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Category: Balkan region

Everything about the Balkan region!

Chalkidiki = “boring”

Chalkidiki = “boring”

Chalkidiki is in Northern Greece and it has three peninsulas. Currently we are visiting the second one (the middle finger some people would say) and we have to admit, it is really boooring….  See the pictures and judge yourself.

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As you can see: nothing interesting here.
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They did not tell us that the sea has waves…

 

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As you can see the coastline is really boring.

 

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And then those stupid flowers everywhere.

 

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The sunsets in Chalkidiki are also nothing special, just like the ones from the movies.
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Better leave your slippers and sunglasses on the beach and run as fast away from here….

Hope this photo impressions helped you to understand that actually it is really boring here and that there is nothing to see here in Chalkidiki.

ps) for those who do not understand irony: we really love it here, it is so beautiful and the people are really friendly 🙂

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Every day a picture: June 2016

Every day a picture: June 2016

And we continue my photo blog  “a picture a day” : here the overview for June.

Remember: enjoy and if you would like to comment you can send me a Tweet (link), I would appreciate it.

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Samo malo

Samo malo

Samo malo or još malo, Serbian for “just a bit”. I hear it many times here in Serbia and it seems after a year I slowly started to accept it finally: in same cases quicker then in other cases. The case where it still ask a lot of my patience is in the bus: when I am in a full bus (not happen very often, but it does) then there is always somebody behind you who want to step in and says ” samo malo” or još malo . Samo malo where ? I can barely breathe or move and you just want “samo malo”?  It are always ladies who are a bit more older, no clue way, but ok.

It is just a cultural clash and actually (yes sorry dear fellow bus passengers in Belgrade) now I get the clue: in Serbia nobody is left behind, just “samo malo” , hold your breathe, hold in your belly, make space and don’t complain. So I stopped complaining.

The case when I never complain is when the host you are visiting ask you do  if you want another rakija : ” samo malo” ……

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Dedicated to the ordinary Serbs: Hvala Srbijo !

Dedicated to the ordinary Serbs: Hvala Srbijo !

Čačak-PožegaIt is almost a year that I live now in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

A lot of positive things happened in my life and I am grateful that I am living here in Serbia together with my wife. After a year I can conclude that I found pretty much my place here. If you emigrate to a foreign country it can turn in a disappointment, it is like to go into a tunnel, but actually only beautiful things I discovered after the tunnel.
SrbijaSerbia is not always so positive in the news, especially not in my former home country the Netherlands: last month for example around the commemoration in Srebrenica (I wonder why the international community did also not commemorate the +/-3500 Serbian victims there). Before it was about Vojislav Šešelj who was temporarily released and all the scars were opened again. Against all those negative things from the post I want to voice something positive about the country I am living now:

I can tell you that I am proud to live here, because Serbia is an amazing country with super friendly people. Therefore I am dedicating this blog post to the ordinary Serbs which I meet in the bus , on the street, at the kiosk, in the restaurant, in the supermarket, the local shop or anywhere else, I just want to say to you all: Thank you for your patience and thank you for feeling me welcome. First of all, my wife, but also of course my family in law, my friends and my colleagues are all very helpful and welcome and I am blessed with that, BUT the people which I do not know directly are also like that and that is why it is more than worth living in this country.

So hvala, bus-driver for waiting for me when I run for your bus, hvala dear Goka when you serve me food for my lunch, hvala Milenko from the exchange-office for chatting with me every morning (da ‘jebem ti oblak’ will be soon standard Serbian), hvala shop owner who ask every time for confirmation if I am truly from the Netherlands (yes I am, I am not from Mars) and hvala kafana owner for changing the TV channel  with a smile from tennis to the ‘Tour de France’  (how to make friends in the kafana in Serbia 😉 ). You make me all ever day smile so I write to you: Hvala Srbijo!

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Panorama pictures Srbija / Serbia

Panorama pictures Srbija / Serbia

As I live now in Serbia I also have more time to make more panorama pictures here. It is a hobby of me and now  I just updated my page with those pictures which you can visit here: Panorama pictures Srbija / Serbia . I would say enjoy and if you want to have the original you can contact me of course! Also panorama pictures from other countries are available.

