Thursday, November 27, 2008

Serbia, Days 7th to 14th (last part)

One of the first thoughts i made as soon as i woke up that Wednesday morning was that at last i was for one whole week in Serbia. However, should i stay one more week in Nis, without walks around and "ups and downs" ? Just as i thought it, i decided it and so i did!!!

Most of my friends have already been informed, they know that i am in the city, so i begin to meet all of them, in random order ( not in order of "priority" ) and in "random" places! I have to run a bit, but i like it!!!

On Wednesday i go to Dream café with Mima, the "married mum" , as i used to call her while we studied (she was and still is a mother of two children, so i wasn’t lying). Later on, i meet Maria from Skopje and drink a juice in the shopping centre Kalca.
On my way home, i take some pictures of known buildings, café in the park, the church of Saint Sava, but also… something new: Grill Goldy's!!!
The same evening, we go out with Emy in club Scena (Scene), where my friend Paci plays music (and here you can take a taste… or maybe two).

Thursday’s morning finds me in my old beloved neighbourhood, taking pictures of the "dirty" brasserie that my "goats" friends (especially Emy and Theodora) liked sooo much, a picture of the entry to my beloved house, but also the entry of the next building, where Theodora lived.
I continue my walk and get to the park, where i sit with my fellow student "cat mother" Maria and drink coffee… outside (it’s a bit cold, but… this is Serbia, we can handle it).
Since i have a couple of hours free, i think about going to my last house and see my neighbours. We were never in a "close" relation, but when you live next to somebody for almost 3 years, exchange "good mornings" , "good evenings" and a mixer, when it’s needed, they do remember something. For my good luck, their doors open widely… for my bad (maybe bad) luck, they also open bottles with raki!!!
Maybe it’s this day’s fortune that i go from house to house, since as soon as i leave from my neighbours, i visit Ivana, my favourite hairdresser. Married with Alexandar, recently gave birth to a daughter, Dubravka. Well done, people, i am glad for you!!!
I get back to the park, where i began my day with my morning coffee, but now i drink beers with my very good friend Ivan! We talk almost till the bar closes (something that happens at midnight, since it’s a working day’s night), i grab something to eat and return home.

Friday is full of beloved persons and places. I start with the Medical faculty, where i meet professor of Microbiology Suzana and we drink coffee. I continue with the gym that was "struggling" me for ages, 2M, and i find there my "crazy" trainer, Natasa. I end up to the new house of my neighbour Tania and her husband Igor, where they announce to me that Tania is pregnant! Super! I wish i could hear such joyful news every day! Let’s drink a little more now!
(This evening i "move" again, i go back to Darko’s house).

So many days in Serbia, i had to see a "white" one! I wake up on Saturday morning and everything is crystal white! Naturally, i get ready and go out for walks, even if the snow has already melted!
I begin from the castle where i take some pictures, as always (i believe i have at least five times the same pics), i continue with the Ethnic Gallery for some souvenirs and photographs (and i meet there Ivana), while i don’t miss the chance for a walk at the castle’s open air bazaar (as you know, i worship open air bazaars). Something new in Nis, a development: a new parking method, via sms! We still don’t have such thing in Thessaloniki!
I have frozen by the cold, so i arrange a "hot" coffee! I meet Milica in Pleasure café, while in a table near us Darko enjoys his coffee and lunch, with his Saturday company!
Even if i want to relax for a while in the house (where Darko is listening to "Radio 7, on 88,8" ), i don’t waste the afternoon like that! I go to the supermarket and buy delicacies that i used to eat when i was studying, while afterwards i drink coffee with two good friends, Dragana (Gaga) and Alexandra (Acka)… and a "child", Sonia ( Acka’s cousin… she was such a… "babe"...).
Saturday evening and in order to have a good "closing" of the day (or the night), i go for a drink with Darko, Emy and Katerina… and we laugh! I get very happy, when i see "my people" laughing!!!

