FK Partizan Belgrade vs. AEL Limassol FC, Stadium Partizan

Qualification for the UEFA League Championships 2012

When going to a Partizan game there is always full-on heavy security. This was my second time to Stadium Partizan and I knew what to expect. For my Australian friend, who has supported Partizan since childhood, this was their first live game and they were over-awed by the police presence. There is heavy security around the ground and all roads leading to it with riot police, military police, normal everyday police with dogs and mounted police on horseback.

Police presence before the game outside Stadium Partizan.

Police presence before the game outside Stadium Partizan.

The South-end terrace – ‘The Jug’, is where the Partizan hard core fans stand proud on their seats and sing for all 90-minutes. It is full with fans standing in the aisles to watch. For all the security measures outside of the ground, there is no security in ‘The Jug’ so it’s like being in an animal cage where anything goes, as long as you don’t run onto the field where the luminous-vested security make a line of defence.

As the players came onto the field, the Partizan anthem was sung and all the male fans took off their t-shirts and waved them around. The Limassol fans seated on the other side of the stadium lit so many flares it looked like they had set themselves on fire. The Partizan fans around us complained why the opposition get flares inside when Partizan fans cannot.

flare end

AEL Limassol at the away end before the start of the game.

We had a perfect view of the sunset over Belgrade skyline just before the game kicked off. It had be another hot and humid day in Belgrade. We were gasping for a drink of anything but the vendors can’t get into this area or are too scared to enter. There were no kiosks inside the ground to purchase anything.

It becomes uncomfortable standing all game on broken seats as we switch from foot to foot compensate. The game is fiery and Limassol score the only goal for the match after 23-minutes.

The Partizan fans have factions within and brawl amongst themselves. The crowd under the scoreboard got slammed off their feet down a few rows as a gang from above push down and start a fight. Welcome to Serbia, where the people are passionate and let out built-up everyday frustrations at football matches.

The Jug end full of Partizan fans.

The Jug end full of Partizan fans.

We left the ground before the game is over to beat the crush and any trouble. Besides, we had a three hour drive back to where we were staying in the middle of Serbia. Navigating the car out of the immediate area was difficult due to the police road blocks but the police were kind enough to point us in the right direction for the motorway.

Unfortunately my photos don’t show justice to the atmosphere. I only took my itouch as I wouldn’t dare bring a decent camera to the game.

Related posts:

Red Star Belgrade vs. Omonia Nicosia, 2012 Champions League qualifier

FK Rabotnicki Skopje vs. FK Drita, Macedonian National Arena

Latvian football – Skonto FC vs Liepajas Metalurgs

Tel Aviv, Israel. Football: Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Bnei Yehuda

Photo essay: Melbourne as seen by a local, not a tourist.

My hometown Melbourne is popular with tourists but I am bored with seeing the same old tourist attractions in travel photography. There is more to see in Melbourne instead of street art in laneways, cafes, Zoos, St Kilda’s Luna Park or the river.

This is my collection of some of my favourite photos I’ve taken around Melbourne and my suggestions of what to see, usually for free.

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Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria and known as the “Garden State”. Sure there are many gardens to relax in but if you visit after-dark it is possible to hang out with the Australian Marsupials called Possums. They are fairly tame if you have food and there are no dogs are about. These two in the photo are eating chips in a park in inner suburbian St Kilda.

Williamstown is a suburb to the West of the city. It was the first area to be settled by white man in 1835. Easily reached by train   this suburb has great cafes and historic walks to see the unique architecture of the suburb. The information centre has plenty of tips and maps for historic walks around the suburb.

Williamstown is a suburb to the West of the city. It was the first area to be settled by white man in 1835. Easily reached by train, it has decently priced pub meals and great views of the Melbourne skyline. The information centre has plenty of tips and maps for historic walks to see the unique architecture. A ferry operates on weekends from the city centre but it is overpriced.

No its not the outback. Catch a train to Sandringham and long the beach there are eroded sandstone cliffs

No its not the outback. Catch a train to Sandringham and long the beach there are eroded sandstone cliffs which make for great photographs. And you can always go for a swim in the clean water where only locals go.

Moonee Valley horse races have night race meetings on Friday nights in the warmer months.

Moonee Valley horse races have night race meetings on Friday nights in the warmer months. There are also regular race meetings at Flemington, Caulfield and Sandown (free entry for midweek meetings).

Behind the spire of the Arts Centre there is a collection of six bizarre bronze sheep statues. You will only find them if you go around the back of the building, where no one goes.

