Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

a streaking spark above the gas giant

Posted by Hippo Bean at 9:05 AM 0 comments Links to this post
"It was morning on Saturn, when a streaking spark above the clouds outshone the sun."

She has become part of the planet she studied for 13 years.

of course the Hippo has to pay homage to Cassini. if she were still at NASA, she'd huddle in a room with the others (don, ryan, lisa, veronica, heather, harout, frank), tears rolling down our faces, and watch Cassini suicide as Master Maize says “I’m going to call this the end of mission. Project manager, off the net." "He removes his headset for the last time."

Her last image was the monochrome view of the planet night side, the exact location into which she would plunge. Cassini is dead. But her legacies remain.

Didnt do the Cassini goodbye party. A could have made the Cassini bellini while the Hippo brought the cassini ravioli and T could have worn his mankini. Sigh.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

capitola 2017

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:00 PM 0 comments Links to this post
An afternoon browsing the Capitola Arts and Wine Festival and strolling down the wharf ... been a few years since the Hippo's been to Capitola. Gorgeously warm, sunny blue sky. Perfect weather on the Capitola beach. Even the Hip was wearing sleeveless and shorts. What a day.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
aug 25

this morning we walked to the Black lake in the Durmitor park. wooden cabins and chalets lined the initial part of our trek to the lake. Zabljak is indeed a very pretty ski town. Being early in the morning and out of the central part of town, the air was crisp and the outskirts were quiet. We got peeks of bobotov kuk, montenegro highest peak on the way to the lake. the views of the mountains were great but not spectacular. Was a bit disappointed as I've expected Montenegro to be more stunning. The lake was turquoise and it had an 8 shape. The trek around it was gentle, mostly flat with a few ups and downs. the water was cool to the touch, murky by the shores but deep blue and clear at the center. lunch was provided by a local family in the Podgora village, veggie soup, 2 types of local cheese, goat and cow, tender lamb, yellow potatoes, tomato and cucumber salad and local apple pie for dessert, washed down with domestic pomegranate juice (too watered down), all traditional montenegrin mountain food. The Podgora village was tiny and looked deserted but the view of the mountains all around gave us the feel of 'the hills are alive...'. We stopped at the Tara bridge over the tara river canyon. The bridge was very narrow and there were ziplines on both sides of the river and river rafting (only a level 2). Hit all the souvenir shops that were by the bridge but found nothing to my liking. Still hunting for the illusive montenegro fridge magnet. so far havent seen one I like. In fact, the only souvenir I liked was an orange cup showing different montenegrin cities, purchased in the kotor old town. Didnt want to do the lousy buffet again and not being hungry, decided to forego dinner and just stayed in my room to read 'I am number four' series last book 'united as one'. So far it's slow but building up for the dramatic end. Snowie still on the window sill looking out at the montenegrin mountains in the Kotor night.

aug 26

today was the day that proved montenegro a gorgeous mountainous country. we drove through the durmitor interior with impressive limestone peaks, chasms, valleys, got a peek at triangular Bobotov Kuk, the highest peak in Montenegro, past small settlements with sheep grazing while imperial eagles soared above, drove past a sheer vertical rock face with horizontal strata, erratic boulders with "karst erosion so tortured that one can almost feel the stone writhing and moaning". then winded down in and out of tunnels along the piva lake to the piva gorge with the stunning blue river, now on the left, and now on my right. I was mesmerized by the views. They reminded me of the rides in and out of mountain tunnels in Austria. this drive was one of the most scenic I've ever had although the day was smoky due to the forest fires. we stopped at the Modra rijeka rafting campsite where they offered alpine wooden cabins of different sizes (the hippo would love to stay there) and walked down to the piva river with crystal clear water running smoothly downstream. we crossed the old suspension bridge which connected the 2 river banks, bosnia on the other side. after lunch, we crossed the border at Šćepan polje into bosnia, and drove the rest of the way to sarajevo.

