I’m writing an article about my father for a prestigious historical publication, and I have to check many facts about WWII and what happened during the Cold War to quote them accurately. This is how it looks my desk this morning: Full of books and papers.
I followed Cee and decided to take part too on the challenge put together by Ludwig Keck. I have a fascination for windows. They give me lots of possibilities to capture cool images.
I was trying to figure out how to take photos of fashion in my city last Saturday and I began to try to capture some images in shops
an then, I stumbled upon a wedding ….
I took the first five pictures from the advantage point of the tower of an ancient church near to my house in Pamplona Spain, then there is a panoramic od Zagreb (Croatia) from the Upper City and And some roofs of monumental buildings you can see there. Then, a ruined roof in a little island near Zadar (also Croatia) The last picture is a house in the Bask Country. The featured image shows the ancient and decorated roof of the gothic church of St. Mark in Zagreb. I hope you’ll enjoy the tour!
As a reporter I have been involved some dangerous situations related to war and terrorism. Once I witnessed and followed a Police operation against a terrorist group very active in my city. I went with the police to a terrorist safe-house where the terrorists had hidden lots of weapons and explosives and they have prepared a place ready to hold a kidnaped person.
One of the terrorists who was arrested was present during the search of the place as was I, and he threatened me and my photographer to death. He was looking at me madly as if I was the only responsible for his fall. I was scared of him despite he was arrested and handcuffed. He kept telling me he knew who we were and that we will pay for what we were doing. I said nothing a continued taking notes about the operations to write my article for my newspaper.
Soon, the police took him away and I felt better.
During the operation the police had arrested three members of the terrorist cell: two men and a woman. She was the boss. She had been wounded in a shooting with the agents. When they caught her she had two handguns, and three grenades concealed under her coat. She opened fire against the police when they stopped her in the middle of a very busy street. His partner tried to escape, but was caught nearby.
After that arrest the police found the third terrorist who was the owner of the safe-house and was present during the search the police made on the premises. They found weapons and bombs already prepared along with explosives to make more bombs. There were also maps and sketches of public places and some houses and itineraries of people they planned to kill.
The terrorists lived there and all three of them were very thin, but in the laundry, there were a very large pants size XXL and a matching big shirt. So I began to think that there was a fourth terrorist the police had no arrested and was on the loose, free to fulfil the threat against me. So From that day I began to do crazy things like change every day my route to go to work and back home, avoid big people with bulky clothes, and so on. It took me weeks to go back to normal. It was the irrational fear i had.
The terrorists went to prison and in less than 20 years they were set free despite they had killed 18 people and wounded over 30. Wonders of the Spanish Judicial System.
The one who threatened me, came back to my city sooner than that, and we sometimes met on the street. We ignore each other. But is not easy. They told me he has distanced himself from the terrorist group while in prison and is rehabilitated. But his companions are still politically active in extremists groups, and they never apologised for the murders they committed.
In the picture, me when I was a young reporter, at the age when those facts happened
Today I don’t have words, just an image…
Change has come to my life since I wrote my first book and it was published four months ago. I was a retired Journalist , pretty sick, with not so much excitement in my life. Now I’m officially a writer with lots of events in my agenda.
I have been interviewed by the media, and I have found myself just in the opposite side where I used to be. I had made hundreds of interviews. But I was used to be the one making questions. It’s quite different being in the receiving end, not knowing what its going to come, especially when you are live and there is no room for an error.
Once I was interviewed not only live, but in front of an audience of 300, all of them journalists, in Madrid. My sister was among the public in the first row. At the beginning I was so nervous and focused that I waited for the questions with an expression pretty serious and focused. She, from her seat was trying to tell me: “Look up and smile!”. “You look like being in your funeral”.
Little by little I took confidence and at the end I could answer to the questions more relaxed. I never had been in such a situation, but it was fun nevertheless.
I have been traveling from city to city talking about the book and explaining how I wrote it. I even have signed dozens of copies after those events to people who had bought my book.
