Eternal Challenge on Fihalhohi Island, the Maldives

The beach of Fihalhohi Island Resort, the Maldives.

The beach of Fihalhohi Island Resort, the Maldives.

To choose a Maldives island for vacation is very simple, isn’t it? Just use a Maldives resorts map. You are sure every island is a small part of one big universally recognized paradise. However, it is not really like that. I would like to share the information that we had not found online in preparing for our trip to Fihalhohi Island.

Well, let’s start again: to choose a Maldives island for vacation is very simple, if your only criteria are palm trees and gold beaches in “Bounty” style. Take any island. Oh, you want more, do you? Perhaps the rich and living coral reef? For a reasonable price, this mix is impossible on the Maldives.

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The Famous Ruins of Estonia: Pirita Convent

Pirita Convent Ruins Park, Tallinn, Estonia.

Pirita Convent Ruins Park, Tallinn, Estonia.

Her dream was unusual. She would be the founder and the head of a new Catholic Order. Its convents would be a home for both monks and nuns. They would be living separately, but be attending services together in one church. They would be poor, but could have as many books as they wanted.

Such a dream had visited a noble Swedish lady, Birgitta Birgersdotter, around 1345. After 25 years, she got permission from the Pope to establish the Order of the Most Holy Saviour (1370) and to start building monasteries. Sixty years later, her third community, Pirita Convent, was completed on the banks of the Pirita River where it flows into the Gulf of Finland, and became the largest nunnery in Old Livonia. Read the rest of this entry »

The Traditional Village of Stanisici or Life Is a Miracle in the Balkans

The traditional village of Stanisici, Bosnia.

The traditional village of Stanisici, Bosnia.

I have noticed that in the past ten years, ethnic tourism and recreation in traditional villages have become incredibly popular in the Balkans, Europe. Most likely, it started in Serbia, in the mountainous area of Zlatibor (“zlati bor” is a “golden pine” in Serbian) where Emir Kusturica built his Drvengrad or, as the Germans call it, K├╝stendorf. This ethno village project was as original as its creator, the most famous film director of the Balkans.

They say that this idea came to Kusturica during the filming of “Life Is a Miracle.” Later, he transported his parents’ house to Zlatibor and began to look for and to buy old houses in Serbia to dismantle and reassemble them in a new place: in his ethno-village. Today it has about 50 traditional houses. This is a prototype of a typical early 20th century Serbian village which usually had several houses and was surrounded by magnificent nature. There are no more such villages in Serbia. I know this because I have a house in that area.

I think I understand why the project turned out to be so successful, and today you can find ethno villages in any part of the former Yugoslavia. This is an embodiment of people’s love for the lost country of their ancestors, and this is nostalgia for peaceful times before the Balkan conflict. Emir Kusturica was able to recreate the ideal village of his childhood with its cozy wooden houses where roosters crow every morning, white lilies bloom under windows, and where life is perceived as a miracle as it was many years ago.

However, there is a problem: the road trip from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, to Drvengrad takes about five hours by car, too long for just a day-trip. Of course, you can get there without a rented or private car, perhaps by bus, but such a long trip without spending a night in Drvengrad will not be easy. So I will tell you of another incredibly charming place. This is the ethno village of Stanisici in the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, three kilometers from the border with Serbia.

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