Thursday 25 December 2008

Весела Коледа - Feliz Natal - Merry Christmas

So people, just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas - or, how we say in Bulgaria, Весела Коледа ("Vesela Koleda")!.

Since it's been exactly a year since my Wild Christmas Adventure (lost!) in Shabla (Bulgaria) took place, I decided to give you, my dear readers, a "gift". For those who keep asking me "But why didn't you take any pictures while in Shabla?", here it is:

Ladies and gentlemen, (thanks to Google!) here it is: Shabla!

(Click the image to enlarge)
Where you people can read "Shabla" is the exact place where the bus driver left us. The triangular-shaped "square" right beside it is the square we crossed while heading to the trashy bar (where is written "Buteco de Shabla"), in which we sat in and waited to be rescued by Kosta and his brother.

And this is the trashy bar itself. We got in through the door you can see on the right side.

If by any chance you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, I highly reccomend you to read these entries:

Balkan Spedicija part I
Balkan Spedicija part II
Balkan Spedicija part III

Enjoy ;)

Sunday 16 November 2008


I'm back to Brazil for almost two weeks now. I'm still a bit dizzy and "lost in translation" after several months in Belgrade, reason why I didn't post anything since I'm back. Actually, I didn't post anything for quite, quite some time...

But I do have tones of writings and things to tell, that shall be posted and told soon, I promise :)

Saturday 27 September 2008

Life in Belgrade in 1907

I came across this thanks to Pedro :)
This is a page of a book from 1907 about the Balkans, called "The Near East: the present situation in Montenegro, Bosnia, Servia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Turkey and Macedonia", written by a british correspondent/dandy called William Le Queux. The complete digitalized version can be read here (highly reccomended!!)

"The city of Belgrade is in a transition state. Already in many of the principal streets fine buildings have been completed, and many are now in the course of construction. The roads, it must be said, are execrably paved, so uneven that driving is a torture. But the reason they have not been repaved during the presente regime is because a new drainage system is about to be carried out, and when this is done they will be asphalted and converted into boulevards. The natural situation of "Beograd" - or the White Fortress - is magnificent, high up on a hill at the junction of the Save and the Danube. Behind rises the extinct volcano of Avala, where, according to one tradition, a great treasure is hidden, and to another that the mountain is rich in gold and silver deposits.

The centre of life in Belgrade is the gay cafe of the Grand Hotel. From five to seven in the afternoon everyone is there, card-playing, smoking, sipping Slivovitza (plum gin) or drinking boch, and listening to the excellent band, while the inner hall is filled with smart ladies and their cavaliers. Save the peasantry one sees about the street, the oxen drawing primitive carts, and now and then a man wearing a fez, there is little there is eastern in Belgrade, save the slightly dark complexion and cast of features of the Servians. For the most part, women are very handsome, but they seem, like most Eastern races, to lose their beauty at an early age.

Though I made it my duty to hear and study both sides of political questions in Belgrade, and though I spent many hours with those in fierce opposition to the present regime, I must say that I received on every hand the greatest kindness, while everybody seemed ever ready to render me a service.

The Servians are a highly intelligent and thoughtful race. The young officers in the streets are not of the ogling, giggling genius one knows so well in Germany, France and Italy, but though smarter in appearance than either nation, they are serious, polite, and gentlemanly to a degree. The King, when speaking to me of military matters, pointed out a curious fact, namely, that so intelligent was the average Servian recruit that in six months he usually learnt what in France took him eighteen months.

Belgrade in the 1900's (taken from here)

In feminine circles it struck me that there was a great extravagance in dress. I saw the very latest Paris hats and smart, well-cut gowns, which bore evidence of the expensive couturiere worn by the wives of struggling officials, and I learnt that about then pounds was no uncommon price for a hat. All classes seem to vie with each other to dress well, and in the brilliant salons at night one sees some of the smartest gowns in Europe."

Wish I would've experienced Belgrade in the 1900's :)

Saturday 6 September 2008

The first burek we never forget

The first burek we never forget.

Fortunate ones had already tasted it. And those sad beings, who still haven’t had the pleasure of tasting a burek, truly should find a way to taste one as soon as possible.

For those who might be wondering “ok, but what the hell is a burek?”, here’s the explanation:

Börek (also burek, boereg, and other variants on the name) is a type of pie popular throughout the former Ottoman Empire. They are made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo or yufka, and are filled with salty cheese (often feta), minced meat, potatoes or other vegetables. Börek may be prepared in a large pan and cut into portions after baking, or as individual pastries. The top of the börek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds.

My first burek, believe it or not, was not in the Balkans, but actually in Cologne, Germany. It was our 4th night in Germany, and after walking the entire night under a really annoying cold rain (it was December already), from club to club in the search for some good music, we (me, Nara and DJ Kaska) finally decided to stop our search, call Kosta (to see if he was back from Dortmund) and eat something, once we were starving already. The only place still opened at that time of the night was, of course, a Doner. We got into the place and right away, between the many labels for delicious looking things on the display, my eyes stopped on the label that said “Burek”. I immediately asked for one, while Nara and Kaska were still choosing what to have. Of course, as soon as my burek was given to me, they both said they wanted one just like mine, haha. While we waited for Kosta to pick us up we just sat, enjoyed our delicious burek and had a very nice talk to the Iranian owner of the place.
Of course, as soon as Nara and I reached Serbia only a week later, our all time favourite thing was entering the closest pekara (some sort of bakery, “Serbian style”) and asking for a burek.

I can’t help now: every time I eat a burek, I think of Nara :)

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Bulgracices & Matrioshkas

close bulgracinho
Originally uploaded by Madame Fécula
Ok, maybe this is a bit (just a bit) off topic on here, but what the hell, this is my blog and I post whatever I want to :D

Felt like showing out the really cute things Fecula (my oldest and best friend ever, along with Nara) is been making, inspired by our Eastern Europe craze. Check out her flickr account to see more and feel free to contact her if you feel like having any ;)

Some more stuff here:

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Home alone!

After meeting Sanja on our klupa (bench) and talking for some hours, I brought her to visit my place, for the first time. She was very well impressed: as she worked on a hostel before (Green Garden Hostel was a really cool place, too bad it’s closed now) and is now working on another one, she could safely tell me that this place here is really the coolest she had been to. And she was telling me “do you realise that you’re living the life that 99% of people from our age dream to live?”
And you know what? Even though I’m as happy as can be since I got back to Belgrade, I haven’t seen things through this angle till Sanja pointed it out to me.
And now that summer is getting to its end, it’s been a few days that no one else occupies the other apartments here, which means that I actually have a 130 sq metres apartment for me, and for me alone! I mean, how cool is that?!

I was living alone with my sister in Rio since my mom passed away, in February this year. And you know, living alone is something I always wished for since as far back as my memory goes. I remember playing “make believe” with my sister, and our bedroom was always my apartment, where I was living alone – never with a daughter or son (having kids is an idea that always freaked me out a bit, since I was very, very small), but instead accompanied by my “real size” stuffed Pink Panther. Sometimes my sister would ask, in a very mellow cute voice “Heeey, can I live with you?” and after thinking for a second or two, I would always say “hmm yeah, ok, you can live with me in my apartment”.
It’s kinda funny to think that it’s actually what happened to us: we were living alone and together (my sister and I), but accompanied by our two dogs and cat instead of Pink Panther, haha. And despite the circumstances in which we started to live our lives like that, it feels good to be 100% responsible for the apartment, having to clean it and pay the bills, making our own shopping and controlling the money, expenses and all. Of course it was hard to have to do it from one day to the other, but nevertheless, it felt good to have responsibilities. I guess I was yearning for that for some time.

First time I had the experience of living alone was during the months I spent in Newcastle Upon-Tyne, when I was studying in England. I lived in a house of students, where I was sharing a floor with 5 other people. But it was so cool to have a room of my own, going shopping and cooking my own food, cleaning and washing my stuff and all. Maybe that’s why it was so freaking hard for me to go back to my mom-dad-sister-and-dog life when I was back. I mean, imagine yourselves living alone for the first time in the country you always dreamed to live in, and studying your favourite thing in a great university? I was crazy about England at that time, and my first life experience away from my parents was nowhere else, but there!

After England (and my “post-England” depression), the closest I got to another “living alone” experience was travelling with my friends to Teresopolis, where we would always stay in a friend’s house (she was never there) and take care of the entire place, like if it was our own. And it was always SO great! Even cause I have this “leadership” thing on me, so I was always coordinating the whole thing but without being bossy, but in a nice way. Our cooking afternoons in Teresopolis are historical! And people still comment on the big Russian dinner I organized for 2006-07 New Year’s Eve and for the triple birthday party celebration (mine, Nara’s and Rodrigo’s). It’s been a year now, wow!

And now, here I am: experiencing (and loving!) life in Serbia, thanks to the pension that my mom left to me and my sister. How ironic is that?

I guess it goes a bit like a saying we have in Brazil (I’m pretty sure it exists everywhere else as well, just don’t know the exact words in English). It’s something like “God writes it right through tortuous lines”.

