Posts tagged traveling

Letters from Serbia: Subotica, charming Town of Northern Serbia…

My dear travellers, how are you today? In the past few months, due to a situation called Corona, the way of life has changed. Unfortunately, a lot of human lives have been extinguished, people’s consciousness has changed and we have started to take more care of ourselves and our health. Many companies closed down, and lot of people lost their jobs and unfortunately this is global thing. The economy has been seriously affected, especially tourism as a sensitive activity has suffered great damage.

This year will be dedicated to domestic and regional tourism because those are the only possibilities of this tourist season. I sincerely hope that everyone will be able to plan their vacation in the best possible way and get to know their country and region a little better.

Reichl Palace, a living masterpiece by architect Ferenc Reichl

I am sure that at least some of you had a feeling of desperation and helplessness during this period, so I tried in every way to find some kind of inspiration. I was helped by a one work assignment given to me by a fashion label and their only request was to take pictures in some interesting environment and to find some interesting city in Serbia.

After searching for some interesting destinations in Serbia on the Internet, pictures of the city of Subotica gave me inspiration for work and I decided to sit in the car and visit this gem in the very north of Serbia.

Do you want to start a new adventure? It is a question that goes through my head every day and I believe that each of us sometimes needs a change of environment, at least for a short time to escape from the daily routine. When I set off my road trip for Subotica, I felt great excitement because I didn’t know what was waiting for me there, and the pictures were promising.

Subotica is the northernmost city in Serbia and the second most populous in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. A city with its interesting geographical position in the heart of the Northern Bačka district. Throughout history, many names have been used to show the beauty of this unusual center of Hungarian Art Nouveau.

The Subotica Promenade

During the history, the city changed about 200 names. You must be wondering why? Subotica is a city where people of different ethnic origins lived from the Middle Ages until today, and it was also under the rule of several different conquering forces. It is interesting that all the inhabitants wrote about Subotica and gave the name of the city in accordance with the spelling and grammar rules of their language, but in most cases, they have not changed the way they are pronounced until today.

The Subotica City Hall and the monument to Tsar Jovan Nenad

Today’s name of the city of Subotica comes from the word that means the day of the week “Saturday” and first officially appears in the middle of the 17th century. However, the opinion of the inhabitants is that the town was named after Subota Vrlić, the treasurer of Emperor Jovan Nenad.

Of course, as always, there are more legends that have been passed down from generation to generation and more sources of information, but I think that these two assumptions about the origin of the name of the city of Subotica are true. Do you perhaps know what was the official first name of this city?

Some historical writings prove to us that the first officially documented name of the town was Zabatka, which dates from the 15th century. There are various theories of the history of the origin of this name. According to one of the theories, it is actually one of the variants of today’s name of the city in the Hungarian language, which reads Szabadka.

In accordance with this theory, this word derives from the adjective Szabad, which in Hungarian means “free” and the suffix “-ka”, which is interpreted as a diminutive – diminutive. Therefore, in the free translation of the original name of today’s Subotica, we can interpret it as a “small” or “free, lovely place”.

Park on the central Republic Square

Subotica is certainly one of the most intriguing cities in Serbia because it has the largest number of buildings built in the spirit of modern artistic architecture. The town house and synagogue, which were built at the beginning of the 20th century, stand out because of their timeless beauty.

They were built according to the plan of the same team of Hungarian architects, Mr. Marcell Komor and Dezso Jakab. Another marvel of the architecture of the Hungarian Art Nouveau in Subotica is the Reichl Palace, built by the architect Ferenc Reichl as his masterpiece of life. Once the palace was his home and office, today it is an object of exceptional cultural significance where the Gallery of Modern Art “Art Encounter” is located.

Church of St. Teresa of Avila

Church buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Theresa of Avila, the Franciscan monastery, the Orthodox Church and the Hungarian synagogue built in the Art Nouveau style typical of the early 20th century are some of the sacral buildings you can visit in Subotica.

The Cathedral of St. Teresa of Avila was built in the late 18th century in a typical Baroque style. Subotica was part of the Habsburg monarchy at that time. The cathedral was designed by a Hungarian architect named Franz Kaufmann. On the roof of the church, between the two bell towers, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary.

You must be wondering how the crack in the central part of the building was created? Construction experts believe that the two bell towers began to sink and that they were gradually pulling the church nave to their side, as a result of which a crack appeared in the very middle of this sacral building.

This mistake was made in the construction of the church itself, and a little crack caused a serious crack, which experts have been trying to repair for years. It is believed that due to the excessive pressure exerted by the bell towers, which are higher and heavier than the central part of the building, the subsidence of the terrain additionally affects and in that way a crack was formed on the church.

Monument to the victims of fascism

The monument to the fallen fighters and victims of fascism is a cultural asset in the very heart of Suborica, a mausoleum where the remains of the greats of the Subotica workers’ movement and revolutionaries who died in the fight for freedom of the North Bačka district. The monument consists of three parts: a pedestal, an access plateau and a tomb.

The Jakab and Komor Square Synagogue in Subotica

The synagogue in Subotica is the only remaining sacral building built in the style of Hungarian secession in the world. It was built by the Jewish community, which at that time had around 3,000 members. Its architecture emphasizes the dual, Hungarian-Jewish identity of its builders, who lived in the multiethnic, majority Catholic city of the Habsburg Empire.

National Theater in Subotica

The original building of the National Theater in Subotica was built in the middle of the 19th century as the first monumental building of cultural significance in Subotica. Unfortunately, it was demolished for the purpose of renovation by the city authorities about ten years ago, although at the end of the 20th century it was declared a historical monument of exceptional importance. Residents believe that by demolishing the original building of the National Theater, Subotica has lost its charm.

Monument of Holy Trinity

The monument of the Holy Trinity shows the harmony and unity of the citizens of Subotica at a time when the population was working together to clean up the swampy parts of the city. This is not only a cultural good but a symbol of faith, hope and unity all with the aim of improving multiculturalism and creating a better community.

Subotica is truly a real gem of the Northern Bačka district and I sincerely advise everyone to visit this city and see for themselves the true beauty of Northern Serbia. When you finish your visit to Subotica, not far from the city bustle, only seven kilometers from the center of Subotica, there is Palić, the most famous health resort and picnic area.

Why visit Palić? Palić is known for Palić Lake, which has been one of the most visited places in Serbia for many years. Have you perhaps heard some of the many legends about the origin of this lake?

According to a legend that was passed down from generation to generation, Lake Palić was created from the tears of the shepherd Paul, who lost his flock exactly where the lake is today. That is why many people today “claim” that the water in the lake is salty because of tears of this desperate shepherd.

Palić Lake

How did you like this interesting story one of the most famous city in North Serbia? Have you visited Subotica and Palić? Here spring is the most beautiful period of the year I have prepared this travel story for you with a lot of love and I hope you like it! I hope that you will maybe visit Serbia this summer and enjoy in the colours of the natural beauties of Vojvodina. Have you already made some plans what you are planning to visit after this lockdown?

Palić Lake

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story about Belgrade!

Best,
Mr.M

This post is my gift to all my dear travellers, who wanted to learn something new about Serbia. The post is for informational purposes only and is not sponsored.

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My Side of the World: Sonja Lapatanov

My dear adventurers, how are you today? After the first special blog post – an interview with Ms. Vesna Jugović de Vinca, I received a lot of emails and messages on social networks with suggestions whose “side of the world” you would like to see on my blog. I admit that I received a lot of interesting proposals, but one name stood out in particular – Sonja Lapatanov.

Sonja Lapatanov

She is one of the most famous ballet artist, choreographer and adventurer. Sonja Lapatanov, a world traveler who has traveled over 100 countries around the world. She has written several exceptional travel books (In Serbian language, these titles are just translated): In the lap of the Himalayas, Paradise Islands, Mama Africa, Mundo Maya, The Milky Way of the Ocean, The Green Continent. This tireless creative and adventurous soul took advantage of the days of quarantine and is just finishing her new book, which should soon be on our favourite shelves in bookstores all over Serbia and Balkan.

Algeria: Miraculous formations in the Sahara

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Sonja for her time and for being able to share with us the memories of her amazing journeys. This interview will be really special and will be divided into two parts. Let’s go on a trip around the world with our famous world traveler Sonja Lapatanov!

Algeria: Among carpets and pillows

1. You are raised in a medical family and I’m sure you’ve been surrounded by white coats since childhood. How did you resist that phenomenon and become a ballerina?

Sonja Lapatanov: Medicine and white coats were a family tradition and an integral part of my life. I was surrounded by doctors, books in the field of medicine, stethoscopes, pressure gauges, beakers, surgical instruments, various bottles and patients, because my grandfather had an office in the house, until the then government banned private practice. It was logical for me to continue the family tradition and for dermatovenerology to be my specialty.

Southern Ethiopia: In the village of Konso people

In the house where we lived, Russian emigrants gathered. Among them was Mr. Bogdanovski. I was a restless child, so he suggested to my parents that he take me to the ballet school “Lujo Davičo”, where my indomitable temperament would be curbed through physical engagement. That’s how it started!

Pakistan: Famous Pakistani trucks

2. You have an interesting combination of Russian-German origin. What led you more in life: Russian poetics or German pragmatism?

Sonja Lapatanov: It depended on the situation. But it was not always easy to choose the east, or the west, which constantly intersect in my being. In childhood and early youth, the Russian soul was more dominant, and as life inevitably progressed, the German Prussian heritage prevailed.

Libya, Sahara: the magical desert Mandara lakes

3. What was your first association with Belgrade in the late fifties and sixties of the 20th century? Can you make a parallel between Belgrade then and now?

Sonja Lapatanov: In the “Age of the Crown”, when nature may have warned humanity for the last time that it has had enough of oppression over our planet, my Belgrade from the years you mention has returned to me. Unfortunately, only briefly. As soon as the state of emergency was lifted, hygienic and sanitary measures gave way, and ugly habits took over the city again. Traces of negligence and arrogance are already visible in some parts of the city; discarded protective masks and gloves and various waste.

South Africa: Cape of Good Hope

At the moment, at least in my area, Belgrade is beautiful, peaceful, quiet, safe, dignified, educated, full of greenery and birds that sing and chirp again. The streets are clean for now, spared thousands of thrown cigarette butts rolling down the street, chewing gum stuck to the sidewalk, body secretions from the nose and throat, trampled dog feces… Belgrade was like that until the end of the eighties, and then everything went down the hill. Since then, I have not made any kind of parallels!

Guatemala: Tikal, archaeological site

4. You were educated in Moscow and New York. What made a bigger impression on you as a ballerina, and what as a girl who comes from Eastern Europe, towards whom there are still numerous prejudices?

Sonja Lapatanov: Common to both metropolises was and is, the supreme art of the game; classical ballet on one side and musical, jazz and modern ballet on the other. Both sides left strong impressions, because it could not have been otherwise. After gaining impressive knowledge and vast experience and an internship at the Bolshoi Theater, I achieved my goal; to professionally improve and be the best.

Galapagos, Isabella Island: A little gossip with a sea lioness

As for prejudices, they are not in the art. We speak a universal body language, which everyone understands, and as a worldly woman, who does not have two relatives of the same nationality, I belong to the East and the West, as well as the North and the South.

Guatemala: Life in Chichiikastenango

5. You are considered to have set new standards in the field of choreography and stage movement. Were you aware of that then or did it become clear to you much later?

Sonja Lapatanov: Everything was clear to me from the beginning! After professional training, in the Russia and the USA, I dedicated myself to pedagogical and choreographic work, as well as the stage movement, developing into a creator of a special and original style, recognisable in countless theater performances and other types of stage performances.

