Magic of Epiphany in Serbia

The Feast of Epiphany, which according to the Julian calendar falls on January 19, is the day with some of the most colourful rituals in Serbia as it marks the end of Christmastide. Given it is the day when, according to the New Testament, Jesus’s divine mission became apparent to the masses after his baptism in the river Jordan, most of the folk rituals surrounding … Continue reading Magic of Epiphany in Serbia

Bains des Pâquis: Public Bath for the People, by the People in Geneva

Forget the UN buildings, private banks and fancy boutiques, the best place in Geneva is the city’s beloved public lido: Bains des Pâquis. Originally founded in 1872, but reconstructed in modernist style in 1932, Bain des Pâquis are not only a great place to get a dip in Lake Geneva, but a spa centre, restaurant and a positive social experiment all rolled into one. The … Continue reading Bains des Pâquis: Public Bath for the People, by the People in Geneva

Swisstacular walk between Schönried and Rougemont

Today I went on probably the most beautiful hike of my life, between two villages in Switzerland‘s famously glitzy area around Gstaad . The walk encapsulated almost all that is great about the country: fantastic scenery dominated by Le Rubli, multiculturalism (Schönried is German-speaking, while Rougemont is French-speaking), and strong sense of local pride and history. There was also a touch of Gstaad over the … Continue reading Swisstacular walk between Schönried and Rougemont

Post Tenebras Lux? Life In One of Europe’s Richest Cities.

How do millennials fare in one of the richest cities of Europe? We interview two Genevans to find out.  After studying international relations, M. (30) works in HR for a global financial institution in Geneva. She always thought she would pursue a career in development, and even spent a gap year teaching French in an orphanage in Senegal. She remember fondly her humanitarian time. It … Continue reading Post Tenebras Lux? Life In One of Europe’s Richest Cities.

British Aisles

My first serious relationship with organised religion and an adult began while I was studying in Oxford. One of my best friends, a devout South African, mentioned he was going for a Sunday evensong at New College, and a few of decided to join him – albeit more for the aesthetics of listening to wonderful music inside a famously ornate medieval chapel, than for the … Continue reading British Aisles

Best “Made in Serbia” Gifts

“Made in Serbia” should be a much bigger thing than it is currently. The country is full of artisans and entrepreneurs, old and new, making fantastic things, but we do not give them enough credit. Indeed, due to the deprivation and harsh sanctions during 1990s  even many locals tend to look down on local produce and prefer foreign wares – but  Serbian producers are making … Continue reading Best “Made in Serbia” Gifts

Horrific Things to Do in Serbia

If you thought bad trains, crumbling roads, tacky hotels and dodgy kafans are the worst you can expect when visiting Serbia, prepare to be frightened. Serbia offers many super-natural ways to die, be abducted by paranormal forces or just suffer at the hand of the locals. It isn’t all that bad: these scary, orientalising stories inspired Marina Abamović’s interesting Balkan Erotic Epic and a group … Continue reading Horrific Things to Do in Serbia

Autumnal Road Trip Down the Drina

One of my favourite family trips was going rafting on the Tara river in the summer of 2011. Back then, I had little knowledge of how beautiful the nature is in the Balkans, and was sad that I will not get the chance to explore it at leisure as I was set to move half-way around the world (that, thankfully, did not happen, but I … Continue reading Autumnal Road Trip Down the Drina

Rediscovering the Magic of the Gusle

The first time I heard live gusle singing, a UNESCO-protected Serbian national ritual, was not fortuitous. I was fifteen, and my stern Serbian teacher took our High School class to a local library to hear poems and stories written by fellow high-schoolers. The boredom of this dreary event was somewhat lifted when one guy decided to perform his longish poem, written in traditional decasyllabic verses, … Continue reading Rediscovering the Magic of the Gusle

Going “Down South”

Apart from expressions of admiration for the beauty we were almost constantly seeing, the most common conversation topic within my group touring Serbian heritage sites in Kosovo and Metohija was hushed and almost embarrassed question: „Why did you decide to come here?“.  It was closely followed by an admission, that seemed to unite all of us : “My friends and family thought  that I was … Continue reading Going “Down South”

Morava Style: Medieval Serbia’s Majestic Swan Song

When I first laid my eyes on Ravanica’s Church of Ascension last spring, it became apparent why medieval Serbia’s first and last autochthonous architectural style inspired so many artists through the centuries, from the graceful architecture of Branko Tanazević to the subtle poetry Vasko Popa. That cold April morning, I could not peel my eyes from the intricate rosettes and writhing mythical animals, which enlivened … Continue reading Morava Style: Medieval Serbia’s Majestic Swan Song

Northern Italian Road Trip: Central Tuscany, a bit of Liguria and Turin

For me, there is no better country to travel around than Italy. It was the first foreign country I visited when I was 3, and the country I most often went back to (without ever living there), and the place that I could spend each holiday exploring. This time around, a friend and I decided to treat ourselves with an 8-day-long road trip around northern … Continue reading Northern Italian Road Trip: Central Tuscany, a bit of Liguria and Turin

The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Hotels and resorts of Socialist Yugoslavia got a lot of press in the past few years (two examples here), especially as every summer more and more foreign tourists are heading to its coasts and cities over the summer. This recent fascination with ‘Yugohotels’ is more than just due to the trendiness of the Eastern Adriatic coast in the past few years, or the hipsterish love … Continue reading The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Faces and Blossoms of Art Nouveau in Serbia

From the curvy floral beauty of the Subotica’s Synagogue to the Morava-style inspired rosettes on Belgrade’s telegraph building, Art Nouveau architecture takes various shapes in present-day Serbia. This diversity was in large part because this sensuous new style, originating in late 1800s France, was used as an artistic expression of national romanticism that gripped Europe those days. Back in early 1900s, north of the Sava … Continue reading Faces and Blossoms of Art Nouveau in Serbia

Northern Macedonia: (Quint)essential Balkan Country

Stunning scenery, beautiful historic sites and friendly faces are what you can find almost anywhere in Northern Macedonia. During both of my recent trips to the country, I was in equal measures surprised by the how wonderful many of its sites are – from the ruins of Marko’s Fortress in the dramatic hills over Prilep to the bustling Bitpazar market in Skopje – and shocked … Continue reading Northern Macedonia: (Quint)essential Balkan Country

Interesting Times at the Venice Biennale

Through a set of lucky circumstances and generosity on part of a friend of mine, I found myself at an event which I wanted to visit for a long while: preview of the Venice Art Biennale. It was on my radar ever since I became interested in the fascinating workings of the world of contemporary art and I actively yearned to visit after reading Geoff … Continue reading Interesting Times at the Venice Biennale

Misunderstanding Japan

Although I had almost no knowledge of its history, culture and language, like many Europeans, I became intrigued by Japan when, as a student, I was exposed to a heightened, almost surreal image of the country.  This pastiche of curious places, objects and characters that drew my attention to this peculiar civilisation, did not come from the common vehicles of manga, anime and hentai– but … Continue reading Misunderstanding Japan