expat blogger

living in Serbia

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The American, Breaking down barriers and gates. oops

The hubby and I took a bus trip to Greece. Crossing the border on a bus seems less harrowing. No international paper work for the car needs to be taken car of a month in advance with all the fees involved, not to mention getting international insurance, etc, etc. Not having to drive, and pay an arm and a leg for gas and a hotel made this trip priceless.

We were the last to get on the bus, and we got the entire back row of seats to ourselves. That was cool. I could look out both windows when we got into the city, but that was not until the next day. 

  At each border, the patrol officers came onto the bus and collect the passports and took them back to stamp them. This was a Serbian bus tour, my American passport was a bit of a shock to the border patrol guards, after gathering the burgundy Serbian passports, at the last seat collecting my navy blue American one. I can tell you, I got a few surprised looks.

Thesaloniki was the main city we visited as well as touring the mountainous region covered in oranges, lemons, and olive trees. What an awesome getaway!

On the internet Halo tours of Belgrade advertised the tour as a trip to Salon. Salon is what Serbians call Thesaloniki. And when they do say Thesaloniki, they pronounce it Tesaloneekee. The "I" always sounds like an "E", and Serbians don't use the soft "T" or "th". I love it when my honey says "thank you". It is always cute with his accent and difficulty with the "th".

Our tour bus was mostly women on holiday for International Women's day or March 8th. It took a while to get to know them , but I made some new friends. 
Aristotle Square, center city

We arrived in Salon just around 9AM. As we approached the outskirts of the city, we were sorely disappointed with the look of the place. The condo buildings were so ugly, the sky was gray, and trash was all over the place. Not the kind of welcome I had envisioned. When we stopped at a big mall for breakfast and potty break things started looking up. I got to have Starbucks for breakfast!  The taste of home is good, even in Greece.

Driving around the city, ancient ruins were every where. The government there has been trying to build a subway system, but every time they start digging, they find more buildings, and remnants. It sounds cool, but that must get annoying and extremely expensive.

The gas stations there were really different. All the petrol stops in town were in a building on the street like this.  Just pull up to the curb, fill up, and go. I have to say, I don't believe I have seen this any where else in my travels. There is always a first time.
This day was good, but exhausting. We walked around the city and took in tons of ruins, and then hit a mall. Not so interesting.
The view from the food court in the Mall.

Birth place of Aristotle
 After a long bus ride up a mountain with serpentine curves and the look of the pacific Northwest we arrived at our next destination. At the birthplace of Aristotle, there was a big gate to the "museum". It  was suppose to be closed. But they weren't trying hard to keep people out, and it was next to impossible to steel anything. The objects were much to large and made of cement.

 Everyone began to make their way in. They climbed, scaled, and hopped the fence. But, when I saw how small the fence was, I decided to get a running start and vault over it just placing my hands on top and throwing my legs over. An easy enough task for a person who had been a gymnast in her previous life.

What I didn't know was the gate was broken and it just fell over bruising the inside of my right thigh. I should say the entire inside of my right leg. It was a monstrous bruise. The sweet darling of a husband wanted to take a picture it was so magnificent. How romantic. What a great memorial of our trip to Greece that could have been if I had let him. ;)

I don't know how my fellow bus mates kept a straight face. I wouldn't have been able to keep from laughing. I am sure it was like watching a comedy. Even funnier because it was a middle aged foreign lady. But they only seemed concerned. I would say it was well hidden mirth! The Tom-boy in me lives, and so does the accident prone nerd!
Aristotle and I
As I was falling and just after, I felt like I was in a bad travel comedy movie about the ridiculous American... National Lampoons vacation to Greece.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Jugodent is the name of the company that makes the Light above the dentist chair I sat in today.

I love my dentist  here. He is nice, personal and has a great chair-side manner. It doesn't hurt, he has been my husband's dentist since childhood and is friends with the dentist's daughter.

I had a chip in my front tooth and wanted to get the rest checked out. Dr. Smiljanic fixed my chip in no time. After I was finished my husband hopped up on the chair. The good Dr. had a look, pronounced him clean and we we off. Only a thousand Dinars poorer. (That is less than $20 US.) 

