Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vote, please

Can't decide on a cover design for my new novel (the sequel to Stasis). Which shall it be?

Cover 1:
 Or Cover 2:

Please comment with your choice. Thank you!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Today's been a good day. I walked about 3 miles and climbed to the 3rd floor (American 4th floor) three times, had cheesecake and espresso for lunch, gave a lecture to a nice group of psychology students (after successfully finding the psychology department), discovered a new bakery and produce market by the train station, and bought groceries and matches without resorting to a single word of English. Also had my apartment cleaned and our very nice cleaning lady French-braided Allison's hair and gave me a shoulder and back massage! I don't even mind the light rain--at least it's warm out. All in all, an excellent start to the week!


It's been a busy couple of weeks here, and I have several things going on this week. But I'll post some pics now of our day trip to Ljubljana last week. First, some views from the train. It takes less than 2 1/2 hours to get there and it's a very scenic ride, most of it along the Sava River.

I wish I knew how to pronounce this town!

And here we are in Ljubljana.

It was a gorgeous day and the riverside is beautiful.

This atop a hill, where there's a castle. We rode the funicular to get there.

And then climbed 90 steps to the top of a tower for this view. See the Alps?

Sitting in the castle courtyard.

Allison has pronounced this ice cream the best so far.
Back in Zagreb, we attended the ballet at the National Theatre.
And had lunch at a restaurant perched on a hillside.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Yesterday was my birthday. Zagreb is definitely the most exotic place I've ever had a birthday (unless Spokane counts as exotic). My wonderful friend Agnes is visiting and she took us out to a lovely dinner. The restaurant's across the street from the cathedral, which looks like this at night:
On the way home we walked by the Japanese embassy. People have left flowers, candles, origami cranes, and notes in front of the building.

This is Zrinjevac, the park across the street from the embassy.

 And here's Agnes, Spike, and cheesecake at the Sheraton. :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art

Today turned out to be sunnier than expected, but we visited a museum anyway. We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is in Novi Zagreb, on the other side of the river from us. But the number 6 tram stops in front of my door and takes us straight to the museum. The building itself is pretty wonderful, and I enjoyed the exhibits, too. Here's a pic of an interior sort of storage/parking area.
And a piece I thought was funny.

 Allison enjoying an exhibit.
 The museum has two slides! Sadly, they weren't in use today due to bad weather. Next time!
 This view is looking towards downtown Zagreb, which is nestled just up against Mount Medvenica.

 The top of the slide.
 This was just outside the museum.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The wonderful Kirsten is visiting us this week from Germany. We lucked out yesterday and had some beautiful weather--66F and sunny. So we walked around town and had lunch in Gornji Grad, the oldest part of town. We ate outdoors, as you can see. And, as you can also see, I am not the only one who travels with a Spike! Kirsten has Xander with her too. :-)

Here's my Spike. This street is named Kravni Most, which means Bloody Bridge. At one time this was a bridge over a river that separated two towns, Gradec and Kaptol. The neighboring townspeople didn't always get along very well, hence the name of the bridge.

And here is Allison enjoying her pizza yesterday. Hint: when the menu gives you a choice between small pizza (for about $4) and large for less than ($6) the large will be enough to feed Allison for four meals.

Today was rainy. So we went to the Museum of Arts and Crafts. They have an Art Deco exhibit going on, plus a great collection of stuff. Now, this is a stove:

Friday, March 11, 2011

New skills

I knew that spending 5 months living in a different country would mean I'd learn many new things: new language, new culture, new foods, new places. And I've experienced all of that for sure. But I've also picked up some unexpected skills.
Deciphering mysterious notices from my building's entryway. This one informed us that the gas meter reader would be here yesterday.
Hanging laundry. Like most Europeans, we have a washing machine but no dryer. But we have an indoor drying rack and these outdoor clothes lines. I've been using the inddor one because it's been cold, but today I washed some sheets and finally braved the outdoor lines. Why braved? Because if that laundry falls, it's going to end up 4 stories down in a sort of cement pit. I imagine all my neighbors are now busily critiquing my poor laundry hanging skills.
Lighting the pilot light on this ceramic heater.

And lighting the pilot on our water heater (which requires standing on a chair).

Cooking in Celsius.

Figuring out arcane laundry symbols.

Working the locks on my front door (takes at least 2 keys to get in--not counting the key to get into the building).

(The world's most impressive deadbolt.)

Having a bidet. Actually, that's a lie. We've been ignoring the bidet.

Buying local wine from a cooperative.

And buying what's reportedly some very delicious cheese.

Sitting in cafes and people-watching, however, have been very easy things to learn!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sunny day in Zagreb

Today I had to run some errands--buying train tickets to Venice, picking up a translation of my criminal record check (necessary so I can get temporary residency). So we took advantage of the bright sunshine and somewhat warmer weather, and made a touristy walk of it.
This is at the base of the funicular.
And this is riding the funicular. it costs 4kuna and takes less than a minute.
The view from the promenade at the top.
More view.
Not far from the top of the funicular is this beauty, St. Marks church.
And this is the Stone Gate. It dates to the 13th century and was one of the entrances to the upper city. There's a chapel inside now, but it's still used as a passage between the upper and lower cities.
And here's the upper part of Dolac, the market.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


It's a gray Saturday, but maybe a few degrees warmer than it's been. No snow, in any case. It was warm enough for the locals to be sitting at sidewalk cafes, but I get the feeling Croatians would sit at sidewalk cafes in the Arctic, so that may not be saying much.

First thing today I mastered something new--mailing a package abroad (I've already mastered retrieving packages). Someone had very helpfully informed me ahead of time that you're not supposed to seal the packages--the post office employees want to look inside. That was a good thing to know! Just yesterday I discovered a shop with a good envelope selection, so I had a nice padded one to use today.

The picture below is from Ban Jelacic Square, where a group of people was dressed in medieval clothing. There was a band and a cannon they shot periodically, plus this guy being spun in a circle. I'm not exactly sure why but it was fun.

This is the interior of a mall right off the square. If you not a fan of Neoboroque architecture nto begin with, Zagreb might cure you of that.

 This is at Dubrovnik Kavana (coffeehouse), right on the main square. Surely one of the world's best people-watching spots (at least when it's too cold to be outside). For 29kn (less than $6) we got hot chocolate and espresso, and could have sat there all day.

The view from the kavana, where watching people dodge trams is lots of fun.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but Zagreb is a fantastic walking city, even when the weather's uncooperative. Everything's pretty compact, the lower town is nice and flat, and there's plenty to see. And when the weather warms, all those cafes plus some nice parks. Over near Zrinjevac park today, there was arrayed on the sidewalk a succession of pairs of colorful boots, all filled with water. Again, I have no idea why. We end up walking towards the city center almost every day, and even Allison doesn;t complain--although that may be because of the bakeries we inevitably visit along the way. In any case, a pleasant stroll with a cafe visit is something I don't do in California, and I'm really enjoying it here.