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Spreading Love from Wales to Serbia


blaz

 

Back in the summer of 2013…….  I had the honor of meeting the wonderful crew from “Operation Florian” who provide donated fire equipment to Serbia and other countries around the world.  Haydn Brown, a representative from Operation Florian,  had mentioned that there was another organization from Wales that was doing some AWESOME things in Serbia too. A few weeks later I received a message from them! They had a catchy name “Blazing to Serbia“! We agreed to meet up at the mall in Belgrade, Serbia when they arrived. charWe sat for a few hours discussing our lives, our connection to Serbia and the foundation of the amazing “Blazing to Serbia” organization.   “Blazing to Serbia” has visited Serbia on 12 occasions taking various items of equipment from the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service. The equipment provided includes 93 Gas Tight Chemical suits, over 300 Breathing Apparatus sets and cylinders, approximately 30 sets of hydraulic rescue equipment, over 300 sets of protective fire kit and helmets and various other items used at road traffic collisions, lines and torches.The most amazing part is the 18 fire trucks that they have driven down here and donated to many different cities in Serbia!  It is rare to find such kind and giving folks who have no ties to Serbia, but who have such a passion to help the country and its people!!  The ONLY thing that they are asking from all of us, is to help keep this wonderful organization going by clicking “LIKE” on their Facebook page!

I sat down to interview the leader of the “Blazing to Serbia” crew, Steve Logan! Here is what I found out:
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1. What is “Blazing to Serbia?

A. Blazing to Serbia is an initiative of the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, whereby a small group of volunteers acquire Fire Service vehicles and equipment and then donate them to the Fire Services in Serbia.

 

 

2. Who does it consist of and why did they join?

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A. The Blazing to Serbia team is made up of Operational Firefighters from across South Wales, together with former Young Firefighters and friends.

 

3. Out of all the countries out there, how did you choose to assist Serbia?

A. Serbia was selected by accident. Due to my involvement with the Young Firefighters scheme, which operates all across South Wales, I decided to get myself a youth working qualification. On the course with me was a Scout leader who had recently returned from Serbiawith a group of Scouts. Whilst there they had visited a Fire Station and found that the fire engines were really old. He then asked at what age the trucks were replaced in South Wales and so the seed was sown. This was September 2006 and in March 2007 we made our first visit to Serbia.

 

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4. What did you guys know about Serbia before making your first trip here?

A. Yes I knew that Serbia was part of the former Yugoslavia and had a vague knowledge of the recent Balkan conflict. Other than that I didn’t know anything at all.

 

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5. Tell me a bit about your first impressions of Serbia when you first arrived here. How does it differ from Wales?

A. Coming from Pontypridd at the foot of the South Wales Valleys, I was used to mountains and hills all around, but the part of Serbiathat we visited was really flat, so this surprised me. But the thing that I remember most is how friendly and welcoming the people were.

 

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6. How do you guys get your funding, donated vehicles, etc?

A. In order to get the vehicles and equipment form the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, I gave presentations to the Senior Officers and the politicians who make up the Fire & Rescue Authority. After much persuasion they agreed to support Serbia for a fixed period of time. This period has now expired, so the arrangement that we had is now being reconsidered.

In order to transport the vehicles and equipment to Serbia the team carry out various fund raising events, like packing people’s bags in supermarkets, sponsored events, raffles and social functions. Without the good will and commitment of the Blazing to Serbia team, these fund raising events would not be possible.

The first convoy of 6 fire trucks that we drove to Serbia in 2011 was accompanied by a television crew from our National television station ITV Wales, who documented the journey. This documentary, called ‘Blazing to Serbia, was shown on National TV in November 2011. This documentary can still be seen on our web site www.blazingtoserbia.co.uk Because of the involvement of television, we were able to gain sponsorship for each of then trucks, which made the task of fund raising much easier.

 

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7. How do you determine which city will get a fire engine?