That would have been probably $300 worth of dentistry in the US. Great deal!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Svetozarevic House in Zubetinac, Serbia

The Svetozarevic House in Zubetinac, Serbia.
The ultimate place to chill.
I visited my friends resort this past week. It was amazing. I made a video to show off the place. I can not tell you how amazing it was to go there and relax!
Good Morning!

I believe this video is only visible to those of you in the US. I made it, uploaded it to FB and Youtube. Then tried to upload it here, but it was rejected. :(

I will have to add pictures for anyone who might happen upon this outside of the copy write protected US.

I only have one wish that it could have been summer when we visited. Green grass, leaves, and blooming flowers would have only added to the more than pleasant surroundings.
I was so impressed with the degree of relaxation that was achievable in just one afternoon. I can only imagine what a few days of lounging with a glass of wine, hiking to see the sites and ending the evening with a fire in the pit that is soon to come, just below the pavilion.

The house features lodging for up to ten people. The beds are dressed with traditional Serbian bedspreads. The rest of the grounds are chocked full of Serbian antiques. Some of the old pieces are works of art, eye candy.

A mini kitchen, catered meals, a winery, a bar, inside and outside seating, a fire pit coming soon, and so much more! 

Wine and Rakija are made on the premises. And there are two summer kitchens, one devoted to grilling, smoking, drying, or even roasting meat on a spit!

Worries and cares melt away here, really.

Again, please note that when the photos were taken, it was still winterish, the grounds would be even more inviting in spring, summer, and fall shrouded with green leaves and flowers. No matter, the place is a haven of rest no matter what time of year.
The trickling fountain makes its way around the paths. The sound is music to the ears.

Excellent staff!
Svetozarevic House is run by people who care for the land they are living on and strive to make the world better by living as green as possible. The founders of this place have worked and studied globally to make this world a better, cleaner place.
I am proud to say they are my friends.
Please come and visit!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I am Lesotho

In my foreign land...
 I am always writing in my head, I always seem to lose those pages when I get to the computer.  I have plenty of time to write as I walk along the road or river in my own English speaking world. I am like Lesotho in South Africa.  When I hear Sting singing about being an alien in NY, I totally relate.

I am trying to learn from the place I am living. I do not think less of it because it has not progressed to the place of the US, I admire it for standing up to the Nazi's in WWII and feel sad for the wars it has suffered since and the loss of so much of it's home land.

I ache for the needs of the people and even for the stray animals that walk the streets begging for food, and love. My heart is heavy with these things.

Soon, I will be going back to the "Land of Plenty" where people are complaining of the raising gas prices and the pains they are having with government and the radiation worries coming from Japan. I can only think of how good they have it and they don't even know.

The price of gas all over the world is much higher, and usually the wages are much, MUCH lower. People still make their way through life. A picture of a fat, rich kid who is complaining of how unfair life is, while sitting next to the starving skinny one comes to mind. 

Now, when I see someone there who has little in the States, I have less empathy than before. It is not so hard to make it there and live easily. Just stop comparing your life with the Donald Trumps, and be happy to live in such a free country. Cut down on what you spend, and be happy with what you have. Trust me, you have A LOT!

Jobs are available if you are willing to work. And if you are willing to move you will have a bigger choice. There are jobs and there is Freedom. That is a luxury some can only dream of. My heart is heavy today from watching the suffering of a strong proud people.

I urge my fellow Americans to learn Geography, and History. Travel, and love your neighbors internationally. Enjoy your life! Trust me, it is a good one.

And if you want tips for a more frugal life, Check out my fellow blogger, the Meanqueen. She is full of them. She lives frugally and has a great, happy life. I really admire her.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Market in Thesaloniki

The market street in central Thesaloniki or Salon was like a Walmart on crack. Seriously! you could probably find anything you want. And much more you don't!

When we first entered the market, we saw this:
Piggies, bunnies, little lambs, and big carnivore. I don't think there was a limit to the kinds of meat products you could buy here. The smells were a big strong, but it was an education to see all these animals hung like this,  like China town with a twist.

The seafood section was just as interesting. I got flashbacks to the the Market in Seattle.  No Kidding!
 I think, at one point I even saw some fish being thrown.
 but mostly, just a bunch of Squidworths on ice. SpongeBob was MIA.

the spice store:

The linen and clothing section:
The Olives!
 Yep, This was one of my highlights! I could taste them all freely to see which ones I wanted. That is my kind of shopping. :)
After we left the market we hit up a cafe.  Coffee and sweets, Life is good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yummies in Greece!

