By mid-June it had well and truly hotted up in the Balkans. I was travelling at a rate of knots; Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria in successive days is just one example of how many kilometres I was clocking up.
My four nights in Greece every fortnight was sort of like a mini-holiday; sure I was still working but the food was more to my liking (if I saw one more cevapi I’d scream), the people were relaxed and oh yay, there were beaches.
View from the Office Day 61: People (and bridge) watching in Mostar, Bosnia.
By late June, it had gotten very hot in Mostar (emphasis on the very). Without much natural shade, people head for the terraces and bazaars of the Old Town. At just about every point however, I made sure to look behind me. That bridge has a way of popping up everywhere. At this angle, you can also see the nearby mountain range which surrounds the town.
View from the Office Day 62: On this unassuming street corner in Sarajevo, World War I began.
It looks like just about any old street corner in Europe, but it’s here where Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which Bosnia was at that stage a part of) was assassinated, along with his wife Sophia. Sounds like an issue between Bosnia and Austria-Hungary? Well, not really.
Old Franz was killed by a Serbian nationalist, and Serbia refused (quite rightly, when you think about it) to hand him over to Austria-Hungary, causing Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia. Serbia’s ally, Russia, then declared war on Austria-Hungary, and then Germany, Austria-Hungary’s ally, declared war on Russia… and so on, and so on, beginning World War I. Next June services will be held here to commemorate the event’s centenary.
View from the Office Day 63: Trying to find the right change out of the twelve currencies I’m currently utilising.
That’s right. In the course of my work this year, I dealt with euros, pounds, Czech crowns, Polish zloty, Hungarian forints, Croatian kuna, Bosnian marks, Serbian dinar, Bulgarian leva, Turkish lira, Albanian lek and Swiss francs. Yeah, working out my expenses was not exactly my favourite time of the week.
View from the Office Day 64: My kind of public statues. Nis, Serbia.
I have no idea of the relevance of this statue, but I just really liked it. It’s a nice change from men on horses. It welcomes you to Tinker’s Alley, my favourite street in Nis.
View from the Office Day 65: The faces of two people who have just ordered duck hearts. Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
You’re bound to find a few interesting things on the menu when you’re deep in the Balkans. This Canadian and Kiwi thought it would be HILARIOUS to order duck hearts. Yep.
View from the Office Day 66: Colourful street vendor, Istanbul.
Everybody wants you to eat with them in Istanbul. You can’t seem to walk ten metres anywhere in Sultanahmet without someone offering you a kebab. In comparison, it’s quite nice wandering around near the Blue Mosque, where the street vendors are a little bit less in-your-face. And their carts are so pretty, too.
View from the Office Day 67: My seat has been stolen by a gigantic teddy bear won in a dance-off in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. As you do.
What are you supposed to do when your passengers present you with a massive teddy bear that they won in a dance-off the night before? Why, you adopt him as your mascot and use him to make the Balkan border guards smile. It works! (Next to him is my driver, Andelko, otherwise known as the Croatian Sensation.)
View from the Office Day 68: Bar hopping in Thessaloniki.
I loved the bar scene in Thessaloniki. It reminded me of Melbourne with its little lanes, tiny bars and eclectic music. Except in Australia, they don’t free pour.
View from the Office Day 69: A Greek feast with a rooftop view of Athens’ Acropolis.
Just about every building in the Monastiraki neighbourhood of Athens has a rooftop terrace, with each jostling for the perfect view of the Acropolis. We had our Greek feast on the rooftop terrace of AthenStyle hostel, watching the sun go down over the famous icon and drinking many a Mythos. Stuff like that never gets old.
View from the Office Day 70: Asian food craving satisfied in Athens.
I hadn’t eaten ANY Asian food for over six weeks and to me, that was like six years. I scoured Foursquare for any Asian restaurants in Athens and found one, tucked away in a quiet street not far from Syntagma Square. OK, so it wasn’t the best Asian food I’d ever had, but hey, I was in Greece. It was pretty damn good and I followed it up that night with a more traditional gyros.
Days 71-80 will feature Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey.