Belgrade

This post is an homage to the resilient, courageous, friendly, fun, strong, beautiful people of Belgrade. I hope that the worst times for this city belong to the past. I will come back to visit soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Belgrade on my mind

I came back from Belgrade about a month ago and now back in New York, I keep thinking of the great time I had there discovering this city. So I decided to share a few pictures taken in Belgrade during those five days in May.

These two pictures were taken in Kalemegdan, the "Central Park of Belgrade." It is where you go when you feel like breathing clean air or when you feel romantic (it's a major make-out spot), or when you just want to take a walk away from traffic. Located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, Kalemegdan displays layer upon layer of architectural history. You'll find there: a roman well, fountains from ottoman times, ancient portals and fortifications. It's a pretty amazing place.

Sveti Marko Crkva (St Marko's church) is my favorite church in Belgrade. It is an orthodox church located near Tasmajdan Park. I learned recently that it was destroyed in 1941 by german bombs and that it was subsequently rebuilt. Tasmajdan seems to have a fascinating history of its own since under the park can be found a network of secret passages used during communist times.

One of my favorite spots in Belgrade: Kalenic pijaca (Kalenic market), the largest open air green market in the city. In this place you can find all sorts of fruit, flowers, vegetables. In may, there were flower sellers with big bunches of peonies and lots of people selling strawberries.

The colorful trams of Belgrade. This picture was taken not far from Kalemegdan. Studenski Trg is on the right.

A funky Art deco building. I love the clock at the top.

One of the many remnants from communist times in downtown Belgrade. Although you'll have a hard times finding a native of Belgrade agreeing with you on this, it seems to me that under the right kind of light these "ugly buildings" have a certain grace and beauty of their own.

The staircase of the apartment building where I stayed in Belgrade. I got to know it well, because although the apartment was on the sixth floor I had a deep mistrust of the rickety elevator, which I had nicknamed the "socialist elevator" (get in, close the wood doors, light goes off, press random button to a floor, get to floor, light goes off again, etc.). These stairways are so bright that some tenants put house plants there.

One last walk in Kalemegdan before I was to catch my plane back to New York later that day. The Danube is on the right.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Les portes de Belgrade - The doors of Belgrade

Chaque ville d’une certaine taille semble avoir sa charactéristique propre. Lors d’un voyage à Toulouse au printemps 2006, j’avais remarqué et photographié les heurtoirs de portes. Belgrade, elle, a ses portes. Belles portes d’immeubles eux même parfois un peu décatis, elles sont parfois en bois sculpté mais bien plus souvent en métal chromé et verre. En voici des examples sur ces photos. Et puis, allez visiter Belgrade. Les belgradois sont très sympatiques.