Zimbabwe: Knox dance in front of the Queen and the King

I expertly incorporated steps and dance into the fabric of the play, contributing to the fact that in contemporary theater, stage movement and choreography become an important element of the director’s concept and the plays themselves. Based on my work in 1996, the Sterija Award for Choreography and Stage Movement was established, which I am especially proud of. For my creative work, I have received excellent feedback from the audience and critics, and I have won numerous significant professional and social recognitions and awards.

Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls

6. You are one of the first, if not the first, choreographer who went beyond the strict boundaries of theater and collaborated with the great music stars of the former Yugoslavia. Such a move is not always viewed favorably by your colleagues. How did that collaboration come about and how did you experience it?

Sonja Lapatanov: Older colleagues also collaborated with the music stars of Yugoslavia before me, and that was then called show business. At the time when it was called a spotlight stage, I got into that story, at the invitation of the manager, or the artists themselves. The mention of the star stage is mostly identified with the gallery of all kinds of naked singers on the front pages of the “yellow press magazines”, which unhappily defined the show business as something that implies vulgarity.

Ladakh: Little break on Pangong Lake

Many of them didn’t like those words, while the “show business” expression is much more acceptable. People from cultural circles are especially sensitive to the star stage, who perceive the term as something third-class, as evil and upside down. In essence, pop and show business have the same meaning and identical frameworks in which they operate. My collaboration with pop artists has always been at an enviable level, because how could it be otherwise with Zdravko Colic, Bebi Dol, Brena, Ana Bekuta, Dragana Mirkovic, Rambo Amadeus, Goran Bregovic, Alen Islamovic, Zorica Kondza, Biljana Ristic, Suzana Mancic , Bane Mojicevic, Stevan Andjelkovic, Marija Serifovic…

Ladakh: On the Changla pass

There were some people who were not kind to me because they could not enter to my team of players, those who accompanied the singers and some colleagues who later reluctantly accepted to do choreographies with newly arrived singers and future stars of the same “stage”. For my players, that cooperation was a solid source of income, they had a long service and health insurance. We were all satisfied with that cooperation.

Grenada island: Spice and fruit sellers

7. Due to the nature of their work, ballerinas “retire” extremely early by the usual standards. How did you experience that? Did traveling serve you as a new life challenge?

Sonja Lapatanov: I was not very shaken, because even then I was actively involved in pedagogical work, choreography and stage movement for theater performances in Belgrade and throughout Yugoslavia. I worked a lot, as many as 12 shows a year, sometimes two at the same time, say; one in Subotica and the other in Nis. Home in Belgrade, I just came to change my wardrobe! There was work, creativity was at its peak, as was inflation! From signing a contract, to paying a fee, hyperinflation would eat everything up! It was the highest inflation recorded in Serbia and one of the highest in the history of mankind.

Cambodia: Fields of Death

Product prices grew very fast, even in just a few hours the Yugoslavian Dinar (currency which was used in those times) became just a piece of paper. The exchange rate of the brand jumped every day. More and more money was printed and the new banknotes had more and more zeros. The shops were empty, and for a jar of cucumbers, 2,100 dinars had to be set aside, and for two liters of milk, or 200 grams of mustard, as much as 500 billion dinars! Terrible!

Southern Ethiopia: Members of the Mursi tribe

Thanatos and Eros, those compounds of opposites in life, life and death, happiness and sorrow, pain and enjoyment… destruction and creativity, which sustained me then and thank him! Traveling is my eternal life challenge. My ancestors migrated from one end of the world to the other, which is characteristic of the human race, including me.

Libya: Qasr Al-Haj

8. When did you feel that travel had become more than an adventure and had become your second occupation?

Sonja Lapatanov: From the moment when I started with writing books.

Libya, Sahara: The Finger of Allah

9. You have visited almost all countries of the world. What encouraged you to visit countries that go beyond the tourist framework and which most people never intend to visit?

Sonja Lapatanov: There is an answer in your question. I was encouraged by the fact that the countries I like to visit go beyond the tourist framework and that a small number of people intend to remind them!

Southern Ethiopia: Houses of the Dorze people

10. You say for yourself that you are an adrenaline addict and that your favorite destinations are in Asia and Africa. Which trip caused the greatest adrenaline?

Sonja Lapatanov: That’s right, I am a curious, adrenaline junkie and adventurer eager for knowledge. I constantly need to improve my being spiritually and intellectually. In that sense, I need changes. And it doesn’t hold my place! Many situations caused euphoria, some brought tears, some fear, some sighs and admiration… in Africa Sudan, Tanzania and Namibia, in Asia Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan…

Oman: In a desert oasis

My dear travellers, I hope you like my new post in column on the blog “My side of the world” and that you enjoyed it with my guest today. We will continue our trip around the world in a few days with our Sonja Lapatanov.

I would recommend you to take a look at the other pictures that dear Sonja set aside in the gallery especially for us to see what kind of beauties our earth hides.

French Polynesia, Tahiti: In the company of a tattoo artist

 If you have a suggestion when you would like to see and whose side of the world you would like to discover, you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story!

Best,
Mr.M

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My Side of the World: Vesna Jugovic de Vinca

My dear travellers, I hope you are well and ready for a new post. I have decided to create new content for you in the form of special interviews with people who have traveled around the world. Travel is the most beautiful gift of life that can give us the best form of non-formal education.

My guest today is Vesna Jugovic de Vinca, a cosmopolitan, and a woman who has been striving for the best possible display of all dimensions of beauty for over two decades. She is the woman who was able to connect us to the world in the most difficult moments. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her time!

1. It is considered that you have set the standard in organizing beauty pageants in the Balkans and in Serbia and through the Miss Serbia project have opened the door to our country for some new opportunities. Were you aware of that in the 1990s or did it become clear to you much later?

Vesna de Vinca – I think that was my destiny. It was a system of decisions that I was “like” forced to make. I wanted to escape from the hard times of war reporting where, as a National Television journalist, I saw and filmed horrors and stepped almost into a world of hopelessness. I bought 1995 world miss licenses to elect Miss Yugoslavia – from Donald Trump who was then the owner of the Miss Universe organization and from Julia Morley, who owns the Miss World Organization. It was at the worst moment when Yugoslavia was notorious and banished from the events of world culture and sports.

Despite everything, I was able to “hook” us (Yugoslavia) into the world. It was probably our proverbial – stubbornness! Since 2006 when we split up, I have become a license holder for Miss Serbia and Miss Montenegro. Let’s not forget that the Miss World event is watched by over two billion people every year, including us as participants. It looks like the Olympics. I brought that new task in my life, the choice of official beauty, to an institution level. I have lasted for more than two decades despite difficult situations of sanctions, war, bombing, coups, political and economic turmoil.

2. For over two decades, you have been striving to portray beauty as something more than an aesthetic ideal, and that it is more a matter of psyche and spirit. Can beauty beat the time?

Vesna de Vinca – Beauty can beat time. Beauty is the heart of creation. It’s a special kind of energy. It is a special talent, which perishes like any talent if it is not respected and developed. Beauty is developed by mission. If it is understood as private wealth used for narrowly private successes, beauty is going to be crowned with the time.

If it is understood as a gift of God, as something that is not yours and that you did not deserve, but was given to you from above and “given” – it can last. So, if we put our beauty in the mission of affirmation of nobility and goodness, wisdom, helping one’s neighbor, affirmation of wonderful values – beauty lasts, because it is always colored again by the most beautiful energy beam of light inside, light that is corrected and exits through eyes and pores on the skin.

3. Due to the nature of your business, you have had the opportunity to visit almost all countries of the world. Have you had the opportunity to visit countries that go beyond tourism? (like Ethiopia, Brunei and similar destinations) Did the trips help you find yourself in a new life challenge?

Vesna de Vinca – Travel has become my religion. I have formed this particularly exciting picture of the world both as a journalist for many shows from all continents and as a producer of beauty and fashion events. So far I have visited 71 countries of the world, always as a traveler, never as a tourist. Honestly, I despise consumers in all areas, including tourism. The main motive for the trip should be discovery. The end of the journey must be the knowledge that we have improved. If that is not the case, then it is a matter of false splendor and exclusive summer resorts with photos that we post on social networks to make ourselves important.

Of course, I was also in countries, areas insufficiently discovered. I was so before this terrible war in Syria in Aleppo, riding the Euphrates, watching the Christian cells on the banks of this Bible river. I will never forget that. In the barren mountains of northeastern Syria, Qalamuna, in a village, the small town of Malula, where at that time there were about 5,000 inhabitants who spoke the only language in Christ – Aramaic, I went to research whether to make a film about it. The village was soon destroyed, and the inhabitants scattered all over the planet. Isis urged them. What a tragedy.

In Africa, I visited Tenge Njenge, the most creative village in the world, where sculptures resembling Henry Mura and Brancusi are sculptured and made by illiterate villagers, elderly people and children. I made a documentary about that, I think it’s very good. In Libya, when I was with Gaddafi and did an interview back in 1992, I went with the team to the center of the Sahara, to Gadamesh and talked to the Tuareg, desert samurai, filmed unforgettable scenes with which I begin two shows about a “colonel who has no one to write letter to”.

In Vietnam, I was on an island that in the “6 sense” system near Nya Trang. On that island, when you disembark, you return an hour or two earlier, to wake up earlier and, like the Robinsons, consume a day as much as possible. It is one of the most amazing tourist-exclusive centers where Cavalli and one of the sons of Prince Charles were at that time. Only bicycles are ridden, rivers are skipped, everything is designed to look natural and in fact the top quality is everything from showers to everything else. No phone. They make you forget the time and the burden of the outside world.

Here is another story from Cancun. It was the trip to the center of Mayan civilization and one of their guides is actually a tough Mayan nationalist and May language teacher. At first he thought I was American so he was grumpy, but when he realized where I was from and that I was a journalist he dedicated himself to me completely and took me through the Mayan civilization as their kind of ambassador. I also have a photo with him, it really was a kind of discovery.

4. In one interview you mentioned that your father is deserving and that he helped you discover the world. Which journeys do you remember with your father?

Vesna de Vinca – Although he went to another planet a long time ago, my father Minja Jugović still lives in me. Even today, I talk to him sometimes. It seems to me that I still haven’t realised yet how he made me a fearless, natural, resourceful and incredibly terribly curious person. Our most valuable journey together has always been the journey to the center of our family roots, to Bjelopavlice in Montenegro, where my family Jugovici from the Brajovic Brotherhood originate.

There on the river Zeta, my dad taught me about our ancestors and Njegos. I think I know over 30 generations of the family backwards, by heart as a song. We hunted frogs and eels with the children from the village of Kosić, played fircik (marijaš – card game) and preferences with the elderly, learned about the heroes and listened to anecdotes about the family that we still retell today.

My grandmother’s name was Gaja, and “gaja” means planet. Imagine what a wonderful name. Our property is like a dream, beautiful. Grandpa bought it twice. He went to America for the first time and worked in the mines, got married, had children and then lost his land. Then he packed up again and went to Marseilles to work on the salt pans. So he bought the same property again. Tough and persistent family – my dear Jugovici. Even today, the trip to Kosić, is always a new excitement for me.

5. Did you go to the same destinations again and did you happen to be disappointed with something that had previously delighted you or that you were delighted with something that seemed ordinary to you for the first time? Should you turn around the second time when something thrills you at first sight or should the experience not be spoiled by a replay?

Vesna de Vinca – I rarely go back to the “crime scene”!? New places need to be discovered. However, I always want to go to Jerusalem, Israel and Greece again, again and again. In Jerusalem, every atheist feels like a pilgrim. It is a source of special energy. Even looking in that direction from Belgrade, always fills me with a new light of knowledge about the sacrifice of Christ, who suffered all our sins on the cross – until then.