A. Because the Serbian Interior Ministry is best placed to see where the trucks will be most useful and where they are most needed, we donate the trucks to them and they then allocate them accordingly.

 

 

8. What is the funniest story that you could tell us about all of your times in Serbia?

A. It won’t come as too much of a surprise to know that rakija leads to lots of funny situations, but a generally good example can be found on You Tube, just search for Tom Mac Fishing joke.

 

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9. What do you see in the future of “Blazing to Serbia?

A. Fire Services across the UK are experiencing serious budgetary shortfalls and South Wales is no exception. Because of this the future of Blazing to Serbia is in the balance as Senior Officers and Politicians decide whether to sell the trucks, or continue to donate them to Serbia.

Outside of the trucks and equipment, the team has also been working with the Serbia Red Cross at Sremska Mitrovica. The team has helped with the provision of clothing, blankets, shoes and gifts for children and hygiene packs for families. We are also working with two animal rescue centres at Nis and Sremska Mitrovica.

So to answer your question, the future of Blazing to Serbia is uncertain in its current format, but if trucks & equipment is not available, then we will concentrate on other things. However, it would be a shame if we were not able to donate any more trucks, as the trucks also allow us to bring lots of donations to Serbia, at no additional cost.

In July, my future son-in-law James Randell, did an open air concert in the square in Ruma. A couple of weeks ago he did one in Sremska Mitrovica and a second one in Ruma. The concerts in Ruma have been to raise money for the Ruma Rotary Club and for a Bowel Cancer Charity. This is certainly something that we will be doing more of.

There is a saying that goes, “Charity, like its sister mercy is twice blessed, it blesses him that gives and him that takes.” The experience of driving across Europe in a fire truck and being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives has certainly made an impact on me and influences my thoughts and the way that I lead my life. This would be the same for the other team members too. Young people in theUK very often get a very bad press, so the fact that Blazing to Serbia has lots of young people who are thinking of others, often before themselves, can only be a good thing and benefit communities in Serbia and in Wales.

 

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10. I really loved to hear about your little shoe boxes for the kids. Didn’t you run into some issues with customs last time? How did the kids react to them?

A. In December 2013, we sent a lorry load of equipment, ladders and clothes to Serbia. Whilst we were collecting these goods, I thought that it would be nice if we could send some gifts out for the children. I messaged the Red Cross at Sremska Mitrovica and they agreed that this would be a great idea. The team then set about collecting and filling 268 shoe boxes, with gifts for needy children. The contents of the shoe boxes varied, but contained items such as coloured pens & pencils, felt pens, crayons, chalk, calculators, note pads,colouring books, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste and toys, puzzles and sweets of every different type.

The Serbia Customs Service is always a challenge, but thankfully we are always able to resolve things eventually.

The intention was for us to visit a couple of weeks later and then help the Red Cross to distribute the shoe boxes. However, the shoe boxes did not clear customs until we had left the country, but the photographs that we saw ensured that the effort that we made was worthwhile.

Seventeen of the team visited Serbia 4th – 8th November and brought just over 400Kg of gifts and hygiene products with us. These were made into gift bags and we spend two days with the Red Cross, distributing them to needy children. This is an experience that will not only live with us for the rest of our lives, but will also influence the way that we lead our lives. Everyone was so happy to see us and were extremely grateful for our support and concern.

 

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11. How can all of us that read this article help ensure that your awesome organization … continues? Is there something that we can do?

We really need people to visit the Blazing to Serbia Facebook page and give it a LIKE. We then need people to SHARE it with their friends and ask them to like & share it too.

Follow us on Twitter @BlazingToSerbia

On our web site we have a section for ‘Our Followers’. If there are any Serbian Celebrities, Politicians etc out there who would like to give us a photograph and some words of support to put in this section, it would be great.

We need to raise the profile of Blazing to Serbia in Wales & in Serbia, so any sort of media coverage would be great.

