Sarma, Testicles and Kid-roasts: Rural Serbia’s Real Foodies

The global foodie trend made urbanites in Serbia more conscious about their consumption, and even inspired some of them to try their hand at making healthier, or at least, tastier food. In Belgrade, there are now numerous events devoted to producers of anything from Serbian truffles to Serbian tabasco. Although there are some misfires, Belgrade’s Cheese festival, Night Market and Wine Jam constantly deliver a … Continue reading Sarma, Testicles and Kid-roasts: Rural Serbia’s Real Foodies

Serbian New Year: the perfect time to start appreciating Turbofolk

The extended holiday season in Serbia finally ends with a bang and a hangover on Serbian New Year’s day, on January 14. Like our belated Christmas, it is a consequence of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s continued adherence to the old Julian calendar, which lags 13 days behind the predominantly used Gregorian calendar. Unlike Christmas, Serbian New Year’s eve is a very raucous affair and a … Continue reading Serbian New Year: the perfect time to start appreciating Turbofolk

Westsplaining the Balkans

Twenty years ago, while the embers of war in Bosnia and Croatia were still smouldering, Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova published “Imagining the Balkans”. In this seminal work, she detailed the ways in which the Balkans have been perceived and documented for centuries both home and aboard – most often as a somewhat brutal and uncivilised forecourt of Europe. Todorova called this discourse “Balkanism” as homage … Continue reading Westsplaining the Balkans

Serbia’s Magic Mountain

Rising majestically above the rolling hills of Eastern Serbia, Rtanj mountain has long captured the imagination because of the strange, pyramidal shape of its highest peak, Siljak (1560m). The mountain’s reputation for the otherworldly goes way back, as a local legend says the mountain was the site of a castle of a powerful (and bling-loving) wizard who decked it out with gold and diamonds, before … Continue reading Serbia’s Magic Mountain

Tirana Transformed

My first impressions of Tirana in 2008, were that the city did not look like anything I’ve ever seen before. Outside of the planned central core, buildings, new and old, were shooting up randomly, making the drive around the outskirts a vertiginous experience. The whole city was marked by almost five decades of Enver Hoxha’s Stalinist isolationism and its chaotic aftermath. There were bunkers, grand … Continue reading Tirana Transformed

Zašto planinarim?

Autor: Jelena Gatalica Možda za nekoga planina predstavlja samo gomilu kamenja, preveliki napor, ludost i rizik da bi se stiglo do vrha, ali za mene je mnogo više. Ne mogu da kažem, nažalost, da imam dugačak staž kada je planinarenje u pitanju, ali ponosna sam što je moj prvi uspon bio na Prokletije. Krenula sam na taj put, ne znajući ni zašto, ni kako. To … Continue reading Zašto planinarim?

Bosnia’s dramatic north: Jajce, the Vrbas River Canyon and Banja Luka

For most people, tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is synonymous with visiting Sarajevo and Mostar, and perhaps Trebinje, Medjugorje and the Sutjeska national park. This, however is unfair to the rest of this stunning country, which does not only offer a lot of wonderful unspoilt nature throughout, but also ancient fortresses, churches and mosques, which have persevered through its turbulent past. Last week I went on a … Continue reading Bosnia’s dramatic north: Jajce, the Vrbas River Canyon and Banja Luka

Bač: fortress in the plains

Bač’s medieval heritage juts out awkwardly from the tree lined streets of this quiet town. The remaining fortress tower overlooks one story homes where elderly ladies snooping on visitors, probably with the same passion of medieval guards.  A wonderful gothic gate protects an unremarkable concrete bridge over Mostonga. Honey-coloured tower of the monastery, dating from the crusades, pierces the endless Pannonian sky. This quiet town … Continue reading Bač: fortress in the plains

Day 4-7: The Bulgarian Riviera, from Varna to Rezovo

There might something in the mix of testosterone and sea air, or the fumes from sun-screen lotions, that makes men of all ages behave like they are teenagers whenever they approach the coast. This strange effect descended on us as soon as we entered Varna’s brutalist suburbs, and started discussing horrid facial hair experiments and buying fake Adidas tracksuits. It was the air, and definitely … Continue reading Day 4-7: The Bulgarian Riviera, from Varna to Rezovo