I would always go back to the Church of Christ’s Tomb, to Masada or to Bethlehem. Greece is definitely the most beautiful country in the world. You will never visit all the Greek islands and all the beauties of its ancient magic for life. I want to live in Greece. I also love Miami, actually Key Largo, where my friend Chris has a house on the ocean. The road to Key West, where Hemingway lived, is wonderful. That way across the ocean, I always love to pass by.

6. I know from my experience that travel is actually learning about the culture and history of a nation. Whose culture impressed you the most?

Vesna de Vinca – If I had to choose, I would choose the cultures of the Maya, the Greeks, Israel and India. India is a country that is entered at 1000 entrances but has no exits. Once you enter, you are obsessed with that diversity of everything. My trip to Sai Baba’s birthday, in Putaparta, is something not to be forgotten. Hey, I forgot the second most beautiful country in the world – Sri Lanka.

7. Did some trip disappoint you in the sense that you expected much more from that country, but you realised that sometimes good advertising is responsible for the overestimation of a certain destination?

Vesna de Vinca – At the first sight, I was disappointed by Nigeria. It is a land of car and shipwrecks. It is a country where there is no street light. It is a country where they tried to instill fears of crime in me. That’s how I saw it in the beginning.

But it turned out that country is a place where was no end to the curiosity. I will never forget the trip to the island where a married couple of priests live, who are elite intellectuals and very rich people, who decided to spend their lives in that environment where it is difficult to watch unhappy and poor people. You don’t know who to help first… Wonderful creatures!

8. Which distant country would you say is most similar to Serbia and why? Is there somewhere else in the distant world of our mentality or are we still unique?

Vesna de Vinca – The most similar country to Serbia is Portugal. I’m actually talking about the similarity of one people, the mentality. Then there are the Romanians, with whom we have never had a dispute in history, let alone a conflict. Maybe Irish and Welsh. Once in Hollywood, I had lunch with Catherine Zeta’s brother Jones – David. It was a completely Welsh team. It’s the same for me! And of course our wonderful Greeks.

9. Do you remember the feeling when you first organized the beauty pageant “Miss Serbia”? The moment when you proclaimed the first most beautiful girl in Serbia and realized that you became a pioneer in the promotion of Serbian beauties in the world.

Vesna de Vinca – I was excited because for the first time there were so many problems in Sveti Stefan and Cetinje in 1995, that I just waited impatiently for the end, to finish as soon as possible. I barely survived that pageant. That’s a long story. But I learned so much during that night that I would learn it all in the normal way for years. Here are the beauties in trouble. Everything in life is relative!

10. If you had to choose only one determinant word, what would you answer to the question of who is Vesna Jugovic de Vinca. A beauty promoter, a passionate traveler or a journalist?

Vesna de Vinca – Researcher of life! It’s an infinitely exciting “job”. It seems to me that even when I go to that world, I will feel great excitement and curiosity – what awaits me there? That would be a success.

I hope you like my new column on the blog “My side of the world” and that you enjoyed it with my guest today. If you have a suggestion when you would like to see and whose side of the world you would like to discover, you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story about Belgrade!

Best,
Mr.M

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Royal Diaries: Topcider, the Green Oasis of the Prince of Serbia…

My dear travellers and fashionistas, I hope you are doing well, because today I have one real nice surprise for you. A few days ago, I wrote you something about Gardos Kula in Belgrade, sight which makes only the heart of Zemun, on the bank of the Danube river. Today I will show you another interesting place called Topcider Park, a landmark that is on the bucket-list of every tourist who visits Belgrade.

I am sure that you at least once had the opportunity to see this park on the postcard from Serbia or on the internet, but you did not know that it was an oasis created by Prince Milos Obrenovic during the 19th century, building a court complex that was the centre of cultural and social life in the 1930s. in Belgrade.

When I mention my friends from Germany or my other friends from another countries my beloved Belgrade, they always ask me what they can see in Belgrade and what kind of architecture and natural beauties they can expect to see? When I tell them that famous word EVERYTHING, they just say, oh yes (like yeah, right…)… just to persuade them, I kindly type on the google “WHAT TO SEE IN BELGRADE” and results come up with a thousands of extraordinary pictures that evoke the beauty of the Serbian capital. After they dare to type “WHAT TO SEE IN SERBIA”, maybe after a few days, they send me a message that they are coming to Belgrade and may be traveling little a bit in Serbia. Obviously, almost every time at the end of message is sentence: “You need to go with us!”.

As I spent many years in Germany and other European countries, I have realised how much some nations in Europe are in love with their homelands. An average German will, in 90% of cases, will always choose to spend his travel budget and holiday in his own country. I didn’t even know it until I went to some German cities with my friends from Berlin and we visited their local sights, most important cities of culture and natural beauties, especially to highlight their lakes because they are really unusual and well maintained.

Having learned a lot from Germans, I decided to put it into action and to introduce some of my international readers of my blog to see some unusual places in Belgrade and Serbia as well (soon). Due to the current situation with the Corona virus, I will stay in Belgrade for a few more days until we get permission to visit other places in Serbia. I am sure you will like new interesting posts that will focus on Tourism in Serbia.

Did you know that Topcider Park is the oldest park in Belgrade? The word Topcider comes from the two Turkish words TOPZI (meaning: cannon) and DERE (meaning: stream or valley) and in literal translation it would be Valley of the Cannons, because almost five centuries ago the Ottomans performed exercises and preparations for battles in this area.

This park has always been a favorite in Serbia and a place where everyone came to enjoy nature, some rest and fun with family. The urbanization and expansion of Belgrade has led to a decrease in green space around Topcider Park and Kosutnjak as well.

It is interesting fact that in 2015, a special session of the Government was held where Topcider Park was proclaimed as the most important natural monument of culture in Belgrade. Topcider Park is located in the Savski venac municipality and is state-owned by the Republic of Serbia as a protected property of high cultural importance.

When we look a little into the history, we come to interesting information that Prince Milos Obrenovic decided to build a residence for himself and that he wished to be located in Topcider Park. In the period from 1831 to 1834, the construction of the main part of the Royal court complex was completed.

The park within the court complex began to be renovated in the time of Prince Milos, especially since the arrival of engineer Atanasije Nikolic in 1839, who also edits the first nursery garden in this area in 1846. Some historians claim that French and Czech landscape architects were involved in the construction of the park, who left their personal mark on the course of the Topcider Park.

In front of Residence of Price Milos ( itself is a tree of the London plane tree, which is also on the list of protected cultural and historical heritage of Topcider – Kosutnjak park.

It is not known exactly when this plane tree was planted, but it is believed that it was planted by order of Prince Milos Obrenovic when his Residence was built. This plane tree is considered one of the largest and most beautiful specimen of its kind and represents the living historical and horticultural heritage of Belgrade.

Residence of Prince Milos Obrenovic, which you have the opportunity to see in the photos, was built in 1831 and is a combination of tradition and cultural Serbian heritage of the 19th century. This building could be proudly compared to other objects of cultural importance of its time.

During the reign of Milos Obrenovic, this place played a very significant role as a court and at this place assemblies and meetings were held regularly. The palace was designed by architects Janja Mihailovic and Nikola Djordjevic. Some of their rich interior decoration of the building’s ceilings, walls, and niches has been partially preserved till today.

The second remodeling of Topcider Park was marked by the erection of an obelisk in honor of Milos’s return to Serbia in 1859. The position of the obelisk is carefully designed so that in the intersection of the axis of symmetry of the Residence and the church, key objects in the royal court complex are connected.

Around the obelisk were circular hedges and low conifers of regular shape. Symmetrical plantings were introduced with exotic plants, such as banana trees, which were very popular in arranging European parks in the 19th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, geometric landscaping was still present in decoration of Topcider Park, and there were numerous novelties within the court complex. You can also visit the Archibald Reiss Memorial at this cultural complex. It was erected in 1931 in memory of Dr. Archibald Reiss, a great friend of Serbia, a criminal expert and professor at the University of Lausanne.

To the Great Friend of Serbs from the Hardest Days, the Soldier of Justice, Truth and Law… Swiss Professor Dr Reiss

In the early 1920s, the landscaping of the park changed substantially, with the controlled application of the free English landscape style of landscaping and the disappearance of proper geometry.

In 1954, the 150th anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising, the former residence was opened as the Museum of the First Serbian Uprising. The museum, dedicated to the entire period of Serbian resistance to Ottoman rule known as the Serbian Revolution, later served as the basis for the Historical Museum of Serbia, founded in 1963. The Residence of Prince Milos was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, placing it under the protection of the government of Serbia.

Today, Topcider Park extends over 13 hectares, just five kilometers from the heart of the city and is surrounded by the wooded hills of Kosutnjak and the Topciderka River. Slightly neglected and forgotten, far from the former image of a splendid and lavish European park. This park is of great value and represents an unimproved potential of Belgrade.

If you want to relax and spend some quality time with your family and friends visit this incredible green oasis. I believe that all of us always need those five minutes without any noise from the “noisy” world… In this wonderful complex you have one interesting restaurant.

The restaurant “Milosev Konac” (Konak is Serbian old word which means Residence) is located in Topcider Park, and as a restaurant dates from the Second World War. The facility is located in an environmentally protected area, because it used to be for the personal needs of the Prince Milos Obrenovic, and in recent decades, this restaurant has been visited by the most eminent foreign and domestic very important persons.

The restaurant provides top-notch service with a rich selection of national and international cuisine, along with a wide selection of local and foreign drinks. I have little tip for you! If you are coming at the end of the Spring time or during Summer this is the perfect place for you and your family and friends to enjoy in the beauty of Belgrade history.

I used the beautiful and sunny time to visit this gem of Belgrade and with my photographer I have done my best to make these photos for you that I sincerely hope you will like. I hope I have been able to show you at least a little bit of the beauty of this natural and historical oasis in Belgrade.

For all the fashionistas who follow my blog with great love & joy and I have to write just few sentence for my today’s outfit, I hope my dear travellers will not love me less after this point of the post! 🙂

When winter comes, which is mostly dry and the sun rules out, your best friend in this case is a COAT. The coat may be a little more elegant than a feather (bomber) jacket, but it may be a little difficult for the coat because it can only be worn in dry and cold weather. So I decided to take advantage of these sunny days and walk my “best buddy” and together we feel the freshness and beauty of nature in Topcider Park.

OUTFIT

Coat: Burberry

Turtleneck Sweater: Loro Piana

Trousers: Loro Piana

Sneakers: Roberto Botticelli

How did you like this outfit I wore to visit the one of the oldest park in Belgrade? Have you been in Belgrade? Here spring is the most beautiful period of the year I have prepared this outfit for you with a lot of love and I hope you like it! This outfit is made by something new, something old and a unique balance is a result.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story about Belgrade!

Best,
Mr.M

This post is sponsored by Burberry. This post would not have been possible without the selfless help of Loro Piana fashion house which helps me to express my fashion spirit with their iconic and fashionable pieces.

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Mr.M Travel Diary: How Traveling Can Change Your Life?

My dear travellers, how are you today? I really hope you are in the perfect mood and you’re ready for a new post. In the previous post, I asked you for advice about blog content, as we will have little difficulty doing business in the tourism industry. Due to the spread of the Corona virus, world-class tourism will have great consequences as well as other services. For today, I have prepared for you a special post in which I will compare 4 destinations that are somehow “related”.

Travel is itself a great gift that life gives us and when we have the opportunity to explore new cultures and connect with other people. Whether it is a classic tourist trip or a business trip, the journey itself provides an opportunity to expand our knowledge and perspectives that will allow us to more easily to accept some of the new changes that are being imposed on us over time. Man is a social being who tries his best to feed his curious side, and scientists have confirmed that travel is the best “soul food”.

