Reconcile with the Past through Zagreb

I hesitated to go to Zagreb at first, because it was not the cheapest, nor the most convenient way to end my Summer 2014 Trip. What finally brought me to Zagreb was, a small paragraph in the Croatia Lonely Planet Book which stated that a new museum have just “arrived” in Zagreb. And the name of the museum is..


I was intrigued by the name from the very first time. I did not know what I should expect from this museum, but thank God I went there. Oh, by the way, sorry for the foggy pictures. As I have told you in this post, it was raining hard in Plitvice. My camera, then, became a victim.

The museum was initiated as a project where a group of artists sent mails across the globe to collect memorabilia out of broken relationships. You, know, instead of letting them be thrown away for good. The response was amazing. They have received lots and lots of things with their own stories.

It is also very cheap. I only paid like, two euros or something? Once you entered, it started with the very cheesy ones. There was a book about a couple who eventually broke up, there were CDs/memorials that were given from one person to another during their relationships, and there was this jersey..


A ‘player,’ get it?

Then it got a bit more intense. Like this wedding bouquet..


Room by room, it got even more and more intense. Like this postcard from Armenia..


There were also memorabilia about relationships that were torn down by wars, especially in the European region. And sometimes, the memorabilia are not only about themselves. Like this box of memories..


There are also pieces from your loved ones.. in the most unpredictable way possible..


I went out of the museum with a changed mind. A new perspective of how we can always, always reconcile with our past. No matter how hard it is. Writing this made me remember a post from a friend, which you can find here. She created such a sweet way to reconcile with her past. I might not have the competence to write this, but. The past will always be there. It is up to us, then, to choose. Are we going to continue on grieving, or to move on. Whatever it takes.

Singing Sea in Zadar

Still in my Summer 2014 Trip, after Dubrovnik and Split (Croatia), I continued my way to Zadar. I will not dedicate a post for Split because, that city ended up only being a stop-over for me. I had a quiet three days there: I rested and chilled out on the first day, visited Krka on the second day, and went to church on the third day. I canceled my Split-Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) return trip and heck I even did my laundry. So, no post for Split. Sorry.

So Zadar. What was it that I looked for in Zadar? Well you might have heard that Zadar has this great Sea Organ, designed by an architect called Nikola Basic. It is located by the bay and it is normal for people to hang around.


This nature-based instrument consists of a set of 35 organ pipes that makes music as wave lap at the coastline. I took a video of it which you can see here.


Another thing about this organ is, it is built facing to the west, so the tourists are able to witness the sunset while listening to the music, that is played by the nature. It was mystical.


You can find posts about this instrument in lots and lots of sites, including here and here. Overall, I got my best sunset of my Croatian trip there, in Zadar.

Changing Season and Fate in Krka

When you hear the word “Croatia” and “National Park,” one other word that you will hear is probably “Plitvice.” Well if you asked, I did go to Plitvice during my Croatian trip, but it was raining. Non stop. It was still beautiful, but I did not capture any good pictures of Plitvice. Yes, I know, too bad.

But! I did visit another National Park called “Krka.” It is not as well-known as Plitvice, but something Krka can offer that Plitvice can’t is, we are allowed to swim near the waterfall! As I have told you in this post, the big theme of my Croatian trip is “swimming.” Of course, Krka was included in my itinerary.


Krka is reachable by bus either from Split or Zadar. Me I went from Split. After arriving to the registration point, we will be taken by a boat to the National Park. Actually, there are two registration points. The one which includes boats and the one which includes a little hike. I decided to take a boat first and take the hiking track to go home. Bad decision, I tell you. Bad decision.

First thing I saw when I get out of the boat: “NO SWIMMING” sign. Sigh. Apparently the swimming season was over. Rainy-fall season was coming so the water level was really high. Swimming was then prohibited. This, is the place, where I should have been swimming..


But on the other side, changing season gave us colors! If I was there during the ‘real’ summer, I would have only seen green, green leafs. That’s it. Thank God I had this..


And this..


Now can we please, talk about the water. Can-we-pleaaase talk about the water. It was as clear as pearl. And best thing was, there were not many tourists!


And of course, along the track, I found picturesque spots. Which is always better without any people in it.


By the end of the track, there were souvenir shops. One thing that attracted me the most were these handmade necklaces. Can you just see how cute they are?


These are Glagolitic Alphabets. The oldest known Slavic Alphabet. You can read all about it here. I wanted to buy them as a souvenir, too bad I did not bring much cash. And thank God that I did save that ‘not much’ cash, because…..