I have been living in a cloud.
And everything is thanks to my parents. My book is about their story which is really exciting. They passed away but leaved us their diaries from times of great sufferings and an amazing love during the WWII and the Cold War in Eastern Europe. Those diaries have an impressive richness. All what’s happening to me is their merit. And I’m immensely grateful to them. I love them much more every day after reading their diaries and writing about them because they have taught me so much about love. Not only when their were around, but also now that they are present thru those writings. Thank you dad, thank you, mom.
In front of the main auditorium of my city they have installed a giant Periodic Table of Elements made of concrete cubes, with each symbol and number engraved in them, and colourful plaques in which there are explained each element in several languages. There you can find plenty of letters and numbers and walk thru them looking for some particular one.
I stopped to take a pic of the calcium, maybe because I need it so much for my bones.
And finally, some different letters, the ones for the blind. This is a touristic guide at the door of an ancient historic building near my home in braille. It explains that it’s a civil gothic construction from the XIV century that has been always in use as the accounts tribunal for the kingdom of Navarre.
Yes I do. I love pretty shoes. I can’t wear them too much because of my balance problems, but I love them and now and then I can’t resist the temptation and I buy a pair of them, colourful and funny.
They lift my spirits because when I wear them I can wear as well my dresses and skirts, with colourful flower prints, and feel good out of the routine of the pants and the sneakers, which are very comfortable, but make look my feet big and my style boring.
Some people would laugh at me when they see me with crutches or a walker and heeled shoes, and would ask me what am I doing on top of the heels with my obvious problems to walk. But I don’t care. I walk carefully to don’t fall and I remember the good old times when I could walk normally and even dance.
I have to confess that I like to feel elegant in special occasions. Besides, I carefully look for shoes nice and comfortable at the same time with rubber soles, even rubber heels, like this one in the picture, my last acquisition.
I already wore them in some occasions for the presentation of my book and the tribute for the centenary of my dad in an event in Madrid, where I was interviewed in front of 300 people. I felt very confident in my outfit with my new shoes.
In one trip to Croatia as a journalist, many years ago, I had to go to meet with a very important person to make an interview. He was traveling, coming to Zagreb from another city, and told me that he would be at his home at eight pm.
So I decided to have a drink with my cousins near my hotel waiting for the hour, because I had many things to tell them after years without seen them.
Suddenly I got a call in my phone telling me that the person I had to interview had already arrived, half an hour before time, and was waiting for me. I had to left in a hurry and catch a taxi.
The driver was a talkative man. I told him I was in a hurry, and he asked me why. I told him very briefly the reason. I don’t know how, in a few seconds, he was telling me his story. How he was in fact a Geography teacher in the University, but there was no way to live with that salary in those days, so he decided to become a taxi driver at nights to have an extra income to survive and provide for his big family.
I listened without paying much attention because I was nervous with my interview.
We arrived. I paid him, and faced my job of the day.
When I was in the middle of the interview, I realised I have forgot my phone in the taxi. When I finished my work, I called my cousin who was still at the bar were we had meet an hour before, explaining the situation.
I didn’t know anything about the taxi nor the colour or the brand of the car, nor the license plate, nothing. Only that the driver was a Geography teacher.
My cousin went to the taxi station and said aloud: Who of you is a Geography teacher? Me! Said one of them Immediately. They went to the parked taxi and began to search. And certainly, right there on the back seat was my phone.
I have been recently in Seville, for the first time in my life, promoting my book. My eyes are plenty of its light, colours and joy.
For the ones that follow this blog is not a surprise that this year we are celebrating the centenary of my father, Luka Brajnović
Recently his former students of the University of Navarre, organised a celebration in his honour in Madrid. Some famous Spanish journalists who had been his pupils came and payed him homage telling things like that my father had been the teacher who had teach them to be free (in times when in Spain that was not so easy) and work according with the ethics.
