Expat

Diary of a British woman in Belgrade - Day 2

My husband, Dragan, our 10 year old son and I have set off from England, to spend 8 months in Dragan’s home city, Belgrade.

So today we went shopping with our Kuma, Daniela. We loved the ‘Prodavnica Zdrave Hrane’ (health food shop), with lots of nuts, dried fruit and goodies in square glass compartments, which is sold by weight. Aleks had some red, blue & purple jelly sweets (not very healthy!).

Prodavnica Zdrave Hrane

Prodavnica Zdrave Hrane

The most important event was a visit to Aleks’ Serbian school. We were all pretty nervous, maybe the parents more than the pupil, but were very impressed in the end. Aleks’ teacher (učiteljica) is very sweet and gentle. We liked her very much. We also met the School secretary, who was friendly and said to Dragan that Serbian school is so different now from when he was a schoolboy in Yugoslavia, much more child centred and gentle. Dragan said that he certainly hoped so, because his schooling in the 1960s & 70s was pretty strict. He also says that living with a former teacher (me) brings back traumatic memories! The school has a resident psychologist who is responsible for the children’s well-being. We also met the English teacher and the headteacher, both of whom were very welcoming. In fact the room was packed with people chatting to us. Dragan and I were offered ‘domaća kafa’[1] (Serbian coffee), which was served with a glass of water by one of the house keeping staff. The coffee has coffee grounds at the bottom, is generally drunk without milk and always comes with a glass of water, so you don’t have to order it separately. I really like Serbian coffee, but only in the morning! The school building was boiling hot; interiors in Serbia in winter-time are always very toastie.

The school itself is very typical for Serbia, with stone floors and wooden desks. The outside area is pretty big with some trees, grass and playground areas for football and basketball. Aleks was very impressed with the small kiosk on the ground floor of the school, where the kids can buy pastries, drinks and hot chocolate!

We watched a PE lesson in the gym where the kids were playing dodgeball and chatted to some of the kids who were keen to speak English with us.

Aleks is looking forward with trepidation to next Monday morning when he starts his new school at 8am sharp. As am I.

As a finisher I thought I would give you a new Serbian word 'Prodavnica' (pronounced Prodavnitsa) meaning 'Shop'.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AliSavicPRINTS

[1] http://www.serbiatouristguide.com/live/Food_and_drink/Drinks/Coffee

[2] https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/221956799/belgrade-in-winter-fine-art-photo?ref=ss_listing

Belgrade in Winter, Photo etching by Ali Savic [2]

Belgrade in Winter, Photo etching by Ali Savic [2]

Diary of a British Woman in Belgrade - Day 1

My husband, Dragan, our 10 year old son and I have set off from England, to spend 8 months in Dragan’s home city, Belgrade.

Early start, our flight was at 6.30am from Bristol. Three suit cases, two violins, three rucksacks full of tech and devices, a handbag and three big warm coats. Oh, and me, Dragan and Aleks! The first leg was from Bristol to Munich in a lovely little Embraer jet. It flew quite low and being an uneasy flyer, I felt happy in a small plane — it was more like sailing. The descent into the airport is over a flat plain with villages dotted over a network of black soil fields and copses of trees. We spied the Alps cutting the horizon like a set of jagged teeth. Munich airport is very clean with little cabins to sleep in, but we just munched our way through loads of Pringles, whilst we spotted other Serbs arriving at the gate. We then boarded our flight to Belgrade. Bigger plane, so I was less happy, but to make up for it we were nearly rubbing shoulders with the Partisan basketball team on the flight. The Partisan team is one of the best teams in Serbia. Can’t be fun flying, when you’re a basketball player — tall folk! They had played a match against Bilbao the previous night.

We hired a car at Belgrade airport — so simple, quick and cheap. Dragan drove to our new flat in the centre of the city. Dragan says switching from the left to the right is easy and his driving style switches with amazing ease too! (More about that soon). He naturally doesn’t agree with that.

The flat is spacious, with parquet flooring and an open plan kitchen/living room. The ceilings are high, which is very relaxing and the walls are at least a foot thick. We have a wonderful view of a beautiful park called Spomen Park Oslobodiocima Beograda (Remembrance Park of the Liberators of Belgrade), which is next to the graveyard where the WW2 Serbian and Russian soldiers who liberated Belgrade are buried. Aleks has chatted to his friends on WhatsApp and they think it’s very cool that he lives next to a graveyard!

We met our ‘Kum’ and ‘Kuma’. Kum means godfather and much more[3] in Serbian, and Kuma means godmother. Our Kum is Ljuba and our Kuma is Daniela, his wife. They helped us settle in, something they would happily see as their duty as Kum & Kuma.

In the evening we went to visit some friends. They’re a lovely family with three children, so Aleks had some playmates. Our Kum, Ljuba, is also Kum to our host, the dad. It was a birthday party for the middle child. Kids often have two birthday parties in Serbia, one for the kids and one for the adults. No party food here as it was the adult party, it was good old fashioned delicious Serbian fayre. Prazan Burek (layered pastry pie), potato salad with onion and French dressing, Sarmica od zelja (meat pie layered with spinach, no pastry) and pickles and cold meats. Some of the food was vegan or fasting food (‘posna hrana’), as the birthday fell on a Wednesday (which is one of the two fasting days in a normal week, Friday being the other) [4]. The house is in the typical Serbian design, with a courtyard sheltered by a grapevine. The front room had a long table set for all the guests and relatives, with a huge wooden mirror propped against the wall and a cabinet full of Serbian china and ornaments. Our host is often involved in projects as an architect and structural engineer for local churches and his house has many interesting drawings and paintings adorning the walls. It might be described as ‘shabby chic’, but that would do it a disservice.

The kids played Monopoly, the Belgrade version! All in Cyrillic.

That night we all slept well!

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AliSavicPRINTS

[1] https://alisavicprints.com

[2] www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AliSavicPRINTS

[3] https://www.slavorum.org/the-godfather-probably-the-most-respected-person-in-slavic-culture/

[4] https://www.crkvenikalendar.com/post/post-rules.php

Belgrade Skyline Mixed media image.jpg