Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slovenia Roadtrip - Pt. 1

So far my trip had mainly consisted of seeing capital city after capital city, which had been an amazing time. However, I was really wanting to leave the city behind for awhile and hit up those beautiful Alps I had seen from Ljubljana. I rented a car for two days and so began my Slovene road trip...Cruising up the highway towards those wonderful mountains. Most people here drive like assholes, I'm sorry to say. If you hop in the left lane for a second to pass one slow-moving vehicle they will be on your ass immediately, riding your bumper and honking. The speed limit here was like 100 kph, but everyone in the left lane was going like 140 or more.

Lake Bled. This was my original destination because I had heard things. When I got there it simply wasn't far enough away from civilization for me, it was too much like Door County in Wisconsin or another touristy area. I only spent about 15 mins. here and then headed deeper into the mountains to get lost.

This was my ride: a Renault Megane. When I said I needed an automatic they almost laughed at me. Damn European drivers and their manuals, or damn me and my lifetime of driving automatics.

Much better, I left the cities behind and hiked up to a waterfall above Lake Bohinj, seen down the valley. These are called the Julian Alps, after Julius Caesar, and everything here is pretty close to the border of Italy.

The waterfall and I. Took this one using a timer and placing the camera on the railing, so it isn't the best frame for showing the falls, but look at that deep green water!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Videos from Ljubljana concert

So my father found these videos on YouTube the other day when he typed my name in, they are from my February 10th show at Tovarna Rog in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The Rog is an old bike factory that has been taken over by squatters, and they have a really cool music venue set up there. The first video is of a brand new song I wrote on my way into Bosnia, its called "Night Train To Sarajevo", and I'm glad that someone captured the song. I also have a live recording of the whole concert, so I maybe I'll have to release that some day... "Live from Slovenia". Anyways, enjoy the videos!

Pt. 1: "Night Train to Sarajevo" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_-5S81d9aU&feature=related
Pt. 2: "Song and Dance Man" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrryhnL5jNY&feature=related

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm Home!

So I am back home in the good ole US of A, and man what a trip that was! Obviously I still need to finish some posts, as I still have to cover my Slovene road trip, Venice, Verona, and Rome, so I'll get those pictures posted soon. I just wanted to say what an amazing time I had in Europe, and give shout-outs to some folks that made it so great. While I saw many wonderful sights, by and large the BEST thing about my trip was the great great people I met. So thanks to the folks below, I'm glad that I met you, and to many more people that aren't listed, you made my trip!

Warsaw - Katarzyna, I really enjoyed hanging out with you at the hostel, thanks for bringing your charm to the beginning of my trip

Krakow - Gosia, Gosia & Bartek, thanks for your hospitality and your warm apartment
Francisco, had a great time exploring the city with you man, hopefully we'll meet up in the U.S. some day

Prague - Rolf, you were such a great friend to me in Prague, it was truly a pleasure to surf at your apartment and get to know you

Budapest - Adam, I had a great time recording with you, and thanks so much for sharing your home with me and helping me set up some gigs

Vienna - Klaus, thank you for the amazing gig in Vienna, and for sharing some stories and beers with me

Sarajevo - Pete and Rod, you guys were a blast to hang out with, I hope we can be lucky enough some day to meet up again somewhere to party

Ljubljana - Muki, you were a great guide to the city, and thank you so much for the place to stay and for the great gigs

Parma - Guido and Francesca, your venue is a wonderful place to perform, and you were extremely kind hosts, thank you

To everyone else that I met randomly on trains and in town squares, you all made my trip! Thank you,


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ljubljana - Pt. 2

A view of Ljubljana from the castle.

The Julian Alps of Slovenia. The next day I rented a car and drove up into them, but you'll see that in the next post...

Enjoying a nice day by the river in downtown Ljubljana.

Some REALLY creepy installation art in Metelkova, another squatter's locale.

My second and last gig in Ljubljana, at a club called Jalla Jalla in Metelkova. I was seriously singing through a karaoke mic, and my guitar was plugged into a huge electric guitar amplifier. It was fun as hell.

Ljubljana (Slovenia) - Pt. 1

The main square in Slovenia's capital city, Ljubljana. It was a bit cold and rainy the day I arrived.

There is this famous architect that designed like half of the structures in Ljubljana, including this bridge, and I can't remember his name right now. Well, he's famous for Slovenia...

Some awesome graffiti, there were several like this.

This is where I played my first gig, at a squatter's localed called Tovarna Rog. It used to be a bicycle factory, but since that shut down its been taken over illegally by squatters who have made it their home. All electricity is powered by generators, and as far as heat goes, well, it was chilly.

Across the three bridges from Ljubljana's old town and castle.

Sarajevo - Finale

So me and some of the other hostel guys went out for a pretty crazy Saturday night in Sarajevo. I wont give away the details, suffice to say I might have had a bit to drink and if you're my facebook friend you can see some unflattering pictures of myself... The picture above is of me and Jim, a random American from Tennessee that we ran into. There is not a weirder accent to hear when walking the streets of Sarajevo at night than a southern accent from the U.S. Jim, who is currently helping to build the new American embassy in Bosnia, came out with us to a biker party.

