Sunday, May 10, 2015


This trip was sort of a spur of the moment deal for me. Well, only sort of. I ran into Kimberly and Tyler a few weeks ago after having not seen them in over a year. They told me they were going to Eastern Europe soon and invited me to join them.

This was probably one of those things where they were just being enthusiastic and polite but I took them seriously, marked my calendar, and bought a plane ticket that night during a stress work session. And then I texted them a picture of the Travelocity confirmation page with an excessive amount of emoticons.

I met Kimberly exactly six years ago. We lived in Moscow at the same time and worked down the hall from one another. We instantly became best friends. The kind of best friends who make terrible decisions together and almost get one another killed on a daily basis. Because of Kimberly, I climbed into many unmarked vehicles, followed strangers down dark alleys, and got stuck more than once in incredibly dangerous neighborhoods at 3:00 in the morning without a way to get home. Also, I think she's responsible for my parasite, Lohan, that I picked up that year.

Tyler was in Moscow at that time, too, but we didn't know him. Kimberly met Tyler immediately after I left Moscow and the two were married the following year. Tyler is the kindest and most responsible human being either of us has ever encountered. I am 100% convinced that he is the only reason Kimberly is still alive today.

They have two incredibly adorable children: a four year old and a ten month old. And they, quite bravely, have been traveling through several eastern European countries with those children for a few weeks now.

With the kids, Kimberly and Tyler are a little more limited on what they are able to do on this trip. For example, going out after 8:00 PM.

Did you guys know that children sleep ALL THE TIME?! They take naps in the stroller. In the car. They fall asleep during lunch. They fall asleep as you carry them to and from the car. They fall asleep when you really just need them to walk because ohmygosh it's so hot.


And THEN, they go to bed before the sun even sets. Somehow. Some way. They are able to fall asleep after all that napping.

But they only stay asleep until exactly 6:00 AM. It doesn't matter what time you put them in bed. It doesn't matter how tired they are. They only stay asleep until exactly 6:00 AM and then after that they run around screaming for the next four hours. All children. ALL of them.

Despite this, traveling with these kids has been one of the most fun aspects of this trip. And I'm going to go through serious withdrawals when I return, which will probably cause me to adopt twelve hundred children as soon as I get home. And then I'll teach them to sing and we'll be like the von Trapp family on crack.


Despite being sleep deprived and not 18 anymore, I've been heading into town every night to explore each city and see some of the night life. And every night I have ended up staying out WAY beyond my curfew because Bob and Cathie are 6,000 miles away and they can't hurt me anymore.

This has been working out just fine and has given me a chance to meet people from all over the world. But then last night happened.

I remember from my time living in Ukraine and Russia that packs of dog gangs roam the streets by night and rule the land. They are mean. They are vicious. They are smart. Studies have shown that they have figured out how to navigate the complex Moscow metro system.

But ain't nobody warned me that the meanest of hounds have migrated to Sarajevo Bosnia. And they all live on the long and windy road that drops 4,000 feet from the apartment we are staying in down to the town.

I'm not kidding about this hill. When we first drove up it I seriously thought someone was going to have to get out and start pushing. It is almost a straight vertical climb. And the street is so narrow that only 1/4 of a car can fit on it. And yet it is somehow a two-way road. Every time anyone drives on this street all of the laws of physics are violated at once.

Seriously. We were in town yesterday without our rental car and we got turned down by four taxi drivers after we told them where we were staying because there was no way in hell they were going to get involved in that mess. It probably didn't help, too, that we had two strollers, a car seat, and an absurd amount of Bosnian hand-painted dishes at the time.

Anyway, this is the road where eleventy million of the meanest dogs on the planet live. And this is the road I was walking up last night at 2:30 in morning, breathing like a hole-neck smoker, when I was ATTACKED.

And ok. "Attacked" is a slight exaggeration. No dog actually touched me. But one jumped and barked at me and its bark was so loud that it set off car alarms in India.

I had a long stick in my hand at the time because this wasn't my first rodeo with this neighborhood's dog gang problem and I had previously decided I would not climb this mountain again without protection.

The stick was of no help to me in my time of greatest need, however. I didn't even see the dog coming. The dog that probably can't even be technically called a "dog" because it was more like that t-rex from Jurassic Park. Also, it had rows of teeth. Like a shark. And its paws were suspiciously bear-like.

And when this Shabesaur jumped into the air and let out a booming howl, I literally fell onto the ground and screamed.