Many greetings from Serbia !

Miločaj, April 2015
Kraljevo, July 2015
Đerdap, May 2015
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Belgrade, April 2015

 

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A Greek cat on Sunday

A Greek cat on Sunday

I spotted this Greek cat on a terrace of a cafe in the Plaka area of Athens…. Life is beautiful 🙂

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Athens, Greece: 31th May 2015
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Serbian azbuka -part 2

Serbian azbuka -part 2

blic 18 09 2014
18/09/2014: Article from the Blic website.

My friend wrote on my facebook wall: you are famous ! I was pretty surprised that 24 Sata (the Serbian Metro) and Blic, two major newspapers in Serbia, took over my previous blog post on their websites.

The link from the website of 24 Sata: Kajmak, šalter, promaja i je*i ga: Stranac opisao Srbiju azbukom od A do Ш
The link from the website of Blic: Kajmak, šalter, promaja i je*i ga: Stranac opisao Srbiju azbukom od A do Ш

It was nice to read all the comments and now I feel even more welcome in Serbia!

Oh and if I may to use the freedom to just make little corrections :

Replace the “B” from ” busplus”  by ” brak”: brak means marriage in Serbian, but in Dutch it means you have a hangover…

The “V” from “Vojovodina” caused too much discussions I saw and I do not feel that it is up to me to have an opinion about that so I would replace it by “Vojnik”.

Why ” vojnik” ?
Two and half years ago I started, with the help of two friends and many others (Serbian/Dutch community in NL), a research about Serbian soldiers from the First World War who died in the Netherlands, my home country. Our website www.secanje.nl  (srpski) shows all the results we have found so far. There are many other words I can replace, like “Pivo” from “p”  (yes a good one, I am from a beer drinking country) or “Kafana” from “K” (oh I love kafanas), but in honor of your Serbian heroes I find this the most important one.

Večna im slava!

srpski vojnici
More information: www.secanje.nl

 

 

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Life in Serbia according to the Serbian alphabet

Life in Serbia according to the Serbian alphabet

I have started living together with my fiancé in Beograd (Belgrade) the capital of Serbia.  Finally a dream has come true.  I am enjoying living here together with my lovely fiancé, but yeah I am still in a foreign country and things are not always like in my home country. Without judging , I try to sum them up via the Serbian alphabet. It starts already with the alphabet, because they have a different alphabet comparing to us in the Netherlands, so let’s start !

*First you see the letter in Serbian Cyrillic and then the Latin transcription.

Пример_српске_ћирилице
The Serbian alphabet, photo from Wikipedia( click to enlarge)

А-A from Autobus (= Bus)
Buses run through whole the country, but you need time and patience. In Belgrade there are many buses and it is my way of transport here. Every morning I take for example the 601 (beside the 65 and the 88) and it is a perfect way to test your ability to push and breath, because it is so crowded every morning. Beside this minor issue every morning (big deal, I can take also other buses, beside the 601) I somehow still like it to take the bus, but maybe it is time to grow and buy a car (a Zastava maybe? see under “Z”)

Б-B from Busplus (= an electronic ticketing system for the bus in Belgrade)
Everybody is supposed to use it, but only half of the people are using it. Nowadays the police has  to even protect the poor busplus ticket control inspectors. Anyway one day everything is going to be fine (a user and a ticket inspector on friendly terms).

busplus
A busplus card (click to enlarge)

В-V from Vojvodina (=a region in Northern-Serbia)
Vojvodina is a region in Northern-Serbia and has autonomy. Before World War I it had belonged to Austria-Hungary, since then it formed part of the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes, after that Kingdom of Yugoslavia, after that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after that to FYR Yugoslavia, after that the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and since 2006 Serbia. You can still follow it ?

Anyway it is mostly flat (almost like the Netherlands), people tend to be slower in behavior and they speak a dialect. Yeah if that last one I can recognize right now….