When it comes to travel, it is not the destination that matters, but the company you choose as your travel companions, because you mostly do not go alone. The destination is completely irrelevant, it can also be something in your immediate vicinity of where you live, to some of the farthest points on Earth. The possibilities are great, the question is what are your personal interests.

INDIA

The first destination I decided to write you some of my impressions on today is far away country called India. I had the opportunity to visit this unusual and populous country in Asia two years ago, in 2018, when I was selected by thousands of bloggers from all over the world to visit this amazing country. At that moment, I was really excited and fulfilled with both business and emotional sides. Firstly, it was a great honor for me to be selected from so many bloggers in the world and to organize my trip in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of India. On the other hand, I fulfilled my biggest childhood dream and I visited the country about I heard the stories of my father who visited India many times.

I always dreamed of visiting the famous Taj Mahal and seeing the “River of Life” – the Ganges River flowing through the most famous historical city – Varanasi. As financial situation in the Balkan region is on average, poor level, most people only dream of going to India once for the lifetime or stay dreaming visiting this country. I was fortunate enough to fulfill my dream and embark on an incredible journey that I am sure would honestly not be able to raise money on my own and provide this kind of adventure which worth few thousands of dollars.

This trip was special because I was able to discover all the beauties of the Golden Triangle in India, thanks to the National Railways of the Republic of India, which helped me get in touch with the management of the Maharaja’s Express, a train everyone says is a “5 stars hotel on the wheels ”. Their team was carefully listening to my ideas and they were fulfilled my wishes so we made an unusual trip where we added a little more cities in their itinerary and I’ve got an unusual and magical trip through India.

It was my first long distance trip where I had the opportunity to get to know a whole new culture and to get to know the beauties of one of the most populous countries in the world – India. For 12 days of unusual train journey, we toured the quaint cities in the heart of India every day, and on this occasion I made a lot of interesting stories which I shared with you on the blog in 2018. It was a journey that fulfilled my childhood dreams, on the other hand I was extremely proud because I came to India for my dedicated blog work.

I think that everyone should visit India at least once in your lifetime just to see the beauty of the diversity of cultures and that Hindu culture may be far away to us, but at heart we will understand each others. Of course, it is necessary to save enough money to be able to feel the magic of this country and I think that for 1200 to 1500 euros you can buy plane tickets when airlines have some special fare sales and for that budget you can also provide decent accommodation and visit some of the most famous sights in India.

With pocket money you will need about 1800 to 2000 euros for a trip like this. When it comes to far distant destinations, most of the budget is spent on airline tickets while accommodation, food and basic necessities are not that expensive. That is why it is important to take advantage of the special actions that airlines occasionally carry out and by buying tickets to distant destinations like India.

At the very end of this remarkable adventure, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Varanasi, through which passes the “river of life” – the Ganges, which is of great mythical importance to the Indians. This is not an ordinary city, this is a place where the deity Shiva meets the Mother of Ganges daily. Hundreds of dead people are being burned here every day, who in this way get rid of the classical cycle of life and go to a holy place. It may be a bit morbid for our European understanding and way of life, but for Hindu culture this is acceptable as a cult that have some special order of process of life in their country.

If you want to understand Hindu culture, it is necessary to go there without any prejudice. If you go with some initial negative attitude, you will not be able to understand and see the contrast and all the beauty and diversity of this unusual country. My advice is to book your ticket and when you have the ideal opportunity not to think too much and enjoy the beauty of this far away country.

Posts I wrote about India:

  1. India: Land of Smile and Happiness
  2. India: When Dreams Come True!
  3. India: Last Call For Varanasi
  4. India: Red is the Color of Joy (special fashion outfit post)

LAOS

A country that can be compared to India in some ways, not only do they share a place in Asia, but in both countries it is natural and their cultures are so unreal and different. When it comes to the size of these countries, it is impossible to compare, because Laos is one of the smallest countries in this part of the world.

No matter the size, this tiny green emerald of Asia can, due to its turbulent history and unusual culture, is great “rival” to India. This trip is a little fresher for me because this adventure was realised at the end of last year, in November 2019.

First when someone mentions Southeast Asia, the first associations are long and exhausting flights. Yes it is true, especially since you have to change several airports and flights to get to Laos, but when you step on the soil of this paradise of greenery you realize that it was all worth it. This is a land where you can rest all your senses. Unlike in India, Laos is for all lovers of nature and more peaceful tourism. Here you can come to really rest and learn something new about Lao culture and Buddhism in a completely different way.

It was a great honour for me to be one of the first bloggers in the world to have a chance to visit Laos in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The main goal of my visit was to promote Lao culture, traditions and their customs. I wanted to attend on their most important Buddhist religious festival, and a ministry team led by a minister made it a point to experience the beauty of sharing joy with others in mid-November when That Luang Festival is usually held.

In addition to the capital of Laos – Vientiane, I also had the opportunity to visit Luang Prabang, a city of great historical importance to the Lao people. It was once the “cradle” of the Lao kings and from there the influence spread to the rest of the country, until the role of the capital after the kingdom collapsed was officially assigned to Vientiane.

Laos is a country where you can explore the beauties and charms of untouched nature and learn some new historical facts about this part of the world. Believe me, no matter the size of this small country, it is all disproportionate to the injustice and fate of the Lao people throughout history.

In addition, you will learn more about their culture, traditions and religion. After this visit, I got a whole different view of the world with the help of the prism of truth that Buddhism gives you.

If you find the right guides to explain the essence of Buddhism and some of the basics of the rules and principles of this religion, you will understand some of life’s truths and injustices in life. Perhaps this will help you see your life problems from a whole new angle.

Posts I’ve shared with you about this beautiful country:

  1. Letters from Laos: Vientiane, the Lost Treasure of the Riverside of Mekong…
  2. Letters from Laos: That Luang – The Festival of Love and Sharing…
  3. Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, a magical fairy tale about the land of 1000 elephants…
  4. Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, the Historical Cradle of Lao Kings…
  5. Letters from Laos: Buddhism is the Heart, where all People can find Peace…

MOROCCO

Morocco is one of those countries in Africa that you fantasize about after seeing a movie or your favorite series. So it was the case with me when I dreamed about this country after I met her “cinematically” after I “saw” as a child in the last scenes of the famous movie “Original Sin” with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas and the series “Forbidden Love”. Where, in addition to Marrakesh, who played the leading role, was somewhere between the city walls and forbidden the love of the beautiful Moroccan girl Jade and Lucas, the love of two young people who defied all laws.

According to my social channels, Morocco is the destination that has caused the most emotion in most of my readers. Honestly, the same was the case with me. For a while, I dreamed of visiting Morocco and feeling that mixture of Africa and Europe in French language. Morocco is a country that you cannot describe in just three words. It is a country of contrast and to which I have given the epithet “Sand Fairy Tale”.

Marrakech is a dream city and it was a cradle of inspiration from one of the greatest fashion virtuosos, who certainly marked the 20th century fashion and made a real way for French design and creation.

In addition to Marrakesh, the serenity of blue azure shades of blue brings an unusual city on the Atlantic coast. Esauira is a picturesque fishing town. Due to the climatic conditions, he was given the sympathetic nickname “Town of the Winds”.

There is a very interesting festival that is organized every year in the fall and is dedicated to all dragon lovers. I may not have had the opportunity to feel that adrenaline, but I did enjoy the beautiful pictures shown by the guides from the Tourist Organization of this incredible city.

I found out a few more interesting things about this quaint town. Did you know that this city used to be known as the Portuguese name Mogador, which in Berber means a wall, because Portuguese Mogador was strongly fortified. It was because of these walls that Esauira was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Africa in 2001.

The reason for my visit to this unusual country was the Gnaoua World Music Festival, which is a musical treasure trove of elements of jazz, pop and rock music, and trying in every way to explore some new musical directions. An interesting event that brings together artists from all over the world with famous artists who are members of the Moroccan ethnic group of peoples better known as Gnaoua or Gnawa.

I will remember this trip for the incredible blue and sandy scenery and smiling faces of Moroccans. It is the people that sets each country apart, many people think it is irrelevant, but it is the people who help differentiate a particular country from the rest. Collective behavior depends on whether the state will receive a positive or negative “rating”.

I hope to have the opportunity to visit Morocco soon again and to continue my adventure where I left off. Morocco is one exceptional country that gives us a lot of opportunities and it has been a great pleasure for me to feature it on my blog.

Posts from Morocco that I shared with you during 2018:

  1. Letters from Morocco: My Incredible Adventure in Marrakesh
  2. Letters from Morocco: Essaouira, the Blue Diamond of Atlantic Ocean
  3. Letters from Morocco: Little Piece of Heaven in the Heart of Marrakesh
  4. Letters from Morocco: One Fashion Story from Essaouira

EGYPT

A country with a long and fascinating history that marked human existence. The cradle of a civilization dating back a little over 4500 years, whose history we had the opportunity to learn in primary and secondary schools. When you mention Egypt, the first association with this ancient civilization is the “eternal” monuments that are one of the seven wonders of the world – the pyramids.

As we approached Cairo, I couldn’t even imagine that I would get a chance to see those incredible sights located not far from Cairo on the Giza Plateau. Only when you land in Cairo and head to Giza do you realize how small a man is, but with great effort he can do great things. The pyramids are the result of human efforts to work a miracle for the “gods on earth” as the rulers and pharaohs enjoyed the reputation of mythical beings at that time.

In October 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the center of Hellenistic culture, Alexandria and the jewel of the Red Sea – Hurghada, in addition to Cairo and Giza. It was my honor and great pleasure to be the Destination Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt this year at the Belgrade International Tourism Fair held a few days ago in Belgrade.

42nd Belgrade Tourism Fair marked this year and I am glad that for the first time in many years, Egypt was the partner country of such a significant event in Serbia and the Balkan region as well.

I hope that after resolving this current situation with the Corona virus, it will bring things back to normal and that at least towards the end of this year, tourism will be a bit lively. Tourists have always been dear and welcome guests to this country in Africa, and I’m sure the Egyptians welcome us this year with open arms.

In addition to exceptional resorts and landscaped beaches, Egypt is also known for its many cultural monuments and archeological sites. If you have the time, make some plan to visit Alexandria, a city named after Alexander the Great, the greatest conqueror. An interesting anecdote is that Alexander never actually saw the city but continued his march, but was buried in Alexandria after his death.

Maybe Alexander the Great did not have the opportunity to see Alexandria, but he tried to arrange it in his own way, so he hired urban planners and architects who, based on his ideas, edited Alexandria.

Posts about Egypt I shared with you in 2019:

  1. Letters from Egypt: Story about Golden time of the Pharaoh’s Empire…
  2. Letters from Egypt: Lost Kingdom somewhere between priceless Treasures of Egyptian Museum in Cairo…
  3. Letters from Egypt: Alexandria, the City of the great Charm…
  4. Letters from Egypt: Hurghada, heaven Saphir of Red Sea…

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our first special post where I will share with you some of my personal experiences which I forgot to write you during posting regular blog posts. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from airline companies and Tourism boards for all those incredible adventures. I hope we will continue our new adventures soon!

How do you like this post? Do you have some ideas? Would you like to see some other interesting reviews about destinations which I’ve already visited? Now is the perfect time to tell me and I will do my best to tell you everything about some destinations what I forgot to tell you before! 🙂

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post is not sponsored.

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Letter from the Middle East: Dubai, the Center of Modern Oriental Luxury…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Today is the perfect day to start a new adventure, so this rainy Tuesday is perfect time for a new post! Journeys are truly gift to a gloomy everyday life and one has the opportunity to have fun and at least for a few days forget about daily problems. When it comes to travel it doesn’t matter the destination, the most important thing is that the person doesn’t go alone and to make a good plan of the program of the trip where everyone will have fun and have a nice relax.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the flydubai airline and the Dubai Tourist Board (Visit Dubai), which made it possible for my photographer and I to experience the beauty and charm of a center of modern oriental luxury such as Dubai.