And it’s so true :)

Tuesday 26 August 2008

To Vienna and beyond - part II (final)

Once I got into the train, I tried to get some sleep, but I couldn’t - the sun was already up, and I can never seem to sleep when there is day light. Anyways, I had some more 2 to 3 hours till Vienna.
In the middle of the trip - I don't know exactly why - I got kinda worried about my passport inside my purse: my purse is huge and it can't be properly closed, so it came to my mind that maybe would be better to have it closer to me, in my back pocket.
Ok: passport safely placed and baggage in hands, I jumped off the train in a sunny warm morning in Vienna. I went just across the big street in front of Westbanhof to search for some hostels I've searched on the internet, just before I left Belgrade. To my not-so-pleasant surprise, all the hostels were completely booked for the next few days. Damn!
Soon I realised I’d better get used to the idea of staying in a hotel: although hotels in Vienna - even the not so good ones - can be rather expensive, I was just gonna stay for a night, so I could handle paying some more for a hotel.

After I checked in at the hotel and left my stuff in my room, I went out for a walk in the centre of the city. So nice! Especially because, like I was "warned" by many of my friends here, Vienna is full of serbians. Literally everywhere I looked there was something mentioning Serbia in some way, or people speaking serbian all around me. So great!
The funniest thing ever was, actually, coming across Cafe Lepa Brena, hahaha. I couldn’t stop laughing and I had to get in. Inside the cafe, I was invited to seat with two very, very drunk guys, a viennese and a serbian. They thought I was serbian, and then they thought I was russian (like most everybody in Vienna seemed to think), and after some crazy conversation, I left Lepa Brena for some more walk - and a bratwurst hot dog, haha.

I then sat on an internet cafe for a quick emails checking. As soon as I got online, I was as happy as can be to see that Fecula didn't forget to send me the overture of the opera "Die Fledermaus" - as far back as I can remember, Fecu and I have this deal that, once we visited Vienna, we would have to do it listening to that overture! When I browsed my huge purse in search of my mp3, I realised something that made me freeze for an instant: my passport wasn't there. Immediately I remembered that I've changed its place to my back pocket. Phew... But when I decided to check my back pocket, just to confirm it was there, I froze again - and this time, not just for an instant: the passport wasn't in my pocket either!
I started getting seriously nervous, but on an attempt to calm myself down, I convinced myself that, "of course", I had left it in my hotel room.
I finished my online business calmly and drove myself back to the hotel, to take a quick shower, get dressed, and finally head to Ost Fest - the reason that took me till Vienna in the first place.

As soon as I reached the hotel and my room again, I completely turned the room upside down, trying to find my passport that wasn't there too. This time, for real, I started freaking out.
I decided to re-make my way through Vienna and stop and ask for the passport in the places I've been to, but nothing. Even at the station, the officer from the "lost and found" section told me that nobody found a passport and that, if they did find it anytime, they would call me at my hotel.
Back to the hotel I decided to call the embassy to see if I could manage to get a new one, urgently. Lucky as I am - yes, once one thing goes wrong with me, everything starts going wrong all together - the person in charge to issue passports for urgent cases like mine, was travelling to Ljubljana, took the keys of the passports' safe with him, and would only be back by monday. Brilliant. That meant that I'd have to wait at least more two nights in Vienna in order to get a new passport aaaand then, if I was lucky enough, one or two more nights waiting for a new serbian visa - that is, if I had the papers needed to get a visa again which, of course, I didn't.
F u c k i n g h e l l
I ran to the nearest police office and registered that I've lost my passport with and officer that, poor guy, couldn't understand almost any english, at all. Even so, he was much nicer than that bastard from the brazilian embassy and made his best to help me, registering everything and all.

I went back to the hotel completely crushed. When I got into my room again I was like a silly little kid moaning around "I want to go back to my Belgrade, I want Belgraaaade" and kinda sniffy and all. I then realised that, worse than not seeing Belgrade so soon, would be the huuuuge money I was gonna spend staying in Vienna for at least more 4 nights, not to mention the new passport and visa, that would take me away quite some money as well. That was when I completely freaked out - which led me to a huge nose bleed (yeah gross, I know, but whenever I get too freaking nervous, my nose bleeds like a river) after which I fell asleep like a stone, on the floor of my room.

I woke up with the bells of the church at 6 pm. For a few seconds, while still sleepy and not knowing exactly where I was (I could swear I was in Belgrade, haha), I thought the whole passport thing didn't happen for real. But as soon as I realised I was really in Vienna - and being so, without my passport - I felt completely devastated again. I started getting dressed up to go to Ost Fest although I wasn't really in the mood for party, at all. But while getting dressed I started getting used to the idea that there would be no way other than to wait to solve everything, and that would be no good to do it in such a bad mood. So I cheered up, took my things with me, and headed to the festival.

I decided to take a taxi, as I had no idea what so ever where Galopprennbahn Freudenau was. And of course the taxi driver had no idea as well. He asked one of his colleagues and it seemed one of them had a far idea of where could it be. We rode and rode, and I started getting worried when the taximeter reached 10 Euros – and we were not even close to find where the damn festival was. When it reached 11, god was probably already sorry for me and my wallet, and all of a sudden the taximeter stopped working! The driver apologized about it and also for not knowing where the place I wanted to go was, and said the no matter how long it took us to get there, it wouldn’t be more than 10 Euros (a taxi driver would never be that nice in Brazil…) .

Anyways, after more than 20 minutes riding around Vienna, we finally found the place, with a huge display of Ost Fest and all. I couldn’t help but smiling from cheek to cheek – the driver even said I had a “luminous smile” haha. I wish…

Getting to the entrance, I felt really VIP when I was told my name was actually on two guest lists: Kosta’s and Milan and Uroš’s. With my backstage passes on my wrist, I got into the 'venue': a huuuuge open air arena for horse races, completely packed with people, with the big stage far ahead, lots of beer and doner (\o/) kiosks all around and Max Pashm and his crew onstage – how great was that??? I mean, a huge festival entirely dedicated to balkan beats and packed with people, with one of my favourite DJs ever playing the tunes I love!!!

As I was approaching the stage, Kosta called me and I headed to the backstage area to meet him. Seeing Kostovinski is always soooo great! Last time we were together was in Rio, in early june, at my “Go East” party. Kosta is, for me, like an older brother, so of course I was missing him a whole lot (yeah, if you read this Kosta, know that you truly are like an older brother to me :)))))
Kosta had to rush though, as he was the next one to go onstage after Mr. Pashm.

Right after that I came across Milan and some of his friends from Slovenia, really cool people.

Kosta’s DJ set was, as always, brilliant. And right after him came Balkan Beat Box: what a b r i l l i a n t concert they did! They managed to be even better than on their recordings, which is usually pretty hard for any band with lots of electronics. New Order, for example, sucks live, although they’re by far my favourite (studio) band ever. And come on, it’s New Order, they even have the right to suck live, haha. But nevermind them.

Back to Ost Fest, I had a quick first meeting with Penny Metal, another greeeat DJ that I always wanted to meet. Lovely funny person, and such a great DJ! She’s known for her big eastern European vinyls collection and her crazy eastern blok ska and traditional music DJ sets, haha.

Come to ska, after Balkan Beat Box left the main stage, Russkaja – a Russian ska band, based in Vienna – took the stage, and made a fantastic concert too.

At this point the night started getting kinda chilly and very windy, what took me (and my short pants) to go inside the club, where Kosta, Penny Metal, Shazalakazoo and the guys from Balkanika were setting one blast of a party, with “DJ duels” and all!

I stayed at the indoor party till 6am, when the festival ended. I shared a taxi back to “civilization” with Kosta, Penny Metal and an Australian guy called Nick, if I well remember. Really nice fellow too.

When I left them at their hotel and started heading to mine, alone in the cab, all the fun was over: I started thinking about the passport and visa issue again, and started planning, in my mind, what I would have to do: look for a cheaper hotel, tell my family in Brazil what happened, call the embassy, call Serbia, call Brazil… I entered the hotel and went to the reception, head down and all, when the receptionist gave me the keys to my room and my passport. My… pass… port! Ahhhhhh my passport!!!

I guess I exclaimed “Oh my god” one hundred thousand times, on every single language I could possibly remember hahaha. And I kissed my passport, and the receptionist, and thanked as much as I could. She told me that the police found it at the station and brought it to the hotel, during the night. How I love the Viennese police, haha.

I ran to my room jumping around, and I wasn’t even drunk! Packed my things and left everything ready to, after a short 4 hours of sleep, check out the hotel, go for a walk around the city and then, at 7:49 pm, finally catch my train back to Belgrade.

Vienna was brighter for me (and my passport!) during my last few hours in the city. Even though the sun of the day before was gone and a wind chill was bringing the temperature down (around 14 degrees), there was no bad weather for me while I had 3 cups of Earl Gray tea in one of the open air cafes in Mariahilferstrasse.

After 10 to 11 hours traveling on the train back – with two really cool Bulgarian girls and 3 old Romanian guys – I finally reached Belgrade, on a chilly morning. But again, there’s no bad weather when we’re where we really want to be :)

Milan says “nobody loves austrian policemen”

Well… I do, haha

To Vienna and beyond - part I

Ahhh Vienna...