Milan and I agreed that while in Greece we should have a Gyros. Which we pronounce two different ways. Serbs pronounce it as a hard "G" like in goat. I pronounce the "G" as a "y" like in you. 
I told him that a Greek person had told me that it was pronounced that way, but he still didn't believe me.
I neglected to ask in Greece what the correct pronunciation was, but I looked it up in the dictionary and found two ways to say it... Neither way was with the hard "G". I love being right! But, I know there is a precious lot am wrong about.

The Gyros was good, but a little disappointing. I was looking for the version with no fries or ketchup. This seemed like more of an American version. The ones I am used to seeing have meat, cucumbers, onions, that yummy white sauce, and not sure what else. This was good, and too big to finish, though, it was not what I had expected in my gyro in Greece as were many other things.

Like these cool pretzels being sold on the street. I don't know the name in Greece, but they look like the djevrek in Serbia. (to my Serbian friends: I know I spelled it wrong, but try to make it so English speaker get the gist of how it sounds.)

There were loads of desserts. We had Gelato, Italian Ice cream. It has been a favorite of mine since my first road trip across the US. I found it on my pit stop  in Las Vegas at the Bellagio. That teamed with a cappucino is a little slice of heaven.

The gelato in Greece did not disappoint, it was soft and creamy and full of flavor. Try it if you get the chance. It has much less fat than ice cream, with none of the dreaded flavor of lite foods. Yummy!
We ordered all of our foods in English.

In most big places English was the way to go. In Stavros in Chaldiki and in many others the choice of languages is Greek or Serbian. So many Serbs come here to holiday, that the Greeks have learned enough to profit greatly. I think the Greeks and Serbs are like brothers who play well together. And when we are in the States and we meet a Greek, they always  have a friendly knowing look about Serbia. They are neighbors who have share good times and bad. History is present here and the people in both countries remember it well.

The similarities between the two countries is strong in the line of food. Both favor lamb, pig, and even the ouzo that is so common in Greece is a more refined version of Serbian Rakija, it is distilled 2x.
I think it is a bit comical that the anatomically correct male bottle of ouzo is next to the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, called Bio Bio. Ironically in Serbian bio means was.
We really enjoyed our culinary experience here, Even the food in our hotel was great. I especially loved the fresh cheese at breakfast. 

On our last day in Thesaloniki we stopped at the market for Greece's wonderful olives.
Olive trees were everywhere, but they have to be treated before they are eaten. These olives at the stand were super! We are still enjoying them.

Greece blogs will continue... there is still so much to share!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cats, Dogs, Doors, and Windows of northern Greece

There were massive amounts of strays in Greece.
 There were so many stray dogs that I am sure they have some problems with dog packs. I was surprised to see they were so many big ones. In Serbia, and in my travels in other countries, most of the dogs were shorter in stature.
This mama doggie was going to take her pups out for a walk, but my camera changed her mind.
I think this is called turning tail.
If there is any kind of animal control here, I would be surprised. In this way and in so many others it is just like Serbia. I really couldn't get over how similar these countries were.

I love all the plants on the terraces and windowsills. I love to get ideas for my own home from them. I especially love the shudders. I want shudders!

In many places in Thesaloniki, I got the San Francisco vibe. The steep, windy streets, and rows of colorful town houses really give the feel of that beautiful west coast city.

These buildings are water front. What a great place to live and what a view! I love the water in Greece. 
Even dogs like a stroll down the beach with friends, but this picture doesn't do just to the crystal clear waters. The one below does!

This picture is just a sample of how absolutely stunning, and clear the water is. Oh, how I wish it was swimming weather!

The pictures below are from the town, Ouranoupolis. A beautiful ancient town. Even though it is in the north of Greece on the coast, there are trees baring lemons and oranges in March. Flowers are blooming and there are many more on the way. 

Is it just me, or does this kitty look like it has bushy eyebrows? I think he is Serbian, they are masters of the bushy eyebrows. My husband is proud of his.

It is wonderful that these plants survive to adorn the windows of these homes year round.
More to come on Greece. Have a wonderful day!
and Please don't forget to pray for Japan.