Г-G from Gostoprimstvo (=Hospitality)
Serbian people are really hospitable people. Don ‘t be surprised if you are invited for a drink or a lunch by somebody you just met. This hospitality is of course something beautiful. People tend to give water + coffee + special jam (and rakija if a visitor wants) when visitors come home, we decided to maintain this gesture when people come to our home.

Д –D from Dečko (=Boy)
Used in different ways. Older people tend to say this to me and I consider it a compliment. When I cross the main street near Ada every morning towards my office there is a police officer standing there who regulates the traffic. He stopped once the traffic for me and sad to me: “ hajde dečko” (go boy)….

Ђ –Đ from Đevrek (=a kind of bread)
They say it is typically Serbian and that it is the best of course. I am not in the position to object, so I won ‘ t  😉 . And yes it does taste good, that I cannot deny at all :-).

đevrek
Đevrek

Е-E  from Eskim (=Eskimo)
So far I have not spotted any Eskimos in Serbia. For sure I will spot them later when winter starts, because in Serbia everything is possible.

Ж –Ž from Železnica (=Railways)
The  Serbian Railways, officially here called Železnice Srbije, drives trains from A to B and from B to C via D to A, just like every other railway company in the world. One railway line is specifically very beautiful and is a true masterpiece of human engineering which was built under Tito’ s reign: it is the railway line from Beograd to Bar ( in Montenegro nowadays). For me as a railway fan it is a pity to see that the railways are declining in this country, but there is always hope of course. A couple of years ago  new trains were purchased from Russia and I hope more investments will be made, so I can skip the “A” (from Autobus) part.

ZS in Kraljevo
441-703 in Kraljevo for a train to Požega (click to enlarge).

З-Z from Zastava (=a flag or a brand of an ex-Yugoslav car)
The Serbian zastava below:
Flag_of_Serbia.svgAnd below a Zastava Fića made in Serbia (or in Yugoslavia?):

Zastava
A Zastava Fića in the wild in Bežanijska Koša (Novi Beograd), click to enlarge.

И-I from Izvinite (= excuse me)
I have to admit Serbs are pretty polite (more polite than in the Netherlands for example), this word  you can use when you screw things up (like for example when you step on somebody ‘s foot in bus 601 )and it works. If not look under the “J”

Ј-J from Jebi  ga (= Fuck it)
Ok, yes I did it, I used a swear word. See under the “I” for more information. Oh more polite version could be ” nema veze” (=nothing to be worried about)

К-K from kajmak (=creamy dairy product)
Kajmak is a delicious creamy diary product. If Serbia will join the European Union I would suggest that they immediately ask a patent on Kajmak (and I advise them to do that on many other products).

Л-L  from Leskovac (=a town in Serbia)
Leskovac is a city which lies south of Niš. The Leskovac Grill Festival (Serbian:  Роштиљијада, Roštiljijada, also translated as “barbecue week”) is in the beginning of September. I still have a wish to go there and since I live now here I think I will make it for sure. In this area they speak with a strong dialect and it sounds very funny (Sorry Dimitrije, my friend, I hope you do not read this, it is nothing about you 😉 ). Then this is the second dialect I think I can recognize I just realize.

Љ-Lj from Ljubav (=Love)
Reason why I moved to Serbia: First of all for my ljubav (my love aka my fiancé) without her I would not be here. Beside this main reason I also have a love for the Serbian people and its country, which is obvious.  Serbia is not the easiest country to live in, but as anywhere in the world you have to learn and understand people, language and its culture. If you do your best enough you will get your efforts paid back and I am not talking about money here. Ljubav for my love and her country,
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М-M from Meso (Meat)
Serbians do not like meat, no they like A LOT of meat. You have of course the pljeskavica (the Serbian hamburger) which is delicious, but also ćevapčići (also delicious) and many other delicious sorts of meat: I can create a whole website about it, but I won ‘t, I just eat it and enjoy it.