I could never tell that a less-than-48-hours trip to Austria could be so adventurous. But again, is like Kosta says, "you live your life like in a great adventure movie, Tete". And yes, hehe, he's absolutely right.

Plus, I realise now that there's the "Belgrade factor": it seems that everytime I leave Belgrade to go somewhere else, the trip ends up turning into a crazy journey. Like the Shabla episode. And like this one now.


I took my train to Vienna at 15 past 10 in the evening. After getting informed with an officer on the station which one was my train - and, of course, listening to the infamous line "hablas espanol?" after telling him I'm from Brazil (and I only told him my nationality because he asked if I was russian, haha), I took my seat inside the wagon.
In my cabin there was a south korean girl and two polish, a girl and an old man.
The girl, around my age I guess, was coming back from a volunteer work in Kosovo, with serbian people - people which, both she and the old man said, they were really found of. She told me that once, when they were getting ready for a surgery and the local radio started playing a kolo, all the surgeons started dancing, even though they were about to start a medical procedure, haha. She was coming back to her hometown, but she said she was hoping to be back to Serbia real soon.
Now, the old man really reminded me of a singer I know from the opera theater, in Rio: same way to speak, cool and easy, same beard and face shape. I forgot the polish man's name, but he also had a very interesting story: he's a writter (politics writer) and he was, among other cities, visiting Kosovo as well, and collecting material for his new book, about NATO in the Balkans.
The three of us (the south korean girl spoke almost no english at all, sadly) shared quite really nice talk till we reached Novi Sad, when we fell asleep.

We woke up as soon as we reached Subotica and had to show our passports, to then enter into Hungarian territory. The passport control guy made the funniest face I've ever seen when he saw my huge name in my passport, hahaha. After stamping and giving it back to me, he exclaimed, in a rather funny accent "Name... Suuuuuper!", making thumbs up to me, hahaha. Oh god...

I slept til the sun started rising, right before arriving in Budapest. Looking through the train window and seeing things written in hungarian all around only increased my feeling that hungarian is, perhaps, one of the most unfamiliar western languages I've ever seen before. It'a a language that kinda scares me, haha, don't know why...
Anyways, I jumpped off the train in Budapest where, after looking at the board with the trains' schedule for a while - I was still feeling rather sleepy - I realized that everything was written either in hungarian (ouch!) or german. Lucky me I spent time enough in Germany last year to understand some basic stuff, which allowed me to locate my platform and head to the train that was gonna take me to my final destination: Vienna

Sorry folks, need to move now to meet some friends in Zemun.
Stay tunned in for the next part, hehe ;)

Sunday 24 August 2008

Quick update - more details soon!

In the past 48 hours, I:

- Travelled over 20 hours by train, from Belgrade to Vienna, and back;
- Got large smiles from serbian people living in Vienna :) ;
- Found Vienna to be rather beautiful;
- Had a funny talk with two drunk guys (a viennese and a serbian), at the Lepa Brena cafe;
- Ate tones of bratwurst mit brot (!!!);
- Lost my passport in Vienna;
- Got desperate for some 15 hours;
- Spent an hour at the Police Station in Vienna, trying to make the policeman understand me in english;
- Rode all Vienna on a taxi for virtually no money at all;
- Met Kosta again, after 3 months (!!!);
- Had 12 non-stop hours of balkan and eastern european music;
- Met Max Pashm (!!!);
- Met Penny Metal (!!!);
- Saw Balkan Beat Box live (!!!);
- Saw Shazalakazoo live again (!!!);
- Met the guys from Balkanizer (!!!);
- Saw Russkaja live (!!!)
- Met a not so cool guy from Russia, that was acting more like a low rate latin lover;
- Almost exploded of happiness at 7 am, when back to the hotel I found out the police found my passport;
- Bought a rather interesting Portugal-related shirt (in Vienna!);
- Had litres of Earl Gray tea;
- Found out I can understand more romanian than I could ever imagine. And even some bulgarian too;
- Slept 10 hours on my super double bed with tones of pillow (!!!).

It's good to be back to my Belgrade :)

To my visitants from NORWAY :)

Ok, this is a bit off topic, but it`s been some time now that I feel like asking this to the readers and visitants of this blog:

Accordingly to some tools I have linked to this blog, Norway is the country from where a huuuuge part of my visitants come from, even more than Brazil (where I come from and where most of my friends live).

So, I'd like to know from you, people from Norway, who visit this blog: how did you guys come across my "Wish I could reach you in Belgrade" blog? I'd love to know what bring you people here :)

Feel more than welcome to leave me a comment on here, or write me to teteglitter @

Thursday 21 August 2008

Vienna, here I come!

Dear ones,

My computer collapsed some three days ago, reason why I haven`t updated here for quite some time now. I am now kinda in a rush, just checking e-mails and getting ready to leave to Vienna, Austria, this evening - where I`ll be going to Ost Fest, meeting Kosta after a couple of months and, of course, having quite a lot of fun :)))))))
I`ll try and make a quick update at some point in time once I reach Vienna.

Hopefully, when I`m back, the computer will be back to life as well.
See you soon,
- Maria

Ps.: I just regret not having the overture of "Die Fledermaus" on my mp3 player to hear once I`m in Vienna...

Sunday 17 August 2008

Morning walks

Ok, now who could ever tell that I would be waking up early in the morning to "be healthy"?

Yeah, that`s what Belgrade does to me...

Haha, my mom would be proud!

Thursday 14 August 2008

Like the deserts miss the rain

After we got back home from our crazy and fun night out, I was suddenly stroken by a weird anxiety, for appearently no reason at all.

I went to my bedroom, sat on the bed and my mind was as blank as it could be. Attempting to distract myself a little bit from that weird feeling that was taking me over, I started putting my things in order and cleaning my room till the last hair string was off the floor. It didn`t really work, and I was still feeling that weird thing. Around 4am I decided to take a bath, to try and relax a bit.

As soon as I sat on the tub and actually started the bath, I started crying, compulsevely: I realised I`d never hear the voice of my mom ever again, calling or waking me up at 10 past 1am (the time I was born), to wish me happy birthday on every august 12th, like she always did as far as my memory goes. And it hurts so much and deep, like a wound, every time this comes to my mind again.

Tones of memories of my mom were coming back to me during the bath, one after the other, and I was feeling completely devastated. Of all of them, this one made me stop crying:
Last time I spoke to my mom before she died was when I was here, in Belgrade - just a day before my return to Rio. I was as crushed as somebody could be about leaving Belgrade, and she was comforting me, telling me that maybe I should postpone my ticket and stay longer, if I felt like doing so. I remember telling her that I`d rather go back then and save what was left of my money to return as soon as possible. She agreed it was a better idea and said that she was really happy that I enjoyed here so much. That was when I told her that someday I would show her the city myself, and take her to my favourite place ever, Kalemegdan. She got really all happy and excited with the idea of coming to Serbia someday soon, and seeing the Danube, the river that she always wanted to see and to put her feet in :)

So, I ran to finish the bath and got dressed as fast as I could. Took with me the small can with what was left of her ashes and headed, walking, to the bank of the Danube, where I left on the river a hand of her ashes. Right afterwards I went to the highest spot of Kalemegdan that I could reach, where I threw away another hand of the ashes. Then I just sat there and stayed, quiet and alone, crying what I should have cryied 7 months ago - but I suppressed, instead - when everything happened.

Crying so hard always makes me sleepy - and I fell asleep on the grass, watching this old man working out when the sun was just coming out.

I woke up, around 9, when the fortress was starting to get crowded. It was time for me to go back home, as Valerie and Julien were to wake up soon - and they could get worried if they didn`t find me there.

Walking back to my place and feeling the morning wind made me feel better again, like if the pain was medicated. Even if just for a while.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Friends over

Jan. 11th 2008

As soon as I woke up - hehe, around 11 o`clock, shame on me - I ran to confirm with Miloš the reservation I did for Valerie and her friend, who were coming back home (Belgium and France, respectively) from Guča and spending a day here in Belgrade before doing so.

For those who are misinformed, Valerie is a friend of mine from Liege, Belgium, that I had the chance to meet for the first time when I was in Cologne with Nara, december last year. We`re both crazy about balkan and gypsy music, and we also share this obssession about Serbia - some of the many reasons that made us become friends right away when we met. Having this said and explained, it`s not needed to mention how much we waited for this moment , this meeting in Belgrade.

After a very light lunch - I can`t seem to eat a propper meal when the weather is this warm - I had a quick meeting with Toma, on a warm-like-hell early afternoon around here. We met on Terazije and, poor him, he was carrying this heavy computer to a friend`s place, to see if it was possible to fix it.

As soon as Toma and I splitted ways, I ran back to my place to see if Valerie was already there. Some half an hour after I arrived, the bell rang - and it was finally her!!!

After she and Julien (her french friend) took a shower and were ready again, we went out for a walk around town. It feels so good to know a bit more of the center of Belgrade like I know it now, and guide people around... Even in Rio, I was always ending up like some sort of tourist guide to friends from abroad. Now I even remember once my cousin from Brasilia said I should work tourism, haha.

