Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Amazing Race" around Banja Luka

Every team that comes to Banja Luka gets to know the city through doing a "scavenger hunt" of the various sites around Banja Luka. It is MUCH more fun for them than having me take them around, and as they usually do it in teams and there is a prize for the best team - they try to do it as fast as possible... and that makes it even more fun!

This week I was joined by a lovely couple from Switzerland, Jonas and Marie-Laure. I asked them if they wanted to do the scavenger hunt and they were totally into it (even if they were the only team!). They also got into the photos - making appropriate faces and it looks like they had a really fun day...

I have decided to share their experience with you - so you can also do the Amazing Race around Banja Luka: (thanks to Jonas for the photos!)

They are given a list of places to go to and take a picture, and have to answer some questions as they go along...

Stop 1: at the Fortress Kastel with the river Vrbas in the background:
Stop 2: At Safikada's grave (looking appropriately sad for the fact that it is a grave). They have to tell me who Safikada is, you can find out more here
Stop 3: They tried to take a shaky photo at the clock which is a memorial to the 1969 earthquake, but the iphone corrected each time and so it wouldn't be blurry... so a scared face was taken instead (as I said, they really got into the photos! So cute!)
Stop 4: Gospodska Ulica (the Lord's street), the main walking street:
Stop 5: Hram Hrista Spasitelja (The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour), which is Serb Orthodox.
Stop 6: Statue of Ban Milosavljević. He was the mayor who built a lot of the lovely buildings in Banja Luka, including the original "Hram", which was then destroyed in 1945, the above one was rebuilt starting during the 1992-1995 war and opening officially again in 2009.
Stop 7: The World War II Memorial (maybe you shouldn't have smiled here guys...haha)
Stop 8: Appropriately sad for the statue to the 12 premature babies who died from lack of oxygen during the war because they couldn't get the oxygen through by land, and the UN wouldn't let it be flown in...more about this can be found here
Last stop: Petar Kočić park with his statue:
I hope you enjoyed this look at the "amazing race" around Banja Luka (this is the short version, some other teams get a longer version... depending on how hot it is and other factors!) I think that Jonas and Marie-Laure enjoyed it, and I had a fun week with them as well! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Review | The Inn at Ocean's Edge

This is my fourth review of a Colleen Coble book. I have reviewed Tidewater Inn, Silent Night and Seagrass Pier. I really enjoy her flavour of romantic suspense with Christian values sewn into the story, so when I saw this opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed. I read it in one day while I was on holiday in Portugal (one of the 9 books I read then) and it was such a wonderful way to spend the day - lovely exciting romantic book, while lying by the pool with the sea in the background. I really believe that God was looking down and smiling at me, doing a few things that I love - reading a good book and listening to the sounds of the sea, and from time to time jumping into the pool to cool idea of heaven!

Ok, back to the book - strong main characters, a beautiful setting, described to perfection and most importantly a story-line that keeps you thinking and guessing, and wanting to read to the end... I can't wait to read more of her books from this author.

So, as you can tell - I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romantic suspense book, and wants to be swept up into the story and taken away from this earth for a little while...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Team from the US

This past week we were blessed with a wonderful team of 3 ladies in their 70s from Seattle. We did some fun things with them - hanging out with ladies on Sunday, making necklaces and boxes. It was really fun! We also went with them to the children's home where they made bracelets and some pretty butterflies. It was also great fun! But you will just have to imagine what that all looked like as I don't have any pictures :(

On their last night, we had a little workshop with our some of our sponsorship girls. Put in teams of 3, they were challenged to make straw towers which could hold weight. Here they all are (with Judith, Linda and Sherry on the left-middle) with their towers.
Here is the winning team showing off how their creation can hold 7 books:
We learnt a couple of things from this: you need a good foundation to be able to hold more weight, and working in teams can be fun! Afterwards we also made bracelets, and the girls all really enjoyed themselves!

I did show them a little bit of the area by taking them for fresh trout in Krupa na Vrbas (it is so fresh - they go to the fish farm across the road and get the fish only when you order it!). They loved the watermills there and it was a really fun day outing despite the heat. Unfortunately, they also got a real Bosnian experience on their trip to Sarajevo when they left - the bus that showed up for 20 tickets sold was a little 20-seater kombi/van...luckily there was space for their luggage!! 

They go on to travel around Bosnia and Herzegovina for another two weeks - showing us all that being over 70 doesn't mean you have to stay home and do nothing!!   

Friday, August 07, 2015

First Estonian team in Bosnia!

It was so great to host a team of 11 Estonians - the first team ever to Bosnia from Estonia! It was so funny for me as they really reminded me of Finnish people in their discipline and politeness (and it didn't help that their language sounds so similar!). If you don't know where Estonia is, it is one of the Baltic nations, and across the gulf of Finland from Finland, so pretty far north! 

Here they are, (with Tanja and two other volunteers, Nina and Andjela - with Estonian flags on their cheeks!), in all their glory - the two leaders were my friend, Helina, in blue in the front and (my new friend) Liis with her mouth open in front... that says it all really! So much fun!
We started off with an Estonian evening - here is an arty shot through the flag (thanks to Liis and Helina for the photos!)
There was lots of food including black bread and fish: not my favourite... but luckily there were lots of other goodies...
They had little "booths" like in an expo where they explained different aspects of Estonian culture, history, sport, music, etc... and in the end there was a quiz... followed by dancing! Everyone had a great time!
Here they are listening to the Estonian national anthem:
I didn't get a picture of the dancing at the end at the cultural evening, but you can see below where we are trying it out at the children's home. We went a couple of times with them - doing a bit of a run down on Estonian culture (including the dancing!)
And playing lots of fun games: including pop everyone else's balloon while saving yours :)
Once we were tired of the games, there was time for face (or body) painting...
Putting in hair accessories:
 And making bracelets...
And generally hanging out and enjoying new friends. It was so much fun!

As usual it was sad to see them go, but it was fun having them and being part of hosting this historic team!
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