Category Archives: History

Soviet Monuments – Part 1

And now, as they say, for something completely different.

I’ve taken a lot of photos on this trip so far, (you may have noticed the ones on trains for example…) and one of the things I have been keen to do is to take photos of similar things in different parts of the world, as I thought that way I could then group them together and share the best ones on this blog.

One of my first ideas for this, was to take photos of the various Soviet monuments, mostly war memorials, that lie inside the countries of the old USSR or, as in Berlin, were put up in honour of those who had died in situ as it were.

I’ve found them very interesting things to photograph. Whilst there are many similarities between them – particularly the style in which they depict people, there has also been quite a bit of variety too. Unfortunately as my trip is no longer taking me home through Russia and Eastern Europe, this is a series, that for now at least, is incomplete. However rather than just leave them rotting on my hard drive, I thought I would put up what I currently have, as a “Part 1” as it were, and perhaps sometime in the future I will be able to photograph a “Part 2” Continue reading Soviet Monuments – Part 1

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Uzbekistan – Millions of melons, countless Chevrolets and out of this world monuments

Uzbekistan has to be, so far at least, the most rewarding country I have travelled through on this trip. It has countless splendid sights (more on these later) ridiculously friendly people, and enough quirks to make it endearingly different to what I have been used to on the road so far.

Uzbekistan is actually the most touristy of the countries in Central Asia, but it’s still not exactly high on everyone’s list of places to visit. Getting a Visa is fairly painless, but once inside the country you have to make sure each hotel you stay at registers you with the authorities and gives you a small stamped paper registration slip for each night you stay in Uzbekistan. You need to carry these around with you in your passport to show member of the police or army who might take an interest in it. You also need them to be able to leave the country unless you plan on paying a “fine” to get out. Continue reading Uzbekistan – Millions of melons, countless Chevrolets and out of this world monuments

Railway Museum pages now up

I seem to find myself coming across steam trains in various states of disrepair throughout my trip.  Sometimes in museums, sometimes just outside train stations.  Given I’ve now amassed quite a few photos of these I thought I would put up a new part of my blog to show them off, away from the eyes of those who might think this all “a bit sad…..

I’m not (he said defensively) actually a particular train geek so I have no idea what the identity of most of these trains are, and even when they was a plaque or something saying what they were its not something I have cared to note down. Instead what I’ve done is split them down into where they can be found.  (links will be added to this post as I upload the pages or can be found in the page menu on the left.)

I like the “elephant graveyard” feel of a lot of these places, at the photos I take reflect that.  I tend to prefer the ones left to rust and decay.

Slovenia

Hungary

Romania

Turkey

Abandoned Ani – On the road to nowhere…

Having dragged myself away from Istanbul, I’ve enjoyed relaxing and taking in some of Turkey’s other famous attractions. The Roman ruins at Ephesus and the tourist and ballooning hotspot of Cappadocia. Both were good, but neither stood out. Ephesus, with its crowds does compare rather unfavourable to some of the lonely ancient cities I’ve seen in the deserts of the Middle East, and the Temple of Artemis, is definitely another candidate for most underwhelming former wonder of the world. Meanwhile Cappadocia, whilst not as overrun with tourists as I perhaps expected, lacks something in the way of atmosphere, however pretty the sight of 50+ balloons taking off at dawn might be, and however many phallic shape rocks it might have lying around, just inviting men to revert to their 12-year-old selves and take stupid pictures.

Temple of Artemis with storks nest
Once a wonder of the world, now a pile of stones for tourists to photo and storks to nest on…

Continue reading Abandoned Ani – On the road to nowhere…

Buzludzha – trespassing into the past

Why, I asked myself, am I doing this? I’ve not slept properly for days, I’m in a town I’ve never heard of before, stuck in the middle of a thunderstorm, looking for a bus to yet another town that a week ago I’d never heard of. Why?

I’d just got off a 5 hour train ride from Bucharest to a town called Gora Oryahovitsa in Bulgaria and was sheltering inside the station as outside the rain came down in sheets whilst flashes of lightning illuminated the gloom outside. I was looking for a number 10 bus to another town called Veliko Tarnova, but there was no sign of numbers on any of the buses outside the station, and a poster board indicated that if there was a number 10 bus it actually left from someway away from the station anyway. I wasn’t supposed to be here I thought. This wasn’t the plan, I wasn’t supposed to be here, I was supposed to be in Istanbul. Well, in actual fact I was “supposed” to be in Istanbul a month ago according the long forgotten timetable I had drawn up for my travels, but this latest plan to be in Istanbul had only been drawn up two days earlier and yet I’d already discarded it and so here I was, on my own, probably about to get very wet and lost instead of being on a bus to Istanbul with a fellow backpacker I had first met way back in Mostar.

The rain showed no sign of easing, but another numberless minibus had just pulled up with “Veliko Tarnova” written in Cyrillic on a card in the windshield. Better than waiting in the rain I thought, and I hopped on.

Half hour later I was in Veliko Tarnova. Well sort off… I as on the outskirts of town, some two and a half miles away from where my hostel was. “Why am I doing this?” I thought again. Still at least it had stopped raining… Continue reading Buzludzha – trespassing into the past

Sarajevo Roses and Mostar’s scars

I’m now in Belgrade, but I feel I am starting to catch up with the blog. Bosnia was a beautiful country with some amazing food but its obviously still a place trying to come to terms with its recent history, here is my experience of it’s two most famous cities.

Sarajevo. There’s something about the name. It instantly sounds exotic amongst the more Western sounding names most European cities have. There’s good reason for this, as it was founded and named by the Ottoman Turks when they controlled the region and much of the Balkans. As I walked to my hostel, (you won’t be surprised to know I got lost and walked in circles several times until I found it) dusk fell and the sounds of the muezzin’s issuing their calls to the faithful from the minarets that, lit up, dotted the skyline, I knew the curtain would soon be drawing the European part of my journey to a close.

Sarajevo
Sarajevo

Continue reading Sarajevo Roses and Mostar’s scars