A strong gale warning (more than 20 m/s) is in effect for many parts, except in the east.
There’s a snow storm outside at the moment. I took a walk around the back gardens of the flats I’m staying in. There’s a semi-communal grassy area with benches, though this evening the grass has become covered in snow. It’s just gone midnight. The wind has become stronger. It was a struggle walking against it back to the back door of the flat.
Iceland has a population of 300,000 people, most of whom live in Reykjavik. The tap water here smells of sulphur. According to the National Museum of Iceland, 65% of the original female settlers came from the British Isles whereas most of the original male settlers were Scandanavians.
This was shot just over a year ago in Paris but it seems quite topical now.
Now I’m in Belgrade, in a place called Hot Spot Cafe, just uploading some pics of Macedonia, pausing briefly to read about the conviction of the lyrical terrorist.
Saw a demonstration today against (or for) a writer, with demonstrators all in combat gear. Also went to the Nicola Tesla museum – he who invented electric motors and radio (Marconi stole the idea apparently).
Getting the train to Hungary tonight, via Budapest.- which reminds me of an old Goon Show:
Grytpype: Now, Captain Seagoon
Seagoon: Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes?
Grytpype: Please don’t do that. Captain, you have been specially selected for a specially dangerous mission
Seagoon: Does this mean I’ve been specially selected for a specially dangerous mission?
Grytpype: So you guessed, eh? Seagoon, you are to make your way to Hungary via Budapest
Seagoon: Will I have to go abroad?
Grytpype: If all else fails, yes. It’s dangerous work
Seagoon: I suppose I’ll have to take risks?
Grytpype: Oh yes, and a small pot of tea
Seagoon: What does this mean?
Grytpype: It means you’ve been chosen to go abroad with a packet of Risks and a small pot of tea
Seagoon: For what reason?
Grytpype: Reason? Does there have to be a reason?
Grytpype: Very well, if that’s the way you feel about it, I’ll tell you. Pull up a chair
I’ve been staying with a family here for the past week: a man, a woman – who approached me at the bus station, or actually it was a guy with her who approached me asking if I needed somewhere to stay, which I did – and an occasional 20 year old son. They invited me into their living room this afternoon for a coffee and then some wine and some pumpkin. They live in the living room at the moment, at least whilst I’m there. The man told me the room I’m now staying in is actually his bedroom. I’m paying 45 euros for the week. The man, after a stroke 7 years ago, is paralysed down his left side and can no longer work. He gets a pension of 100 euros a month, which he says is not enough, particularly in winter when they have to have the heating on. It’s cold here. I’ve put the fur lining back in my coat. Only a couple of weeks ago in Greece I was lying on a beach and swimming in the sea. And a week ago in Athens I was walking around in a T-shirt. Athens is not that much further south than here, but Ohrid is 600m above sea level. Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest in the world, and Ohrid is one of the oldest known European settlements. Ohrid is the Jerusalem for Slavic peoples, he said.
I’ve just taken the overnight train from Athens. Sitting in the smoky station cafe waiting for the connection to Skopje, Macedonia, having just eaten a sickly sweet king-size chocolate croissant with Nutella-type chocolate oozing out of it.
Paying the bill in the hotel today the woman went through the things I’d eaten or drunk then started saying two and a half hours internet, three hours internet etc.. They had wifi access and I’d been sitting there with my laptop, assuming it was free, not realizing they were noting down how long I was sitting there and charging me for it. There were signs saying internet 3 euros per hour by the computers, but when there’s wifi that’s usually free, except when some charging thing comes up on the screen and you have to put in a credit card number. I mentioned it to them but I still paid it.
American woman talking to museum warden:
– I like Turkish people. So would you describe yourself as a European? I’ve been to other countries in Europe and they don’t like us much. The French don’t like us, but in Turkey the people are so friendly. Your Ataturk was a great man, he really brought your country into the modern age, and look at you now: a developed country that’s neither muslim nor christian…
This is a small town near to the ruins of Ephesus, the capital of the Eastern part of the Roman empire. I have been told to procure photos of the site so that they may be entered into a database.
Sitting on the sea wall where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara. It’s Ramadan though it doesn’t seem to be as strictly observed here as in Morocco, the other islamic country I’ve been to during Ramadan. There, in Casablanca, I was stopped by a couple of policemen who had spotted me taking a swig from a bottle of water. Though they weren’t so bothered when they realized I wasn’t Moroccan, they still told me it was forbidden. In the more touristy places, such as Marrakech, some cafes were open during the day for tourists, but I only ever saw one Moroccan breaking Ramadan and that was a guy with no fingers, just stumps, with a tiny hand-rolled cigarette wedged between two of his stumps. I only noticed it because a group of kids were standing in front of the bench on which he was sitting, tormenting him.