expat blogger

living in Serbia

Friday, June 25, 2010

Novi Sad & Going back to the States

As most of know Milan and I have returned to the states. We had a lovely reunion with my family and I am overjoyed to be home. Milan is not so excited, I think coming back here was very hard for him. He is very close to his family and friends. Probably more than I am with mine.

I am overjoyed to be back, I started working in Ocean City two days after returning to my wonderful little town. My joy cannot be expressed on paper.

Truly, I have have never been so grateful for my country, my friends, and family ever in my life! The saying Home Sweet Home is So TRUE!

Our trip home was not without its own excitement.
We booked our tickets through Austrian airways and but our tickets were for a flight on JAT (Jugo Air).
Through no fault of theirs, when we reached the counter to check in for our flight, JAT said they had no record of us. Austrian Airlines had booked us on their flight, but neglected to tell them.
Not so funny.

We sat for a while, waiting for the Austrian Airlines counter to open up so we could straighten things out. I was so grateful I had printed out everything I could, tickets, itinerary, and receipt of payment. When Milan went to the counter, Things were straightened out quickly and we were given tickets on one of their flights that left at just about the same time, and would make our connecting flight in Vienna, Austria.

On our flight from Belgrade to Vienna we were bumped up to business class and were first to be fed! The food was really good and pretty. It was so pretty the even the butter was decorative. After eating his in one gulp, Milan leaned over to inform me that it wasn't cheese. I said, “I know”, and he said, “I didn't.” I couldn't help but laugh.

Tip for those of you flying internationally, make sure you know your baggage weight limits and every thing that is weighed. On this flight they even weighed our carry on luggage. Every airline is different. But not knowing can be costly.

Now we are safe and sound and have found a place to live for the summer. I have started working my breakfast job and will be working my evening job soon.

NOVI SAD (Нови Сад)
I will now give you a little taste of my last adventure in Serbia. We went North to Novi Sad about a week before the bombing in our building. I was going to write about it, but after the bombing, I was not motivated to write and busy preparing to come back to the states.

Novi Sad is in the very north of the country and the literal meaning of the city is New Now. Though, When I looked it up on Wikipedia, it said its meaning was New Plantation. I have no idea why. This northern town was formerly a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The architecture reflects it's roots and is said to be the loveliest part of Serbia. The economic conditions are better there and the overall mood seems more upbeat.

This Serbian region looks similar to Germany, Ausria, and Hungary as a result of it's heritage. Serbia came to have it by moving continually North evading and fighting the Turks. Hungarians allowed the Serbs onto their land literally to save lives and to have more bodies to fight the Turks as they surged North to expand their empire. Eventually there were so many Serbs there, that they outnumbered the Hungarians.

Many of you may be shocked to know we bombed this city and many others in 1999 with NATO's approval as a result of the genocide we believed to be taking place. There are still many reminders of this. In the pictures of the Danube I am enclosing you will find pillars jutting out from the depths of the water. Though our force may be justified by some, the way we went about it was illegal internationally. We used cluster bombs and killed many innocent civilians. Serbians remember this. Though, I have to say. I don't believe either side is blameless. War is never pretty.

If you are interested in more info on this very old city I have provided a link to it's site on wikipedia.


Milan and I stayed in the city, we walked around and enjoyed the different architecture and touristy feel of the town.

We went south to Belgrade the following day, where Milan spent most of the day seeing his very good friends from Knjazevac.

Later that night we met up with a friend of Milan's who had worked with him in OC a few years back. Marko and his girlfriend, Maria had been in Knjazevac a few weeks earlier and meeting up with them again was wonderful. I really enjoyed their company. And they have the most amusing little kitty. Friends like them made my stay in Serbia much more pleasant.

I miss my friends and family there. I am blessed to have the most wonderful family and lovely friends. I just wish I could bring them back with me.

The following day we went to an official army ceremony for new recruits. As we waited in line to enter the army grounds, Milan told me not to speak. It was a good thing, because later, Marko wrote and told me foreigners are not allowed on base. Here I was, an American, On a Serbia Army base. Probably not such a good idea. But, there were no problems.

I have to say it was cool to see the differences between our armies and how proud grandma's are all over the world. There was one who climbed a tree to watch here grandson. (I have pictures of that included.)

Just a few days after arriving home from this trip we had the horrible bombing in our building, so this episode was postponed and I have finally put fingers to the keyboard to send you the last episode.

Thank you for all your letters while I was away. They were priceless.
With lots of love,
Our Friends, Marko (Tole) and Marija. They are wonderful.
A Baba in a tree.
The Fort in Novi Sad Trdzava
A Ceremony for new recruits in the Serbian Army
Choose your weapon. Gun or Umbrella???
A beautiful Synagogue in Novi Sad

the Bomb

March 25, 2009
This morning a little before 7 AM I woke to a loud "BOOM!" that I thought shook me, I felt it in my stomach, I think. At first I thought I had dreamt it because Milan didn't budge, but then I heard loud wailing in the hall and and lots of commotion. I said to Milan, "Did you hear that?" He said " Yes, it was nothing go back to sleep". I couldn't. I went to the door and listened to the wailing and yelling, and smelled smoke. I went to Milan.... "Get UP! Something is going on. and I smell smoke!" He got up and went to the door. and then went back to put on clothes. told me to get some stuff together in case we had to evacuate, and then went out to see what was going on.

I started to get our passports and money and thinking what else should I get... There were so many thoughts in my head, and I was panicking. WOW, I thought I was cool in times of stress before this. maybe it is because I feel so vulnerable here. Not understanding the language makes everything scarier!! Seriously, I can't imaging being a reporter in another country when Bombs are going off. I have a lot more respect for them now...

Milan came back, he told me a bomb had gone off and someone was killed. Go back to bed. I said, "Are you serious?" And he said Yeah. Like this happens everyday and it's no big deal.
(Updated- I know now he saw a horrible sight and probably was traumatized. he also didn't want me to be more scared so he kept the terrible details to himself. More details below in the March 27 update.)

As I lay back down beside him, he told me it was a Judges Apt. that was bombed and now I am wondering what is going on in this town. There was a bomb that went off here last year while we were in the US that killed another Judge in this town. Seriously, this is crazy!