Oh, come to that, I must comment on the book that Toma gave me on my birthday. It`s kind of a guide of important historical 'buildings' around Serbia and Montenegro, from pre-history to the 20th century, telling the history of each one of them. The introduction is so cool, an overview on the region`s history and it`s art and architeture. Love it!It makes me miss my history books that were left in Brazil...

Ok, back to Valerie and Julien, of course our walk had to end up where the centre of the city ends up - in Kalemegdan. We just sat there on the grass under a tree for several minutes, watching the rivers and updating each other with news from the past 9 months since our first and last meeting.

Watching the Danube :)

After that we sat on a cafe still inside the fortress, in front of the Cvijeta, for a Cola and a lemonade. More walks around, and Valerie asked me to suggest a place where we could have a some typical serbian food. Srpska Kafana (just around the corner of my street!) was my choice. Last time I`ve been there was with Milan, in january, and I remember getting back home completely drunk, feeling like floating on a sea of red wine with spices, hahaha. Nice memory.
Šopska salata with bread, some ajvar (hmmmm!), gulaš for Valerie, ćevapi for me, and something I can`t remember for Julien - I do remember that there were some potatoes and it smelled great.

Back home to change our outfits for more "going out" ones, Valerie and I headed to Skadarlija

Skadarlija (Serbian Cyrillic: Скадарлија) is a vintage street, an urban neighborhood and former municipality of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in the Belgrade municipality of Stari Grad (Old town) and generally considered the main bohemian quarter of Belgrade, styled as the Belgrade Montmartre. (Wikipedia)

I've been there last december, on the first night of Fecula and Rodrigo in Belgrade, with Nara, Toma and Ivan - so great!
This time, it was only me and Valerie. As soon as we chose where to seat and have a drink, our attention was completely taken by one loud table where the place`s musicians were playing songs that, of course, me and Valerie knew. We stared at them for several minutes, with big smiles on, when some of them noticed and invited us to come closer and enjoy the music together. Of course, there we were. After some of our favourite tunes, such as Evo banke cigane moj, the loud dancing and singing group of people started heading back to their tables, when one of them passed by me and asked me something in serbian, that I couldn`t get.

- Sorry, I don`t speak serbian - I said
When the guy replyed
- Aww, why not? (haha yes, in english)
-Because I`m from Brazil - I replyed.

When I said that, the guy opened his eyes widely like in shock, haha, and he grabbed his friend`s arm, saying "hey, she`s brazilian!".
After that, the entire place knew I was from Brazil, and I became some sort of attraction, haha. We were invited to join them on their table, where I felt like a guest on some crazy talk show, hahaha. They wanted to know how was life in Brazil, how was Rio like, about music, the language and this and that and, of course, how a blonde someone like me could be brazilian, haha.

In the middle of the whole thing, Val realised it was 5 past midnight - and being so, it was already my birthday! Everybody started screaming and wishing me happy birthday, singing and hugging me, and one of them even passed to me her mobile phone, where a friend of her - who was having her birthday on the same day - was on, hahaha. Crazy, crazy...

So, after almost 3 hours sitting there, singing along and listening to them singing every serbian and balkan song we could name, it was time to go back home, for most of them had to work early on that morning. We exchanged mobile numbers with them and went back to our place, both of us as happy as we could be :)

Val had to go back to Liege around noon the next day. But she`ll be back in october, for some more Belgrade ;)

Friday 8 August 2008

Porque Belgrado?!

Sabem, é engraçado isso. Sempre que me perguntam "Mas porque Belgrado???", eu fico sem saber dizer o porque. Eu penso em um milhão de bons motivos, mas são motivos que eu não tenho como explicar falando, ou com imagens e fotos bonitas e tal. E tentando explicar com palavras, esses motivos soam como os mais bestas do mundo. E não são.

Meu tio, por exemplo, esteve recentemente viajando pela França e Itália, e se encantou com tudo o que viu. Uma das coisas que ele me disse assim que voltou, meio que brincando, foi "Você que diz que gosta de Belgrado, diz isso porque ainda não esteve em Paris, ou em Roma. É primeiro mundo lá".
Realmente, Belgrado não tem milhares de lugares lindos pra ver como tem Paris, ou Roma, ou mesmo Berlim e Londres. E certamente também não é primeiro mundo. Existem milhares de problemas aqui, e tudo o mais. E talvez por isso eu me sinta tão bem aqui. De alguma forma, Belgrado "sente" familiar pra mim. Meio como se eu tivesse no Rio.
Não estou dizendo que o Rio não tem milhares de coisas lindas pra ver - tem sim. Mas tirando o "circuito turístico", a parte "cidade do dia-a-dia" que nós cariocas conhecemos não é exatamente a mais visualmente atrativa. E são justamente essas coisas que eu curto no Rio. A parte 'cidade' meeesmo, cinza, barulhenta, gente pra todo lado no centro da cidade, carros enlouquecidos e etc. E acho que seja talvez esse "feeling" uma das coisas que me conecta aqui com Belgrado.

Desde que consigo me lembrar, nunca senti no Rio o meu 'lar'. Sempre achei que aquilo lá não era pra mim, não era o meu lugar. E de repente, me sinto em casa em uma cidade lá no finzinho da Europa, com outra língua totalmente diferente, outros costumes, outra história. E com esses que citei acima e mais milhares de outros pontos comuns com o Rio - e me sinto em casa :)

Thursday 7 August 2008

Walks - Caminhadas

Today was one of these days to walk, walk and walk some more... It's the kind of thing that I never get tired of doing here, be it when it's -10 or +35 degrees, like it was today.
As it couldn't be different, the spotlight for me was Kalemegdan, where I've been twice today: um by the end of the morning, and another one to watch the sunset. B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.

Hoje foi desses dias de andar, andar e andar mais um pouco... É o tipo de coisa que não me cansa aqui, seja no frio de -10 ou no calor de 35 graus, como fez hoje.
Como não podia ser diferente, o ponto alto pra mim foi Kalemegdan, aonde estive hoje duas vezes: uma ao final da manhã e outra pra assistir ao por do sol. L-i-n-d-o.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

My first (decent) update :)

After experiencing winter here in Belgrade several months ago, I thought I wouldn`t like it here so much in during the summer. Of course I was wrong.

I mean, winter is still my favourite season of the year - maybe because it`s still something new for someone like me, coming from a tropical country. But still, there`s just something magical about snow and cold weather, specially here in Belgrade. It`s even in the city`s name (Belgrade meaning ~white city~), so I guess I'm not the only one to think so. But still, even during summer, this place have something I can`t quite put my fingers on, but it`s catchy!

After a 14 hours flight from Rio to Paris and then to Belgrade, arriving at Nikola Tesla airport was a familiar feeling, although this time I was not completely absent as I was on my first arrival here. After meeting with Toma at the gate we just headed downtown, to get to my place, have a glass of water (from the sink! I don think I mentioned this before, but here we can actually drink from the sink!) and then we went out for a fast lunch, a walk till Kalemegdan and quite some ice cream on the way. Come to ice cream, I must say Belgrade is a summer paradise to me: there`s ice cream everywhere, on every single corner, with lots to choose from. On Knez Mihailova there was even a round display for the ice creams, that goes round and round, rather hypnotising for an ice cream maniac like me, haha.

Kalemegdan was just beautiful. B e a u t i f u l. Seeing my favourite place on earth again, this time not covered in snow, made me feel like I`m really here again. It`s a magical place (Pedro will agree with me on this, I guess).

After all that, I came back to my place and slept like a stone till 2 am, when I woke up and came online to check my emails and for the quick update you can see below. And then back to quite some more sleep.

As soon as I woke up today - early in the afternoon, shame on me! - I called Sanja, to plan when and where to meet up. Of course, the choice had to be at the horse.

I can`t remember if I ever wrote here about the horse and the Republic Square (Trg Republike). Well, the horse is a famous monument at the Republic Square, right before the National Museum and the National Theater, and it`s the most famous meeting point here in Belgrade. There`s always tones of people waiting around the horse, with their mobile on their hands, waiting for someone. Now, during the summer, differently from winter time, all the cafes surrounding the square had outside tables, all of them packed with people. The water fountains were all working and the fans - just like those water fans we have on some concert venues in Rio - were working full throttle.

It was great to meet up with Sanja after 7 months! She took me to one of her favourite cafes in the city, where we had some coffees and sodas, and a looong talk. She taught me some serbian stuff, while I tried to teach her some portuguese as well. Then some more walk, and lots of talking, a bus from here to there and then back here, it was dark. I even managed to take a photo of the Metro before the officer come and say it wasn't allowed, hehehe.

reminds me of the huuuge stairs in some London tube station

After all that we bought big bottles of Coke and Ice Tea, sat on the bench of the street just around Palmotićeva, and talked some more, while watching young boys playing hide and seek on the street.

It's a weird thing to me to see so many people on the streets at night, going out, walking or even playing on the street like those boys. It's something completely unthinkable for me, from Rio, to see kids out at 11 pm, or people walking their dogs out, with no fear at all, just enjoying a warm summer night. Wish Rio was more like this...

