Hidden Belgrade (67): Swimming palaces of Belgrade

Maybe it is the shimmer of the water, maybe it is the people around them, or perhaps it is chlorine or sunstroke, but swimming pools, and especially public pools, have a magical, surreal touch to them. It is no wonder they inspired a lot of great art from Hockney’s Bigger splash, to Cheever’s excellent (yet dark) tale of a man who decided to swim his … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (67): Swimming palaces of Belgrade

Beyond ajvar, burek and ćevapi: building your kafana cred with must-try offal and regional dishes

While Serbia and the Balkans come nowhere near Italy in purism about food and food related customs (aka culinary fascism), there are certain things that are not done, and certain other signs that signal to you that you are in the presence of a true gastronomic veteran. For example, one of the main tells that you are a non-local in Serbia is ordering ajvar in … Continue reading Beyond ajvar, burek and ćevapi: building your kafana cred with must-try offal and regional dishes

Beyond splavs and Ada: how to spend your Belgrade summer

After two lousy years of the pandemic, now there is a potential world war threatening to sour our „špricers“. However if the years of turbulence taught us anything, it is that it is important to make the most out of a lousy situation, something that Belgrade always excelled at. While most of the guides will send you to swim in Ada, eat in Skadarlija or … Continue reading Beyond splavs and Ada: how to spend your Belgrade summer

Hidden Belgrade (66): SIVilisational decline

For a very long time, SIV, for me, was just a drab government building. While I passed it fairly often, unthinkingly, on my regular walks between old Zemun, much like the whole of New Belgrade – with the exception of Sava Centar – it was unremarkable, melding into the grey mass of what I (and many around me) termed as “uninspiring socialist architecture”, something that … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (66): SIVilisational decline

Belgrade to Novi Sad on Soko express

Train travel used to be the stuff of nightmares in Serbia. While I was in highschool I remember packing up lots of food for a 90km train ride to Novi Sad, while any attempts to venture further – to Zagreb and Budapest (both about 400km away from Belgrade) – were day-long out trips in crappy trains that stopped in crappy stations. I n a lot … Continue reading Belgrade to Novi Sad on Soko express

Politically charged pies and the first Chinese dish in Serbia: More stories about Serbian food

If you think you are a Balkan culinary know it all for loving ćevapi, sarma, burek and kajmak, well the truth is… there is plenty more to discover. Everybody knows they are great, and with ajvar now present on the supermarket aisles from LA to Dubai, and the increasing number of restaurants serving Serbian fare all around the world: from Kafana in New York, via … Continue reading Politically charged pies and the first Chinese dish in Serbia: More stories about Serbian food

Zenit: 100 Years of Esoteric Balkan Barbarism

„Break the chains that bind us! Crumble the suburbs of huge and diseased Western-European cities! Crush the glass of the gilded palaces Tall towers – of National Stock Markets and Banks! War profiteers escape into the fat bellies! Hide your bought mistresses into your dirty pockets! Do you have no shame?! And you blind mothers and dumb fathers, who sell your virginal Daughters! And you … Continue reading Zenit: 100 Years of Esoteric Balkan Barbarism

Hidden Belgrade (65): Three forgotten townhouses

Belgrade’s democratic and indomitable spirit is probably to credit (or blame, depending on who you ask, and what you think) for frequent turnovers of its elites. For example, in just one neighbourhood, playful Ottoman townhouses of Zerek – currently referred to as Dorćol – in which the Muslim merchants languored on divans – gave way to mostly sober neoclassical houses of late 19th and early … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (65): Three forgotten townhouses

Belgrade Post-Modern: Ruins at the End of History

“The only way for us to become great, or even inimitable if possible, is to imitate the ancients.” Johann Joachim Winckelmann  “As is the case with the weather: rain and storms from the West reached us and so did Postmodernism. At the very beginning of Postmodernism, a great conference was held in Zagreb on that topic, which identified vectors and positive values ​​of the movement … Continue reading Belgrade Post-Modern: Ruins at the End of History

Sticky post

Karafindl: The Nutshell Times Good Kafana Guide

Given that the culinary scene in Serbia not only expanded, but changed sufficiently to attract the interest of Michelin guides, a few friends and I lamented the receding prominence of good Serbian kafanas on the culinary landscape. Yes, this is probably overly nostalgic and curmudgeonly, however once one hits a certain age, has had the chance to taste enough varied dishes and has been overcharged … Continue reading Karafindl: The Nutshell Times Good Kafana Guide