Milan said that when he went down he sa a man or woman being taken out of the building with blood on his or her head. I don't know if there were any more casualties or injuries and wish I could find out. but I will wait til a little later and go to a cafe to find out what went on. I didn't take any pictures.. this is not the time to play tourist. But I am interested in seeing what it looks like downstairs. The bomb broke the hallway light fixtures. I saw some neighbors cleaning up from my doorway. (March 27- I know now that what I saw below from my doorway was the cleanup from the bomb. I can see their door from mine. If I had opened our door to look out when I got up and was just listening at the door I would have seen Everything.)

Not to be overly paranoid, but I am not eager to be the American in a small Serbian town, the day after the anniversary of the US bombing Serbia. There was a bunch on the news about it yesterday. We used cluster bombs in densely populated areas that I am told are prohibited from use in war. Many Serbs, understandably hold a grudge. I think I wish I was from a more neutral country.

I was thinking about going outside, but decided not to. can't sleep now, but I am very tired and understandably shaken.
Right now I feel like I could use a cigarette even though I don't smoke.

I actually have a bunch more stuff to write about, but can't think to write about it right now. Maybe, I should try to sleep. It has been an hour and a half since the big bang... I can still hear it in my head. WOW
Thank God I am OK and Trust me I will be Thanking HIM!

Update. a few hours later....

It is now a few hours later. No one is allowed in or out of the building til "CSI" comes from Beograd. Everyone will have DNA samples taken and I imagine we will be questioned. A cop came by to ask us questions and told us what was going on.

I am at a loss, not understanding the language.. Our phone is ringing off the hook and Milan is talking to a bunch of people. Baba and Deda called, friends and family who hear about it. Everyone is calling because we are in the building. I am not sure who Milan heard this from but, apparently they bomb was under the doorstep or something and when The Judges wife came out she must have bent over to check it out and BOOM! IT was soo loud. It echoed through the stairwell.Milan saw her being carried out. I just stayed in the apt. and peeked threw the door.
It was chaos and confusion. I couldn't understand anything. I could hear a man crying, I imagine it was the husband of the woman who died. He was understandably inconsolable.

Please pray for the family of the victim.

Another update...
Milan and I were able to leave a little while ago and I finally got out to go to the store to get the things I need. As I walked down the steps, I saw where the bomb exploded. It is diagonally from our door one floor down, so I can see that door from mine. No wonder it was so loud. IT was really close.
There are holes in the wall and door and it just looks scary! I am kinda glad I didn't look out when it happened. I would have seen too much.

Just now when I was coming home I saw two men waiting at the door as a young man came out. I imagine he was the son, though I know nothing about the family.

It is so heartbreaking to see something like this. I hope I will never see anything like it again.

While I was out I learned that After last years bomb here that killed a high court judge, all the high court judges were given police protection. The lower court judges, that can only give fines and 6 month or less sentences were thought to be safe. Until today.
Also Our building is primarily made up of employees of the town, including other judges and police. I think that maybe from now on there will be more protection here. As of now. there are Police posted at the door and only the people who live here are allowed in.

Probably more to come...

March 26 I found out that the bomb was actually a grenade attached to the door.
I talked to Milan and he didn't want to tell me how bad it actually was. He didn't want me to be more frightened. He had seen the woman who had been killed and she was covered in blood and much of the front of her was destroyed. Her face and stomach were a mangled mess. He was probably traumatized and just wanted to go sleep it off. He said he had seen the officer carry her down the steps and she was so bloody that she kept slipping. I saw the officer today at the post office today at the post office, and he told me the same thing.

I walk past the door where the bomb went off every time I go out. it is a very sobering to look at. The door has been washed. I saw our cleaning lady scrubbing everything yesterday after... But the wholes in the wall stretch all the way down the hall to our downstairs neighbors door who is diagonally across from where the bomb when off. we are Just One floor above him, and because the stair well is only protected by a steel fence cage there are a few little holes in our door too.
The walls here are made of concrete and the divots left by the granade are fierce, even across the hall. I can only image what Milan saw when he looked at the dear, poor woman who opened her door at 6:30 AM to have a bomb go off in her face, literally!

Please pray for the remaining family and friends. The victim is survived by her husband, a son and a daughter. The family name is Lukic (pronounced Lukich)
Looking down on the parking lot, the Police car and the front of the building that was taped off, no one allowed in or out.

the door where the bomb went off. You can see where the poor woman was standing. There are no holes in the door. she got all the shrapnel. Even though the cleaning lady did a lot of cleaning, you can still see how bad it was, and blood still stained the wooden threshold.
This is a paper on the door with the funeral information posted as well as a picture of her. I would have liked it to be clearer, but felt rude taking pictures where someone had been murdered. I just took it quickly and was on my way.

Random Serbia

Dear Family and Friends,
Here are the continuing stories of my life here in Serbia.
The Dentist
A few weeks ago, Milan went to the Dentist and I went with him thinking maybe I would also have some teeth filled. The following is a description of the office and so forth.

When you walk in there is just the reception desk and the chair. Then not far behind is the reclining chair where the terrorism is performed or rather the chair for working on teeth is waiting for its next victim. Anyone sitting and waiting can watch the person having their teeth worked on and I find that a bit unnerving for both parties. I hated watching Milan's teeth be drilled. Pieces of tooth flying out of his mouth. YUK and scary listening to the drill......Shivers!

There was a lady sitting across from me kinda smiling a knowing smile at the unrestrained faces I was making at the sounds coming from the other side of the room. She even said something to me and I just smiled. (I am to the point I hate explaining I am American and I only speak a little Serbian and English.)

Like most dentists he wore a white coat and pants. but no plastic gloves. There was no assistant this day but later found out his wife is usually there and is trained to help him. The place was relatively clean though worn from years of use and such a bad economy. When Milan was about to have his teeth worked on the dentist asked him if he wanted anesthesia. He said no. Yes he is crazy!! The dentist filled two teeth that day and he had to go in the following day for two more. This first day he had no pain. But there were no X-rays done so there is no way to see how bad the cavities where, so on the second day Milan lost the draw. Again with no anesthesia the dentist was filling a cavity that was worse than it appeared and Milan had some pain. He came home miserable. Bot to have two fillings done is only cost $15 dollars, without Novocain. A total of $30 dollars for all 4 teeth. After first going I thought I didn't want to go get my teeth done but, after giving it some thought. I am weighing the cost and I think I will go because I have at least 5 cavities and it will cost a great deal more to have it done at home. I can handle it. Just grin and bare it, BUT WITH Anesthesia.