The organizadores had put in the paraninfo a giant picture of my dad surrounded by his students in the University’s bar, talking informal. With that scenery and in front of almost 300 people, I could talk about him.
A Known journalist asked me about my book. In it I have told the story of my parents during the II World War and the Cold War when they suffered a lot and had to spend twelve years separated forcefully, but their love increased in that time of harsh difficulties.
I began to write the book just after my mother’s death and for me was an intense emotional journey from which I have emerged loving my parents more than ever.
In the featured image I caress my dad’s face in the picture. With me are my sisters Elica and Ljerka. Elica Was born in Croatia during the war before my parents were forced to separate. She was a little baby 4 months. And she stayed with my mom in Yugoslavia. She met her dad when she was 12 years old and the family finally reunited in Munich.
In the picture above, there I am between two great Spanish Journalists José María Irujo (El País) and Iñaki Gabilondo (SER) talking about my dad.
My first book is in the bookstores! And they are selling them pretty well.
Here am I with them in a store near my house.
I think I already wrote about my literary adventure. This year is my dad’s centenary, and I decided to pay him an homage writing his story after I read his diaries from the 40s and the 50s and translated them from Croatian to Spanish. An then I found my mom’s memories. I put all together and the result was their story told by themselves in first person.
It’s an exciting story with adventures: My father was taken prisoner by the fascists of Mussolini and ,years later, he almost get executed by the communists. Both sides were against him, because he was an independent journalist. Later on he got separated from his family and was displaced, and found himself alone wandering across Europe.
His diaries contains this story but basically are a beautiful love letter to my mom in which he writes to her how much he loves her every day during the twelve years they were forcefully separated because of the war an the circumstances that developed after during the worst years of the Cold War.
For me has been a emotional journey and a challenge, because it’s my first experience writing a book. I’m glad I have done it. The book is in Spanish and has arrived to the bookstores last march 11 so I only have one reaction from a Spanish writer very positive. He says, I managed to tell the story in a beautiful way. I’m so happy!
I have been out with my camera today to take photos about textures for this week challenge. I have found plenty of different images around my home here are some of them:
Many years ago my boss sent me to Venice to write a piece about a choir from my city which was going to sing in a concert with an orchestra in that historical and magical city.
I had never been before there. And I have never had the opportunity to come back. I had just two days to enjoy (and work) in the city of canals and I was determined to take advantage of them.
When we arrived, the weather was sunny, but foggy, and maybe because of the atmospheric pressure, I got a hard migraine.
I couldn’t get up in time to take a tour with the group, but I took some pills to be able to got out. A little later, despite the pain. I was not going to give up and stay in bed in my ugly hostel room during my short visit to Venice.
So I did my particular tour. And it was fantastic. I visited some of the best art exhibitions I have ever seen, I walked thru fantastic streets, sailed across beautiful canals looking at palaces churches, bridges and family houses, I saw everything I wanted to see wandering on my own. The best part of all was that we were in low season and there were not too tourists. So it was relatively easy to walk around.
I met with the group again in a trattoria and we had a typical Italian meal. Because they were all singers, we had a wonderful evening with songs at the shore of the Grand Canal when the night lights reflected in its dark water and the city was quiet.
Note: This photos are some of the ones I took during my short visit to Venice.
I have been immersed in the process of writing a book. That took almost all my time the last year, but most intensely these two last months, when I have been editing, proof checking, negotiating with my editor and all those things one have to do before having the book in the bookstores.
I just have sent to the editing house the last proof with my last corrections and my approval, and now I only have to wait for them to do their job. I suddenly am feeling very tired. Really exhausted. But at the same time excited and restless waiting for the moment when I will see the work completed.
It was not easy to reach this moment. I have written My parent’s story, pretty exceptional, during the war and the exile. For me was a very emotional trip. I began to dive into the diaries of my dad and the memories of my mom. They suffered a lot and loved a lot, and finally the love they professed each other was the winer.
When I sent my manuscript to the editorial house, they told me it was too long and instructed me to cut off 20.000 words. I was desolated It was like amputate a limb to your own child. Very painful.