Even if Sunday in Nis is the open air bazaar day for me, this time i decide to go for a walk alone, in the city. I take the bus, go to the centre (you can see here the Horse… or maybe, the "horse" ? ), i go to the castle, once again at the Ethnic Gallery, where i get to know Gielena (Jelena… aaah), while i don’t stop taking pictures, around the city!
At some time, i pass by my friend’s Lukaic old house. Milian and Vesna live there, some years now. Friends since my first study years, a couple since then, married with children now! My friends for ever, i could say! (Their little girl drove me crazy! When i asked her what she was doing, she answered with a relaxed look "here i am, bored, pooping and watching cartoons"… hahaha).
I return to Darko’s house and wish him a nice journey again (and "i move" again at Emy’s). He leaves for another professional journey and this time i know that when he returns, i will not be here. However, we will meet soon, we can’t get "lost"!
Later that night, i go out for a drink with a friend, Natasa! She calls me "crazy", even if she is "nuts"! When i first met her, years ago, she was reading a fat, "heavy", Greek book! She can speak Greek very good… actually; she is good in other languages, too… (as in body language)!

Monday and Tuesday were a little bit more relaxed days. I got together with friends and fellow students that i had already met once, i walked in streets that i had seen the previous days, i went again for lunch to my neighbours (they are to blame that i gained some extra kilos).
However, i also did some other things: i went for a coffee at the "Greek" student coffee bar (which doesn’t have anything Greek anymore) and to my favourite café "Welcome", at the park of avenue Nemanits. I played with Milica’s dog, Daba, went to the dentist (in the faculty, where my good friend Alexis, took care of my teeth), i met Dejan, a fellow student and friend from the old days, in the Serbian student coffee bar, and got together with a very nice couple, Sonia and Nikola (well, guys… i wish you the best for your wedding).
My evenings were easy and calm, at Emy’s house, talking, listening to music, or get some brain cells "burned" in youtube with funny (as this, this and also this one) and music videos (as this, this and also this one). Respect, Emy!!!

At some unexpected time, i accepted a call, from my good friend Lukaic. He told me that, on Friday, 28th of November, our Medicine diplomas would be handed to us, in Athens. Therefore… no matter how great time i am having here, it is time to leave Serbia!

One last coffee, with Militsa in Pleasure and another one in café Sky, in the centre of Nis (from where you can see almost the whole city), with "goat girls", Emy, Maria (or else "the Papa" ) and Katerina, and now i have to say "goodbye" to my favourite Balkan city and to all friends that i have there.
Strange and perhaps "funny": a few times, i thought that i have there more friends, that there i feel like in "my place". Possibly it’s because of the alcohol and raki that i drank all these days. Perhaps all these "creatures" that kept me company and dedicated to me songs like this (titled "my bigger wish" ). Maybe a big (bitter?) truth is just hiding, in these thoughts i had…
Anyway, this time in Serbia, i had an incredibly beautiful time and i thank all of you who gave me even just a little from your time, in order to make my stay there better!
I unconditionally recommend to all of you who have not visited this country, a journey to Serbia and even better, to Nis! Actually, i am inviting you already! Prepare your passports and let’s go! Around the 10th of January, Nis, i’m coming (back)!!!

P. S.: In this text i have added a lot of photographs and videos and i hope i didn’t get you tired or bored. I just wanted to share with you as more pictures as i could! In any case, i believe, that i satisfied my friend Onar! I hope all of you, too! Kisses and happy holidays!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Serbia, Day 6th, Tuesday

(Or else “One day in Zajecar and Cuprija”)

After a few efforts, i wake up around 9:30 and run to catch… what else? Of course, the bus!!!

Today i am going on a trip in two small cities, where two good friends live: Ivan and Ivana!!!

First city, Zajecar (Za-ecar). I enjoy the road trip while i’m thinking that there are much more villages and cities, which i want to see. Possibly i will, one of the next times that i will visit Serbia…

I arrive round 12:30 and meet my very good friend, Ivan, who is waiting for me in the bus station. We haven’t seen each other for almost 3 years, but we feel as if it has been… only 3 days!

We make a walk in the city and pass… through the central open air bazaar (which of course, i liked). We get to central café Stella, where we enjoy our coffee, talking about what’s new in our lives.

We leave after a while, since we don’t have a lot of time in our disposal. We go to Ivan’s house in order to see his wife (and my good friend, Biserka), but also… his son, who is only some days old! I got crazy about babies in Serbia (and about… “babies”!).