I was, well, lost. Going home through the hiking track was apparently a bad, bad decision, especially it was Saturday when buses are not as often. Shortly I walked, like…….. 15 km or more. Through the highway. To reach Sibenik. A town where I can take a bus back to Split. I even tried to ‘cut’ paths through ‘human tracks’ that I found along the way…….. which led me nowhere but a forests. Away from the sound of any vehicles. As the sun began to set.

If it is not ‘fate’ we are talking about I might not still be here today.

Never again in my entire life will I do that. Never.

Swimming in Dubrovnik and Mljet

Dubrovnik. One of the most heard-of town in the world since Game of Thrones. I am not saying that Dubrovnik is overrated. It is beautiful, believe me. The citadel is absolutely gorgeous, both day and night. But my summer vacation, which was started on 31 August 2014, was actually based one thing: I wanted to swim in the Mediterranean Sea. I didn’t care where, I didn’t care how, I just wanted to swim in that hot, hot summer days.

So Croatia was my destination. It was kind of accidental. I had a Croatian colleague during my summer internship in the Netherlands, he took a 3-week off during my days there to go home, and when he returned we talked about his trip. Then I browsed about Croatia, even bought the Croatia Lonely Planet Book, and found out that there are lots and lots of things I can do in Croatia. One of them is, of course, to swim.

I took a flight to Dubrovnik and God-it-was-so-hot. From the city center, I walked directly to the hostel that I have previously booked. On my way to the hostel, I found this.


People swimming! Swimming! It did not take long for me to check in, have a little chat with my roommate, changed to swimsuit, and went back to that very spot. It was not that easy to reach the spot, apparently. It was at the bottom of a cliff with no exact path. And when I finally reached the place……… I was the only one with color.

OK, is this some secret swimming point, or what?

I did not care. It was so hot and I needed to cool off. I jumped to the water only to find out that, the water was not that salty! And you do not need to ask about the current nor the waves. It was so calm. No wonder a lot of people called the Mediterranean Sea as the “European Swimming Pool.” I did not get how much time I actually spent only to swim here and there.


My other swimming destination was this island called Mljet. According to some sources, this is one of the most underrated tourist destination in Croatia, so I just went to check it out. This island offers something called “Salt Lake Swimming.” Well, geographically, from a bird-eye view, you will see that the “Lakes” are not actually “Lakes.” They are seawater trapped in Mljet’s morphology. It is kind of hard to find beautiful pictures of Mljet – that is why, I guess, it is so underrated – but you can take a look at this island from up above here and here so you will see what I mean.


It is not hard to reach Mljet. You simply walk or take a bus to the harbor and find ferry providers that has return trips to Mljet. They are normally small ferries, for, like, 100-200 people? Of course it is not something like this..


Once you reach Mljet, you need to pay an entrance fee and they will take you to a starting point to explore Mljet. Oh, if you were a student, please bring your student card. Especially if you were under 26. You will have student discount almost everywhere in Croatia.

There are two lakes in Mljet, small one and big one. I headed to the big one and there was no one there. Almost no one.


So there I was, swimming, and swimming, and.. swimming!

A Door to Kotor

During my Croatian trip in Summer 2014, I had a chance to visit other countries as well. Initially I wanted to visit Kotor (Montenegro), Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Ljubljana (Slovenia). Apparently I enjoyed my time in Split too much so I did not make the Croatia-Bosnia crossing, and Ljubljana was raining when I was there. But I thank God over and over again that I still had the will to visit Kotor because so far, it is my favourite, favourite destination.


Kotor is reachable by bus from Dubrovnik. I would say that Dubrovnik is the best door to Kotor as it will only take around 3-4 hours to get there. The seaside view along the is also absolutely stunning. If you have European Residence Card (temporary ones also work) or a Schengen Visa, there should be no problem in the border.


The old town of Kotor is citadel. Meaning, the town is fortified. You know, there were times when battles were part of everyday life in Europe. One of the best way to attack a region is, apparently, through the sea. It has a nice laid-back vibe. You can hear traditional music played in some cafes around you and people strolled without any rush. In the middle of the way, I found a hiking track to the top of the fortress.


I simply paid the three euros entrance fee and started hiking. As I walked and walked, the gray sky started to open up. On one side, it is good for my camera and of course, it brought hope for me as in I would not be spending my time in Kotor only sitting somewhere to protect myself from the rain. On the other hand, it made my hike a lot harder. I needed to catch my breath once in a while. But when I reached the view points.. It was worth it.


Kotor is absolutely impressive. The fortified city, the church in the middle of the hike, the harbour, the mountains, the open sea. It is just perfect.


And this is what you get from the other side..


Thanks to this hike, my Dr. Marten’s Boots had their first scar. I guess they are more familiar with soil than with stones.


But overall, I fell in love with Kotor!