Every swear word I've ever heard in my entire life came out of my mouth at the same time. It sounded something like "SHNOPICKU!!" Which I think should become the new worst swearword, by the way. Because none of the currently-available words are sufficient in moments like the one I had last night when Shabesaur tried to attack me.

Because the hill was so steep, I didn't just fall to the ground. I fell over and slid four feet into a gutter. A wet gutter. Fortunately I stink so much right now from wandering through Bosnian villages with exactly one change of clothes that I couldn't tell whether the source of  the wetness was human bodies.

I guess you could say I'm pretty lucky.

Nothing else happened. I was able to get up and walk away unscathed. I think Shabesaur decided that I looked too pathetic to continue to pursue.

I know this scenario well. Because my dating life.

Mostar Bosnia is AMAZING.

Driving through Bosnia.

Sarajevo Bosnia's interesting night life.

My new Bosnian friend Anel who showed me around the city.


My new painting from Sarajevo by the talented Mersad Kuldija. (Hi Mersad!).

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I think I saw that same Shabesaur in a Sandlot once

  2. Gah. The pictures you have been sharing for the last three posts are really getting to me. I must get to Eastern Europe during my lifetime.

    And dog gangs sound terrifying.

    1. They are. Every larger Bosnian town has a huge problem with stray dogs. Animal shelters can't handle them. People from the rural areas bring young pups into towns and just leave them on the streets. You can imagine that such animals turn feral if no one is around to feed them. Luckily, there usually is someone in these neighborhoods who does. There are around 10.000 dogs on a human population of 500.000 in Sarajevo, for example.

      As for visiting Eastern Europe, it's a great place for vacation, but for earning a living, not so much. :)

    2. We aren't Eastern Europe ... We are South-eastern if you're talking about Bosnia :D

  3. Eli, my family has a strange habit of making people with unique names become "curse words." If you say anything with the right emphasis, it sounds like a curse word.

  4. So when you say "t-rex kind of dog" you mean a chihuahua right?

    Also, beautiful pictures. Keep em coming.

  5. Hi Eli
    What type of camera do you use to take your scenery photos? I've been looking for a camera for a while now. Something that looks sharp and professional once printed (not grainy). Or if any strangers can recommend the make and model of a good camera I would really appreciate it. Thanks

    1. Are you looking for a point and shoot or a DSLR camera?

    2. I just use my iPhone. I know nothing about cameras or photography.

  6. That looks so beautiful. I want to go to there.

    Also, I'm glad the Shabesaur didn't eat you.

    1. I sincerely hope you were quoting Liz Lemon right then. "I want to go to there." Please tell me you were!

  7. Man that is beautiful. As are you. 😊

  8. How do you make friends everywhere you go? I mean I know you have amazing hair and you are a pretty cool guy, but you are also the guy that is naked in places he shouldn't be... does this not deter friendship? ... Wait, is this how you make friends? If so you need to re-evaluate your friendships, do not trade nudity for friendship! If you are getting naked to spend time with people at least make them pay you for it... On a side not you're pictures are gorgeous

    1. What I want to know is how literally ALL of his friends are so damn ATTRACTIVE?!!! Even the ones he randomly meets on the fly! I mean, how often do you see SO many pretty people together?! Or maybe just being friends with Eli creates some sort of magical effect where the beauty instantly rubs off?...

    2. That must have been what happened to me.

      ...oh wait...I haven't met him yet. :(

  9. "Breathing like a hole-neck smoker" is my new favorite phrase for that gasping of breath. I know the feeling well. Mostly I knew it from skipping the underground lift FROM THE CENTER OF THE EARTH on up to Covent Garden and taking the stairs. A few English chaps took the stairs with us, and one of them shouted England's favorite curse word (it begins with an F), and I said, "Amen, brother!" It was shocking that I didn't pass right out and die from all those bloody stairs.

    Glad you're having a good time, and that you weren't killed by that dog/dinosaur hybrid! When are you coming back to the United States of God Bless America?

  10. I've been reading for a few years but have never commented. However, I feel sort of famous because Kimberly and I have been besties since we were 15!! It makes me laugh to hear you talk about her getting you in trouble because she is quite the adventure queen. Man I love that girl. Tell her that Kim says "SIX MINUTES!" Also, your blog makes me want to travel to places I have never been interested in so kudos to you.

  11. That is awesome and also hilarious. I once saw a baby dressed as the Travelocity gnome for Halloween with beard, bushy eyebrows and all. Best baby costume ever.