I finally managed to do so without damaging the story and we reach an agreement.
All this is happening in the year of the centenary of my dad. The Regional Newspaper, where my dad had a daily column about International Politics during 28 years, published a page about him and another page days after, when the University where he was teacher of Journalism during 32 years celebrated a big event with many assistants.
This will be a year of celebrations here and in Croatia were My dad comes from. Lots of things will happen around his memory. I’m proud and happy.
(In te picture during the celebration of the centenary of my dad at the University, with my sisters, my brother in law and the dean of the Journalism School. I’m the last one at the right.)
I posted this image before in this blog and despite it’s taken in colour, in it predominates black and white and I like it.
Squirrel was the nickname of a taxi driver we had hired to drive us to the most weird (or common) places to collect data as journalists working in Bilbao.
I never knew his real name. He was a short, thin and resolutive man. He used to have his taxi stationed in a stop near our building waiting for customers when he was not working for us.
I used to go to the stop to look for him when I needed a ride to go in a hurry to work in an ongoing news in some distant place, usually with a photographer who would take the pictures for the report or the interview at takes.
Once we went to make a report about the tuna fishermen of Bermeo. My boss sent me to do it precisely when all the fishermen were in the high seas fishing. Squirrel knew that. He knew almost everything. It was an impossible assignment. And my boss wanted a whole page written by me for that very night. It was his way to test me. I was a rocky then. Just nineteen. Taking my first steps in the job.
We went to Bermeo anyway. Squirrel helped me to talk with the women of the fishermen port (they spoke in Basque and very fast) and I got a good story about their way of life.
That night, I was able to fill my page with a human interest article. Not precisely what my boss had ask for, but something that was worth it. Test passed.
This is the flag of the city of Kotor in one of the balconies of the main square. The city is a little jewel in one of the most beautiful bays of the Adriatic, the Kotor Bay, in Montenegro, just south of Croatia.
The city is completely fortified, and everything inside is baroque or medieval. It has plenty of history… and life. It’s my father’s home city and one of the most beloved places for me.
Josip Jelačić statue in Zagreb (Croatia)
A view of the Cathedral of Zagreb (Croatia)
St. Mark church, Zagreb (Croatia)
After 28 years working as a journalist for a newspaper, glued to the strict facts and trying to be precise and truthful, I kind of burned my writing style. It’s very difficult for me to compose something creative. And it’s a shame, because I once upon a time had some talent, and lots of ideas for short stories and poetry. Even I published a poem with some success. But I was young and enthusiastic then, and didn’t have experienced the harsh life of a street reporter, with a daily deadline to deliver my news and the need to tell real stories as accurate as possible, with as few words as possible. No adjectives. No fancy descriptions. Just so: what, who, when, where, why. Everything else, had no space in my work.
Ten years ago, one day like this one, I began to blog. I know it because WordPress congratulated me today for my anniversary. At the beginning I began to write about what I knew best: about what was on the news, Then I tried to open a blog entirely dedicated to good news. But I found that there was difficult to find enough positive stories to fill it. after that I moved to look for my inspiration in the WordPress prompts that no longer exist. Now I follow the RagTag Daily Prompt and take pictures for the Cee’s fun foto challenge.
Three years ago I started another blog (in Spanish) to honor the centenary of my father which will be next January 13th. He was also a Journalist. He wrote a daily column for a newspaper during 29 years, but he never lost his creative inspiration. He was a poet till his death. He was also a beloved teacher of Journalism in the University and in my blog I have published very moving contributions by his disciples along with my posts about his life and his writings.
So I write a lot, have a lot of stories to tell but I lack inspiration. I’m too stick to the facts and to far away of creativity.
This has been an unforgettable summer for me. I have traveled to my parents homeland, I have deepened in my roots, I have discovered beautiful places, I have met wonderful people.. My eyes are full of beauty and my heart filled with gratitude. I wish there will be many more summers like the one we just wrapped up.