Dancing Soldiers in Korcula

From very late August to mid-September 2014 I travelled around Croatia. Not only to one of its cities, but to almost half of it. You will find other posts about Croatia later. Now I would like to let you know about a cultural performance called the “Moreska Sword Dance.”


It is said that sword dances are originated from Spain. There were times when a city state in Croatia, Dubrovnik, had close ties with Spain. But now, the sword dance is only practised in the town of Korcula. This is because they use real weapons in the dance, so they must be really careful not to hurt each other, moreover themselves. I guess not many people would risk their life for a dance.


The story is based on the battle on the Moors. Basically it’s the same old love story between the good and the bad. For what? For a girl. A maiden.


The dance started gradually. From moderate dances to powerful fights that even made the swords spark fires every time they are pitted against. They formed a circle with the black soldiers (the bad guys) in the middle of the white soldiers (the good guys, dressed mostly in red). There are times when they intentionally pause, or as I would say, strike a pose. But of course, there are also times when they move so intensely my own eyes couldn’t even follow them correctly.


And, of course, the good guys won.


Once, to be a part of Moreska was a matter of honor. The weapons and costumes were passed to sons by fathers. Though Korcula was obliterated during World War II, the dance survived as their valuable cultural treasure. You can find out more about this dance here.

And now, the white king may kiss the bride..


I mean, the maiden!

Flying Kites in Dieppe

On 12-13 September 2014, just after my trip to Croatia, I was assigned by the Embassy of Indonesia in Paris to conduct a musical perfomance in Dieppe, a beachside city to the north of Paris. I will write about how I became an “Impromptu Ambassador” to one of Indonesia’s traditional instrument called “Angklung” another time. That time, it was not a usual cultural performance as I have normally had conducted, but it was going to be an entertainment for an event called “Dieppe International Kite Festival” or “Dieppe festival international de cerf-volant.”


Shortly, this event can be easily identified by its name. It’s a kite festival. The mayor of Dieppe runs the festival every two years, where kite-flyers from around the globe are invited to come to their city, bring their kites, and fly them.


In makes a lot of sense because, in this part of France, the wind blows like crazy. Not as crazy as a hurricane but it is more than enough to fly kites. Big kites. As big as a normal adult. Even bigger. Another interesting thing I found in this festival was, they made a complex of wind-driven construction/attraction/whatnot where the visitors can observe how cool winds can be. There were even the interactive ones!


Beside conducting a show, I was also “accidentally” responsible to serve the visitors who were coming to Indonesia’s booth. I learned new stuff about Indonesian Kites – since I needed to explain them to the visitors – and I love how appreciating the visitors were. Well, take a look at this dragon’s head below..

IMGP3650 flies. Believe me. Every single visitor whom I told that this head could fly, along with its body – which is not shown in this photo, – kind of shocked. “It flies?” “No way!” “When will it fly again?” But of course, you need a good wind to fly this kind of thing. Especially, this “becak” kite..

IMGP3625 flies, too. “Becak” is actually a traditional Indonesian transportation mode, which is basically a a three-wheeled bike. You can still find becaks in Yogyakarta or other Indonesian touristy cities. Oh, and this one..


..this, my fellow readers, is a kite. Made completely out of leafs and bamboos. They even created the threads from some kind of very thick leafs. It is called “Kaghati” kite. You can read more about it in this link, or you know, google it. Reputedly, it is stated as the first kite in the world. Quite cool isn’t it?

For the closing night, they held a night flying. Wait, what? Night flying? Yes. And it was also a competition. Each participating country was invited to nominate their best kite to be flown at night. With, of course, lighting on the kite. And this, is the “Barong” kite, the Indonesian Contender.


And this beautiful, beautiful kite, won the competition! First prize! Woohoo!

Intercultural Lunch in Cap de la Chevre

In late June 2014, in which June is one of the best months in Brittany (or as the French call it “Bretagne”), I had a chance to hike around. It is not easy to hike in Brittany, not because of its difficulty, but more because of its inaccessibility. It is kind of hard to match the bus’ schedule to the hiking durations needed, so a car is kind of… obligatory. Lucky enough I found this group called “Brest Walk and Talk” in Facebook when I was randomly browsing about how to hike in Brittany because, I know that this region is incredibly beautiful in summer.

So I joined the group, led by Cathy, who is apparently an English teacher. Turns out, this group was created as a derivation from the “Brest International” group in which international students/expats in Brest meet every Wednesday or so in a bar, where they can talk to each other in English. So in every hike, there will be different participants from different parts of the world.

My first hike with this group was to Cap de la Chevre and Ile Vierge. I will post about Ile Vierge later. There were numerous participants in this hike as it was summer, so we also have summer interns among us. Me I was in a car with Cathy, a French who is the founder of this group, Olia, a Russian who speaks four languages reaally well (Russian, English, French, and Italian), and Vedant, an Ifremer summer intern from India.