We sit a little bit in his house; we drink raki from wild grapes, for “good fortune” and we leave fast for the tavern, where Ivan has arranged a table for us. Coming out from the house, we meet Ivan’s mother, so… one more raki, from plums, in order to know each other better!

We arrive at the traditional tavern “At Mede’s”, we sit, we drink raki, from quinces this time (and i become… hik) and get warm. We speak, we laugh, we get troubled about our future, and we remember our past. Ivan is a true friend, one of the few, fraternal and eternal!

At some time, Ivan’s dad passes by the tavern, sits with us and suggests… to drink a beer, so we will get better known (oh, my God, more alcohol). Two beers later, we leave, because i have to catch the bus for Cuprija. I thank Ivan for the lunch and we get apart with the promise that we will get together soon… there or here, in Thessalonica!!!

In the bus for Cuprija, i’m listening to two old men talking. At some time, i hear a… “klank”! One of the two gentlemen, was carrying a bottle that fell and broke, so all the bus smells raki!!! Under the influence of alcohol that flows in my veins, but also enters in my lungs, i take my mobile phone and send messages to friends in Greece. Raki “speaks” a liiitle bit more and some people receive… a “drunk” message! Let it be, it’s funny!!!

My arrival in Cuprija, gets “marked” by a warm hug. Good friend from the student years, Ivana, one of the people that i will never forget and from what i understood, neither will she!

We walk through the city; i take some pictures, while Ivana talks to me about the history of the city and the river that crosses it. Morava is considered to be one of the most dangerous rivers of Serbia and that’s why people say that “if you know how to swim in Morava, you can swim everywhere”. By this occasion, we remembered that we always used to tease each other: we tried to use Serbian proverbs, old phrases and expressions. Something that often caused laughs and as it will be proved… not only laughs!

We go to Ivana’s house where we find her sister. We drink raki in order to get warm (but of course…) and coffee. We don’t stop talking and in order to remember the good old times… we cook! Together in the kitchen, we make soup for first dish and eggs with sausages for main dish. Kind of handy and fast cooked dinner, but seems to me as “royal” supper!

The time of my departure approaches and during our conversation i mention the expression which i learned recently (about the bear…) and the girls get surprised and burst out in laughs. Their laughs are supplemented by Ivana’s emotion and her thought to give me a gift: the book of Vuk Karadzic (not the known one), with many Serbian expressions (it’s the book that you see in the week’s suggestion section, as you look at my blog, on the left side). Very important gift not only because it’s something that my friend used for ages and had big sentimental value for her, but also because it includes a… dedication!

Round 21:30 i take the bus to Nis. On the way, i exchange messages with Ivana where we “confess” the emotion that both of us felt during our meeting and of course, we promise that we will meet again in the near future!

I return in Nis and think about going out for a drink, or not. Better no, i will stay in tonight, to talk with Emy, but also to get a better sense of these two “traveller” days that i passed! From tomorrow and on… i have to see a lot of people!!!

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Serbia, Day 5, Monday

(Or else “One day in Belgrade”)

Emy: “Wake up, Pako! It’s a national holiday in Greece today!

17 November… “Down with the junta*”, up with Pako, to the north! Yeaaah!

(*junta: a group of military officers ruling a country after seizing power. Happened in Greece from 1967 (21st April) to 1974. On 17th of November 1973, a tank crashed through the gates of the Polytechnic where students were barricaded, protesting!!!)

I get ready in a hurry, take a taxi and go to the bus station. I get there just before the local bus for Belgrade leaves… as usually, i catch the bus for a second!!!

On the way to the capital of Serbia, i’m listening to radio B92 (a station of Belgrade), in order to listen to songs as this, this and this, because the screens of the bus are showing a concert of Zeljko Samardzic (mercy… even if i have druuunk with his songs), but also because i want to get in the “mood”. More or less, the accent of Serbs in Belgrade is different from the one that i’m used to hear in Nis.

We make a stop in restaurant Evropa, outside Veliko Orasje and i get confused… i think that i am somewhere between Thessalonica and Athens! Only that the cold is different, is more “tough”… I got the chills only thinking about it!!!

We arrive in the unknown for me Belgrade, round 2 o’clock. Nice, i have one hour free until my friend gets off work, time to make a walk around the city and “suck” some of its energy and take some pictures!

