We are sitting in the small plane. The seats are narrow and covered in coarse grey fabric. The runaway is an incline on the snow on an elevated glacier near Dumont D’Urville’s French base, in the Adelie Land, East Antarctica.
It is December 2007 and one of my biggest dreams in life has just come true. After years of work and wait, I’m finally in Antarctica. The previous day we jumped over the snow of the continent — for me it was the very first time — and we slept in a small base. Today, French fellas drove us uphill, to the runaway. From here we are looking at an astonishing panorama.
After knowing Croatia only for the terrible events of the 1990s, it was time to get to know it for what it is today, in person.
Croatia is a beautiful country located in the Balkans, one of the several ones emerged from the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. Actually Croatia existed long before Yugoslavia itself, but only a small part of its history was marked by independence.
An important and long part of its past was under Austrian rule, and that reflects in Zagreb’s downtown appearance, which is characterized by beautiful Middle European atmosphere and architecture. Zagreb old uptown could easily be a neighborhood of Vienna or Prague, and its old streetcars crossing downtown are not so different from the ones you can find in Budapest or Bratislava.
Statue of Josip Jelačić in the middle of Trg bana Jelačića, Zagreb’s central square
As for me, I had never been to Croatia until a few days ago, therefore the image about that country engraved in my mind was the one we all received from TV news during the 1990s: a country suffering war misery, its tanks facing enemy forces, and people hit with cluster bombs on the streets of Zagreb.
That’s the reason why I was twice as happy about visiting Croatia for the first time. Not only the city covered in snow introduced itself in the best possible way, but I also finally had a chance to get to know the country for its present, not only for its tough past.
To me, while Zurich symbolizes the act of taking advantage of neutrality for material purposes, Geneva seems to take advantage of that same neutrality for moral purposes.
The Broken Chair, Geneva
This photo of the Broken Chair Monument in Geneva has been taken from our car while stopping at a red light.
The Broken Chair is nothing else than a giant wooden chair with a broken leg located a few yards away from the entrance of the Palace of Nations.
The broken leg is dedicated to people who lost their limbs due to mines, and it was meant to attract attention of visiting politicians from around the world towards the sufferings faced by civilians who were so unlucky to pay a price to war with their own body parts.
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