Occupation in 2-6 Pictures (2): Strahinja Janjić – a traitor’s traitor

On July 28th  1942, 36 year old Strahinja Janjić was taken to the infamous Banjica camp, on the charge of planning to assassinate Milan Nedić, the head of the puppet government that was helping the Germans control “German occupied territory of Serbia”. Banjica, ran in tandem by the Gestapo and Nedić’s government, claimed more than 3,800 lives and was the place where anti-fascist Serbs, Jews … Continue reading Occupation in 2-6 Pictures (2): Strahinja Janjić – a traitor’s traitor

Enjoying the sweat of your brow: Belgrade’s top spas

Ever since I came back to Belgrade in 2016, I put myself through countless arduous tasks in order to bring you the knowledge, dear Reader, of the best ways to spend time in my beloved hometown. This promethean striving led me to run, eat and listen to music, but no task was harder than trying to figure out what the best places are to spend … Continue reading Enjoying the sweat of your brow: Belgrade’s top spas

Hidden Belgrade (64): The Cursed Ghost Ship

Having been in a bit of a wedding frenzy over the past few days, I thought about the history of what I thought was one of the most beautiful and doomed wedding presents in Serbia: the “Dragor” river yacht, which I once read was a belated gift of the Romanian royal family to their daughter Marija on the occasion of her marriage to King Aleksandar … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (64): The Cursed Ghost Ship

Coffee in Belgrade: the first 500 years

During the first year of his reign, in 1521, Suleiman the Magnifient decided to out-do his great predecessor, Mehmed the Conqueror by trying to take two major bastions standing in the way of Ottoman expansion. The first was the island of Rhodes, then held by the Knights of St John, and the other one was Belgrade, a major fortress protecting Central Europe, held by the … Continue reading Coffee in Belgrade: the first 500 years

Hidden Belgrade (64): Community spaces

I only noticed Romansa, a Dorćol institution, when a friend of mine casually said it is where her mum likes hanging out with her neighbours. I probably ran and cycled past it hundreds of times – my wannabe yuppie fitness fervour very much at odds with the languor of its patrons, who, no matter the time of day, hung out in its pleasant tiny overgrown … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (64): Community spaces

Homosexuality in Serbia through the Ages

One of my first encounters with the concept of other sexualities was when, as kid visiting my grandmother`s tiny summer house in Montenegro I was walking around the yard and pointed to a far-away house on a land neighbouring ours and asked who lived there. „That was cousin M.`s house…“ she said, somewhat darkly, unlike her eager explanations of who else lived in the 20km … Continue reading Homosexuality in Serbia through the Ages

Hidden Belgrade (63): Finding Vračar and Belgrade’s holiest mound

On May 10 1594, the Ottoman rulers of Belgrade decided to make sure to make the point to their Serbian subjects that any resistance to their rule is futile. The reason was the first massive uprising against the Ottoman rule in Banat, which erupted in the spring of that year, motivated by the victories of Habsburg forces against the Ottoman army, which 73 years before … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (63): Finding Vračar and Belgrade’s holiest mound

Hidden Belgrade (62): The End

My first memory of cemeteries were incessant visits to my grandad’s grave at Belgrade’s New Cemetery what I was a little boy. My grandad passed away at the age of 65 in the middle of the greatest economic crisis in Serbia in 1993 and, even though I was five, I remember my grandma trying to honour his memory by making sure we properly arranged a … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (62): The End

Fast food: Indulging during Lent in Belgrade

Serbia enjoys a bit of a reputation for heavy feasting, especially involving copious amounts of grilled mince meat, and piglets and lambs roasting on spits. There, however, is another, deeply traditional side to our food, which, although somewhat unfashionable for a few generations, is coming back with the global rise of veganism and fasting and rediscovery of religious fervour in the country. Traditional Orthodox fasts … Continue reading Fast food: Indulging during Lent in Belgrade

Occupation in 2-6 Pictures: Beginning

On this day 80 years ago, 6 April 1941, my great-grandparents’s flat in Vuka Karadžića street in Belgrade was torn in two by the Nazi bombs. On the same day, their relative, who was a child at the time was almost killed in the debris the Stukas made of an air-raid shelter by the Ascension church. A few days later, as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia … Continue reading Occupation in 2-6 Pictures: Beginning