This map, while probably a little hard to read, gives a good idea of the situation Sarajevo found itself in during the siege from 1992-1995. The red area all around the city is where the Serbian forces took up hilltop positions to fire on Sarajevo. The small gap in the red at the top is where the airport is, which was controlled by the U.N. forces, who had an agreement with the Serbs not to let locals use the airport.

This is a section of the tunnel that Bosnians built underneath the airport to reach the free territory on the other side. Through this tunnel was smuggled all sorts of food and other items that kept Sarajevo sane during the siege.

Another "rose".

Sarajevo at dusk.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sarajevo - Pt. 2

One of the older mosques in Sarajevo.

This is Princip's Bridge (or Principiv Most in the native language). On June 28th, 1914 right on this very bridge Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian activist, assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife. It was this action that sparked World War I after Austria declared war on Serbia and the rest of the allies jumped in.


A sprawling cemetery, every grave is dated between 1992-1995, the years Sarajevo was under siege. There are far too many fresh gaveyards around the city.

I climbed to the top of this hill with some excellent dudes from my hostel, Pete and Rod. We had some amazing views of all of Sarajevo. Best to stay on the beaten paths, though, they're still working on a bit of mine clearing in the hills.

Sarajevo - Pt. 1

I arrived in Sarajevo, Bosnia at 6:30 am, fresh off the night train (see my earlier post about the song I wrote on the train), and this is the first sight outside of the station. A very modern-looking skyscraper, and it feels very out of place in Sarajevo, the rest of which feels quite old and anything but modern. It is a very real city, and I feel fortunate to have gone before it becomes a tourist destination. Many scars from the war 15 years ago are still there, and you'll definitely see some bullet holes and such in my postings about the city. I have to say that up to this point (I am now in Verona, Italy) it has been my favorite destination. I will try and show the different sides of Sarajevo...

There is the war side, and you will see it everywhere you go. I think it makes the city a more interesting place to visit, as they simply don't have the money to fix it. Here is the library, which was destroyed when the Serbs that were laying siege to the city intentionally shelled it with incendiary grenades to burn the books inside and kill the city's morale.

This plaque explains it pretty well.

This is "Pigeon Square", with Sarajevo's beautiful fountain in the middle. This old part of the city feels more like a middle-eastern town, which isn't too far off because the majority of people in Bosnia are Muslim.

This is called a "Sarajevo Rose". You will find them around the city at various points in the concrete. The red fills in where a mortar hit, and honors the death of those that were killed in that spot. Most of the time it was just people waiting in line to get some bread.


My introduction to Croatia, and the Balkans, was a bumpy but interesting one. Immediately upon crossing the border into Croatia the train was stopped and we were all told that we had to get off to catch a bus that would take us to another station where we would then hop on another train. No explanation was given, and I was extra confused because none of this was in English and I had to get an Austrian kid to translate for me. It turns out that there had been an accident up ahead on the rails involving a tractor, so we were taking a bus to get around that section of track. While on the bus riding through a country road, I saw a semi rolled over and lots of police gathered. Accidents abound in Croatia. It was all taken with good humor though, and I was surrounded by some good folks to laugh about it with. The picture above is the second, graffiti-covered train that finally brought me to Zagreb, Croatia's capital.

It was my first nice sunny day in awhile, and it was fairly warm outside, so I finally got to see some Europeans enjoying the outdoor cafe culture. I only had a six hour layover in Zagreb before catching my night train to Sarajevo, so it was all R&R for me as well. I found a nice park bench to watch the sun set over Zagreb...

I found another park bench to relax on while waiting for my train. It felt like a warm spring night, and it was very relaxing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vienna: The Gig

Radio appearance on Austria's state radio station earlier in the day. Klaus is sitting closest to the camera, he is the most awesome dude who booked this most excellent gig for me.

I was opening for Mark Geary, and Irish songwriter raised in the U.S., think Damien Rice or David Gray. He has really wonderful lyrics, and I've been listening to his cd a lot since he gave it to me. Check him out.

Playing my opening set

I handed my camera to someone in the crowd to take these pics.

Mark in motion

Vienna: Schonbrunn Palace

The day of my gig in Vienna, I took some time in the morning to visit the fabulous Schonbrunn Palace, "Vienna's Versailles". The Hapsburg emperors of the Austo-Hungarian Empire lived in this huge palace. I toured the right hand side, where the royal apartments are, and let me tell you, its pretty posh. Unfortunately, they did not allow photography inside. I guess you'll just have to settle for the view from the outside...

This is a victory monument for some obscure Austrian battle, and it was built on a hill overlooking the palace.

This is the view from the monument.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Compared to Budapest, Vienna had a much more bustling, tourist-friendly, commercial scene. In one way it made Vienna more exciting since there were more people out and about, but I really loved how un-touristy Budapest was.

The American Bar with a really cool exterior! Had to go in for a (1o euro!) gin & tonic.

The central Palace for the Austrian Empire back in the day. In my next post you'll see where the emperors actually lived, Vienna's Versailles...

Vienna's plague column. Many European cities have one, and I ran into one in Budapest as well. They were usually built after the plague to give thanks to higher powers for sparing citizens.

Vienna's beer man is nowhere near as cool as the Polish ones.