Luks cashier girl
The grocery store I go to here most often is called Luks. By now most of the people who work there know my face and know sometimes I need help and I don't speak Serbian better than a 1 yr old. They are all quite helpful and I am indebted to them. Although sometimes I do wonder what they think of me. I know they must sometimes think I am strange or annoying.
I did find out what one person thinks of me and I wanted to share.

One day a few weeks ago, I was shopping and saw a girl I have had coffee with and visited her home. (Her parents about flipped finding out I was was and American and were soooo sweet.) I said hello to her and we agreed to go for coffee and meet another friend.

She followed me to the checkout and when I finished she lingered to talk to the cashier. While we were having coffee with our friend I was told that she and the cashier were talking about me. The cashier girl had told her that before she saw me coming in to buy groceries she didn't believe in love. But after seeing an American coming to Serbia for her husband she now believes in love, Because I would leave my home, the land of plenty for this developing country. I thought it was very sweet.

The accident
On Tuesday, March 10, Milan and I woke up thinking today we would rest. On Monday we had pruned cherry trees in Vina with mom and dad and this morning it was wet and maybe a little rainy. It was also very cold. the combo makes for very mushy ground and hard work in the orchard. I went out to get coffee and Milan called me while I was at the grocery store. Deda Mumshilo had come and asked for a ride to Nis, a city about 45 minutes away.

About a quarter of an hour later we were on our way, Milan was driving, I was in the passenger seat and Deda in the back. We drove up the mountain on a winding, twisting road and saw that snow had fallen instead of rain at the top of the mountain. We past through the town of Svrlig (no I am not missing any nouns) and were 3 quarters of the way there when we came round a turn and found a car had not made the turn well and was perched over a deep trench, front wheels on the road and rear wheels on the hill on the other side of the trench. Just as we had stopped to avoid hitting the cars in front of us we were rear-ended. Thank God no one was injured in either of the accidents.

Still in the same spot, Milan and Deda got out to talk to the other drivers, I was fearful that someone else would come around the corner too quickly and run into our car again or worse the dumb people standing behind the car, completely blocking road. Seriously, it was a major hazard! But no one thought of that, even thought there had already been 2 accidents here within minutes. Finally I asked Milan if I could move the car and he said no! Later I found out that by law cars are not to be moved even if they are a hazard. How unsafe is that!?!

The most amazing part is, I knew the guy driving the car that hit us. He is the owner of the cafe I sit in often while I am writing in my journal. I didn't say hello. I thought it was a rather bad time and later found out he was trying to say it wasn't his fault, I was glad I kept my mouth shut. The cops told him it was his fault and he has to pay, but they didn't do any paper work, it would take over a month for the courts to straighten everything our and we only have til the 31 of March. (YIPPEE!)

The rest of the day was uneventful mostly. I did get to see the buildings that make up the hospital in Nis... The third largest city in Serbia. Most of them look rather run down and dirty. I went to a bathroom in the eye care building, and bathrooms here are actually called a Water Closet (or WC). It was dirty and smelly and there was no toilet paper. Note to self, wait til you get home from hospital to use toilet!

There were also no signs anywhere to let you know what building was for what. God forbid you have an emergency and need to get somewhere fast! Milan and Deda had to ask at least 7 different people which building we needed to go to, and even once in the building we had to ask a couple more times. There are no signs or reception areas. It is a far cry from what I am accustomed to.

Driving in Serbia...
There are many differences here. Laws or attention to laws seem to be a bit lax here. And if there are cops waiting for speeders breaking the limit, EVERYONE! flashes their lights to warn you there is a cop ahead. I think it is because there is still the sense that the government is so corrupt and no one wants to give anything to the ones who are already stealing from them. There are so many "hangover" elements from the times of Communism here. This is one of them.

Woman's day
March 8th was one of the four days a year that celebrate woman. It is also a remaining holiday from communist times. I could honestly understand one day a year to celebrate woman, but 4 seems a bit much, just another reason to give presents. There are markets set up along the river a few days before woman's day so that you can be sure not to forget to buy something. Milan got me a red carnation and laid it on my pillow.

Papa doesn't celebrate this day because it is a Communist holiday. Someone told me it was developed during the time in America when women were fighting for equal rights. The communist claimed that women had equal rights here, but years later I would disagree strongly. I have seen much to make me think the opposite. I will leave it at that.

Barbara, 5 years old
A little cousin I met a the wedding last month has been on my mind lately. She was so excited to say Hello to me and even counted to ten in English. (I may have mentioned this in another letter, but bare with me.) I asked about her last week when her uncle was over fixing our computer. He said she was good, and that she was so excited to meet me because she didn't think people actually spoke English. She thought it was just on TV. LOL

The Biblioteka or Library
I met a guy at the library the other day who could speak English quite well and I talked to him for a little bit. Then yesterday, while I was out shopping for a baby swing for my cousin Danica I saw him again.

His name is Nemed, I think... He offered to help me find a baby swing, because I cannot communicate so well and we were on our way a short distance to the next baby shop. We found no mechanicle baby swings. (I really think I will have to order one from out of the country.) But he told me his brass band was practicing and asked it I would like to come see it. Bands with lots of brass instrumets here are huge and are used for lots of festive occasions. They are also a cultural tradition, I was interested.

I went to the practice for just a few minutes because Mama was making dinner and I had to go help her, but I got to see and hear this great band. The music was very good and I wish I could have stayed longer. There are normally 10 members in these bands with 8 various people playing brass instruments and 2 others, One on a large drum and the other on a much smaller drum. The only female in the band was missing. She played the smaller drum. I didn't get the full effect, but it was enjoyable and I am hoping to see some more of this before I leave.

Pruning the Sour Cherries and Peter Rabbit's giant cousin
Last week Milan, Mama and Papa and I went out the village of Vina to prune the Cherry trees our family has. There are several fields with several hundred trees in a few of the fields. Not sure how many total, but there are a lot! The days I went the weather was great! The work was easy and it was actually fun. Getting out of the house, hiking up some muddy dirt roads and seeing the country side is relaxing, even if it is work. When we first arrived I noticed rabbit droppings. We went along pruning and in a few hours and a short break for Nescafe and Kiflitsa (yummy rolls) we finished this field. Papa went on to inspect the seedlings we had spent days planting soon after Milan and I had arrived here in Serbia.

Papa found that the rabbits had been chewing on the new trees. Some of them had been chewed almost to the ground. There were only about 5 out of a few hundred that we saw. Hopefully they will keep there teeth off of our other ones.