Here I am now, falling asleep, and quickly finishing this post to get myself in bed as soon as possible. And I promise some more pictures for tomorrow!

Tuesday 5 August 2008

In Belgrade! - Em Belgrado!

Already with my feet in serbian soil again!
Tomorrow I'll post photos, details, and everything :)

Já com meus pés em solo sérvio, denovo!
Amanhã posto fotos, detalhes, e outros vários etcs :)

Monday 28 July 2008

Poll / Enquete

Dear readers,
Queridos leitores,

While I wait for the time I'm back with my feet in serbian soil, I invite you all to take the poll "Which do you think is the coolest country in Southeastern Europe?" - the poll can be found here, on the right menu, below the "about this blog" section.
Enquanto eu espero pela hora em que estarei com meus pés de volta em solo sérvio, convido vocês pra responderem a enquete "Qual país você acha que é o mais legal do sudeste europeu?" - a enquete pode ser encontrada aqui, no menu à direita, abaixo da sessão "about this blog".

More 7 days and I'll be updating the blog with new pics, videos, stories and all :)
Mais 7 dias e eu vou estar atualizando o blog com novas fotos, videos, estórias e etc :)

Till soon!
Do skoro!

- Maria

Sunday 20 July 2008


The cool news?

Within 15 days I'm back to Beograd!

Soon there's gonna be lots more to tell here (and to think I'm not even close to finish writting everything about my first visit to Serbia and the Balkans...)


Saturday 21 June 2008

Collage 2008

I have this sort of "tradition": when a year starts, I always make a collage for the cover of my schedual book. Not an ordinary collage, but a special one, with things that somehow means something to me, and things I wish for myself and my dear ones during the year that had just started.

Due to everything that has happened to me in the past few months, since the year started (not worthy mentioning here, now), I ended up not having the time and the "mind" to make my cover collage. Only yesterday I finally took a couple of hours to do it - it's june, for heaven's sake! But it's never too late to finish something as important as this is for me: so there you go :)

I like it :)))))))))

Thursday 12 June 2008

Hey Folks!

I've been away for some time, due to my work with balkan and gypsy parties and events and all. Now that everything has passed, I'm finally back to my 'normal' (or almost normal) life, so I promise to be updating here real soon ;)

Monday 12 May 2008

"Balkan dinner", at Nara's

Sunday, 11/05/2008

Good food and drink: gibanica, ćevapi, šopska salata, ljutenica, wine, rakija, vodka and some bizarre home-made drinks...

Plus fantastic people: Nara, Lucio, Rodrigo, Solica, Bruno, Marina, Chica and Emilia...

Plus irresistable tunes.

It's priceless to have great people around :)))))

Happy belated birthday to my dear Solica and Kostovinski :)

Thursday 24 April 2008

What to do with 3 Euros???

After a rather unproductive talk - these are the best ones - and a lot of arguing, we came up with this: the "What to do with 3 Euros?" list.
Why 3 Euros? I have no idea, what so ever. Anyways, here it goes:

What to do with 3 Euros?

Köln (Germany)
Suggested by me and Nara

- Currywurst with bread, in that place I forgot the name (I swear I'll try to remember it and post it here!);
- 200gr of a de-licious butter cookie in that bakery/coffee house, which I also forgot the name :D ;
- 3 gigantic burek at that place owened by that guy from Israel. It's opened 24 hours a days, so it's definitely the best place to stop by after a night out (fuck, I'll have to look for this place's name as well);
- 2 hours of internet at Venloen Strasse - cheap, cheap, and the atendants are so nice :)

Berlin (Germany)

Suggested by Nara

- 3 coffees in the libanesse kiosk where Nara made some crazy old german friends that were mocking every overweighted person that walked in the establishment

Amsterdam (Holland)
Suggested by Nara

- glass for shots of drinks, at any souvenir shop, in Amsterdam. Nara was telling the images stamped on the glass were the best ones, rather "typical" ones from the city, like penises, cows and marihuana leaves

Paris (France)
Suggested by Fécula and Rodrigo

- 4 1l packages of apple juice. Fécula was kinda obsessed with apple juice all during the trip.

Geneva (Switzerland)
Suggested by Fécula and Rodrigo

- 1 plastic dog leash hanger, at IKEA. The piece is simply great, in the shape of a dog's butt, the "hook" of the hanger being the dog's tail

Beograd (Serbia)
Suggested by me and Nara

- 6 Tito lighters (I have to take pictures of that);
- 3 pairs of acryllic wool gloves - that is, if you buy them with the gypsies at Bulevar Kralja Milana. Fantastic colours (the deep blue and the fiery red are my favourite);
- Pommes frites plus a bottle of Coca Cola at the Biblioteka cafe, on Terazije (lovely place by the way, I highly reccomend);
- 8 croissants - really, the best ones I ever had, ever in my entire life. Forget french croissants, or french puff pastries in general. The real thing is the serbian one. God, I need a cheese one right now.

Niš (Serbia)
Suggested by me and Nara

- 6 "go's" to the most awful toilet you probably ever saw in your entire life, at the central bus station. Nara said some nasty things in portuguese to the keeper, you wouldn't wanna know...

Varna (Bulgaria)
Suggested by me and Nara

- Damnit! Just now I realise I didn't buy anything in Varna. But, hmmm... 3 Euros is an 1/8 of a ticket from Sofija to Varna, going straight to Shabla (although, Nara and I agree, this was priceless)

Sofija (Bulgaria)Suggested by me and Nara

- 6 failled tries to call to Varna on a public telephone, at the bus station. The cool "plus" of this What to do with 3 Euros option is that after each failled phone call, you get a voice message explaining - in bulgarian - how you should proceed to correctly complete a phonecall. Brilliant;
- 3,5 500 ml bottles of Sprite

Other suggestions are more than welcome :)

Tourism boom in Shabla puts Bulgaria on the top 5 destinations for travelers around the globe

The small city on the Black Sea coast had more visitants last season than all the Hawaiian Islands together last year, says the Bulgarian National Tourism Board

Sofija, April 24th 2009 - by Marija Almeida

The Bulgarian National Tourism Board announced, last Monday, that the country had a tourism boom in the past year as never seen before in any other place in the world. The reason for this sudden world curiosity on this Southeastern Europe country have its reason on the newest and hypest coast resort on the globe: Shabla

“Only last summer season, Shabla had more visitants than all the Hawaiian Islands together last year” declares, excited, the executive director of the Bulgarian National Tourism Board, Mrs. Poli Karastoyanova.
The unexpected tourism boom in the region last season made the Board decides for urgent measures to support and attend the huge visitants’ demand. “It’s good, and at the same time, very complicated. Although in the past two years Bulgaria's been watching a significative increase in the tourism area, what happened in Shabla was something completely without any precedents, and met us rather unprepared for it. We’re already working on projects to increase not only the city’s infra-structure for the next summer season, but the entire region’s”, says Rumen Draganov, the newly-elected head of the Board.

Since February 2008, Bulgaria watched an increase of 23,4% (compared to the same period of 2007) on the number of foreign tourists visiting the country’s winter resorts. The summer resorts in the Black Sea Coast saw an increase of 167,3%, being 94% of this percentage concentrated only on the city of Shabla and its surroundings.

With a history that goes as far back as to the roman times, Shabla – a small city around 15 km south to the Romanian border – was once a popular destination for eastern bloc tourists, during the communist years. The 1990’s, however, were of complete ostracism for the region.

Although authorities can’t quite explain the subtle world interest in the city and the region, locals have their own theories about the phenomenon. “We were in the bar, on last year’s Christmas eve, when two tourist girls, said Brazilian, appeared in the city. Few time later, a bunch of tourists started arriving in Shabla. I have no doubts, those two girls brought Shabla back to all it’s glory, they were a good omen” declares Georgi Irinov, a local miner. “My friend’s hotel is now always full and I’m working as a cooker again, just like I was in Germany!” he adds.
If the two mythic Brazilian tourists had or not been to Shabla, only few can confirm. But after the tourism boom last year, a monument to the “Unknown Brazilian Girls” was erected in the city’s main square, where the city locals pay tribute monthly, on every 24th.

For 2009’s summer season, the Bulgarian National Tourism Board has already a traced plan: other than the opening of Hilton's luxury hotels newest member, the Hilton Shabla Palace Hotel, around 15 new accommodation establishments will be ready until this year’s summer. “We want to attend the expectations of all kinds of tourists that visit Shabla. The opening of the Shabla Folk World theme park will be an excellent option for families that choose to spend vacations in our country’s coast. In addition to a wide range of ecotourism, we just settled now the first Rock in Rio – Shabla Edition, that is going to put us on the route of the great european festivals. We have attractions for all ages and tastes”, celebrates Aneliya Krushkova, head of the Bulgaria State Agency for Tourism.

The Agency also releases, next Friday, the tourism campaign “Shabla – a priceless experience”. The release party will have the presence of Jamaican singer Shabba Ranks, who recorded a new version of one of his greatest hits specially to pay tribute to the Bulgarian resort: his 1992 song, Mr. Loverman, evokes Shabla on its new refrain. “This city is beautiful. Reminds me of my hometown, Kingston” declares, moved, the singer.