If you walk south down Bourke Street Mall you will reach the Docklands precedent. Once an eyesore, the Docklands has many modern architectural masterpieces. This building housing the television station Channel 7 is my favourite and is right next to Southern Cross railway station.

If you walk south down Bourke Street Mall you will reach the Docklands precedent. Once an eyesore, the Docklands has many modern architectural masterpieces. This building housing the television station Channel 9 is my favourite and is right next to Southern Cross railway station.

Melbourne University

Melbourne University has some impressive buildings to see and the free Ian Potter Museum of Art. Nearby is the Melbourne General Cemetery where free maps are available to find locally famous graves. Also Lygon Street is a block away where alot of the best restaurants in Melbourne are located.

The bees

The bees on Eureka tower at Southbank are often overlooked when visiting observation deck on the top floors.

Port Melbourne

Port Melbourne is a short tram ride away. The Spirit of Tasmania ferry docks here and there are plenty of photo opportunities if you start a beach walk from here to St Kilda. Half way is Albert Park where the F1 Australian Grand Prix is held in March each year.

The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is not a secret but I love this photo and there are many photo opportunities and views to enjoy. Surrounded by gardens and free to enter.

Feldberg. The highest mountain in the Black Forest, Germany.

Feldberg is a popular ski resort in winter while in summer it is popular with nature-lovers hiking in the extensive nature park. Situated in the southern Black Forest, on a clear day enjoy panoramic views of the Austrian, German and Swiss Alps, French Vosges Mountains and also Mt Blanc in the French Alps.

The open space on top of the 1493 metre mountain is called Seebuck and you can either walk up or catch a chairlift.  There you will find a memorial to the first German Empire Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and the 45 metre high observation tower Feldbergturm.

Seebuck and the Feldbergturm.

The Feldbergturm has an elevator inside so no stair climbing required.

Memorial for Otto von Bismarck.

Memorial for Otto von Bismarck.

For skiers, Feldberg Snowpark has 55 kilometres of alpine ski runs catering to all difficulty levels and 31 ski lifts with a free bus network linking the area.

Feldberg in winter.

Feldberg in winter.

In winter you don’t have to visit just to ski. There are numerous Après Ski bars including one where I have spent many a white Christmas – the “Himalaya Lodge” – drinking Gluhwein or hot Himalayan punch.  For €5 you can eat as much as you like Chili Con Carne or various soups in the comfy wooden hut.

Inside the Himalaya Lodge.

Inside the Himalaya Lodge.

Below the Feldberg summit is my favourite part of the Black Forest to visit. A path from Feldberghof where the main hotel and tiny shopping village is, leads you to Feldsee, a small circular lake semi-surrounded by bedrock cliffs or spruce and fir trees.  The peaceful natural scenery is quiet place to cool off on hot summer days and watch fish jump up out of the water.

Looking down on Feldsee and Black Forest valleys from Seebuck.

Looking down on Feldsee and Black Forest valleys from Seebuck.

On the path down to Feldsee.

On the path down to Feldsee.

Another attraction is the Haus der Natur (House of Nature). Basically it is a natural history museum with multimedia and interactive exhibits explaining nature conservation and how the Black Forest landscape was formed over millions of years.

Getting there: – From Freiburg take the train to Titisee and catch a bus in the direction of Todtnau.

Himalaya Lodge (Ski season only):- Bus 7300 from Titisee. Get off at Grafenmatt, the stop after Feldberghof in the direction of Todtnau.

Feldberg Ski information in English

Related posts:

Titisee

Hinterzarten

Schauinsland

Todtnau

Black Forest

 

Red Star Belgrade vs. Omonia Nicosia, 2012 Champions League qualifier

It’s Friday afternoon on another super-hot Belgrade summers day.  I wander down the hill to Red Star Stadium along with a hoard of football fans all dressed mostly in black. We are off to the first leg of the 2012 Euro Championship qualifier against Nicosia from Cyprus.

Red Star Belgrade are the most popular and successful club in Serbia, if not the whole of the Balkans. They have won 25 national championships and are the only ex-Yugoslav club to win the European Cup in 1991 when they beat Olympique Marseille in Italy. In the same year they also won the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo defeating the oddly-named Chilean side Colo-Colo.

Serbia has a heavy security presence at football matches, especially for Partizan Belgrade. Here at Red Star, the usual security men with their backs to the game line the athletic track between the crowd and pitch. Outside the riot police hang about looking mean along with the everyday police who look coy and as if they don’t want to be there.