When the flydubai airline began operating in 2009, the goal was to connect with their passengers and transport them to as many destinations as possible daily. Today, flydubai flies to more than 90 destinations and is constantly adding new destinations to their “sky” network.

Over 70 million travelers have given their trust and with flydubai they have visited the largest and most famous city in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai, making them the second largest carrier in UAE. The vision and support of the Dubai government created new opportunities for travel, tourism and commerce and improved connectivity by increasing access to Dubai and connecting with the rest of the world.

With increasing demand and an daily-expanding sky network, flidubai has added a number of new destinations in its offer. Having already opened routes to Africa, Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the goal is not only to expand the network of destinations, but to make the route as efficient as possible, with more regular flights, direct flights and new aircraft with which will make every trip unforgettable.

Flydubai Business Class offers a more comfortable, relaxed and completely new flying experience. At the airport, you will have benefit from faster check-in and priority airport services, including a special check-in desk, boarding and bus service. You can also relax before your trip in the business lounge at Terminal 2 Dubai International Airport, and if your flight departs from Terminal 3, you can use one of the many Emirates business class lounges, of course, and the ability to enjoy lounges at airports around of the world using the affiliate networks of the airlines to which flydubai belongs.

On the board, you will be able to enjoy the personalized, professional and superior service of crew members who are in the service of business-class passengers. Choose a delicious meal from the menu where you can find specialties from a variety of international cuisines. My recommendation is to try Arabic cuisine specialties and I am sure you will enjoy the undiscovered flavours so far!

The flight from Belgrade to Dubai takes about 6 hours on average and I believe that your flight will be comfortable and fun, whether you choose to travel economy or business class with flydubai. Friendly staff, landscapes you’ll encounter along the way and who knows, you might meet someone on the flight.

I was able to meet an interesting lady in her late years who is visiting her daughter in Dubai. I have learned so many interesting things about this quaint modern city and received first-hand recommendations what I should not miss in Dubai!

Dubai is the most populated city in the United Arab Emirates and the capital of Dubai. Located in the eastern Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf coast, Dubai has occupied the central business center of Western Asia. It is also the world’s premier transportation hub for travelers and goods. Oil revenues helped accelerate the development of the city, which was already a major trading hub.

Today, less than 5% of the Emirates’ revenue comes from oil. Research from the Center for Regional and International Trade shows that, since the early 20th century, Dubai’s economy has largely relied on revenues from trade, tourism, aviation, real estate and financial services.

The history of human settlement in the area where the United Arab Emirates is now located is unusual and very complex. A large number of historical records point to the closely related trade links between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia civilizations.

Archeological sites in the emirate of Dubai, especially in Al-Ashoosh, Al Sufouh, and extremely rich sites from Saruk Al Hadid, show settlement through the periods of Ubaid and Hafit, the Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suk periods, and the three Iron Age in the UAE.

This part was known to the Sumerians as Magan and was a source of metal ores, especially copper and bronze. The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast receded inland, becoming part of what is now the city’s coastline. The great find is pre-Islamic pottery found in the present-day city of Dubai, dating from the third and fourth centuries.

Before the introduction of Islam in the area, people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar). Following the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph of the Eastern Islamic world invaded Southeast Arabia and expelled the Sassans. Excavations at the Dubai Museum in the Al-Jumairah region (Jumeirah) have found several artifacts from the Umaiyad period. The Venetian pearl dealer Gasparo Balbi visited this city in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) which was significant at that time because of the pearl trade.

Dubai is thought to have been established as a fishing village in the early 18th century and by 1822 it had acquired the status of a city of between 700 and 800 members of the Bani Ias tribe and was subject to the rule of Sheikh Tahnun bin Shakhbut of Abua Dhabi . However, in 1833, after a tribal altercation, members of the Al Bu Falasah tribe separated from Abu Dhabi and settled in Dubai.

The Abu Dhabi exodus was led by Obeid bin Saeed and Maktoum bin Butti, who also became supreme authorities in Dubai until Obeid died in 1836, leaving Maktum in a bid to establish a new Maktoum dynasty.

Dubai signed the General Maritime Treaty of 1820 and together with other countries, following the British criminal expedition against Ras Al Khaimah of 1819, which also led to the bombing of the Gulf coastal communities. This led to a permanent maritime truce of 1853. Dubai, like its neighbors, also signed an exclusivity agreement in which the United Kingdom assumed responsibility for the security of the emirates in 1892.

Throughout the 1970s, Dubai continued to develop thanks to oil and trade revenue, even as an influx of immigrants fleeing the Lebanese civil war. Border disputes between the emirates continued after the formation of the UAE. In 1979, a formal compromise was reached that ended all disagreements. Jebel Ali Harbor was established in 1979 and JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone) was built around the port in 1985 to allow foreign companies unrestricted imports of labor and capital.

Dubai Airport and the aerospace industry also continued to grow at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately for the 1990 Gulf War, Dubai experienced a major negative financial effect as major investors withdrew their money and chain stores closed their stores, but afterwards the city recovered in a changing political climate and managed to overcome all political and financial problems.

Later in the 1990s, many foreign trade communities – first from Kuwait, during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain, in times of Shia unrest – moved their business to Dubai. The city had bases for filling up Allied forces in the Jebel Ali Free Zone during the Gulf War. The massive rise in oil prices after the Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.

The number of tourist attractions and activities has increased significantly in recent years. There are many more options now than before, because all the activities were part of many hotel chains because the city did not have tourist attractions. Just the opening of the large Dubai Mall and the construction of the heart of the city (Dubai Downtown) have helped to expand the number of tourist attractions that make Dubai one of the most recognized in the world today.

The most striking attractions that have certainly changed the look of the city are the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain.

Burj Khalifa is known as the tallest building in the world. Visitors can take a special elevator to the 124th floor, which is known as the most beautiful vantage point from which Dubai can be seen in the palm of your hand. The Dubai Fountain, on the other hand, is the largest music fountain in the world that you can always visit for free, and it is part of the Dubai Mall.

Of course, besides the fountain at Dubai Mall, you can enjoy the winter magic at the spacious ice rink, aquarium and KidZania which is designed as a modern children’s playroom, believe me you have never had such a chance to see in your life. Honest to not be 27 years old, I would go play there all day long without break!

Bastakiya is known as a neighborhood marked in all travel guides and magazines as the old part of Dubai with a soul in which to keep the old city spirit and heritage. It was built at the end of the 19th century thanks to the Persian merchants who were attached to Dubai because of the easy and easy way to trade, and this is why this part of the city is named after the city of Bastak located in the south of Iran.

Many renovated buildings in this part of the city today still have special air conditioning systems called “Wind Towers” which was an interesting concept for the air conditioning of homes and commercial buildings. Today, most of the buildings in this part of the city are privately owned – homes and there are buildings of great cultural and social importance such as:

  1. Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Center
  2. The Museum of Dubai
  3. Arabian Tea House (formerly Basta Artistic Cafe)
  4. Majlis Gallery where works by local and international artists can be found.
  5. Ostra Gallery where you can find works of contemporary modern art and sculpture

Exactly 7 years ago, in February 2013, the Dubai Miracle Garden, a 72,000-meter flower garden, opened as part of the Dubailand complex. It is the largest flower garden in the world. The garden has a total of 45 million species of flowers maintained through a special irrigation system that uses wastewater that has been treated and plants are irrigated using a drip irrigation system.

During the summer from late May to September, when temperatures can be extremely high, with an average temperature of around 40 degrees, the garden is closed to the public.

Seeing the garden in full bloom with its 150 million flowers arranged in colorful bows, patterns and the myriad of shapes it forms is truly a magnificent experience for all your senses. Dubai Miracle Garden won two Guinness World Records for the largest vertical garden in 2013 and the largest flower sculpture in the world, shaping the shape of the 2016 Airbus A380.

The distinctive sculpture in this park is a masterpiece 18 meters high and is also the first Disney flower display in the Middle East and is made of almost 100,000 plants and flowers and weighs almost 35 tons. Every year, Dubai Miracle Garden changes its look and shows visitors a whole new concept and design experience. This unusual garden is visited by more than 1.5 million visitors a year.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of the special blog post from Dubai. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Dubai Tourist Board – Visit Dubai and flydubai for this incredible adventure and Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you for this great adventure.

This time, flydubai recognized the quality of my work and they wanted to be part of this amazing project. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of Middle East in a completely different way.

How do you like this story about this oriental luxury centre of the Middle East called Dubai? Have you maybe had a chance to visit United Arab Emirates? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Visit Dubai and flydubai airline company. I would like to say thank you to Four Seasons Hotel DIFC for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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Letters from Laos: Buddhism is the Heart, where all People can find Peace…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Today I was just thinking about the passing of time and how some moments in life last much shorter than we thought. In today’s post, I will do my best to explain to you some of the basics of Buddhism and to evoke the beauty of the temples I had the opportunity to see in Laos.

Today is the day we will say goodbye to Laos on my blog and this is officially my last Lao “letter” which I will share with you. It was a memorable adventure that would not have been possible without the selfless support of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of PDR Lao and airline company Qatar Airways. This way, I would like to thank them heartily for this extraordinary experience that has allowed me to get to know a whole new culture.

Buddhism (Buddha Śãsana – Buddha’s Teaching) is the fourth largest religion in the world with over 520 million followers, known as Buddhists. If we look at this figure from a global point of view, it is over 7% of the total population on the planet. Buddhism itself encompasses different traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practices that are largely based on the original teachings attributed to the Buddha and the resulting interpreted philosophies.

That Luang (Great Stupa) is the symbol of Lao and an icon of Buddhism in Laos.

It originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, and spread throughout much of Asia. The two major existing schools of Buddhism which were recognized are: Theravada (the oldest preserved school of Buddhism) and Mahayana (Sanskrit: the “The Great Vehicle”). There is also a third school of Vajrayana Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism).

Buddhism spread throughout the 45 years of the Buddha’s teaching and centuries after his death, spread across the Indian subcontinent and then into Central, South, East and Southeast Asia. Although Buddhism is often perceived as an apolitical religion, it has always exercised significant political influence in the countries in which it is present. It is often stated that the history of Buddhism, unlike other religions, knows no exile, inquisitions, religious wars, hunting heretics and burning people and books in the name of defending dogma. In the early 20th century, Buddhism arrived in Europe and America.

Most Buddhist schools share the goal of overcoming suffering, the cycle of death and rebirth, either by attaining Nirvana or by Buddhahood. Buddhist schools differ in showing the right path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicality assigned to different Buddhist texts, and their specific teachings and belief practices. Widely accepted beliefs include finding hope and refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangi, respect for moral principles, monasticism, meditation and cultivation of Paramit (perfection or virtue).

That Luang temple during Boun Pha That Luang Festival in Vientiane, Laos

Buddhists have the highest part of population (approximate figures expressed in millions) in: China (including Tibet) (102), Japan (89.5), Thailand (55.5), Vietnam (50), Myanmar (41.6), Sri Lanka ( 12.5), South Korea (10.9), Taiwan (9.2), Cambodia (9.1) and India (7). In some Southeast Asian countries, Buddhism is still a state religion.

Buddhism today can be divided into three major branches: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Of the total population of 524 million Buddhists, it is estimated that 56 percent of Mahayana followers, 38 percent of Theravadas, and 6 percent of Tantric or Tibetan Buddhism.