For 2009’s summer season, the Bulgarian State Agency for Tourism and the National Tourism Board predict a raise of at least 53% compared to last year’s boom.

For those interested in taking part on the Shabla-o-mania, access for more info about Tourism in Shabla, or even

ps.: this is a work of fiction

Monday 21 April 2008

The shopping mall experience

It was december 29th, if I am not mistaken, when Fernanda and Rodrigo came to me saying they wated to go shopping, on a mall, for they were not finding what they wanted to buy in the shops on the streets. So, on the next morning me and Nara took them for a long sight-seeing walk around Belgrade, while the time to meet up with Toma and finally go to the mall they so wanted to see wouldn't come.
Of course our first stop had to be Kalemegdan (again), after all it was, by far, our favourite place.

Knez Mihailova was packed: the usual, delicious mess of people, running around to buy new clothes for new year's, small kids playing violins for some change, the smell of pop-corn, loud teenagers in large groups, youngsters giving away new year's eve parties' flyers and, of course, the already well known north american native indian musicians - that, as Toma pointed out to me later, would always bring rain to Belgrade after their performance.

So, after a long day of walking around Belgrade we finally met with Toma and took the bus to Novi Beograd. The bus was completely packed with people, in a way that we almost didn't manage to reach the door still in time to come off in the right station. In fact, Nara, Fernanda and Rodrigo didn't manage to reach the door as Toma and I did, and they had to come off the bus a hundred meters after us. But anyways, we met right after it, and got into the Mall...

It's interesting how Shopping Centers are exactly the same, no matter where in the world you are. Suddenly I was taken by this feeling that I was not in Belgrade, but in Rio, or Cologne, or London... Being on a shopping mall anywhere in the world is like being in some parallel dimension, outside any country or borders, because all the malls look the same, specially at this time of the year: christmas decoration, sales everywhere, hysterical women fighting for Zara's last "off" pieces, kids running and messing around... Enfin, complete chaos, haha.

As soon as we walked in, Rodrigo, Fécula and Nara decided to go eat something, because they were starving and starting to get ill humoured. When we finally reached the restaurants and fast food area, I started getting really, really disturbed: there was just SO many people, and the noise they were making was so loud, I couldn't focus on anything at all - I was getting completely disorientated. The queues in every restaurant were huge, there was no place to sit and we couldn't barely move without hitting someone accidentally.
As the 3 of them didn't seem to agree on one place to go and eat, they decided to go where each one of them wanted to, and then meet on a table, so they could eat together. So, after (finally!) finding a table we splited: Toma and I went to a less chaotic floor, while Fêcu, Rodrigo and Nara were eating - or at least, trying to.

Fécula ran to McDonalds. Nara, already used to serbian food by now, chose for a more local option (can't quite remember the place's name). And Rodrigo, as always, didn't seem to decide for a place to buy his meal - that is, til the moment his eyes came across Duff's. DUFF's. D U F F ' S. He was almost moved to see "Duff's" written on a big display. "Hell yeah, just like in The Simpsons!!", he thought. And even though the queue was gigantic, he decided it was worthy to wait - after all, when he would have the chance to eat at Duff's again? and other than that, if the queue is big, it's (probably) because the food is good.

So, there he went. Took a deep breath and engaged in the line.
While waiting in the queue, he suddenly realised: he couldn't speak serbian so how was he supposed to ask for anything? "Semi-panic" for several seconds, when he started to try to remember what Fécula had just taught him: serbian numbers! Now, with the numbers kinda in mind, he was trying to make sentences, saying what he wanted, mixing serbian numbers with english words and things he saw written in the place's menu and so on. Hunger was making him get rather nervous about his time to ask for his meal that, despite the huge delay, seemed to be approaching. It wasn't before almost an hour of waiting that his turn finally came. And when it came, he had this mix of starvation, plus nervousness plus excitement:

Rodrigo: Ja... Ja ho... Ja.. Speak english??
Attendant: *Giggles*, nodding head like "yes"
Rodrigo: Phew! (in a rather psycho tone of voice) I'm hungry, I want a sandwich! I want to eat, give me some food!!

People around him in the line, the attendant at Duff's and even himself couldn't help but laughing, a lot, hahahaha. The attendant registered his order and he paid, which made him feel deeply relieved - he was finally going to eat!

After a little more time waiting, the attendant came with his sandwich. His eyes were beaming and he had a transported smile on his face, while he was watching his "food" coming to him, in slow motion, with a bright light coming out of it (ok, this was my imagination, but the scene does looks cool seen like this).
When the attendant finally came to him with his huge hamburger in hands, she asked "what sauces do you want with your sandwich?"

He froze - sauces? Sauces?? He didn't have the time to think and plan about asking for sauces!!! His despair was so big at this point, that he only said "any sauce, whatever you want to put, I just want my sandwich!!". But it was not just up to the attendant what sauces to put: everybody, literally every person in the queue started giving their opinions on what sauces the attendant should put on his meal. "Put that one, that one on the right!" or "That, beside the read one!" and "Nooo, that one is not so good, put the first, on the left!".
After 10 seconds of that, his sandwich was looking more like a soup of sauces than a proper sandwich, hahaha.

But you know, when we're really hungry, we just don't care or don't even notice stuff like that.

He started walking away from Duff's messy queue, with his drink in one hand and admiring his huge saucy sandwich in the other hand, taking a deep breath before the first bite. A magical moment.
But the magic only really lasted til he had the first bite.
He felt like his mouth was on fire - the feeling was that his so desired sandwich was straight pepper soup, hahaha.
Cursing didn't help much. So he had his sandwich pepper soup, with tones of water to heal the burning feeling, and that was it.

It's worthy mentioning that he still took some half an hour to find Fécu and Nara, after his Duff's adventure.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Like in a Discovery Channel documentary

Nara improvising, as we took Rodrigo and Fécu to their first walk around Beograd

(english translation)

"You can watch a rare kind of wild wolf from the stepes. It's name is Cannis Nefridius. Very dangerous when hungry and when the weather changes. During summer, they atrophy and make cocoons on the top of the trees. A very wild species, as you can see... Very unfriendly... With a tendency to intense sex activity. (Opa!)
They like to rub their arses in the snow in order to obtain a certain hygienization, as one of the most frequent causes of death among this species is the bacterium Nefridius Cannis Arsis, that attacks the entire digestive system, leading them to death by dehidratation.

The x-treme sport most practised in this country, Slow Street, is very popular amongs the city's drunks.

Right ahead, behind the red fence, you can see the biggest alcoholics-anonymous centre in the world. And the Barbie house is on your right.
(Why did I put so many clothes, fucking shit...)"

Tuesday 25 March 2008

My Belgrade

We woke up at 5:30 am. As we had packed and prepared everything on the previous night, we didn't have to run. So we took our time, packed the last pieces of clothing, dressed up and called the cab. I remember I was so excited I just couldn't have my breakfast, for I wasn't even feeling any hungry, at all. Anja was still asleep til the moment the cab arrived and she woke up to help us with the baggage and say goodbye. As I can remember, it was not so cold - some 4 degrees - in a still dark, early-morning Köln, while the cab drove us til the main train station. As soon as we got off the car we run to find our platform. I sat and took care of our stuff while Nara ran to buy our tickets to the Düsseldorf airport. As the time to get into the plane was getting closer, I was getting more and more excited, and kinda absent: I always get like this when something I want too bad is coming closer to finally happen. And over the past few years, I can't remember of wanting anything more than I wanted to visit Serbia.

As soon as our train arrived, Nara came back with the tickets she had just bought. We took our seats and, during the 20-30 minutes of train travel, I almost didn't say a word. Nara was busy, cursing at the rude german man she came across still on the train station and I only remember telling her to relax and forget about him, after all we were about to leave the country and - head to Belgrade! Every time me or her would mention "Belgrade" or "Serbia" we would both open big smiles without saying a word, for several seconds. We were behaving so weirdly that, thinking of it now, it probably seemed like we were on drugs or something.

As soon as we arrived to the airport we managed to make the check in and get rid of our baggage. I was thirsty and Nara hungry, so we sat for a drink and a croissant - that tasted more like margarine than anything else. As the time of the flight was approaching, I was getting more and more absent, to the point Nara asked me, while having her coffee, if I was feeling ok. "Yes, yes I am" I replied a couple of seconds after she made the question.

Standing on the line to get into the plane was exciting: people speaking serbian all around us! We had our ears 'wide-opened', trying to listen some familiar word but, at least for me, it didn't quite worked: I was far too excited and crazy to focus on anything anyone was saying, no matter what language.

The almost two-hour flight were the most torturing ones to me: I felt like standing up and walking side to side in the plane while Nara was as talkative ever and hungry like a bear, eating everything it was offered, even my meal, that I didn't feel like eating at all - not even the cookie. I turned my mp3 player on to try and relax, but it was no good: my serbian/balkan-music-only player wasn't of much help at the moment, it only made me more and more anxious. I closed my eyes and tried to get some sleep or at least to get a bit more relaxed, but I was so tense I started feeling my head, neck and shoulders hurting.