But there is nothing to worry about as everyone enters the ground in an orderly fashion. Happily puffing on their cigarettes and munching on sunflower seeds, it’s a case of go stand where you find some room.

My supposed seat is in the north stand of the stadium is the active area. Where the hard-core Red Star supporters, known as “Delije”, man-screech together since the 1980s when hostile factions combined to become one large supporters group and that’s luxury which is rare in this part of the world – to sing together as one.

Delije painted on the walls of their stadium.

Delije painted on the walls of their stadium.

Red Star Stadium ticket turnstyles.

Red Star Stadium ticket turnstyles.

As the players come out onto the field, the Red Star supporters hold up their red or white plastic squares to make pretty patterns while singing their anthems. I had previously wondered how these patterned displays were co-ordinated and now it’s obvious. The plastic sheets they hold up are taped to the back of each chair. I got a white one. Held it up for about 2 minutes, until my arms got sore and tried to watch the kick off. The waving of everyone else’s bits of plastic continues until at least 10 minutes into the game and becomes an annoyance as I can’t see any of the action.

Taken on iphone the pretty fan-made pattern.

Taken on iphone the pretty fan-made pattern.

The Red Star Stadium is larger than their home-town rivals Partizan with 55,538 destroyed seats. The place is a concrete shambles really and a death-trap if you needed to escape quickly. There was one narrow exit for the whole active area and two metre high fence around the ground.

The fans revel in the Euro football fan tradition of bouncing up and down together and singing passionately, amusing themselves with their own spectacle rather than actually watch the game. And why watch when it’s a scrappy contest and full of atrocious passing.

Red Star insist on playing the ball down the centre all game and are constantly foiled as it’s not too hard to suss out their game plan. A little variety passing it off to the loose players out wide wouldn’t have gone astray.

The south end of the stadium is empty except for the 50-odd Nicosia fans looking lonely in their green and white colours.

At half time the score is 0-0 and the crowd sit down for once. A relief to my feet as it hurts standing on uneven broken chairs. I see one boy selling soft drinks and another selling hot dogs but no one seemed tempted as they had relaxing cigarettes while taking a break from their aerobic chanting. Too bad I wanted anything from the sellers anyway as they would have to climb over people to come to me. There is no such thing as an aisle anymore due to the overcrowding.

Half time entertainment. Of course I'm not taking an expensive camera with me to the game!

Half time entertainment. Of course I’m not taking an expensive camera with me to the game!

As the Austrian referee starts the second half, he deals out a couple of quick yellow cards. The players are frustrated as much as we all are waiting for a goal to celebrate. In the final seconds of the game a Macedonian Red Star player is sent off but makes no difference as Nicosia don’t have time to capitalize. The home team are lucky to come away with a 0-0 draw after playing pitifully when they had sporadic possession.

Leaving the ground, following everyone else down a narrow unlit pathway, into a vacant area leading down to a main road, a group of angry looking male fans are gathering and seem to be waiting. Waiting for a mini war with Cyprians I sense from their body language and lack of wanting to be anywhere else. The police are no where to be seen, unlike when a Partizan Belgrade game is on, the police block off and patrol a one kilometre radius from the ground.

I continue on my way and arrive home safe from an interesting night out Serb style. I look forward to seeing Partizan play in a few days time.

Related posts:

FK Partizan Belgrade vs. AEL Limassol FC, Stadium Partizan

FK Rabotnicki Skopje vs. FK Drita, Macedonian National Arena

Latvian football – Skonto FC vs Liepajas Metalurgs

Tel Aviv, Israel. Football: Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Bnei Yehuda

Kazimierz New and Old Jewish cemeteries in Krakow, Poland

In Krakow there are two historic Jewish cemeteries. The old cemetery called Remuh Cemetery is indeed very old as it was established in 1535 in the inner Krakow Jewish neighbourhood of Kazimierz. In 1800 the Austrian authorities forced the cemetery to close but the New Jewish Cemetery was opened a couple of blocks away on a larger block of land.

Vistors walking around the Old Jewish Cemetery -  Remuh Cemetery

Visitors walking around the Old Jewish Cemetery – Remuh Cemetery

Broken and replaced tombstones in Remuh Cemetery

Broken and replaced tombstones in Remuh Cemetery

The Kazimierz neighbourhood has become a tourist attraction and both cemeteries were busy when I visited. Jewish restaurants, memorials, bookshops along with souvenir stores have popped up thanks to Steven Spielberg filming “Schindler’s List” here. Tour groups come by the bus-load to look around this district. I came for the cemeteries, which are free to visit, unlike the Jewish Cemetery in Prague.

