expat blogger

living in Serbia

Friday, June 25, 2010

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.

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