When the plane finally started to descend and Nara - who had the window seat - turned to me and said "Teta, we arrived! We're in Serbia!". My body relaxed so quickly all of a sudden that I felt like a cloth dummy, without any "structure" - like if I didn't have any bones. A "melting feeling".
The "melting feeling" got even stronger as we walked out the plane and stepped in serbian soil, to get the bus from the plane to the airport building. Nara and I looked around, then to each other and then, at the very same time, we took a deep, deep breath, to feel the air. I can still remember the first "smell of Belgrade". It smelled like wind.
It was a cloudy day, around 4 or 5 degrees, but not as wet as in Germany, thank god. The dryer weather made us feel much more comfortable than in Germany and like taking off our scarfs and opening up out jackets.

We went through the customs, got our passports stamped and took our baggage. We went to the restroom to fix our messy hair and our still sleepy faces and we finally got off the arriving gate. Nara was walking before me as I remember was still feeling completely melt and then we saw Tomica waiting for us. It's weird, because I can't quite remember anything else of this meeting other than he saying "Hey, I'm Tomica". I can't possibly tell you what I said, or what Nara said, or even if he said anything else - and they most probably said plenty of things more, I just wasn't 'registering' any information at that moment.

We walked out and again, the "Belgrade smell". I took several more deep and long breathes, as we waited for the bus that was gonna take us downtown. I remember Nara asking me, kinda worried, how we were gonna do, cause we had no dinars with us. I can't remember what I replyed or even if I replied her at all - I was getting back to my conscience, but still not really able to reply anything.
The bus arrived, we took our seats, and Nara reminded me to sms Kosta, to tell him we arrived well. Toma kindly offered to send the message over his mobile, and so he did.

During the half an hour trip from the airport to downtown Belgrade, I almost didn't say a word: I was looking around, rather amazed and still not believing to be in Belgrade, noticing every single detail on everything, from the grass colours to the building's paintings and graffiti, from the huge commercial displays to the clothes people were wearing on the streets - literally, everything. As we were getting more and more close to the city center and the car traffic was getting more and more intense, I started noticing people and instruments all around: an old man with his accordion here, a bunch of guys coming out a car with their trumpets over there and so on. Later I would find out and record on my memory, forever, the sound of the city. Yes, because in Belgrade, even if there's no real music playing whatsoever, you can feel it filling in the air :)
I was finally in Belgrade.

We took off the bus at Slavija - I remember Tomica saying that place would probably be a key one for us during our staying in there. And indeed, so it became.
The ground on Slavija was kinda wet, although it wasn't raining. I had a look around, and I immediately loved that square; noise, cars, buses, trams and trolleys all over, people crossing the streets, policemen with their whistles and us and our baggage, waiting for the next bus we had to take in order to spare some walk with Hans and Klaus (the names we gave to our two "dead bodies" - aka "biggest bags", weighting more than 30 kg each)

We took another bus to our place, less then 5 minutes riding from Slavija. We got off, walked a few meters more, turned right, and then right again and voi-là: Sime Luke Lazića, the street that would be our address for the next several weeks. It was around 1pm when we were shown our room by a very sympathetic looking girl - that later became a great friend, Sanja. Toma said he would leave us for he had some stuff to do, and that he would call me a bit later, so we could plan something.

Nara and I got into our room. I took my camera and made a photo of our room's window. I was now fully conscious again, and all excited and jumping around, repeating with Nara, every 10 seconds "We're in Belgrade, we're in Belgrade!!!". Nara was looking around the room and opening her baggage while I was insisting with her that I didn't need any rest at that moment and that we should go out to explore the city right away. But I only had time to take off my jacket and boots - having in mind to put more comfortable shoes: as soon as I sat on the bed I felt asleep like a stone til 7 pm, when I woke up with Nara saying she had just made a friend in the hostel that was crazy by brazilian soap-operas; the guy from the reception saying Toma was on the phone and my complaining, empty-for-a-day stomach.

And that was my first day in Belgrade :)

Friday 22 February 2008

Do you know where Shabla is?!

Balkan Expedition - Part III (Final)

We got into the café.

As fast as I could I managed to take the seat on the table nearer to the entrance. I remember just "leaving" my body on the chair, like if I had no bones in it. Nara took the seat on my left, and when we were both seated, we took a deep relief breathe - Kostov was coming to "rescue" us, in only a couple of hours! Only a couple of hours...

Anyways, I noticed Nara was OK again when she said she needed a coffee - she always needs a coffee when she's fine. She stood up, looking for the waitress, when she noticed the miner looking men were inviting both of us to join their tables. Before I could say "Nara, I think we'd better stay here", she was already heading to their table.

So, on this table there were two guys only: the most miner-looking man in the whole cafe (he was wearing a full-of-holes grey wool cap, and a huge grey jacket, with some little grey beard covering his cheeks) and his younger friend (black haired, with a black jacket on). As Nara was approaching the table, she asked "Speak english?". "English? No, no, no Engleski", the older man said. "Sprachen sie Deutsch?", he asked.
"YES!!!" Nara quickly replied, and finally took a sit at the guys table, next to the older man, facing me, just a few tables away. After the introductions (of course they mistaked her name with "Nada", as usual), she started explaining them what happened to us in our way from Serbia to Bulgaria. That was when I realised the black haired guy didn't speak any other language other than bulgarian, as his friend was translating to him what Nara was telling them. But it wasn't quite working: the two guys were so damn drunk, they were asking her again and again what happened to us and what were we doing, on a Christmas eve, in that cafe in Shabla. After having the same answer from her some three times, the man gave up and started telling about him, and started asking where we were from. "I bet you can't guess where we're from! Try to guess!", Nara said. While they were trying each and every possible european country - and Nara saying "no" to every wrong try of them, I was looking at her and shaking my head like saying "Fuck Nara, don't do that! Don't tell them where we're from!". She was looking back to me with a crazy smile on her face, like if she wasn't understanding why she shouldn't do that.
I mean, we didn't know anything about those two, they were pretty drunk, we didn't speak the same languages, we were alone in Shabla and, to make it worse, everybody knows that brazilian girls have the reputation to be easy and big arsed ones. Hehe, we are not "easy", and most certainly not big arsed girls, haha. But they didn't know that.
When she said "We're from Brazil", the two men were like "Noooo, you're not, you're lying!". Although she even showed them her student card to prove it, they didn't believe her. Then they started pointing their fingers at me and asking Nara where her friend was from. When she said Brazil, again they said she was lying.

That was when I decided I should join Nara at their table, to not leave her with them all alone. I sat right before her and beside the younger black haired guy that, as soon as I sat down, took my hand in his and raising his eyebrow with a drunken look he started saying in bulgarian "Your hands are so cold..."
"Fuck", that's what I thought, and as quick as I could I took my hand off his and put it inside my coat's pocket. He was staring at me moaning something that sounded like "Oh come on, give me your hand". Fuck again, I so wanted Kostov to arrive soon!

I then saw Nara was on a similar situation with the older man, haha. In a very, very 'restricted' german he was saying something like "I cook Berlin. 15 years. My mother sick. My daughter not house. I alone. Come to my place with me". Nara was pretending she didn't get what he really meant, saying "I need to stay and wait for my friend to pick me here, can't go anywhere else". And he said everything all over again, this time to me as well, and the younger one was still trying to get my hand again, and Nara saying "no" once more, and then ha! The younger guy took a note of 50 leva, placed on the table, and pushed it to our direction. On that moment, I think Nara realised she'd better really stop giving them the attention she was giving. She looked at me as who says "Dammit!", and I gave her back my "Yeah, dammit!" look.
She turned to the guys and said "What is that? What in the world is that???", pointing at the 50 leva. The older guy looked to his friend said something in a harsh tone of voice, turned back to us and said "I'm sorry, my friend is very drunk, he got confused, he just wanted to pay a coffee, he's confused".
"It's Ok, it's Ok", Nara replied.

Immediately the guy said again "So, come my house, I alone, my mother sick" and that was when we finally gave up, stood up, and got back to our table.

We were both nervous with the whole situation at this point. After making a nervous speech to Nara, pointing how she should never have started talking to them in the first place, we both started laughing, laughing so much, that we started crying, hahahaha. Laughing, crying, and pointing out to ourselves our bizarre situation and saying to ourselves "Kosta, please, come quickly!!".

After we managed to control ourselves, we agreed on speaking very low and not even looking at their direction til Kostov rescue us. So we did. But even so, the older guy - after realising we wouldn't go back to their table - came to us, kneelled down next to our table and started saying a bunch of things in Bulgarian. Nara was getting kinda pissed, telling me, in portuguese "I told him I only speak german, why is he still talking in bulgarian, dammit! I can't get a word!".
As soon as she said that, he stood up right away, and said "Romanian! Romania!!!" and started saying a whooooole lot of things in romanian, hahahaha. We completely forgot how much portuguese sounds like romanian and how close to the romanian border we were, dammit! Nara looked at me like who says "It doesn't matter what I say or in what language, he just won't stop". Yes, indeed he looked like he wasn't gonna stop, hehe. After a minute speaking romanian to us, he stoped, with a thoughtful look on his face, glazing at our table. That was when he saw my notebook, full of russian stuff written on it's cover. When I noticed he was staring at my notebook's cover, it was already too late: he turned to me and started speaking russian, hahahaha. I just couldn't believe that was happening, that guy was unstoppable, completely!!! The most annoying thing is that, actually, I could get quite some stuff of what he was saying, but I was holding myself back to not answer anything, or then heaven knew what could happen, haha.