This post is going to be a little reiterating, but today’s prompt has remind me my recent visit to the house and atelier of the Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović in Zagreb.
There were beautiful sculptures in bronze and stone finished into the house along with furniture made by him, and also sketches and studies of pieces for larger monuments in the garden and the atelier. It was very interesting to see all this works of art and also to see the house in which he lived since 1920 till 1942, with his beautiful dinning room and his characteristic ceramic stoves.
In the picture, a study of a hand for a large statue and a sketch for a relief in the atelier
The violoncellist, by Ivan Meštrović
I have been recently in the atelier of the sculptor Ivan Meštrović in Zagreb (Croatia) which is now a museum. He has a great expressive strength in his sculptures in bronze and stone.
I was deeply impressed by the tenderness of the Pietà of the saint Mark’s church in the upper city of Zagreb, that you can see in the picture above.
After contemplating that, I went to the atelier were I saw sculptures very strong and angular, and among them, other very tender, always with the mother as a main figure, like the woman with her child, that you can see in the picture bellow.
I’m not reticent to speak
about my last trip
because it was quite a treat.
(Here you can see me sailing on a boat to watch the dolphins close to the Kornati Islands in Croatia).
My travel to meet my roots has come to an end. I have been in the bay where my dad awakened to the life and the hometown of my mom.
My eyes and my soul are filled with blue. The blue of the sea, the blue of the incredible landscapes of my parents childhood. Maybe this is why blue has been always my favourite colour.
Now I’m back at home, in the city, surrounded by asphalt, concrete and grey stones.I just had come home and I’m already longing to see once more the Adriatic sea.
I’m feeling a little blues. But I’m already making plans to came back soon to that fantastic place.
In the Pictures, Kotor Bay (Montenegro) and Senj (Croatia)
I have been in Croatia the past month and I have followed there the final of the World Cup and the welcoming to the football team that lost the final but won the respect of many and came back being the second best team of the championship.
The Croatians celebrated the silver medal as if they were the champions. I was in a bar in Senj, My mom’s home town, watching the final against France. Our players fought till the end despite the score was devastating: 4-2.
To my surprise, all the people took it immediately for the positive side, and begun to celebrate the silver as a big achievement with great joy. I thought in what would happen if that would happen to Spain: Something like that would probably provoke bitter critiques to the trainer and maybe some anger above all among the commentators and some of the hooligans.
Instead, we were really proud of our guys. Much more when the prize for the best player of the championship went to our midfielder Luka Modrić.
While we were watching the ceremony of the imposition of the medals under the rain in Moscow we decided to give our own medal in our sunny town to our waiter, who had been serving drinks during the match without rest. And like this, the jokes and cheers went on and on.
I went to Zagreb, the capital of the country, next day. It was impressive. everybody dressed in the colours of the team. Eight hours of feast with the players and the trainer, all the streets and the main square full of people, and a special connection among the players and the people. They sang the same songs at one voice. They celebrated a big achievement with great joy.
We were a small country ( 4,5 million people) and had reached the second place in the World Cup.
And the best of all, in such a big crowd, ( they estimated half a million people in a city of one million) not a single incident. I’m glad I was there those days.
In the picture, celebrating the final when the match was already lost
I have found this nice open window with views over Zagreb (Croatia) on the Upper City. Close to it there is a statue of the poet Anton Gustav Matoš sitting in a bench looking at the panoramic of the city. You can sit at his side and enjoy de view, above all at the sunset.
Yesterday I visited the Croatian National Park of the Plitvice Lakes. It was quite a challenge for me, because I have some problems with my balance and I need a walker which was impossible to use it on the irregular paths of the park.
I have a crutch for these cases but it was also difficult to use it there, so under my own risk I decided to venture myself without the walker or the crutch, but with the help of the arm of a good friend and leaning in the railings that you can find in some places along the way thru the forest, the shore of the lakes and the proximity of the many waterfalls you can find there. I had to be extra careful to avoid a fall.