Durmitor photos:

Podgora photos:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

from coast to mountain - Zabljak

Posted by Hippo Bean at 9:48 PM 0 comments Links to this post

didnt really want to get up so early as I was bone tired and the bed was comfy but the climb to the old town wall was a must. Alen said it would take an hour but in less than half an hour we made it to the church and all was worth it because we could see the entire Kotor old town below and the bay from up there. This was the first hike and there would be many more on this trip. Driving out of Kotor and up the hill to a vantage point where we could see the entire bay. another gorgeous view to add to my memory bank.

morning visit to Montenegro ancient capital city Cetinje at the foot of the Lovcen mountain. small neglected town, with nothing interesting to see. King Nikola's palace was small but nicely and not exaggeratedly decorated. The Blue Salon had very nice blue sofas but unfortunately my photos came out all blurry. I quite liked this palace. i had the bosnian pizza for lunch and it came without sauce with just unheated pepperoni, fresh tomatoes and a few uncooked arugula on top. you call that pizza? More like a salad on top of a flat bread.

One of the site that the hippo had very much wanted to visit was the impressive holy shrine the Ostrog monastery. quite disappointed as although the monastery building itself was carved from the mountain face, unlike the interesting cave monasteries in Armenia, Ostrog wasnt much to see. Lots of pilgrims, some religious mosaic icons of angels and of St Vasilije who founded the monastery, and not much else.

Zabljak, the mountain resort, proved to be a nice little town surrounded by mountains and pine wood forests. from my room window (slanted halfway up ceiling) i could see mountains and the ski area. Reminded me of Tahoe. The room was strange as aside from the weird window, there's a double bed and a sofa on each side of it, so to get to the bed, i had to climb over the sofa since there's no room to move either sofa. on the window sill, Snowie planted himself looking out to the mountains. lots of backpackers in town and mostly young people. the one and only supermarket was always crowded and long lines at the cashier. We chose the hotel dinner buffet and at first I spotted grilled fish but when I returned to the dinning hall after a walk in town and shower, only deep fried fish remained. disappointed. Unlike kotor, being on the coast with fresh seafood, Zabljak is mountain food territory.

Cetinje photos:

Ostrog photos:

Zabljak photos:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:35 PM 0 comments Links to this post
got up early to walk along the marina. colorful yachts and boats were docked and people were breakfasting on the decks. on the other side of the marina, the old city walls went up the mountain side. the old town of Kotor had a triangle shape, at the base of the mountain, with a 4.5KM long fortification wall that went up to the St John mountain. I knew I wanted to climb this thing. The old town is very pretty, with labyrinth cobble stoned narrow alleys that ended in squares, each with a church and grand town houses that they called palaces, all modeled after the Venetians. lots of restaurants and shops. local musicians played on the squares, violin and cello. Celloman played the GOT theme. Really digged this place. in the afternoon we drove to Perast for seafood lunch by the bay (i had the squid and it was fresh and delicious). Built by Italian sea captains, Perast is a very picturesque town with venetian flavors. the panorama offered beautiful palaces and houses with gardens, protected by a venetian fortress and dominated by the church of St Nikola. after lunch we got on a boat to visit the lady of the rocks island and after that a very enjoyable and refreshing boat ride on the bay of kotor, east europe's largest fjords (and she loves fjords), with views of the towering cliffs of the Dinaric Alps, Venetian red roof houses, fortress walls and churches, back to Kotor. Since we're doing budva in the late afternoon, we decided to get up extra early the next day to climb to the Lady of the Remedy church, the halfway point to the St John fortress. it would be much cooler anyway. after a shower to shake off the sweat and heat, we drove to budva. the city was filled with tourists and locals sun bathing. the small old town had a wall all around it and I of course walked the entire length. The views from the wall werent much since the wall was not very high. Tried to get to a beach to look at the Adriatic, but one couldnt get to it as the beach side was lined with restaurants and hotels. Defeated there was no desire left to pay the ticket to go up the small fort. For dinner I had the seafood pasta that wasnt any good. only got a few small pieces of squid. not impressed with budva simply because it was too touristy and crowded. The night life was loud and it completely killed the otherwise a romantic town by the adriatic.

Kotor photos:

Perast photos:

Budva photos:

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