Friday, April 30, 2010
You place water in the bottom unit and put the steaming containers on top of the base. Inside one of the containers, you place a small plastic dish wherein you put your rice and water. Turn that baby on for 30 minutes and you will have almost perfectly cooked rice. (Insert sigh of relief here).
Well, we are still here in Podgorica! The weather has finally made a turn for the better, I believe. There was one week in there where it rained...and rained...and rained some more. I am told that is what the winter was like this past year. Lovely. A monsoon for 5 months straight. Can't wait. But summer is on its way now; it has been in the 70s this week, even approaching 80. However, we have a long way to go to reach the 40-45 degree Celsius point of mid-summer (which is 104-113 degrees Fahrenheit for us Americans). Again, can't wait!
Am I complaining too much? I don't mean to be! Life is moving along here for us albeit at a slower pace. We have met some wonderful people here which makes life more enjoyable. A few weeks ago I was able to tag along on my first official IWC trip. What is IWC, you ask. Well, that would stand for the International Womens Club...a ragtag group of international ladies who gather together for support and entertainment purposes. Maybe "ragtag" is not the right descriptive word here as one of the members along on the trip is the wife of the Croatian Ambassador. Which one of these is not like the others? That's right...me! But I still had a good time and they are all lovlies.
The trip was to Ostrog which is a Serbian Orthodox monastery built into the side of a cliff and the most famous site for pilgrimage in Montenegro (or even perhaps the region). It was founded in the 17th century by Saint Vasilije of Ostrog and his body is kept within the monastery. And I mean, really. His body is lying there and people come to kiss his hands. Just a wee bit creepy to me...I see dead people. But to each his own and the locals speak of this place with great reverence (unlike yours truly!); there is a great amount of myth surrounding this monastery as there are many stories of people being healed after praying near his body.
After meeting with the priest, we piled back onto the bus to reach the actual monastery. Part of the pilgrimage to Ostrog is to hike up the mountain to reach the monastery which would take about 45 minutes to an hour. We took the bus. Sigh. Once we reached the top, we were able to go into the monastery and see Saint Vasilije's body and kiss him if we wished. I passed on that opportunity. Sadly for you, my dear readers, we were not able to take pictures inside. Just picture if you will, a tiny cave-like room with a priest sitting next to a man who has been dead for 339 years.
All in all, it was a lovely day...beautiful weather and I had another fantastic opportunity to see more of Montenegro as well as meet some more international residents of this fine country.
Moving on to just this past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Skadar Lake which is located near the border of Albania and is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. It is surrounded by a vast natural park filled with various types of flora and fauna. A friend and I took a taxi from Podgorica; it took about 30 minutes and cost us about 17 euros. We were to meet up with a larger group but arrived before the others, so we took the time to wander around the small village of Virpazar. It was quite the picturesque little place!
We met up with the group for drinks at a small restaurant and then a wine tasting at a tourist information center. Afterward, we hiked up a small hill where there was an old castle and a great panoramic view.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
At least I have my cool gear to keep me pumped!
I usually pride myself in my mad map-reading skills and sense of direction. The area around our apartment has thrown me a little though.
I plan my route and am jogging on a very nice sidewalk or crossing a bridge spanning the beautiful Moraca River when all of a sudden my lovely trail disappears and I am heading into crazy Montenegrin traffic. Or I look at the map and see a road, but once I get there in person, it does not exist. Hmm.
And then on another outing I ran into one of these amongst the modern apartment construction going on nearby...
Ok, so it wasn't this exact creature as I did not have my camera with me, but I sure felt that this is the way it reacted when it saw me and started heading in my direction! Thankfully, I realized that it was chained in place so I could just mosey on along. I have learned from some of our international friends who have lived here longer than us that these are the moments where you can just laugh and sigh, "Ah, Montenegro....!!"
Friday, April 2, 2010
We wandered the quaint streets and stopped at a small bakery to snack on burek sir which is phyllo pastry stuffed with cheese (you can also find it with meat or potato).