Nara and I stayed completely mute, staring at the table, and after a while he gave up and got back to his table.
Thank God!

Nara and I could then start a conversation without being interrupted at every second. We were making some random drawings on my notebook, while talking about how funny it would be telling about that whole situation to our friends, hehe. All during our talk, Nara was staring at every single car that was passing before the cafe, believing it could be Kosta coming to save us, haha.
The older guy still made one last try to please us: he gave, to each one of us, an orange, a huuuge one, hahaha. And got back to his table. I remember even the waitress was laughing like crazy when he gave us the oranges, hahaha.

I was so tired, I didn't even have forces to be scared of nervous anymore, hehe. I wasn't even anxious for Kostov to come. I was simply absent. And Nara was still staring at the glass windows, hoping that each car passing by would be Kostov's.

Then, at one point, she stood up and started heading to the glass door, saying "I think it's him... It's... Yeah!! It's him, it's Kosta now!!!". And I was like "I bet it isn't. It's probably the 10th car passing by that you say it's him for sure, Nara..."
But this time she was (finally!) right: it WAS Kosta, and with his brother! Nara ran to the glass door and tried to open it, but it was locked, hahaha. She shook the door a bit, but it didn't work so she just stood at the door, with her hands and her face glued to the glass, watching Kosta and Martin approaching to the cafe. The waitress came and unlocked the door and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! We held Kosta as strongly as we could, the four of us lauging a lot as we grabbed our things and headed to his car.

After an almost two hours trip back to Varna, we arrived at his house, met his parents, and had the coolest Christmas eve of the last years :)))))))))

Needless to say, this "Shabla adventure" became the_joke among all Kostov's friend in Bulgaria, haha. I guess we will be forever remebered as the "Shabla girls", like they named us.

Friday 18 January 2008


Acho que de varios aspectos, um dos que achei mais interessantes aqui em Belgrado foi o transporte publico. No Rio soh temos onibus. Onibus esses que colocam a "cereja no sorvete" do jah estragado transito carioca.

Pois entao, aqui em Belgrado eles tem onibus, micro-onibus, bondes e onibus eletricos. E sim, caso voces estejam se peguntando, eles tambem sao a "cereja no sorvete" do transito caotico aqui de Belgrado, hehehe. Mas eu amo o transito caotico daqui.

Slavija: provavelmente o cruzamento mais caotico de Belgrado: onibus, trolleys, trams e carros vindos de 5 ruas diferentes, e dando a volta na praca central. Eh tambem um dos meus pontos de encontro preferidos :)

Como diria Jack, o Estripador, vamos por partes:

Onibus - a.k.a. autobus, ou bus

Os onibus aqui em Belgrado sao muito diferentes dos do Rio. Obviamente eles nao tem a carroceria absurdamente alta como os cariocas: sao mais largos e o espaco interno eh bem mais otimizado, pois soh algumas cadeiras sao em pares. Sobra entao bem mais espaco pro povo se movimentar (quando o onibus nao estah cheio) e, obviamente, bem mais espaco pra entulhar passageiros (nos horarios de hush. Ou nao).

Mas o mais inteligente dos onibus daqui, comparando com os do Rio, eh que eles tem sempre, no minimo, 3 portas duplas e todos, sem excessao, tem espaco pra usuarios de cadeira de rodas. Achei o maximo isso.

Os onibus aqui se subdividem em 2 categorias: os normais, compostos de 1 carro soh (que podem ser do tipo "sucatao iugoslavo" ou novos)...

... e os duplos (tambem na modalidade sucata e novo), que sao compostos por dois carros, "emendados" por uma ligacao sanfonada.

Duplo e sucata

Duplos novos

Eu gosto desses.
Na verdade, o mais divertido desses onibus duplos sanfonados eh viajar no meio deles, bem na "sanfonacao", hehehe. Eh como viajar na emenda de vagoes do U-Bahn, na Alemanha: tem uma especie de plataforma giratoria - que eh o que permite que o onibus duplo faca as curvas - e viajar em peh sobre essa plataforma eh garantia de viagem emocionante


Diferentemente dos onibus do Rio, os onibus aqui nao param em todos os pontos, mas soh nos pontos que realmente fazem parte do roteiro de cada linha. E aqui voce nao faz sinal pro onibus: eles obrigatoriamente param nos pontos, mesmo que ninguem queira entrar ou sair.


Os micro onibus sao coisa bem recente em Belgrado. Foram implantados a pouco tempo, e a frota ainda eh bem pequena, basicamente soh pra cobrir um ou outro buraquinho do servico dos onibus normais.

Eles parecem vans, na verdade, vans bem grandinhas, com uma fileira dupla de assentos de um lado, e uma fileira de assentos "solo" do outro. Nesses nao tem como "entrar pela janela", porque voce paga diretamente pro motorista no momento em que voce entra nele.
Por isso soh peguei micro onibus uma vez, hehehe.

Bonde - a.k.a. tram, tramvaj ("tramvai")

Sim, Belgrado tem bondes!
Os bondes sao deliciosas sucatas dos tempos socialistas, haha. Provavelmente sao os principais responsaveis pelo trafico caotico aqui de Belgrado. Talvez seja por isso que eu goste tanto deles. E por causa da barulheira que as maquinas fazem quando os trams vao fazer a curva, haha. Adoro.

Os trams sao bem mais estreitos do que os onibus, normalmente com a carroceria pintada de vermelho ou entao semi-cobertos com anuncios e propagandas. O chao eh de borracha surrada e os assentos (de plastico surrado) sao vermelhos, cinza ou branco/creme. Nao consegui decifrar a ordem (se eh que realmente existe alguma) da arrumacao dos assentos dentro dos trams, mas isso nao eh relevante. Os trams sao sempre sanfonados, pois sao compostos de dois vagoes, com 2 pares de portas duplas (e ultra-barulhentas e brutas!) cada.

Os trams passam praticamente por todas as ruas principais da cidade. Diferente dos onibus, os eles param em todos os pontos - isto eh, todos os pontos que sao pontos de tram, eh claro. Eh o esquema eh o mesmo, voce nao tem que fazer sinal, eles sempre param onde devem. E dah pra "entrar pela janela" tambem.

Onibus eletrico - a.k.a. trolleybus

Os trolley me deixam em duvida quanto a minha preferencia pelos trams, hehe. Tanto os novos quanto os antigos sao legais embora, eh claro, os surrados e sucateados tenham um charme especial.

Eles sao meio que uma mistura dos trams com os onibus: espaco interno de bus, com assentos e visual de tram. E a brutalidade das portas dos modelos mais senior tambem eh exatamente como nos trams, hehe.
Alguns anos atras carros novos de trolleys comecaram a circular. Esses sao bem simpaticos tambem, e as portas sao mais sutis.

Trolley novo

O destaque nos trams eh quando o guia sai dos fios eletricos. e a coisa toda para: o motorista tem que sair do trolley, ir pra traseira do carro e puxar os fios da guia com o peso dele, tentando localizar a guia de volta nos fios eletricos, hahaha. E aih eh caos mesmo, porque os carros atras comecam a businar, os onibus que querem parar no mesmo ponto entulham toda a rua, as pessoas comecam a atravessar fora das faixas de seguranca - aproveitando o transito em suspensao - e por aih vai. Eh bem como naquele episodio do desenho animado sovietico "Nu, Pogodi", quando o lobo tenta perseguir o coelho num trolley, hahaha. No wonder, jah que todos os trolleys daqui de Belgrado sao fabricados na Russia :)

Pontos - a.k.a. stanica

Entao, quando voce chega em um ponto de onibus - aqui chamados "stanica" - voce tem que ver o que o cartaz diz: quais as linhas de onibus, micro onibus, bonde e/ou onibus eletricos que param ali. Alguns pontos dizem de quanto em quanto tempo um determinado tram, trolley ou onibus passam por ali. Embora nao seja saudavel se guiar muito por esses horarios nao, porque o transporte publico aqui nunca funciona na hora.

Algumas stanica ainda tem linhas de onibus noturnos (nos quais nao tem como "entrar pela janela", porque tem sempre cobrador). Soh peguei onibus noturno uma vez, voltando da ilha de Ada Ciganlija taaaarde da noite.

O forte dos pontos aqui certamente nao eh o design funcional. Os mais antigos tem bancos metalicos - que no inverno ninguem se arrisca a usar - e os mais novos e modernos tem o teto transparente - que no verao de 40 graus daqui com sol a pino, eh tortura garantida.

Apesar de todos os "tropecos" do transporte publico de Belgrado, o mais maravilhoso de tudo eh que funciona. Eh praticamente de graca (jah que 90% da populacao realmente "entra pela janela") e leva a gente de qualquer ponto pra qualquer ponto da cidade. Quase na hora :)