Interesting fact
Rabbits here are much bigger than the rabbits in the states. (As big as a medium sized dog) I have been hoping to see one, but they have alluded me. (Not hard since I have been mostly in a pretty big town.) Here rabbit hunting is a bigger deal. They yield a nice amount of meat and make for good eating or so I am told. Uncle Milosh hasn't shot any for me to try. Plus the more you kill the less likely your crops will be damaged.

Other interesting facts...
We are North of Africa here and sometimes when it rains the cars turn Yellow. Not from Pollen as we are accustomed to in the US, but from the Sand of the Sahara. The wind is coming north bring some dirt with it. This doesn't happen often, but it is annoying if you have just washed your car. Milan said this happened to him once.

I know I have more to write, but I have been meaning to get this out for a while and think I will be busy this week. I think Milan and I are taking a drive up north to Novi Sad after getting our car fixed from the accident.

Hope you are all well and enjoying a beautiful Spring! It is lovely here right now. I will try to write again soon. Love hearing from you too.
Much love,

The top of the Entrance to the little chapel.
The Beautiful Chapel
Chapel and Bell tower

Belgrad Jan 20

Dear Friends and Family,

On Tuesday, the day many of you were probably working or glued to you Televisions or computers watching the inauguration, I was touring about the city of Belgrade. I know it sounds cool, but I did really want to see the big U.S. and some would say international event. Here is a little bit about my trip to the big city and some pictures too. Enjoy!

Belgrade -- January 20

Milan and I went for a day trip to Belgrade to see the sights. I have only been there once before, the day we arrived in Serbia. I was exhausted from the long trip and it was raining. We didn’t see much that day and it wasn’t so pretty on that rainy day.

We visited a ton of cool stuff. It was so good to be in a city again. Knjazevac is a nice town. But there isn’t much here to see or do. Going to Belgrade was a spectacular break from the norm.

We found parking near where Milan had gone to school there and walked around his part of the city. I went inside of an old Catholic church and it had 3 of the most beautiful Christmas trees inside. Next to the church was a large outdoor market, like the Piatsa we have in Knjazevac. People where milling around buying and selling.

Next we walked up a steep hill to an old look out for the Austro-Hungarian empire that looks across to the Kalmegdon fort. That fort, was built by the Serbs was once a stronghold, overtaken by the Turks. I was looking at stuff that bored me to death in my history classes and now was just a part of my day in Belgrade.

The architecture was different on this side of the city as a result of the Austro-Hungarian influence. Not all the houses, but many of them were much more western looking. Not a great deal different than the houses on the other side, but there were actually some wood houses. There are no wood houses in Knjazevac. All the buildings are made of bricks and cement.

The streets are old and fun to walk along. There are many cobble stone streets. It’s beautiful! Our walk took us down to the Danube, and let me tell you, it’s not Blue here. It is cloudy gray brown. Maybe in the summer it will be blue.

We walked along the river awhile and then took a bus to the other side of the city. On the bus Milan pointed out many interesting sights and Museums. Then he told me that we were crossing through the center of town and that no to far away was a concentration camp where many Jews were killed during Hitler’s reign. I was shocked. I didn’t know he had concentration camps this far from Germany. I knew about the ones in Poland and that there were others strewn about. But, wow. Even here in Serbia. Sad.

When we got off the bus, we walked on the main street in town. Knaz Mihajlo. It is a street set up for strolling, no cars. Vendors line the walkway and stores beckon with signs of sales. We hurried on our way, we had lots to see. Next our tour took us to the Great Kalmegdon Fort. This fort, a museum in it’s own right, encompasses a military museum, a few basket ball courts for the nations teams, and a big zoo.

By now, although I really love seeing all this history, I am starting to feel like I did when I was a child. We went to Gettysburg a few too may times, and the cannons lost their allure. Seeing all the cannons in the military Museum took me back to that Gettysburg feel. The fort itself is a great work of art, but my real passion was the ZOO!

The Belgrade zoo is home to some really cool animals. And here we go back to school…
Belgrade (Bela is white in Serbian and Grad is city) means white city. In honor of their white city, they are collecting as many white animals as possible. There are white deer, bison, and even white lions and tigers. I saw the Lions, but the tigers wouldn’t venture out into the cold. Bummer!

When we left we walked again through the city and I found a McDonalds to use the bathroom in. Plus I wanted to get some pictures of this Super-sized Micky D’s with one side for the usual food and another side that looked like a Starbucks with some really cool specialty coffees and deserts. I saw this in London, but it wasn’t this extravagant. I started to take some pictures and a lady came up to me saying, “Nema slike.” That means no pictures. So, camera in hand, I exited.

We took a walk to meet up with his friends and it was getting late so ended up crashing on their couch. In the morning over breakfast we checked out the local newspaper and the headlind read, "O'bama, the hope of the world". I am really excited about him and it makes me happy to see this positive response globally.

We headed home shortly after breakfast.

The rain cleared up on the way and we stopped in a little tourist town and took a walk to see some ancient Turkish baths. Soko banja, is known for it’s Turkish baths and warm springs. It was cold so we didn’t stay long. We did stop there for coffee in “Koala café” They have rooms upstairs for $10 a person. The rooms are really cute and very clean. I hope we go back when the weather is better for a little holiday. It is a lovely town.

Coming home was the best part. “Home Sweet Home” even here in Serbia.

I will be continuing my stories next week, I still haven’t finished writing about Bulgaria. I loved it so much!

Have a great weekend!
The Catholic Church with Christmas trees
Austro-Hungarian lookout
Knaz Mihajlo



There was an Episcopalian, a Catholic, an Orthodox Christian, and a Protestant in a hotel room. No, really, it was Nicole, Marie-Noelle, Jenia, and I. We stayed at the Hotel Evropa in Sophia, Bulgaria. The Hotel was really nice, but I think it may have been affected by the gas shortage.

The heating didn't work for our entire stay and we had to use an electric heater in our room. The gas shortage has not had much of an effect on my life otherwise but I have heard it has been a big problem in Belgrade and all over nearby countries.

Funny things about our hotel...
The funny thing was we had a towel warmer so I towels were warm but nothing else was for a while.
The Toilet seat was a bit thinner than a normal one. When I sat down for the first time on it I jumped up thinking the seat was up.
The King Size bed was actually two twin beds put together. It didn't really matter, It was huge! There were 3 girls sleeping on it and we weren't cuddling! plenty of space!