Round 3:30 i meet my good friend Lana. Young girl, born and raised in Belgrade, but with tremendous love for Greece. Her sister lives in Athens, so she has one more reason to like our country and learn our language. Bravo, Lanitsa!

My good Lana, takes the role of guide and leads me through the central pedestrian walk “prince Mihailo” (Knez Mihajlova) to Kalemegdan park (park Kalemegdan) which is above the delta of rivers Sava and Danube. We walk in the park, take some pictures, have some silly laughs, while we also talk about what’s new in our lives, both in Serbian and Greek language!

It’s getting dark (early enough for me, since Greece has one hour difference with Serbia) therefore we leave the park and go for a walk in the city.

We return in the pedestrian walk, we get in shops with clothes, not because we wanted to buy something, but because i wanted to feel a little bit of the everyday routine of Lana and her fellow-citizens. We get in one shop, we come out from another, i buy a few souvenirs, and my friend buys me one as a present! We laugh, we laugh and once again we laugh!

We decide to go for a coffee and on the way we eat pizza with sauce (which i can’t say that i liked). We sit in one café in the centre, but in a small road so it’s “quiet”. Precisely what we needed, in order to talk a lot and of course… to take some more pictures!

Time passes pleasantly and we think of changing café. We walk, i continue looking at and feeling the city, taking pictures, thinking, remembering the history of Serbia and all that it has been through. We go to a jazz café bar with nice decoration, as it should be for jazz-o-situations! We drink “boiled wine” that warms our bodies and our hearts!

As always, when you are having fun, time goes by fast! I should catch the bus back to Nis soon! We make a last walk through the small streets of Skadarlia (Skadarlija), the bohemian region of Old Belgrade, with some splendid bars and restaurants! Not far from that, we separate. The only bad thing, is that we don’t know when we will meet again. Belgrade - Athens for Lana, Thessalonica - Nis for me. Huge distances, as huge is our friendship!!!

I travel with the last bus for Nis, which makes a lot of stops; it tires me and… makes me veeery hungry! I have to eat something, i’m telling you! The only thing that “satisfies” me (at this moment) is the full day that i had! I worshipped Belgrade, even if i didn’t have the chance to see the ethnographic museum nor the field of Partisan (i saw however a demonstration, ha), i passed pleasantly each moment, and for that i am grateful and thank “little crazy” Lana! ;)

I arrive in Nis, run at Emy’s, where i find her with Stavroula, talking and drinking! Oh, nice, now i have two “small goats” together to “investigate” me (in a good meaning), while i am in a hurry to have a bath, eat something and go to sleep!

Dr Pako: “I had a great time, it was pretty nice, you will see pictures! Leave me now, i am in a hurry!
Stavroula: “Hey, Pako, calm down, you just came some minutes ago and already made us anxious!
Dr Pako: “Sorry, girls, but it’s 3:30, i want to sleep in a while, so i can wake up early! Tomorrow i am going on a… journey!!!

To be continued…

Monday, November 17, 2008

Serbia, Day 4, Sunday

One of my habits as long as i was studying were the walks in the open air bazaars - markets. No matter what day it is, since bazaars in Serbia are open every day, in specific places (always the same), with their benches, vegetables, clothes and other products, well organised.

There is one concrete bazaar though, Buvljak, that i only visited on Sundays. Perhaps because then more salesmen would “come out” in the benches. Maybe because it was far away, on the other side of the city. Perhaps because we liked going to the bazaar, have a walk relaxed and afterwards go to the centre or to the river boat for a coffee! And when i say “we”, i also mean my friends, Emy and Royla!

This time, we arranged with Emy and the two of us went for our Sunday morning bazaar walk, as in good old times (Royla is in Greece for quite some time). We hadn’t seen each other nor hadn’t talk in person for ages. Normally, we should go straight for a coffee and regain the lost time, to “exchange” news. I believed however that this “first” meeting of ours, would be good to happen in a place were we used to get together, as if it did not pass not a single day… and yes, why not, in Buvljak!