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

How did Buddhism come about? Who is responsible for the emergence of this present-day world religion? I will do my best to provide you with as always, comprehensive and specific answers. Siddhartha Gautama was a wise and traveling teacher who lived in the territory of present-day northern India and Nepal. In Buddhist life, the Buddha becomes the mythical prototype of the “divine man” in accordance with Hindu tradition, which has many features in common with idealized perfect beings in other religions.

Siddhartha Gautama was born about 560 B.C. n. e. in the small republic of Shakya, in present-day Nepal, at a time when it was one of the hubs of intellectual and spiritual activity. Siddharth’s father was a member of the council of the Saky Republic, and he described himself as a Kshatriya, a member of the ruling caste. However, Siddhartha left the palace and became a beggar named Gautama. As he left the two teachers who taught him something akin to yoga philosophy and practice, he joined, along with five other students, the cruel torment of the body.

Realizing the futility of such ruthless asceticism, he began to preach moderation as a middle ground. After awakening (liberation), he first went to Varanasi to give his first word on the four noble truths to the five beggars he lives with during his six years of ascetic life; it is known as the “Word of the Dharma Point Initiation.” After hearing it and believing it, they set up their first followers. Following the initial proposals, the cultivated community grew spectacularly, attracting priests, kings, and ascetics. For the next 45 years, the Buddha was proposed throughout Northeast India. Indian Buddhism, along with other growing ascetic movements, was chosen by a self-serving and stratified Hindu society.

After the Buddha’s death, his successor became Mahakashyapa, not the faithful disciple and secretary Ananda, who had been in the direct service of the Awakened for twenty years, had no free time to use meditation to become Arhat (Holy).

What are the basic principles of Buddhism?

The four noble truths are the fundamental concept of Buddhism. It is through their understanding that Shakyamuni Buddha (as the Buddhist founder, Siddhartha Gautama is often called) experienced awakening and nirvana. In this sense, the aspiration and effort to understand the four noble truths, not only at the intellectual level but, above all, at the intuitive level, the so-called. by direct knowledge, they are the essence of Buddhist teaching. It is thought that this was the topic of the first sermon the Buddha delivered after he had awakened.

The four noble truths are:

    1) The Noble Truth of Suffering – there is suffering in the lives of all beings.
    2) The Noble Truth About the Origin of Suffering – There is a Cause of Suffering, which are attachment and desire (pali: tanha – desire, thirst) that arise from ignorance (avidya)
   3) The Noble Truth About Cessation of Suffering – There is a Way to Overcome Suffering by Dropping and Eradicating Attachment and Desire
   4) The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering – there is a way to eliminate attachment and desire, which is the eightfold noble path

When referring to the four noble truths, the Buddha is often compared to the physician because the truths are exposed according to the ancient Indian medical model:

    1. There is a disease (diagnosis)
    2. There is a cause of the disease (analysis of the factors that lead to the disease)
    3. There is a way to cure the disease (finding out the prognosis and the existence or absence of a way to eliminate the cause of the disease)
    4. Prescribing a cure or a way to cure the disease

This approach to the problem is one of the key features in the discussion of Buddhism in relation to other religions. Namely, this avoids metaphysical speculation and the need to believe in what is being exhibited. In each of the four noble truths, references are made to phenomena and concepts that are wholly within the realm of each person’s experience, which enables him or her to make judgments about the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the subject matter of the discussion.

Moreover, in Buddhist writings, the Buddha precisely insists on this, empirical, approach and non-reliance on blind belief in his words. The Buddhist is expected not to accept all of the above merely on the basis of faith in truth, but to insist on actively re-examining learning through personal experience and analysis of that experience, since, according to the Buddha, it is the only way to reach true knowledge and thus liberation from suffering.

A temple located within the Haw Kham Royal Complex in Luang Prabang, Laos.

It should be pointed out, however, that it would be wrong to say that religion has no role in Buddhism. On the contrary, the term shrada is an essential element of Buddhist teaching. This term is roughly translated as faith, though it encompasses confidence, perseverance, modesty and perseverance. Although the Buddha opposes blind beliefs based on authority, tradition, and the like, there remains a need for a certain amount of faith in Buddhist teaching. In principle, shrada is the result of deep reflection and accumulated experience.

In the context of the four noble truths, this is primarily about the fourth – the belief that the eightfold noble path really leads to the destruction of attachment and desire. The only proof of the effectiveness of the Noble eightfold path and Buddhist teaching as a whole is the attainment of nirvana by Shakyamuni Buddha later, arhat (one who is worthy; a person who attained awakening and nirvana but not independently, as in the case of Buddhas, but the next Buddha’s teaching) .

Since there is no way to objectively and directly verify that these individuals have truly achieved their relief from suffering, it remains for us to accept this possibility as true on the basis of trust. Although in different Buddhist schools the degree and objects of faith, or trust, differ, we can say that faith in the truth of the eightfold noble path is common to all schools. In this way, faith in Buddhism plays the role of a person’s initiator on the path to awakening and nirvana.

Wat Mai Suvannaphumaham or Wat Mai (New Monastery) Buddhist Temple in Luang Prabang.

The noble eightfold path to the teachings of Gautama Buddha is the path that leads to the cessation of suffering (dukkha) in human life. Essentially a practical guide to living, based on ethical and meditative discipline, the Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth member of a group of four noble truths that shaped and initiated the development of the later Buddhist tradition.

As the name implies, there are eight elements of the noble eightfold path, and they are divided into three basic categories:

    Wisdom

    1. Right view
    2. Right intention

    Moral virtues

    3. Right speech
    4. Right action
    5. Right livelihood

    Meditation

    6. Right effort
    7. Right mindfulness
    8. Right concentration


In each of these parts of the noble eightfold path, the word “right” is a translation of the word samyañc (sanskrit) or sammā (pali), which signifies completeness, harmony, and also carries the meaning “perfect” or “ideal.”

Although parts of the path are numbered, this does not mean that they are a linear series of steps that one must take one at a time to advance toward enlightenment; instead, they should be developed more or less simultaneously, as much as individual abilities allow, because progress in one direction facilitates the development of other qualities, so that they complement and support each other.

In Buddhist symbolism, the noble eightfold path is often represented by the Dharmachakra, whose eight spiders represent the eight elements of the path.

Three Jewels

The three jewels are the three main features of Buddhism, that is, three things in which every Buddhist can find refuge. Therefore, they are also known as three jewels. That are:

    Buddha (The Awakened)
    Dharma (The Practice)
    Sangha (The Community)

Five rules of morality

There are five moral principles in Buddhist religion that every follower must adhere to, namely:

    1. Don’t kill or hurt other living things,
    2. Don’t steal,
    3. Don’t abuse sexual pleasure
    4. Don’t misuse speech (don’t lying)
    5. Do not consume alcohol, drugs or other substances that disturb consciousness.

Meditation

Buddhist meditation is a series of techniques that develop awareness, concentration, calmness and insight. Buddhists practice meditation as part of the path to enlightenment and nirvana.

According to Buddhist understanding, meditation represents an activity in which one seeks to overcome discursive thinking, to destroy or prevent adverse mental states, and to initiate or establish favorable mental states. The essence of Buddhist meditation lies in the collection of mindfulness and awareness, mindfulness and observation.

What are the basic branches and schools of Buddhism?

There are two basic currents in Buddhism, Theravada and Mahayana. Both are based on earlier traditions, so it is difficult to pinpoint their origin. It was previously thought that the first Theravada school was based on canonical texts that fairly faithfully reflected the original Buddha’s teaching, while the Mahayana was derived from much later material. Today, science thinks this is not true. Vajrayana Buddhism is sometimes considered a third group, while some consider it only part of the Mahayana tradition.

Mahayana has developed as a group of schools that can be classified into two major cultural and linguistic categories: Tibet-Mongolian and Sino-Japanese. Theravada Buddhism was more consistent; it expanded without significant change from India to Sri Lanka, and from there to Southeast Asia.

Buddhism in Laos

In Laos, Buddhists make up the majority of the population. Buddhism practiced in Laos is a traditional Theravada school. Lao-Buddhism is a unique part of Theravada Buddhism and is at the root of ethnic Lao culture. Buddhism in Laos is often closely tied to animist beliefs and belief in ancestral spirits, especially in rural areas.

However, Laos is a multiethnic country with a high proportion of non-Buddhist minorities who adhere to religions that are often substantiated by symbols of “animism” but which may also significantly overlap with Buddhism, or at least contain Buddhist elements arising from intercultural contact.

Sai Bat (Morning Alms) procession

Laotian Buddhists are very devout and in the past almost every Lao man, even for a short period of time, joined a Buddhist monastery or temple. Some men also falter for the rest of their lives. As the changes that bring with it the 21st century and the innovations of modern life, this practice is currently undergoing major changes. Most people give food to the monks in order to earn merit and improve their karma.

The temples of Laos were once considered “Universities” for monks. Lao monks are highly respected and valued in Lao communities. Based on Laotian Buddhism, Laos women learn that they can only get nirvana after being born as men.

Pha That Luang, Wat Sisakhet, Wat Xieng Thong and That Dam are the most famous Buddhist shrines in Laos. Lao-Buddhism is also known for the Buddha figures performing unique Lao creations or movements, such as a rain call and a uniquely striking Lao pose, such as depicting a Buddha lying down and welcoming death, after which he would attain Nirvana.

During the colonial era, Henry Parmentier conducted a major exploration of Lao art and architecture, which continues to be crucial to the unique culture of this part of Southeast Asia before the destruction that took place in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sai Bat (Morning Alms)

Sai Bat (Morning Alms) is a longstanding tradition of Lao Buddhist culture. Respecting this tradition, locals make daily contributions to monks throughout Luang Prabang. Starting in the early morning around 05:30 the monks take to the streets of Luang Prabang and in their special bowls “Bat” collect food from locals.

The tradition has also extended to tourists, so in addition to locals, tourists are also trying to uphold the Lao tradition and culture. It was an honor for me to be a part of this truly fascinating custom.

The most important thing is to honor this ritual in silence and to contribute to giving alms only if it means more to you than a meal and you must do so with great respect. If you do not wish to give your food, be at a suitable distance and be careful not to disturb the monastic procession or those participating in the procession. Basic rules for contributing and participating in the Sai Bat procession:

1) To make your contribution, you need to buy sticky rice at a local market earlier that morning or from people who prepare daily for rice sales at places along the route where the procession of monks is held.

2) Try not to be too close to the monks when photographing, and the camera flash can be very disturbing and uncomfortable for the monks and the parade participants who contribute.

3) Wear appropriate wardrobe: shoulders, chest and legs should be covered.

4) Do not make physical contact with the monks and try to be at least 5 meters away from the monks if you are observing the ceremony. If you participate in the ceremony you may be close to a monk, but there is no conversation.

5) Please note that large buses are banned in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang and are extremely disturbing in this context. If you are coming from another city, you can reach a certain area in the city and then you can reach by foot or by car.

6) Never follow the procession in the car, as this will put you above the monks, which in Laos shows great disrespect.

7) The most important thing is participating in the alms giving ceremony, protecting the dignity and beauty of this decades-long tradition.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of the last blog post from special series of post from my Lao adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism of Lao DPR and Qatar Airways for this incredible adventure and MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you for this great adventure.

This time, Qatar Airways recognized the quality of my work and they wanted to be part of this amazing project. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of Asia in a completely different way.

How do you like this story about Buddhism and Lao longstanding custom Sai Bat? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Laos? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story and we will enjoy in the beauties of Middle East! We are going to Dubai, place where all Emirates greet! See you next week in United Arab Emirates!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of PDR Lao and Qatar Airways airline company. I would like to say thank you to MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa and Tours for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, a magical fairy tale about the land of 1000 elephants…

My dear travellers, Happy New Year! I wish you much health, happiness, love and of course plenty of new adventures to remember! Life is one album that we ourselves fill with images that marked our existence. Today I am happy because this is my first post in the New Year and we continue our adventure in Laos, the smallest country in Southeast Asia.