Along the way we introduced ourselves to each other, talked about the beginning of this group, about our hobbies, and checking out regularly if the other cars are still nearby. Oh, there were about 16 of us, with, like, 5 cars or something? So we were a big group that day. We were Indonesian, French, Russian, Indian, Algerian, Kyrgyz, Syrian, Tunisian, Lebanese, French-Spanish mix, and I lost count.  We arrived to the parking lot, hiked a bit, and voila !


Mesmerizing, no?


And this is what you get if you turn to the other side. The true colors of Brittany.


We hiked a bit more, we ate our lunch, then some of us who was not yet sastisfied went down near the waters, and found this!


And seriously, how beautiful is this triple layered cake?


After being somehow satisfied, Cathy told us that we needed to move to the next destination. After arriving, with a car, to the next parking lot…. We kinda got lost.


But it did not take long. We survived and we reached our very next destination: Ile Vierge!

Indonesia in Prague

In late December 2013 to early January 2014, I did my first ever Euro Tour! Well, “Euro Tour” as it was actually backpacking around some parts of Europe with my colleagues from undergrad study: Dhira, Ari, and Jandrong. Prague was our second destination after Vienna. It is amazingly beautiful, I’ll share the pictures another time, my eyes and fingers even got tired of taking numerous pictures. What I would like to share in this post, are actually…


I was like, what? Mount Bromo? Indonesia?


Yes! It is Mount Bromo! In a ‘Camel Active’ advertisement!


They even have Labuan Bajo, Flores! And..


Jakarta! Well if those pictures did not impress you much, take a good look at this..


Djarum Super and Djarum Black. Indonesian cigarettes. There. On the stall. OK, they are cigarettes. Some may do not like it, well me myself I do not smoke but come on, how much cooler can that be?! My Christmas holiday, thus, had been made.

Leidschendam Roommates

From 30 June to 22 August 2014, I stayed in Leidschendam to carry out an internship. For those of you who do not know where the hell Leidschendam is, it’s in the Netherlands. Google it. Get.

When you found where this city is, you’ll see that it is actually perfectly located in the middle of three bigger (and more-likely known) cities: The Hague (or Den Haag), Delft, and Leiden. They are all biking-distance from this little city. One genius thing about this company I was working to is, its location. Most of the people working in this company live in those three other towns, so they drive daily to Leidschendam. But who would go to Leidschendam for daily activities anyway? Yep, only them. So no traffic.


I stayed in a crew house. I love that house. Seriously. I felt like I was home. I see exactly how Indonesians build their houses. They probably imitated how the Dutch built their houses back then. The houses there look so similar to the houses here.


Beside housing, they lent me a bike. A pink bike. Which made my roommate, Sandra, jealous. Oh, yes, it was also the first time that I have ever had roommates. Well, they exchange people in this house of four bedrooms, but I always cherish the two most memorable people I have ever shared housing with. Sandra and Glen.


Sandra is Portuguese-Angolan, Glen is Angolan. Sandra was there for an internship, Glen was there for a training. The house was always on fire as we were always cooking. Sometimes we even went home for lunch and went back to the office afterwards. We had barbecue once, spontaneously, and it-was-delicious.

One day I wanted to go out and buy groceries. Sandra was coming. Just when we were about to bike, Sandra asked “Gabriella, do you bring your key?” I did not. “No. You?” I replied. “Neither,” Sandra said. “Oh, crap.” We called Glen, who was hanging out in Scheveningen, with a girl. So instead of a 10-15 minutes tops biking to the supermarket, we biked 30-45 minutes to The Hague. Why not Scheveningen? It’s too far! And yes, we asked Glen to see us in The Hague’s Train Station.

“Girls, why didn’t you just take the train?” Glen said. “We do not have enough money,” I replied, “You don’t have enough money but you were waiting for me in Starbucks, what the hell?!” Shortly he handed us his key and we got home safely. Stupidly laughing along the way.


There were also times when me and Sandra got really mad to Glen – he told us he was robbed, in the middle of the night, when actually he was not. When me and Glen went to a bar in The Hague and I got uncomfortable when people are dancing everywhere and I ended up leaving him when he told me “Hey Gabriella, that guy’s checking you out!” And the times we just hung out in The Hague’s Square after me and Sandra biked to some dune with Ehab – another colleague we met in the office who has similar age to us – and sang to Glen “It’s a new dawn,” “What?” “It’s a new day,” “Stop it,” “It’s a new life,” “Girls,” “For me,” “Yeah, whatever,” “And I’m feeeeeling. Gooood.”

Glen left the house first. Then Sandra left. Then I left.

I miss Leidschendam somehow.