Our walk includes some comments, laughs, stupid jokes like “i am looking for some socks to buy, 5 pairs -1,5 Euro… I only find 3 pairs - 1,5 Euros… Oh, my God, it’s very expensive, i can’t “survive”! ”, a last round of the bazaar with the camera on hand and a Gipsy salesman who sends greetings to Greece (damn it, i don’t know how to connect my camera with my pc, so, i can’t show you any of this). Naturally, we got ourselves some pictures, to always remember… as if it’s possible that we will ever forget… (even if this awful shoes that Emy saw - and of course we joked about it, i would like to forget… ha)! We leave and i remember how much my parents like this bazaar… Buvljak!!!

We have a small walk in the empty centre; since the city is sleeping or eating in houses of people who are celebrating (those days were 2-3 “big” name days – celebrations for the Serbs, therefore most of them were somewhere invited). We end up at the slab paved pedestrian walk and choose the café “In the corner” which is… precisely next to Pleasure (eh, enough already)! We drink coffee, catch up with news and because we have so many to talk about… we drink a second one! A lot of laughs, even more news and memories… countless!!!

I get back to Darko’s house; we eat, drink coffee, and talk with his parents. D. is getting ready for a business trip in Bulgaria, so i get ready too! Not for a journey, i’m still not leaving. Simply, i know that i won't feel comfortably with Darko’s parents, if he isn't there, so “i move” in a good friend’s place… and who else would that be? Emy!

We drink a glass of wine with D.; i wish him a nice journey and go to Emy’s. There, i try not to occupy her so she could read for a while (the book that you see in the week’s suggestion section, as you look at my blog, on the left side) and i do something that for days i didn’t think about! I get in contact with internet! I check my emails (even if i didn’t answer any of them), i log in my facebook account, i listen a little to OFF RADIO, afterwards we “burn” our minds for some time in youtube with Emy (i wanted to show her this and this song… haha). Hmmm… why do i feel that i don’t need all of these? Why do these things seem to me “strange”, now that i am in Serbia? Hmmm and once again hmmm… and with this thought, i go to sleep… i should wake up early tomorrow! I have… a journey!!!

To be continued…

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Serbia, Day 3, Saturday

Gas, gas… what? Oh, my God, a song on the television, a little bit “ugly” awakening!

Some months now, Darko has established the weekly coffee with his Saturday company. People of all ages, mainly older and in particular women! Naturally i wouldn’t say “no” for a coffee like that!

Mixed company, but i like it. I also learn a saying (which i didn’t hear well so i got on Darko’s nerves until i learned it properly): “if you see a bear dancing in the courtyard of your neighbour, don’t laugh, because soon it will come in your own courtyard too”. In the hubbub, we talk:

C.: “How old are you?
Dr Pako: “29
C.: “Ach, i like your age a lot! A guy of your age works with me and i am "eating" him every day… ups, i shouldn’t have said that!
Dr Pako: “And i am glad… you did!

(If at some time i said that 40 something women rule, now i can add that 40 something Serbian women are better!)

A few hours later, we leave from the coffee and go to eat something. At last, i will eat a Serbian burger again! Classic shop, in the centre of the city, with familiar flavours! We eat and i don’t want to ever stop!!!

Later on, i arrange a coffee with a friend and we agree with Darko to get together in a couple of hours. The street takes me to Cair park, at Dream café, where i meet Nevena and her friend Ana. We listen to some nice songs and i ask the waitress for some "music" information. The kind young girl gives me (as a present) the cd of the local group De Marco, in which they remake some known songs (and which you can find on the left side of my blog, in the Week's suggestion).

I get back to the house, we have a snack and go out again, once more at Pleasure Pub (i think that i have already got bored of both the café and pub Pleasure). We have a drink with the guys and… cousin, we relax with the second drink and we decide to go to a club. Unfortunately, Darko doesn’t feel well; he also has a business trip on Monday, so… the club is cancelled!!!

On our way home, i decide to buy something to eat. We stop in front of the hospital, at the sandwich shops, where i used to buy something to eat, for ages. Living proof, a lady that works there, remembers me and prepares my “usual sandwich”, without further discussion: huge filled burger, a bit chilly, in two pies (tortillas). Pure joy!

The night ends with a BBC show- tribute to Indie music, an irrelevant song and the next day’s plan. It’s Sunday tomorrow, open air bazaar day…

To be continued…