In previous blog posts, you have had the opportunity to get to know the capital of Laos – Vientiane and to learn more about the largest Buddhist religious holiday, That Luang Festival.

Today I will take you to Luang Prabang, which many people call as the “land of 1000 elephants”. It is a city located in the mountainous north of Laos, which is also the capital of the Luang Prabang province.

If you are planning to visit Luang Prabang, it is best to use plane, in which case you will have a shorter flight of less than an hour from Vientiane. This trip was amazing and exciting, and it would not have been possible without the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Lao which I thank on this occasion for the kind invitation.

As I am a big animal lover, I have always had the desire to touch an elephant and see it live in its natural habitat. That is my wish which I shared with the team from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Lao.

They have made every effort to fulfill my wish, and for that I am truly grateful to them for fulfilling one great wish for one child trapped in an adult’s body!

After a short drive, we came to Chateau Orientale a small family-run hotel-resort that has its own little paradise – a “Elephant Shelter” that currently houses two elephants. I didn’t know that until the lunch. They mentioned some tour where we will visit the local waterfalls. Just like that after the luch, I got ready. I wasn’t alone, one iconic tourism legend also went with us – Mr. Klaus Gengenbach, the man who connected the Middle East with Germany 40 years ago when he introduced the first flights to Dubai.

I had heard about his work in Germany after working with many local tourism organizations, so his name was featured in their brochures, but I didn’t get a chance to get to know him personally.

I have to be honest so at first I didn’t know who I was having the privilege of talking to because I was a little tired so my observation skills for details and facts was quite low that afternoon… The only thing I noticed was that a person from the Ministry in talking to Mr. Gengenbach mentioned a a strange word repeatedly – Sang (which in Lao means elephant).

At first I thought it was the name of one of the local waterfalls, until the moment when we were joined by a younger guy who introduced himself as a local guide who had some unusual whistle with him.

Suddenly, we stopped in one field and the “local guide” started calling someone, since that didn’t work, he used his whistle. Not a minute passed, I heard a familiar sound. A representative from the ministry noticed that I had become incredibly excited and he just said, “Sang is coming now!”

Then I finally figured out the meaning of the word Sang! The elephants living in this park as part of the Chateau Orientale resort have been rescued and now this is their new home. They are taken care of by two trainers and these elephants are not used to transport tourists. They are protected and you can enjoy with them, feed and have an interesting bath time with them, after which they return to their paradise, which is the only acceptable solution.

Elephants are indeed noble and highly intelligent and sentient animals that humans unfortunately exterminate because of ivory (tusks) and are used in captivity as a fun item, which is not at all commendable.

Elephants are the largest terrestrial mammals in the world. At birth, the cub can weigh up to 100 kg. The gestation period for an elephant female is between 20 and 22 months, which is also the longest gestation period for all mammals on the planet. Elephants can live for more than 70 years.

Today, there are only three other types of elephants species in the world:

     – African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
     – African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis)
     – Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)

I’m sure that you maybe wonder why these trainers are here? Their role is to help the elephant to adapt to their new environment and help them live in harmony with their natural environment. Due to the previous experiences of this couple, they are accustomed to living with people and they are not able to live with their herd in nature.

There is a great possibility of rejecting from the herd as it was necessary to find the ideal solution for these two elephants.

During my visit to this unusual elephant shelter, I had the opportunity to learn some new facts about these extraordinary beings. By their nature, they are very headstrong, can be dangerous to humans, but in wildlife they never attack the first, only in self-defense.

When a baby elephant is born or taken captive, they lose that wilderness call over time, and some individuals will never be able to return to the wild, especially if they were raised in captivity because they did not have an adequate model to model their wildlife.

Because they are dependent on the goodwill of people, so many orphanages have been opened in many places in the world for elephants, their only hope of survival. At this shelter, a small paradise within the Chateau Oriental Resort, trainers strive every day to allow this pair of elephants to live beautifully and comfortably.

Have you ever wondered how much this mammal can eat daily? Elephants eat about 150 kg of grass, twigs, tree bark, carrots and fruits EVERY DAY. In order to eat so much food, he has to spend three quarters of his time eating. Now imagine that you live in a place where there are no abundant fruits every day, that means someone has to come and give you a hand of help.

Because it is vital to keep this couple in a resort, they strive to provide 70 to 100 kg of fruit each day with the help of local farmers who, at extremely low prices and food donations, help this resort survive.

That’s really nice on their part, and the more commendable thing is that the whole local community is working hard to maintain this little paradise by collecting donations for daily living and if ever needed healing for these lovely creatures.

The male was more open for communication, while the female needed some time to be free and socialize with us. They are an extremely caring couple and each of them has a difficult story and they just met at this shelter and loved it. It is the female who takes the lead, she can attack the male and leave, but after a few minutes she looks for him in the park.

On one occasion, when they quarreled, they moved the male to a nearby village for two days, the female tried to find the male in park, after she came to the hotel to show concern for her partner and wait literally 24 hours as a kind of quiet protest to return her partner. The owners and people working at the resort couldn’t believe how the female reacted when she spotted the male and they went across the river to their home…

I spent the most beautiful 3 hours with these animals and our time was so much fun, because the two of them were just in the mood for socializing. Someone had to take a break too! Of course, this is a joke, the truth is that the female wanted to dry because she was extremely angry with the male who seemed to be overdoing the refreshment in the river.

When you do not want to give all the bananas one at a time you get a scoop on your head which can be shown in the picture above. Elephants are fascinating animals and very intelligent just like humans have their virtues and disadvantages, and even those moments when they make some funny situations like this in the photo above. 😉

I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet people like the owners of Chateau Orientale Resort, their employees and the people who help them run the hotel smoothly.

Somehow I found the strength to say goodbye to the elephants, so it was the time to really see some local waterfalls. In Laos, nature is divine and for me this was a totally new lifetime experience.

With the help of the Chateau Orientale hotel-resort, which in addition to the accommodation service, as a tour operator, successfully organizes numerous half-day and full-day tours where you can discover the charms of Luang Prabang area and enjoy the beauty of nature.

They have succeeded in an unusual and unique way of proving to me that their motto is really true, which is: “Time (here) does not exist!”. Indeed in Luang Prabang you feel like time has stopped and everything is dedicated to nature.

Man is here as a observer who came to enjoy the beauty and to use the modern technologies to record and share it with his family, friends and the rest of the world, of course, if he uses social networks.

During my half-day tour, I had the opportunity to feel the peace and serenity next to the Tad Sae Waterfalls located along the tributary of the Nam Khan River in Luang Prabang Province. They are located about 18 kilometers southeast of Luang Prabang and about 2 kilometers from Bak En village.

The day was fulfilling and it was time for Mr.M to return to the hotel to rest and sum up his impressions. I have to admit, that day was my most exciting day in 2019 because I had the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream. It may seem ridiculous and childish to some, but when your childhood dream is fulfilled you have the impression that the whole world is yours!

I used my last atoms of strength to get a little refreshment and nap, I tried to fall asleep, but it didn’t work, so I decided it was better to edit the photos. I’m one of those people who thinks that the sooner you start working, the sooner you finish, and the more time you will have for rest and fun.

The next morning, I woke up because of the strange sounds of “parrot fight” that were in the resort of the main mascots. Looks like someone ate more mangoes and papayas than followed, it was an interesting brawl…

Like every morning, you have to get up and get yourself resfreshed, but this view is definitely different from the one I have the opportunity to see in Belgrade and Berlin… There are no tall buildings and office skyscrapers, just pure nature and wild life.

Before breakfast, I decided to visit the resort and share with you what a distant paradise on earth looks like in Southeast Asia. I think that after these photos you will want to come to Luang Prabang and feel the untouched nature of Asia and visit the elephants.

Welcome to Chateau Orientale, a natural temple where you can rest your body, soul and all your senses. In the picturesque setting beside the exquisite riverfront locations, you can see in the ancient oriental oasis in the heart of the Lao Jungle.

Take the journey of our ancestors to the Middle and Far East, enjoying a unique experience. Allow your senses to flow in the pleasure that makes the atmosphere this tropical paradise special. Chateau Orientale is a place where time does’t exist…

Chateau Orientale is a mini-resort with only 4 accommodation units and uses this fact to provide the best possible personalized service to make every stay in this quaint paradise an unforgettable lifetime experience that you will remember.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end post from special series of post from my Lao adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism of Lao DPR and Qatar Airways for this incredible adventure and Chateau Orientale family run hotel-resort for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you for this great adventure.

How do you like this story about Luang Prabang, the land of 1000 Elephants? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Laos? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story from Laos and we will continue our adventure in Luang Prabang and we will see what beautiful places are hidden in this wonderful part of Laos.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of PDR Lao and Qatar Airways airline company. I would like to say thank you to Chateau Orientale hotel-resort for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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Letters from Azerbaijan: What We Really Need to Be Happy?

Dear travellers, Good morning and welcome to another new post on the Mr.M blog. The season of vacations is going to end soon and we are preparing for some new work “victories”. I sincerely hope that you had a great time and that you made the most of your vacation memorable. As I did mine in Azerbaijan. This morning I was thinking about: “What We Really Need to Be Happy?”

Today’s post will be dedicated to the capital of Azerbaijan and one slightly different story. I am sure that for many of us it is always a problem to pack adequate clothing for the journey. I have to admit that I found myself in huge problem when I needed to pack my luggage. I had no idea what I need to pack and to prepare for 34-36 degrees in Azerbaijan when I checked weather forecast for the last time before my trip.

The first question I asked myself was, “Is there high humidity?”. The capital of Azerbaijan – Baku is blessed with climate. Due to its geographical location, colder air from Russia comes from North. While slightly warm and sandy air comes from Iran from the South. This unusual combination of climate and proximity to the Caspian Sea makes it easy to survive a tropical summer in Azerbaijan.

For the first time in my life, I packed a small suitcase and that half the things I didn’t manage to wear. That’s why I sometimes fool myself in the judgement… Anything is possible!

Due to the weather conditions in Azerbaijan during the summer, it is best to equip yourself with the clothes made mostly of Linen. Linen is the best natural material which allow our skin to breathe, I know there is another side of the story – it is hard to iron. Linen may be the best material when these high tropical temperatures come, but be prepared to iron almost every time when you come back to the hotel. If you are not used to iron, try a well-tried recipe.

When take off the linen clothes, place it immediately on a chair and fold your hands over the material, imitating the movements of the iron and leaving it overnight. The problem is that not every type of the linen react the same, so depending on the quality and the fabric processing of the linen itself, it depends on whether you will be able to straighten your linen garment. I have succeeded on this trip a few times since I have not separated from my white linen shirt. Sometimes we need so little for happiness! My happiness is when I do not need to iron my clothes too much, because I’m perfectionist, so I just can’t stand it if it is not good!

The second best material that can help you withstand high temperatures is viscose. Viscose is also natural material that cools and refresh the skin, of course, sometimes the opposite effect can occur when the combination of high temperature and high humidity, then only God is helpful to you, I will just say that I well remembered what spring in Sri Lanka looks like… You do not know Is it worse that you feel like you are a chicken in the oven or a feeling of helplessness that you cannot fully enjoy in a tropical paradise…

Baku is different and be prepared to bring with you comfortable and light clothing with you very, very comfortable shoes because believe me, YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED THEM! Baku is a huge city, boulevards are long and wide, so if you’re a fan of walking, get ready for a marathon. Transportation in Baku is very cheap, so you can use the transportation. The transport system is such that you can buy one card, but the difference is that one card can be used by more than one person, so you do not have to buy more than one card. The price of the card is about 2 USD, while the price of the ticket for one way ride is about 0.20 or 0.30 cents (USD), which you have to admit is much cheaper than Germany, where is one ride costs almost 3 Euros (2.80 in Berlin to be exact)…

As far as we are talking about food, trust me you won’t be hungry or thirsty, food is extremely affordable. I will only tell you that lunch for 4 people cost about 60-70 euros, and on the table were more than two kilograms of meat roast, various salads, various pies and sweet treats which is again similar, if not cheaper than the prices in European restaurants. Market prices are ok, I know prices of candies are much lower than European ones.