Fence around the Old Synagogue displaying the Star of David

Fence around the Old Synagogue displaying the Star of David

During the German occupation in the Second World War, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated and tombstones were sold to stonemasons or used for construction or as paving stones for supply roads. When renovation of the two Krakow Jewish cemeteries was undertaken in 1957, a small number of the lost tombstones were recovered and these fragments were placed in cemetery walls.

A wall in the New Jewish Cemetery made up of old tombstone fragments.

A wall in the New Jewish Cemetery made up of old tombstone fragments.

The newer cemetery is still operating and has many symbolic graves and memorials for Holocaust victims. Not surprisingly dedicated and paid for by the Jewish disporia around the world, predominately American. Most of the new headstone memorials have inscriptions written in Hebrew, Polish and German.

A memorial written in three languages.

A memorial written in three languages near the entrance of the New Jewish Cemetery

Layers of autumn leaves cover the New Jewish Cemetery

Layers of autumn leaves cover the New Jewish Cemetery

Note that both cemeteries are closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

Related posts:

Photo essay: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland

Mirogoj Cemetery – Zagreb, Croatia

Walhalla – An old mining town cemetery, Victoria, Australia.

Da Lat, Vietnam. The Vietnamese Honeymoon retreat.

“Easy Rider? Do you want Easy Rider?” queries the approaching local. He looks nothing like a biker. Nor does the bike behind him look like a Harley Davidson. Instead of the touts at the beach offering pedicures or bracelets, I’m accosted relentlessly during my stay in Da Lat by biker touts.

After two weeks of lounging around on Vietnam’s beaches, a stop-over in the Southern Central Highlands town of Da Lat sounded like a breath of fresh mountain air escaping from the coastal humidity.

The centre of Da Lat

The centre of Da Lat

Local housing in Da Lat

Local housing in Da Lat

One of the first things you notice when arriving in Da Lat is the Xuan Huong Lake with its cheesy swan-shaped paddleboats. I read somewhere: “Da Lat is a favourite destination for company weekend outings, family getaways and honeymooners.” I wonder if it is not a bad way to recover on the first morning of your honeymoon sitting in a plastic swan.

Hiring a $US10-a-day self-drive scooter, I ride away from the main streets to find the waterfalls Da Lat is famous for. The Hostel cleaning lady had advised me to visit a place called ‘Thac Cam Ly’, two kilometres out of town.

The entrance fee is $US1 and as I walk behind the gates I notice there is no one else is around. Within five minutes, torrential rain begins and I take refuge under a leaking roof awning. When the storm eventually passes, I wander around what appeared to be an extremely poor excuse for a theme park.

A white pony, painted  with black stripes to look like a zebra, stands around bored. I attempt to pat another pony harnessed to a cart but it shyly scrambles away as if it was going to run off with the cart over the nearby ledge.

The painted zebra

The painted zebra

I pass tepees scattered around with locals dressed as Indians inside playing cards.

Near a small lake and café area, I come across a boy teasing an angry monkey. The monkey attempts to run away but the chain around its neck jolts it back.  I decline the boy asking if I want my photo taken with the snarling monkey but let him get me a drink as he is also the café worker.

At the end of the path I find the waterfall. After the downpour, the water is foaming orange sewage overflowing from the street canal that feeds it. The only exit is to walk under the spray which smells and splashes on my face.

The waterfall of Thac Cam Ly

The waterfall of Thac Cam Ly

Next day I find that four kilometres out of town is the Datanla Waterfall. There is a toboggan ride down into a jungle-like valley to a semi-impressive waterfall, surrounded by a busload of tourists.

A guide is re-telling a “K’Ho legend” about fairies who often stopped there to bathe and play. Couples nearby are having photos taken on a short bridge over the water. There must be a lot of photo albums in middle-class Vietnamese homes with plastic swan and waterfalls pictures from their honeymoon.

Datanla Waterfall is much more cleaner

Datanla Waterfall is much more cleaner

For a deeper look into Vietnamese culture, Da Lat is a worthy short stay destination. There are also wineries and markets to fill in time or scoot straight out of town with an ‘Easy Rider’ and see better waterfalls, if that’s your thing.