Our hotel had a lovely breakfast every morning. There was the most wonderful lady who ran the restaurant and house keeping. she was there every day. she spoke several languages so she could easily speak with all the quest and she welcomed them in the morning like a child to the kitchen. regretfully, I have forgotten her name. But she was a truly amazing women.

There were a bunch of constructions guy from America staying in our hotel. When Marie-Noelle and I would come down for breakfast they usually greeted us with a friendly" hello". I am sure they were just a pleased to see some one from their own culture as I was.

Being so far from home is like being lost on a highway somewhere on your own. When you hear someone speaking American English, or any English. There is a bit of the familiar, and a feeling that you are not so alone.

I don't hear English often and never in Knjazevac. Seeing other Americans at out hotel was a treat, even though I didn't talk to them.

Going to Bulgaria was a delight for me not only for the sake of traveling, but also to be able to speak in English with friends who could understand me 100%. Trust me it’s a big deal!! I was so happy. Seriously. I couldn’t take the smile off my face. The three of us bunked up and schlepped around Sofia, taking in all we could see. The first full day we arranged for a tour guide/driver from our hotel to take us to see all of the sites of Sofia.

Our tour guide’s name was Alex. His English was extraordinary and we had a great time talking to him. We found out he had lived in the States as a child. His father was a diplomat. Now he was working at this hotel and we were blessed to have him take us around. Hooray for great communication.

We went to see Alexander Nevsky’s Church. It was huge and beautiful. Cameras were not allowed. I snapped a few forbidden pictures from my camera phone with a little help from my girls. They were my cover, so the looming priest would not see our transgressions. I got a few good shots and then we went looking for Marie-Noelle. She was having some quiet time in the corner with travel bible, the Bulgarian guide book. To see pictures and read a little more history on this church you can visit the Wikipedia website...


Inside of Nevsky’s Church was unfortunately dark and a bit dingy from all the candles burning and insense. No doubt it damages the beautiful frescoes on the walls. What a pity. There was so much beauty to be seen covered in soot. Of course that is the perspective of a Protestant and American who values not the candles being burned, but the work of art made in honor of God. If I have offended any of you please forgive me. I only mean to give my perspective of what I saw so that you may understand how it looks.

During our stay in Sofia we visited many Museums, some to the point of boredom to our friend Nicole, but I think I learned a lot. The history there fills up books. Much to my chagrin, I can only remember a pamphlets worth of information. But I have ton of pictures to refresh my memory. There were lots Roman ruins and artifacts from the Roman times and tons of information on the Turks domination and rule in the area.

Air Italia Beware! Air Italia went bankrupt and was bought out. The company who bought them cancelled many of the flights that had been previously reserved for a myriad of travelers. Marie-Noelle and Nicoles flights back to the US were among those cancelled. Marie-Noelle was warned to call the company a few days in advance to confirm the flights.

Jenia was using her Bulgarian cell phone to call the company within Bulgaria and the airport for a day or two and no one was answering the phone at either number. This was a large concern. Two days before they were scheduled to fly back we made a trip to the airport to speak face to face with a live person at the air Italia counter... When we arrived there was no one there! it was eleven AM. Some one told us there was no flight til 4 PM that some one would arrive about that time. UNBELIEVABLE! Marie-Noelle was MIFFED to put it politely. She called NY and spoke to some man named Vino who took care of things. Thank God we could call the US. If not I believe getting home would have been a sight more difficult. I am sure there were loads of people in that boat.

The sightseeing continued and we enjoyed each others company The last evening we were there I planned to go ice skating with Jenia and Nicole, but I got a headache and told them to go without me. I found a non-smokey cafe to enjoy some coffee in and wrote in my journal. While I was writing I was listening to some music. It was coming from a room just off the cafe. I asked someone about the music and the cafe worker said it was a sect group singing. I thought I had recognized the music. It was a protestant church group singing western christain hymns. The sign written on the door said (ЕЛ ШАДАИ) El Shadai, the Hebrew name for God. Most Orthodox don't know much about other way Christians worship around the world and assume other churches are sects or cults. It doesn't matter. It was nice just to hear some of my churches music. I can't wait to go back to church back home.

The last day Marie-Noelle and Nicole went back to the airport to catch their flight home. I was so sad to see them leave. I really wanted to go with them. Later that day Jenia and I packed up our things and went to the train station. Jenia took care of me getting my tickets and finding where we neede to go to catch my train. She waited with me for my train to arrive and once we found it and I boarded she even waited outside my cabin for my train to leave. I have to say, it was so sweet.

Saying goodbye to her was the hardest part. I just wanted to cry and and I am sure I would have if my cabin had not been inhabited by 3 other women. Truth be told, I bit my lip tried to hold back the tears. Having friends visit and then traveling with them was a source of great joy, but saying goodbye and going on with life here in Serbia is more difficult sometimes.

I think I need a bunch more visitors, but I have to warn you. I may not let you leave. Or maybe you will have to take me with you when you go back home. The train ride home was pleasant. I enjoyed the scenery and talked a little bit with the women in my cabin.

Two of the women were Serbians returning from a holiday in Istanbul, Turkey. I loved talking to them about that. I really want to go there.

The other women on the train was Bulgarian. She was only on the train till we crossed the border in to Serbia. When the conductor came by our cabin for tickets the two Serbian ladies gave their tickets and so did I. The Bulgarian women discreetly put a bit of money in the palm of the man's hand. When I got home I asked Milan about this. He said it was common practice. If you need to get somewhere and you don't have enough money giving the ticket man a little money can get you all the way to your destination at the fraction of the price of a ticket. These people know their way around things! I have learned a few lessons. Don't think I will put them in practice.

When I was leaving Bulgaria, there was a bright haze and it made looking out the windows a touch difficult. It was bright and the sun, beaming through the fog greatly reflected of the snow so that it was hard on the eyes.Just as we were about to crossing the border, the haze lifted and there were blue skies.

The rest of the trip was lovely. I saw more orchards on this short trip than I have ever seen in the US. The small little traditional homes and the many animal tracks in the plentiful snow where a pleasure to watch as we rolled on by. The beginning of the three or so hour ride was marked by mostly flat land with some rolling hills. At the end of the journey we were passing rocky, craigy mountains and going through old tunnels. It reminded me of the old days in the US. Travel by train is a wonder every where I have traveled in the world. I highly recommend it!

Crossing the border from Bulgaria to Serbia on the train was uneventful, thankfully as I have no way of explaining if they have questions and don't speak English. At this point I have crossed the border of Serbia and Bulgaria 3 times. The stamps in my passport are a little souvenir.