In previous posts from Azerbaijan, you have seen the cutest Marko in some pretty fancy cloths, but 80% of my time was spent in this let’s just say a simpler casual outfit. I changed two pairs of jeans and 3 linen shirts (which, by the way, were the same colors, same model) otherwise I am a person who binds to one model for a some period of time so in my free time (when I not taking photos for the blog) I only wear that one model in multiple colors (sometimes even in the same colour) until I’m not get bored, so I find some new “love.”

As I mentioned earlier, when you travel the most important thing is comfort. This is some of my suggestion for a summer version of the vacation outfit when traveling somewhere in the summer and exploring other parts of the country along the way, since I also went to rural areas where expensive clothes would surely be of no use for me.

OUTFIT

Shirt: Makia

Jeans: Pedro del Hierro

Backpack: Picard

Sneakers: Makia

Camera: Sony Alpha 7r IILens: Sony G Master 24-70 MM

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends at Makia Clothing for their trust, as well as my associates from the Picard brand who have always been there to support my work. The products of these two companies have always been helpful to me on my trips. Makia clothing is simple, practical and functional, while other Picard leather accessories are of high quality and very durable.

All the backpacks I got from Picard are still like new, of course I clean and treat them nice after every adventure so I don’t let leather get ruined. As a traveler who always carries a laptop, camera and big lens in my travel bag and some other necessities I need to survive a classic day on the journey, I can tell you that Picard products are high quality.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from National Tourism Promotion Board of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this story about this simple and casual outfit? I am sure that you have one nice white linen shirt in your closet, use it and make this summer unforgettable! Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Europe. This time i will take you to Baltic and we will visit the capital of Latvia – Riga.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

P.S. If you want to know more about Azerbaijan you should read my other posts, I am sure you will find plenty of interesting tips and information about this incredible country:

  1. Letters from Azerbaijan: Lahij, place where dreams are made of Copper…
  2. Letters from Azerbaijan: Gobustan, the Cradle of Azeri Culture…
  3. Letters from Azerbaijan: Baku, a modern city made of traditional dreams…
This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Boulevard Hotel Baku. I also thank my friends from  Makia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfit and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Azerbaijan: Lahij, place where dreams are made of copper…

Hello my dear travellers, welcome to new post on the Mr.M blog. How are you doing today? Has something interesting happened to you today? Some people are back from vacation, while some lucky ones are just getting ready to start their journey. In the past few days, I read on the social networks comments from some people, like: “Why we call our vacation “annual leaving”, if it only lasts for 2,3 weeks… It is not fair!”. I agree with them, but what to do it looks like it’s another “wrong” name, such some terms like “final discounts”, and in the store you will find the maximum of 20% discount… Sweet “white” lies which we just love and want to believe.

In the previous two posts you had the opportunity to get to know Baku and see where the cradle of Azeri culture – Gobustan National Park. In today’s post you will meet an interesting village, which is located in the most beautiful part of Azerbaijan, at the heart of the Caucasus.

Of course, before I start today’s post I would like to thank the National Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan for its excellent organization, as well as other partners of this project who made our stay in Azerbaijan unforgettable!

Tural, our guide told us the opinion of the local people in Azerbaijan, which is that they consider that the road to Lahij village is one of the most beautiful in Azerbaijan. You can see how nature has adapted to climate and you have the great opportunity yo enjoy the view of mountains, plains and sea.

I must admit that usually when traveling somewhere by car, I try to rest and get some sleep because press trips can be extremely stressful at times and I use every free moment for rest and relaxation. However this time was different, the trip was different and I decided to show you these beauties of nature to people who may choose to visit Azerbaijan one day!

The people of Azerbaijan are simple, kind and frank. The language may be a small barrier, but because of its close proximity to Russia, many people know Russian. Maybe this fact helps from Balkan region like me because the Russians can understand some of Serbian words which makes it easier for some basic communication. Of course a lot of people speak English as well, but we are talking about older generations who lives in rural areas.

Tural explained to us the geographical location of Azerbaijan and some basic things about places where we are going, so this trip passed so fast for us quickly. Of course we took a couple of breaks, maybe the trip was a little longer, but we learned a lot about Azerbaijan.

At the first break, I used the time to take a picture by the sea… Well, I went well all way to far away Azerbaijan, I guess I deserved to have at least one nice picture with my best friend, I’m most afraid of – water. Strange, but very interesting love!

Shortly after these breaks, we came to our first stop on this short car trip. My hosts wanted to show me their oldest and largest mosque in Azerbaijan – the Juma Mosque. According to legend, it was built in the 8th century when Shamakhi was chosen as the residence of the Arab Caliph. This is why Shamakhi Juma looked like one of the oldest mosques in the Caucasus region. The architecture of this large complex is as follows – the huge prayer hall is divided into three independent sections that are connected with wide open arches.

Each part has its own separate mikhrab and an entrance. After considerable destruction of the mosque during wars and earthquakes, it was repeatedly reconstructed and restored. The current appearance of the mosque was formed in the early 20th century. The mosque was practically rebuilt on an old basis without losing the basic principles of its structure. There are still three halls. In addition, the central hall is covered by a huge dome and the other two smaller domes.

Below the central dome is a window belt. The windows are decorated with bars. The whole facade is decorated with tracery lattices. Built more than 1,200 years ago, the Shamakhi Juma Mosque remains one of the largest cult structures in the Caucasus region.

Mikhrab in the main Hall.

It was a great honor for me to visit this holy place and learn more about the history of this part of Azerbaijan. I was particularly attracted to the harem of the mosque (this word has different meaning, but also it is the name of the enclosed courtyard of the mosque) at the entrance to the mosque, as it was arranged as a small green oasis of peace and happiness.

We had to continue our journey, because we had a long way to go to Lahij village, and we had a few more things to see. We got in the car and continued our trip. Of course I got my camera ready, the photographer fell asleep from the heat, so I had to do some of his work. Nobody knows my “blogging” troubles on the trip when I have different roles to play at the same time…

You are maybe wondering why we headed to Lahij village? Lahij is a remote village located in the Ismaiilli area of Azerbaijan, on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus. About 2,000 people live in this village, mostly belonging to a minority ethnic group that speaks Tat.

Lahij is one of the oldest permanently populated places in the world. Moreover, the sewerage system of the village dates back to 1000 years ago, which during this time you must admit was very unusual and commendable. For example, large European cities such as Paris and London did not have sewerage system until the 13th – 14th centuries. Incredible, isn’t it?

The facilities and master plan of the village are very unique. As a result of frequent earthquakes, locals have developed sophisticated and authentic construction techniques. Traditionally, people used the ground floor of houses as workshops and workrooms. The houses here are characterized by flat roofs. In addition, some houses have balconies overlooking the street.

The history and story of the village, are associated with many legends. According to one legend, many years ago there was a town of 36,000 inhabitants called La. One day a major earthquake happened and La was leveled to the ground. There was no town afterwards, but the place name changed to La-hec. “Hec” in Azerbaijani means nothing or zero. Over time, people came to live in this settlement again. At that time, La-hec changed to Lahi.

According to another legend, the Persian Shah Kai Khosrov killed a prominent ruler of a city, which caused great unrest in his country. Finally, after some power and throne struggles, the defeated chess decided to flee the country to save his life. He later found refuge in the mountains near modern Lahi. The Shah servants established the village of Lahij for their families. Eventually Kai Khosrov died there, but gradually the small village expanded and turned into a settlement.

This is the way how locals consider themselves to be descendants of Kay Khosrov’s original court. Moreover, they claim that the name of the village comes from a place called Lahian in Persia. A tomb with a tombstone belonging to Kai Khosrov was found at the Zavara cemetery in Lahij along with other tombstones dating back more than a thousand years.

In the medieval period the village became an important center of craftsmen in Azerbaijan. Lahij’s artisans have started to become very popular throughout Asia and Europe. In the 18th century, the city gained a reputation for producing cold steel weapons and copper. Many of them, such as copper pots and lamps and weapons, still adorn famous European museums, especially the Louvre and the Hermitage. Today, the village and its entire heritage are protected, but open to tourists. The spirit of medieval times and the path of ancient silk is still found in Lahij.

Also, there is one interesting museum in this picturesque place called the Museum of Local History of Lahij and you can find many interesting exhibits in it and learn more about the history of this unusual village.

The museum was opened in 1985 within the Lahij Historical and Cultural Reserve. Initially it was part of the historical and cultural nature reserve, but since 1992 it has the function of an independent cultural object of significance. The museum itself is housed in a building known in Lahi as the “Aghaoglu Mosque”, which was built in 1914.

The exhibit of the museum consists of more than 1000 exhibits in 10 different sections. The exhibits date from ancient examples of crafts, including ceramic specimens, specimens more than 2000 years old, bellows made in the 18th century for copper smelting and other livestock and trade related parts, as well as information on the city’s underground irrigation system operating since 15th Century!

The development of international tourism, together with some new knowledge about people and cultures, has resulted in a gradual interest in the cultural diversity of the region. Lahij has attracted the attention of many world tourists in recent years and as a result Lahij village is now included in the tours of several leading travel agencies.

The time for move came and we continued our journey, we had an amazing time in Lahij village, but Gabala is calling us! Gabala (Azerbaijani: Kəbələ, also known as Kabala, the capital of the Kabbalah district) The municipality consists of the city of Gabala and the town of Kusnat village. Previously, the city was known as Kutkashen, but after the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the city was renamed in honor of the much older city of Gabala.

The geographical location and mountainous relief of the city greatly influenced the formation of complex climatic conditions in the vertical arid region, as well as the density of the river network and the richness of land and vegetation cover.

The facilitated and humid climatic conditions of the Gabala region led to the formation of a dense river network in the area. The city is rich in chestnut and hazelnut trees. The flora and fauna of the district are very rich. Deer, wild boars, rabbits, bears, wolves, foxes and numerous birds can be found in the forest.

Gabala is an ideal tourist destination due to its combination of unusual spring climate, mountain scenery and diverse fauna. There are many world-class hotels and resorts, much of the Kafkaz hotel chain. The region’s natural climatic conditions create opportunities for summer and winter tourism development in the region. The northern side of Gabala belongs to the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, the central part of the Alazan-Haftaran Valley, the southern part of the Ainohur Mountains.

In addition, Azerbaijan has the highest mountain peak in Azerbaijan – Bazarduz Mountain (4466 meters). Also in Gabala is the Ieddi Gozel waterfall. In translation, it means ‘seven beauties’ because of its seven phases of decline, but it also depicts the classic story of Nizami Ganjavi. The city also contains the Gabaland Amusement Park, a skating rink and Greek-style theater built specifically for concerts and outdoor events. Gabala also has several malls. The city is home to the Tufandag Ski Resort, which is rated as the best ski resort in Azerbaijan and one of the main in the Caucasus.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about National Park Gobustan? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Azerbaijan, and I will show you one interesting Lahij village which I visited during my visit. Stay tuned!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

P.S. If you want to know more about Azerbaijan you should read my other posts, I am sure you will find plenty of interesting tips and information about this incredible country:

This post was sponsored by National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Qafqaz Thermal & Spa Resort Hotel Yengija. I also thank my friends from Loro PianaMakia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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