The effort was worth it. I/m glad to have been able to spend the day in that place.
if I would’t dare leave behind my walker and my crutches I would not be able to see and take pictures of these marvels of Nature.
I can sense the blue glance of my dad very close to me while I’m sailing thru the sea of his childhood.
I’m looking at the green and white islands around us and listening to the ancient stories that the old sailor is telling me about these magic places. There is an Island with the shape of a heart in the middle of our trip. A big heart like it was my dad’s.
The breeze bring my thoughts away. Or maybe is pushing them to the deepest of my soul. Yes. That is it. Images from my parents being happy are mixed with this Symphony of blue that was the landscape of their youth. I look for silence while I hear the seagulls and look at the dolphins jumping cheerfully.
I have never been here before, but somehow all this is familiar to me and, in a way, mine. My arrivals to this land and this sea are in fact a way back home. Here I feel safe and happy. Like when I was near mom and dad. Maybe because their presence here is so powerful and is a reminder of the years they were young and happy together.
Cee’s fun foto challenge: windows, geometry
I’m trying to reach a milestone in my life by writing a book, something I have never done before.
I had already written a chapter in a collective book about Europe between two Revolutions (1917-1989) when I was a teacher at the University and many articles for the books of the year issued by my newspaper when I was a reporter. But I have never tried something by myself, like this one.
I have begun with lots of energy, and great expectations, The story was flowing nicely and the structure of the chapters I had made was working well. But little by little, my project has began to get a little complicated and now I’m in a sort of crisis of inspiration.
I’m about to go to Croatia for a month, where I’m going to visit, among other places, some of the scenarios where the story of my book takes place. I hope this would help me to return to the focusing I have almost lost and take back my inspiration.
I’m really excited with this trip and I’m sure it will help me in many ways, not only with the book.
In a few days I’m going to travel to Croatia and the remembrances of my last trip are particularly vivid. It was maybe 14 or 15 years ago. My mom was getting very old but she was in good health. So she began to say frequently: “I don’t want to die without have seen my homeland once more.”
Back then, I was suffering a deep depression and working hard as a reporter in a newspaper, so I asked my brother and my sisters if they could go with mom to Croatia but no one seemed ready to go with her.
That year, for Christmas, there was a big party at my newspaper I didn’t go because I was too depressed. But there was a raffle among all the workers present or not. And I won the best prize: a trip for two during one week to Cuba. Sun, the Caribbean beaches… But again, I was too depressed to claim my prize. Meanwhile my mom continued saying: “I don’t want to die without seen my homeland once more and take a walk on the streets of my hometown.”
In April I went to ask if my prize was available and they said of course. So I went to the travel agency and asked if I could change the travel to Cuba to one to Croatia and they said no problem. Even more, because Croatia it was nearer than Cuba (I live in Spain) we could stay 15 days instead of one week.
And certainly in July, I forgot about my depression and took my mom to Croatia. We had a wonderful time together. We went to Senj, her hometown and to Dubrovnik. She told me incredible stories, while we were watching the ships navigate among the islands or while we were simply staring at the stunning sunsets.
I remember being watching her while she was swimming, like a mother with her little kid, with fear because she was going too far away from the shore, but she was enjoying herself enormously. It was really a wonderful trip.
Now, I’m going back to the same places by my own, since she passed away a few months ago. But I’m sure she will be very close to me, and I will feel her lovely smile and her sweet voice, telling me the most endearing stories.
After many years going out with the help of a walker, because of my balance problems, today I decided to take my chances and went to an outing with only a crutch. I wanted to leave the city and take a walk thru the uneven paths of the hills, where you can breathe fresh air and enjoy the nature.
The walker is only useful for the paved streets of the city or the villages. And the possibilities are limited. With the crutch you can slowly go a little way thru some easy country paths.
Everything went OK. I didn’t fall. The hills were still green and beautiful, and the views from there were nice. It was a short walk but enough for me to feel really rejuvenate.