expat blogger

living in Serbia

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Serbian New Year with the Orthodox Celts and Sofija, Bulgaria 2011

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This site covers every topic conceivable for women living all over the world. Please check it out if you are one of these woman. 

 The Church above is the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nikola in Sofija, St. Nikola is the patron saint of Serbia, and my family.  Some how when I was taking the photo, the picture was distorted, because it is not as "bendy" as it looks here. Below it is pictured as it really appears.

Serbian New Year is January 14, and it was just as fun as the first!
 Our little town of Knjazevac sprang for the Orthodox Celts, and I love them. The Orthodox Celts are a Serbian band who sing REAL Irish Music. And WELL! I heard the lead singer lived in Ireland for 15 years and I believe it, his accent is "spot on".
If you don't believe me, click on the link below.

I first heard this band while I was still dating Milan. On a road trip he played me their CD, and then told me they were Serbian. I couldn't believe it. Then when I heard they were coming to our town here in Serbia, I was so excited.

On this fun eve, we were joined by a bunch of friends at the center of town for the concert. The first band was Borderline, a local group. There weren't half bad, I enjoyed listening  (even to the slightly butchered English in a few of the songs). Overall the lead singer did well. I know I couldn't do better in Serbian.

In short order the Orthodox Celts came on and they were Fantastic! I was so happy to hear English, and with such a lovely accent. The scenery wasn't bad either ;).

The funny thing about listening to the Orthodox Celts is when they stop singing and the lead singer speaks, all of a sudden you are jolted back to Serbia. But not the ordinary redneck Serbian to which I have be accustom. His Serbian is more proper. I had to ask to be sure I was right, but shockingly I was. It an interesting change to my ear. Still it was shocking every time he stopped singing.

After the concert I went inside. I wanted to speak to the lead singer, but there were so many adults and even more small children who were waiting. I didn't want to take any more of his time. I just wanted to ask some questions. I talked first to the violinist, but his English was not so good and he was really new to the band. The Guitar player, Vladav Jovkovic's English was much better and he had been with the band awhile so I was able to ask some questions and get some answers. It was a nice chat.

Vladan told me it was the former violinist, a female who started the band and had even written some of their songs. They started in the early nineties, and the lead singer joined soon after they came together.

Thursday, January 13, Serbian New years eve was a glorious evening with friends. There was even a spectacular display of fireworks at midnight!  When all of the festivities died down, our crew moved on to a traditional restaurant down the road. While on my way to the WC at the restaurant, I ran into a friend, and then a bunch of her friends who had lived in the US. I am always shocked in this town by the number of people who have worked in the states.It's funny sometimes I am overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness, segregated by language and other times I am surrounded by other internationals. Life is strange.

This was my second trip to Sofija and I was excited to revisit this lepa grad (beautiful city). This trip was much different than my first. This time Milan and were accompanying our friends for a dog show in the capital city.

Of course we all needed passports, even the dog! The dog also had to have a microchip and a doctors note assuring he was healthy. When we crossed the border, our passports were stamped and so was the dogs. and then both times we crossed the inspectors stopped us again to check out the dog. It was pretty painless, just a short bit of a wait. This was the way it was for us on both legs of the trip. On the way back to Serbia, just after crossing through the border, I saw a lineup of maybe twenty buses and trucks waiting to go through to Bulgaria. I am glad I was not at the end of that line.

On our way into Bulgaria it was important to make a quick stop to buy a sticker for the car that showed we paid a ecology tax.

The first time I went to Sofija I was with all English speaking people. If I had a choice, I would opt for that, or to go alone. It is better to be alone than feel alone when you are with others. And, I love traveling alone! I am much more used to that, sometimes it is a tough adjustment traveling with others. I think I am just a bit too selfish most of the time.

The weather was much friendlier this time around. Last time my friends and I had a white blanket of snow to schlep around in, that made walking the city a little less comfortable.

This time the weather was cool, but clear, great for walking the beautiful city.
The streets are all cobble stones or actually Yellow Brick, Wait! It's OZ! lol
Look they really are Yellow. Thank God, I am a strong capable woman, and I don't need a wizard. But if I did, I wouldn't know which way to go, the yellow streets are every where.

When we arrived in Sofija, we checked into our apt for rent, and T. and I went to check in at the dog show. She grabbed a catalog that listed all the dogs while we waited in line to register. There were just a few other dogs from Serbia, loads from Bulgaria, a few from the Ukraine, and lots that came all the way from Russia. There was a large charter bus in the parking lot that was filled with dogs and owners from Russia. That would be an interesting road trip.

As this was my first dog show, I didn't know too much about how things go. I mean, I have seen Eukanuba on TV. But it is a huge international affair. This was up close and personal. The show was held at one of the American University Gymnasiums. The entrance was filled with people lined up with their dogs waiting to register, and random people and dogs just standing around. To the side of the room was an area with ping pong tables, University students were playing there the entire weekend.

At 3:30 the doors to the gymnasium opened. In poured the dogs on leashes, cages with dogs, and their people. In short order there were dogs being lead around in circles in each of the three boxed arenas where they would be judged. Tables were set up at the edge of the bleachers and dogs were groomed as if they were at the salon. Some dogs watched all of this from their spacious cages and most were trying to get a sniff of another's bums. Below are some more politically correct dogs, showing some affection.
I don't think you can tell from the picture, but the floors were not well finished. Those who play handball or basketball on this floor must try no to fall, because the groves between the wood slats would prove to be like a grater to the skin.

Dog shows are most often held in the summer, and this one was not up to the standard the summer show set. T. said this one was kind of unorganized and lower quality show. Only first prize in each class got a trophy, and even some of those didn't. The show was interesting, none the less, and I saw some gorgeous dogs and some even more interesting people.

On Saturday evening, I was overjoyed to be reunited with two girls from Bulgaria who lived in OC and worked with me. Over cappuccino we gabbed about all that was going on and what was new in our lives. It was great to see them again.
 The Z00

cotton candy is called slatko vulna or sweet wool.
look ma, no genitals

here kitty kitty
down town
This statue towers over a busy crossroads in the centre of Sofia, on a spot where once stood a statue of Lenin. It was erected in the year 2000 as a millennial symbol of the city. The golden-skinned & black-robed female figure represents wisdom. She holds a laurel wreath and has an owl perched on her arm.

Changing of the guards at the presidents residence

Dedicated to Nicole, Marie Noelle and Xenia, I miss you guys. xoxo Special Thanks to Evelina and Borislava for coming to see me in Bulgaria!! and Happy Birthday Expat Women and many more.
Thank you again for reading and have a great day!


Jen and Steven said...

In my wildest dreams I never would have thought I'd be able to learn so much about Serbia. I'm so glad to have this opportunity and for it to be one of my best friends leading the way makes it even better! I'm constantly amazed at how you seem to be able to find someone you know no matter where in the world you are. Thanks for the insight into your life of dual citizenship. :)

Abby said...

Loved that the dogs needed passports!! As always, I love reading about your adventures, and I agree with Jen & Steven, I am amazed that you always run into people you know! No matter where you are :) So awesome! Love you!

Expat Women said...

Many, many thanks for the shout-out Lafemmet! We really depend on shout-outs like yours, so thank you sincerely! Warmest wishes for 2011, Andrea. :-)