Н-N from Nema (problema) (=no problem)
“Nema” is most of the time with “problema” (problems).  Nema problema can mean that there is indeed no problem, or it can mean that you have a lot of problems.

Њ-Nj from Njam Njam (=yammie,yammie)
It was hard to find a word with Nj I have no idea why Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (seen as the father of the Serbian language) put it in the Serbian alphabet. Sometimes it is better to not understand things, next or njext ?

О -O from obrazac (= form)
Forms are pretty important for the civil administration in Serbia. It is necessary to have the right forms with the right numbers, stamps and signatures when you need something from the government.  If you don ‘t have the right form, or you miss something (like a stamp or number) then you have a serious problem . You can try to go to a šalter (see under ” š” ) of the institute to settle the things.

П-P from Promaja (= draft)
It sounds very nice, but actually it is a very cruel thing: if you want to kill a Serb arrange some “promaja” and he or she will start complaining like hell and eventually die (so don’t dare to open a window and a door at the same time, because the air which is circulating can give Serbs a pain in a back or head).
promaja

 

Р-R from Radna Knjižica (=workbook)
I wanted to write something about “rostilj”, but everybody knows what barbecued meat is so I thought it was nice to use something which a lot of foreigners did not know about it including me. When you start working you need to have a “working book”: you need to “activate” it in your “opština” (your local government) or in my case in the opština where your company is registered. My radna knjižica has not been activated since, yet, ok, we will solve this relic from the good old days. I personally hope that this “icon” will be the first victim of harmonization of EU laws and I think many Serbs will join me.

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My “Radna Knjižica” still waiting to be “activated”.

С-S from Sudovi (=dishes)
The dishes has to be done in Serbia as well, but don’t dare to not rinse  them well after you washed them with soap. Not rinsing away the soap is a sin, so if you do the “sudovi” just rinse them with water so you will not have a fight.

Т-T from Turbofolk (=a music “style” in Serbia)
Turbo folk is a music style in Serbia: some people hate it, some people love it,  Turbofolk is a mixture of Serbian folk music with modern Pop music elements, with similar styles later appearing in Greece (Skiladiko), Bulgaria (Chalga), Romania (Manele) and Albania (Tallava). Personally I like it, but when I started to live with my love I can only listen to it via a transistor radio in the dining room next to the computer….

Ћ-Ć from Ćirilica (Cyrillic)
Serbian Cyrillic  (no Russian is not the same and since a couple of years also Montenegrin is not the same) is the official script of Serbia, but good for me Latin script is widely used. I have recently started to understand it more and more, but come on give me a break, would you understand the difference between ч, ћ ор ц ? Оr з,ж ор ђ. But now we know, because you are reading this blog and it is the Serbian alphabet with both ćirilica and latin script.

У-U from Ulica (=street)
As Belgrade is a big city it can be quite a mess on the streets. Surprisingly  it always seems to happen when it is raining, question is: are drivers in Belgrade afraid of the rain? When it is not raining they do not seem afraid at all….

Trg Republike, 8th September 2014: this is the main square in Belgrade (click to enlarge).

Ф-F from Filmovi (=movies)

During the Yugoslav times the film industry started the boom and until today the film industry is still booming. Of course you have the world famous movies from Emir Kusturica, and during the Yugoslav times a lot of partisan movies came out, but there are many others. A good partisan movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon is hurting nobody. I can recommend you “Montevideo” (part 1-2) and of course Kusturica’s movies. There are many other good movies, just google yourself or ask me.

 Х-H from hleb (=bread)
Serbia has of course the best bread in the world, no discussion about that –next-.

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Special bread for a “slava” in Miločaj, 2nd August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Ц-C from Crkva (=church)
There are a lot of churches in Serbia and they are mainly Orthodox, because that is the main religion of Serbia. Other religions have their churches, synagogues or mosques as well, that is not a problem as well. The Orthodox churches or monasteries are beautiful and some are modern and some are really old.  There is a special atmosphere in Orthodox churches and monasteries which I cannot describe, but I felt always welcome. Personally I like Žiča, a monastery near Kraljevo, a lot.

