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 :)