Milan and Milica were waiting for me at the train station in Nis and it was so good to see them both. Even though I am homesick for the US, coming home to our little place in Knjazevac was wonderful and cozy after my adventures with friends in Sofia.

There is so much more I could have written but I fear I may be becoming dry and don't want to bore you.

Sveti Nikola's Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Inside Alexander Nevsky's Church
Byzantine Blue birds in Alexander's Church
A.N. church
A.N. church
A train station somewhere in Serbia
View from the train
Dinner in Sofia

Bees and Golubac in Serbia

Feb 2009
Dear Friends and Family,
Here is the next installment of my chronicles of life in Serbia.
I will probably have a new one next week. This weekend is Milan's cousins wedding and there will be lots of fun stuff to write about.

As always, I hope you enjoy this and I welcome questions and comments!!

Deda Tole’s Bees
One day in January, some time ago Deda Tole asked Milan to take him to a village where he keeps his Bees. The drive took much longer than I expected. This village is out in the middle of nowhere. Milan told me that the bees produce much more honey in the country, there is less pollution and many more flowers to collect from and pollinate.

He has many hives and the best Honey! There is a little old house like shack where he keeps his bee food and supplies. The location of the hives is quite picturesque, set on a hill with a stream running along side. There is even an old water mill set on the other side of the stream and a beautiful country home set on an adjacent hill up a little path.

We took Deda there to help him deliver his bee food to the storage house and clean the snow off the hives. Bee food is much heavier than you would think, I could only carry two boxes at a time. While Milan and I were unloading the car Deda was clearing a place in the little hut for the bee food. He came out with some old winter boots and shook them upside down. About 30 nuts plopped out onto the ground. I think some mice will be upset they lost their stash!

I milled around outside the little shack an found an old snake skin, (nothing to worry about now. It’s freezing outside!) I showed Milan the snake skin and he said they call them snake’s shirts. I had a good laugh.

Drive on the Danube

Up early…. Milan doesn’t like to get up before 11 AM so this day was a bit different than the others, he and I were on the road at 9:30 on our way to check out the Danube River and the old City Golubac.
We weren’t’ hungry when we left and decided to get some fresh Burek from a bakery on the way. Burek is a thin layered pastry filled with Cheese or meat or mushrooms. Different bakeries make them their own way. They are really good. One of the few things I will miss here.

Pekari with great bread!
We got hungry about an hour into the trip and started looking for a bakery. We found one and there was a line. GOOD SIGN! A line for food when there are bakeries everywhere here means great food! And it was. We got some super burek with meat and some fresh round bread, still HOT! from the oven. That was what everyone was lining up for and it was extraordinary. Probably the best bread I have had since I got here. And that is saying something, they know how to make bread here. No messing around.

We continued out drive and soon we were on the scenic coast of the Grey, Green, Brownish Danube. It is a massive river, like the Hudson or the Mississippi Almost the whole way we are driving looking at the opposite coast, we were looking at Romania.

At one point we past the largest dam in Europe, there is one larger in Russia. But as we all know, Russia is Russia, not a part of Europe. This dam reminded me of the Hoover dam. Really big, accept at this dam there is also a border crossing.

Romania is part of the European union so I could have crossed to see what was on the other side. Milan couldn’t though. Serbians are very limited in there travels at this point so we didn’t cross. The Danube is the border for Serbia and Romania at this point and a little further down it is Bulgaria on the other side.

The Danube also borders or flows through 9 countries!!! It starts in the Black forest of Germany to the following countries: Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine.
In the future I am hoping to see the Danube from the city, Budapest! It is the one city I am anxious to see.

There was old town with ancient artifacts, from like cave men times. The museum was closed. But there were some cool old style houses there and the cutest little old terrier dog who kept us company as we walked around. This stop was a summer destination I suppose. It was only open from April til September. We still enjoyed the break from the long drive. The view of the river from here was lovely as well and it was nice to check it out while standing still.

Nature calls at the old town
There are few bathrooms or rest stops here in Serbia. And when you find them often you wish you hadn’t. During our trip “nature called” and there was no where to stop. I made use of a hill over looking the Danube, it was pretty steep and I have to say it was the easiest “Number 1” I have ever perpetrated in the great outdoors! To all the women out there that may be able to use this piece of info… squatting on a slope is better than on a plain! Gravity is good.

As you can imagine the Danube is a great river and is very wide in most places, but at one point it is squeezed to a small space between two great mountains. At that point it becomes the deepest. It is 90 meters deep, or about 300 FT.
This is the same spot where I took pictures of a great rock carving of a mans face. (That is on the other side of the Danube, in Romania.)

Not many yards past this great rock face carving is a large old monastery. When Milan and I got out to take pictures of the great face carving and the monastery, we could hear singing coming from the Monastery. What a fabulous treat! It was lovely, and refreshing. Also it was quite shocking that all this way across the water and up the mountain we could hear the joyous praises. This was my favorite part of the trip!

Our final destination was the old city, Golubac, or Stari Grad Golubac.
This city is placed on the Serbian border of the Danube where it begins to narrow from a vast oceanesque body to a large, but normal looking river. There was also a large ruins of a city on the opposite, Romanian side, but it was too far to really make out the extent of the old remains.

Milan and I got out to explore and I was greeted with the most wind I have felt since leaving my Seaside home of Ocean City. The wind was whipping across the expanse of the Danube. The great old castle was a pleasure to explore and I have to say the doors were just big enough for me to fit inside easily. Milan was head and shoulders taller than the top of the doorway. This city went way up into the mountain above, but we were only able to explore the lower buildings. You have to check out the pictures attached. It was a blast. On the way back we stopped at a lovely riverside restaurant. The food was spectacular, and again the bread was fresh out of the oven. The Good Stuff!

After this we ventured home with stuffed bellies, satisfied with a days adventure.