Žiča
Žiča (click to enlarge)

Ч-Č from Čestitam (=congratulations)

This word is used for several occasions when you want to congratulate somebody with something, nothing special actually 🙂

Џ-Dž from Džem (=Jam)
Welcome to your introduction course Serbian: this word sounds so exotic, but it is nothing more than just jam. Serbian language is a language of “what you see is what you get”. By the way the first Serb who like to eat sweet things in the morning, like jam, I still have to meet. We have a friend and his name is John, in Serbian it is Džon 🙂 for example.

Ш-Š from Šalter (=counter)
Serbia has šalters (unfortunately) for a lot of things, for too much unfortunately I have to write. The E-Government (E from Electronic) is far, far away. Personally I find it quite surprising, because there are so many skilled IT-technicians in this country ( I have —the privilege to work with them), why don’t use them and reform the government to improve services to the citizens via the Internet ? But on the other hand, this is Serbia  and you should not worry too much in front of a šalter : ovo je Srbija:  sve je moguće !

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Special thanks to / posebno hvala :
Mojoj dragoj i Srbiji i Srbima!
(My love, Serbia and its people)

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15 years ago…

15 years ago…

Fifteen years ago I was a student studying public administration in the Netherlands and I was member of AEGEE, the European student organization.  Fifteen years ago my Serbian friends had to search shelter for bombs which NATO dropped on their country during 78 days.

During those days more than 2500 people were killed. A lot of children were also killed, below a monument in the center of Belgrade dedicated to them.
DSC_0836Since 2004 I visited Serbia many times and NOBODY accused me of anything , NOBODY blamed me about the fact that my government was also participating in those shameful bombardments . Instead I was everywhere welcomed  with hospitality and I made true friends.

I was and I am still surprised about that simple fact that I never felt hate in Serbia towards me as a Dutch citizen, where  in the Netherlands still 74 years after the German invasion of the Netherlands  during World War 2, a lot of people feel hate against the Germans.

Many discussions I had with my Serbian friends about how they suffered, about their fears, their sleepless nights, about their angers and after all those discussions I can only say that I admire them. My Dutch friends asked me about Serbia and if you could still see the damage of the bombardments and if there is still hate. Hate is everywhere for that I just have to open the door here and walk outside.  Yes, Serbia did repair most of the damages, but it still suffers, 15 years later of the consequences: personally and economically, but most important that we bombed a country which fought so hard during WWI and WWII on our side (not for the Netherlands during WWI as we were neutral).  Serbs never could believe that it would happen, but it happened.

Fifteen years later I am still a Dutch citizen, which I will forever stay, but I will move to Serbia, because I found love which I never found before.

This post is dedicated to all the innocent victims of those bombardments. Let us never forget them…
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Interesting documentary can be found here: ЗАШТО? WHY? Stories of bombed Yugoslavia

 

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Time flies

Time flies

I was so busy last weeks and so many things happened that I will not name them all here. I have been around New Year two weeks in Serbia and Bosnia and that was of course really nice again, pictures can be found here. Every time I am going to Serbia I have the feeling that I feel more and more home and that thanks to the nice friends I have there: Hvala vi!

When I was in Serbia we visited a monument for Miloš in Miločaj, see previous blog post and we were interviewed by Serbia’s daily quality newspaper “Politika” as you can see below.

art01 Original article on the website of Politika.

If you can’t read Serbian, no problem, the article translated in English can be found here. Yes,a s you can see (when you clicked on the link about the article) we have now also our own website online about our (re)search to the Serbian WW1 soldiers who died in the Netherlands. We have two domain names: www.servische-krijgsgevangenen.nl and www.secanje.nl , please visit those sites and spread the word: we have spent a lot of effort to put it online and we will continue to expend it.

Soon in it is carnival in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which I will not celebrate too much this year, although the Sunday parade cannot be missed of course. After that a good friend from Serbia is coming over and then it is just a couple of weeks later when  spring will start: time flies…..

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