Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stuck in the Rain
September 14, 2008

I have been stuck in the rain for over FOUR HOURS! Yikes!! It hadn't rained in two months and then suddenly today we get two months of rain! At least in a Bangladesh monsoon the rain eventually stops! I have been stranded in this internet cafe all afternoon. (At least I have internet!) My battery is dying though and it is getting dark and cold... Alas! Plus I did all of my laundry today and now it is all soaking wet...

Tomorrow I trade in my scooter for a car (the rain and the long distances I need to travel make the scooter impractical...) and head on to Dubrovnik...

I have met with a couple of real estate agents and an architect here and I think that Croatia is going to be too expensive for this first round of financing. I want to see Dubrovnik (which is supposed to be Croatia's most beautiful city) before I head on to Montenegro though...

Hvar Island
September 6, 2008

Yesterday I rented a scooter so that I would be able to easily move from place to place. Originally I planned to get a car, but I really prefer scooters - on a scooter you are not separated from the surroundings and they are much more economical. (Gas is $8 a gallon here! No more complaints from you Americans about your $4 a gallon gas!!)

Today I took the scooter on the ferry over to Hvar. The ferry ride was longer than I expected (two hours), but Hvar Island was beautiful and I spent a lovely day just wandering around looking for land...

The prices in Croatia are unexpectedly high. It is interesting that Croatia is considered on par with Bangladesh economically (they are both frontier market countries) because Croatia seems much more developed - like any other European country.

I really want to build my first set of resorts in developing countries. I think the resorts will help the host communities more in developing countries. Plus, the significant difference between local prices and western hotel rates allow the properties to have very high yields, which is important for me since I am trying to pitch my first fund and I don't have a track record as a resort developer yet. (The return is really just a measure of risk: the higher the risk, the higher the anticipated return must be.) For this reason I am not sure that Croatia is going to be a great fit this time around, but I will keep looking...

This photo was taken on the ferry on the way to Hvar Island. There were tons of sailboats of various sizes!

Hvar Marina
The marina at the town of Stari Grad on Hvar Island.

Stari Grad Town
The town of Stari Grad is so charming! Little stone buildings everywhere and a nice marina...

Wine Store
Cute little wine store...

September 3, 2008

After a long drive from Salzburg, Mariella and I finally made it to her family's house in Split. I loved Croatia right away because as we drove in I saw four rainbows! Then the sun set on the water and that was even more beautiful. THEN we stopped at a gas station that had a lavendar garden out front. It smelled fantastic! We picked some lavendar to take with us in the car.

The next day we went to Mariella's aunt's house on the beach. The beaches in Croatia are mostly rocky, not sandy, but the water is crystal clear and a deep turquoise blue. While the water is cool, it is still warm enough to swim in, so we spent the day snorkling and relaxing on the beach...

Croatia at Sunset
The sun setting over the water as I enter Croatia.

Crystal Clear Water
The water here is absolutely gorgeous! Very clear and very blue!

So Blue!
I did not Photoshop this picture! The water is really this blue!!

Beer and Strudel
September 2, 2008

I stepped off of the train in Munich and was greeted by my friend Mariella who took me to her home in the suburbs of Munich. Her family home is lovely; built in traditional German style with three floors and a high gabled roof. She served me beer and barbeque on her back porch. We relaxed there for a couple of days before heading on to Salzburg.

We met up with my friend Anna there and I finally got to meet her husband Stephan. They took us out to a great Austrian restaurant for dinner. The food was delicous! I simply love Salzburg! It is such a charming city!

Mariella serving me beer on her back porch.

Mariella's House
It is so German!

This is the main cathedral in town.

Inside the Cathedral
The inside of the cathedral is covered with these beautiful paintings.

Mirabel Gardens
These are public gardens outside of the palace. The last time that I was here it was winter, so it was nice to see everything in bloom this time around!

St. Peter's Church
This is the inside of St. Peter's church. It has beautiful baroque decoration.

St. Peter's Cemetery
The graves here are so ornate and covered with flowers.

Well-Tended Graves
This is one of the most beautiful places in Salzburg.

City of Salt
"Salz" means "salt" in German (as I learned while making a cake with Mariella in Germany where I almost put the "salz" in the cake instead of the "zucre"!) and "burg" means town, so "Salzburg" is the "city of salt". And this is the fortress on top of the salt min! I even think that it looks a little like salt at night...

My Old Pension!
As I was walking around I happened to run into the hotel that I stayed in the last time I was in Salzburg!

Charming Streets
I think Salzburg is so beautiful and charming!

Anna and Stephan
My friend Anna and her husband Stephan.

Austrian Breakfast
This is the Austrian breakfast that Anna made for me. Mmmm... My mouth is watering just looking at the photo!