The scary “Dog” Bark/howl

If you could mix the sound of a cow howling at the moon and a little bit of a synthesized electrical sound with that you may have what I heard, or was rather awakened by not long ago. All of our windows were closed, though that does not drown out the sounds of countless stray dogs barks at night. I am accustomed to that now, but this was extremely different. It was a loud terrifying sound and I hope I never hear anything like it again. At the time, I thought of a werewolf in the movies and I thought, We aren’t that close to Romania and Transylvania…. But after this trip to the Danube, I see that we are quite close and I am left wondering. (Imaging scary music here) LOL

Curious Quirks at home in Serbia
Mom is still cooking 9 course meals every time we visit and I am trying to concentrate on the salads, less calories and they taste so good. After dinner we always have Turkish coffee. (I still don’t make it right. I am fine with that though.) Making the coffee isn’t as easy as you may think. There is an art to it. And before you make the coffee you much wait for the water to boil. That is the tricky part for me, believe it or not. Here we have a wood burning stove. After dinner, inevitably the fire needs more wood. I usually am clearing the plates and cleaning up with Mom and I start the coffee while I am at it. Often, like tonight, I put water on the stove to heat and forget to add wood to the fire. Tonight, as usual Mama and I are cleaning up and I start the coffee and we waited an age before I realized I needed to add more fuel. Once I added more wood the coffee water boiled pretty quickly, but it’s strange to have to remember to add wood to the fire not just turn a knob! Ha Ha

Please don't forget to send any questions or comments. I love hearing what you think, or what you are interested in learning more about.

Lots of Love,

A carving of a man's head on the Romanian side. I got this info straight from wikipedia! The Statue of Dacian king Decebalus is a 40-meter high statue that is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe. It is located on the Danube's rocky bank, near the city of Orşova, Romania.

The idea belonged to Romanian businessman and historian Iosif Constantin Drăgan and it took 10 years (1994-2004) for the 12 sculptors to finish it and in the end, it cost over a million dollars.

Right in front of the statue, but on the Serbian shore facing Romania, can be found an ancient memorial plaque ("Tabula Traiana") commemorating the victories of the Roman Empire over the Dacian kingdom in 105.

Under the face of Decebal there is a Latin inscription which reads "DECEBALUS REX - DRAGAN FECIT" ("King Decebal - Made by Drăgan").
A beautiful Romanian Monastery. We could hear them singing from the other side.
This Mammoth is a monument to the Mammoth skeletons in this area. There were also a few found in our town of Knjazevac.
The Gazebo overlooking the Danube
The door was quite small
Home made bread and Beef stew
the sign says... Stari Grad Golubac meaning old city, Golubac.

Serbian Wedding Chronicle

Dear Family and Friends,
This is the latest installment of my Serbian Chronicles. As always I hope you enjoy and look forward to hearing what you think about my experiences. Please feel free to ask questions or respond with your own thoughts or feelings. I love hearing from you.

The Wedding
On February 14, 2009 Alex and Danica were married. This is the Serbian epic with all the details from an American point of view.

Although February 14 is a day for lovers in America, it is the holiday here for the patron saint of wine. Either holiday is a good holiday for a wedding and the combination of the two is very appropriate for a wedding here in Serbia, were the love was being made legal and the wine was flowing to celebrate!

The Preparation
Because I am a close family member, I was involved in much of the set up and preparation, made slightly difficult at times by my language barrier. I really enjoyed doing it and it passed the days before the wedding in a fun productive way. I love being creative and I got to experiment with bows and ribbons and learn new ways to make them. It was a blast! Some of my ribbons are on this beautiful  wedding arch.

Thursday at the reception hall.
The wedding party or reception was held at a hotel here in town. It is one of 2 or 3 humble hotels here in Knjazevac. The reception hall, located in the basement of the hotel, was a bit of a mess Thursday when we arrived to decorate. At first it was just Milan, Milica, Danica and I who were there. We started by blowing up balloons with an air machine Milan borrowed. Thank God he had that! It would have taken forever without it. And I was the only one tying the balloons so my fingers were soon raw from the rubber pulling on my skin. Danica and Milica were in charge of tying them together and sorting out there they would go.

Just as we were getting a good amount of balloon bouquets put together more people began to arrive to help decorate. Things moved along much faster with more hands. Before long there were balloons and steamers hanging from the ceiling. It drastically changed the look of the place from dingy hall to festive reception setting. This is how it looked when the day arrived.

The toilets….
I know I am always telling you about bathroom experiences, but they sometimes define a culture or setting in such a way that it seems only appropriate to include, so here we go again. While we were setting up I had the urge to hit the ladies room. All the lights were off in this area and I wasn’t sure where to go. I finally found the toilets with a little searching and flicking of light switches. I went into one of the stall and saw that the toilet was a ceramic hole in the floor and there were no lights overhead. I decide to wait til I got home.

The day of the wedding I did use them, with Mama holding the door slightly ajar because the overhead lighting was still not working and it was difficult to see what you are doing while balancing over the hole and lifting your dress at the same time. It is a delicate process. That's all I need to say.

Friday: making bows folding napkins… setting up tables and preparing plates of food.
I was never given a real itinerary so I just followed along as I was instructed. First on Friday, I was making bows and blowing up balloons that would adorn the cars in the wedding party, and the wreaths that go over the gates and the doors of the houses.
I was quite busy and happy to be. The day passed quickly and of course I got to see the dynamics of the family. Weddings are not easy on families in any culture and it seems this one is the same as in the US. There are always lots of disagreements and misunderstandings. Fortunately I was not a part of any of that, I watched, as if through a window. I am enjoying being on the outside. The view is better from this perspective. Sometime the language barrier isn't such a bad thing.

There were large tables set up all through the house and someone explained there would be about 40 people sitting down to celebrate here before going to the city hall and the church. These wedding traditions take the entire day, and I am starting to understand why at this point.

Later in the day I folded napkins and set up plates for the guests. Everyone was working, even the neighbors pitched in to help. I had a great time getting to know Baba and Deda’s closest neighbors.
My favorite is a little girl named Gabby, who, ironically, is so shy she barely speaks. As gabby is an English word and doesn’t translate here, the irony os lost on everyone but me. She was my companion for most of the preparation and even after the wedding. We sat in silence most of the time and it was fine with both of us.

While I was working on ribbons and tables, everyone was busy with other stuff, in the kitchen and dining room, there were about 10 people preparing the food for the next day. Trays of food were being beautifully arranged and put aside for easy service on Saturday.

Sat early to the village
I got up around 7 AM Saturday morning to get ready. We were to leave the house to go to the village of Vina and await the grooms family and do a little last minute prep. When we arrived all the tables that we had prepared with plates, napkins and silver, were laden with food and drinks awaiting the guests to arrive.

Serbian Wedding traditions
The grooms family all drove to the village in a large procession. They waited at the gate for everyone to arrive. There is only a small village road so everyone was parked in the lane, but it didn’t matter, there is not much traffic and everyone in the village new about the wedding. An accordian player arrived with the family and the great outdoors were soon filled with traditional music. As the family way about to come into the gate some one shot an apple over the grapevine in the front yard and the drinking and music began.

