September 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
I was nearing the end of my 7 day stretch in Belgrade and I was told that the St. Sava temple is a must visit. Being the largest Orthodox Church currently in use, I thought it would be a good way to contrast my tour of the Orthodox Christian monasteries that were modest in comparison, tucked away in the mountains of the countryside. St. Sava temple however was bang in the middle of the city, so I had no excuse not to go.
I picked up my camera, looked up the blogs for directions (since Google Maps for Belgrade is primarily in the Cyrillic alphabet, assuming pretty high navigational skills on the part of the average tourist!) and bought my ticket for the bus (this proved slightly unnecessary throughout my time in Belgrade though, since no one checks the tickets it’s pretty easy to skip a ride for free). I was due to get off at Slavija Square, one of the busiest traffic intersections in the city. Even though I’d never been to this part of town before, there was no mistaking my stop. The bus somehow skirted past the numerous cars zipping by and I was thrown in the middle of a frenzy of what seemed like automobile hell. Slavija Square itself is a tourist attraction, for it houses the grave of a famous Serbian socialist Dimitrije Tucovic in its centre. The standing joke however, is that the mystery lies not in its historical significance but in the amazing capability of these driving veterans to avoid crashing into one another as they drive around it.
After wandering about for a good half an hour, asking people for directions (since few spoke English and it didn’t help that my renditions of the pronunciations of the Serbian street names were laughable, to say the least!), I finally found my way to the temple. Walking down one of the radials off Slavija Square, I could see the tip of the dome of the temple. As I crept closer, I could appreciate it in it’s full glory as it stood there majestically shining in the cool evening light. The two hour long quest proved worth it’s while, inconsequential in comparison, once I stepped inside the doors of this breathtakingly grand structure.
September 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
Vojvodina and Kosovo were the only two autonomous provinces in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Though far less controversial, we spent a day driving through the former. With no agenda at hand, we whisked through the terrain of Fruška Gora, a mountain in the province of Vojvodina. Its hilly terrain is peppered with a host of Serbian Orthodox monasteries, some of which date back to the 15th century. Exposed to orthodox christianity for the first time, I took my time observing the scenes that unfolded in these centres of monastic existence. Some were being given a facelift undergoing renovation, some were ornately beautiful and some just stood tall as modern day bastions of christianity.
September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment
September 7, 2010 § 2 Comments
September 6, 2010 § 2 Comments
Three random facts about Belgrade :
Fact 1. There seems to some dispute if Turkish coffee is actually Turkish, since the Serbians seem to have established claims over it. Case in point: I asked for a turkish coffee at one of the oldest restaurants in Belgrade, I was given one of the nastiest looks by the waiter who then proceeded to disapprovingly walk off. I was then told I must never commit that mistake again since obviously ‘domestic coffee’ is what I should have said.
Fact 2. In conversation with a young Serbian during my outbound flight, I asked him if the city was big on tourism. The question seemed like a valid one, since the city is full of sights that serve as insignias of its turbulent history especially the previous decade. He looked amused by my query and said, “It’s nice of you to believe that the buildings that were bombed are kept as such, “preserved” so to speak, so as to serve as reminders of the NATO attacks of 1999. If the city was big on tourism, the National Museum at the Trg Republik Square (main square) wouldn’t have been under construction for the last 7 years!”.
Fact 3. The serbians love their meat! In the hunt for authentic Serbian food, I was told that the places serving this fare were called national restaurants or national kitchens. I soon learnt that all their dishes were different permutations and combinations of any and all kinds of meat that was possibly available. I’m not exaggerating when I say their cuisine manages to blend any possible ingredients together, the only prerequisite being that the consumer should be a true-blue carnivore. Case in point: Papazjanija, one of the signature Serbian dishes, as per the recipe book guidelines mixes together pig, calf and lamb meat. Not easily found in any of the popular restaurants, this dish is apparently typical of traditional mason fare, is whipped together by throwing in all the leftover meat from the previous meal!