The Grooms family made their way up to the door to find the bride….
It is the custom here for the Grooms family to come to the Brides house to “Buy her on the day of the wedding. It is customary for the grooms brother and the brides brother to agree on the price to be paid and then the party before the wedding begins. Danica’s brother, Nikola is in the US now, so Milan stood in for him and "sold" her to the Grooms family.

When the money is exchanged the grooms family and the immediate wedding party sit down to eat a little, drink a bit and celebrate. While that was going on, the cars in the wedding party were decorated with ribbons and balloons. It was freezing, there was a light snow falling and it made for great pictures and cold hands while fixing up the cars.

After some time of hearing accordian music from within and the country shrills and yelps not unlike you may hear in cajun music the wedding party was ready to move onto the next stage. But before left there was still some time for dancing in the street. It was a grand old time.

We all piled into our newly decorated cars and headed to the Knjazevac city hall to make the marriage legal on paper. All the cars honked and tooted as they went in a merry line holding up traffic on country roads and drawing stares from random dogs watching from the fields. Once in town the busy Saturday morning was interrupted and people on the street sometimes smiled and waved. No doubt, they new Alex or Danica or both, it is a small town.

At city hall all the cars in the processional just parked on the side of the street and rushed in for the proceedings. The bride and groom sit in front of the city official who makes all the paper work legal. I am fuzzy on anymore of this. I was way behind everyone and of course I still can not understand much Serbian. At the finish lots of pictures were taken and outside the accordion player stroked the black and white plastic keys again.

Next we moved on to the church.
At 1:00 Danica and Alex were married in the Church. It was a traditional Orthodox ceremony, the first I have witnessed. It was very lovely and the church, looking ancient and breathtaking in the sunlight streaming through the windows was a perfect setting. The priest chanted the entire ceremony, also the custom for all the services as well. He had them light candles, out crowns on their heads, and they all walked in circles while their hands were symbolically tied together and they drank from the communion cup at the end of the ceremony. The bride and groom were followed the entire ceremony by their Kuma and Kum, respectfully, our equivalent to best man and maid of honor.
When the ceremony was over congratulations were again given to the couple and everyone filed out side for the bride to throw the bouquet. This was the first time following my wedding that I was not one of the maids in line for the flowers. A bit of a relief, I have caught enough of those for a lifetime.

The Music classical Serbian patriotic and traditional music, it sounded like Gypsie music to me. (Sorry) Most of the people here don’t like Gypsies and make fun of their music, but I personally can’t tell the difference between traditional and Gypsie. I am sure there is a difference, but I am a foreigner, my ears are not he same.

The dancing
Most of the dancing done but the wedding attendees was a traditional circular dance. I can’t remember the name and there are different dances, but they all pretty much look the same from my untrained eye. I did join in and I think I did well, but I also think it can’t be that hard if most people are really drunk while doing it.
The dance looks like this… standing side by side everyone holds hand and takes a few steps in one direction and stays in one place still stepping, but standing still. Then you take a few steps in the opposite direction and repeat. This goes in a circle and can go on for some time.
On a side note: There was no “Electric slide” at this wedding or “Shout” song played… that was kind of refreshing!

Let me explain the sound of the traditional music or try… It has a mixture of sounds, there is the ever present accordian, trumpets and percussion. with the sound of belly dancing music, mixed with maybe a German drinking band. It is a strange mix and it has an ancient kind of ring to it. That along with the circular dancing makes me think if the medieval times and the size of the hall and the amount of drinking did get me thinking of Beowulf.

The music was much different than the music played at the engagement party, there it was much more romantic, this may have had to do with the difference in the band and the loudness of the music. Even Milan said it was much too loud, his throat hurt from yelling to try to speak with people.

Alex’s band

I don’t know the name of the band, but Danica’s new husband’s band is my all time favorite here in Serbia! They play great Serbian rock and roll and some English music too. It was so nice to hear some music even for a short time during this long wedding with such loud awful traditional music going most of the time. The old people loved the traditional stuff and the young people danced to it, but I get the feeling that they had the same idea as me, Alex’s band was the favorite!
The other band played again for way to long after Alex’s band left the stage, after so many hours of this music I was ready to go. But Milan was having a good time with friends he had not seen in years so I just sat and watched, hoping it would end soon.

Around midnight, I drove everyone home. I hadn't drank and I was the only sober one.  Soon I got into my precious bed. Not long after I was up sick, I think it was something I ate, Milan was soon sick as well. Though that was because he was drinking. A lot.

The really strange part of the story
The next day Milan and I slept and recovered. That night we were fine and had been invited back to Vina to help eat the leftovers. We were both fine, but I was a bit crampy from the female type of sickness. We went first to Mama and Papa’s house to pick them up and take them with us. Mama’s friend Sladunka the doctor was there to. As I came in Papa asked me how I was feeling. I gave him the so-so hand gesture, thinking there is no need to say I have cramps…

Mama and Sladunka take me into the kitchen and I think at this point they want to give me an examination. And then it gets weird! Mama fills a cup with water and gives it to Sladunka who is opening up the stove to get out some coals from the fire and puts them in the water. When I ask what they are doing, Mama just says Doctor. Not a good answer, this is not modern medicine!! Milan comes to the door just then and I tell him they better say what they are doing or they cannot touch me. He asks Sladunka and she tells him to shut up. Just as she puts her finger in the water and is about to touch my forehead he grabs the water and throws it in the sink. He kicks her out of the house and yells at his mother. I do not know until much later what was going on. The two women had been talking and thought I got sick because too many people had been looking at me the night before. Milan told me this after dinner that night once we were home. He said that if I was to get sick from so many people looking at me then the bride would have certainly been dead, though I think that Mom and Sladunka were talking about the power of the evil eye, which I have heard about from Bulgarians I worked with in the summer.

I know that this sort of practice is not uncommon in many parts of the world, but I am continually amazed at how medieval this part of the world is turning out to be. Even more, by the fact that this would be practiced by a medical doctor. My faith in medicine here continues to fail. And I assure you, I will do all in my power to stay out of the way of Sladunka’s medicine.

That is the somewhat shocking conclusion to my story, no one could have been more shocked than me. It was seriously weird!

Hope you have enjoyed as always!

making it legal in the court house
Bride and Groom,
Danica and Alex
The wedding
The priest is the same age as Milan
the church audience
The hall
Alex's band! they are soooo good!