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Through my eyes, What others think

 

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Serbia’s British Friend


kev4What is one thing that can be very annoying about having so many Serbian Facebook friends? Having your inbox flooded with the same info and links on anything that is going on in Serbia. That is how I first heard of Kevin Shannon, the adventurer , who was planning to march all the way across Serbia. There were over 20-30 folks who were sending me something from the local newspapers and tv stations about him and his mission. We had connected over Facebook and he asked me to join in on part of journey. I wish I had taken the opportunity to do so not only for my health, but to experience a little bit of his adventure.

We bumped into each other again the “Exit Festival Global Adventures” tourism conference. I was there to giving a presentation on my social network and blog while he was there to present  “Walk Serbia”. I decided to quiz him with some more detailed questions about his time in Serbia.

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

So: my name is Kevin Shannon and I’m from the UK. Currently I run my own small creative design studio called Chips & Gravy studios

2. How in the world did you get the idea to “walk across Serbia”?
 

I originally visited Serbia the first time in the autumn of 2010 whilst on 10,000 km cycling expedition from the UK to the far end of Turkey and then back again. On that visit to Serbia I completely fell in love with the country and made some great friends. During the 3 to 4 months that I spent in Serbia I spend most my time in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sabac and Nis. When I returned home I realised that I’d only seen a fraction of Serbia and although I had learnt about the country a little there was still Hell of a lot more to see. So I decided that one day I would return to Serbian  and walk the length of the country.kev2

3. What did you know about Serbia before you came here? 

Before I visited Serbia first time I didn’t really know that much about the country. I had simply drawn a line across Europe and Serbia happened to be on that path. I knew the region was obviously famous for conflicts and I had a they recollection of seeing the NATO bombings on television when I was younger, but that was really it. But as I was cycling through countries before I got to Serbia I was warned that Serbian people what do horrific things to me once I crossed the border. Of course I don’t believe this but when your cycling on your own across Europe these warnings do not fill you with confidence.


4. Prior to visiting Serbia for the first time, give me four words that you would used to describe it…
Unknown, War, Scary, New
5. How long did your walk take?
The walk is actually two walks. The first in February 2013 took me five weeks and during that time I walked from the border with Hungary down to the city of Nis. My second walk was in July 2013 and I walked from south west Serbia back to the north of the country, which also took five weeks.kev1
6. Biggest complication.
The biggest complication was issues from walking with such a heavy pack. My left knee became very sore during the first walk, and during the second walk I had horrific blisters on the sole of one of my feet.
7. Funniest situation.
I was in a small village about 75 km north of Nis, feeling very tired and the little homesick and out of nowhere a group of young kids came up to me with pieces of paper and pencils. The oldest had a hand written note in English which said that they were big fans and have been following my journey in the newspapers. Because they knew my route, they knew I would be passing through the village and so had taken it in turns to keep a eye out for me, just so they could get an autograph – they had been waiting for 3 days.kev5
8. Favorite part of your journey.
The end? No, i’m just kidding. It’s actually very hard to pick a favourite part of the journey because so much happened but if I had to say one thing it was the generous hospitality everybody that i met on the road.
9. How would you compare Serbian food to your normal cuisine back in England? 
Serbian food is very rich with strong flavours, and of course there’s a lot of meat. Which is really the case in England. I guess if I had to make a comparison I would say that Serbian food it’s very much like a traditional English roast dinner that is served in most households every Sunday – however in England you have that once a week  and in serbia you have it almost everyday
10. Did you ever feel threatened or in danger?

I never really felt threatened or in danger, even in small Kafanas in the middle of god knows where surrounded by big, burly Serbian guys. The biggest issue with regards to safety to me was the packs of wild dogs. They were always a concern when I was walking in the mountains or sleeping out at night.kev6

11. What 4 words would you use to describe Serbia after walking from top to bottom and back?

Beautiful, friendly, Great food, my second home 

 

12. Will you return to Serbia? What would you say to someone that is considering a visit to this part of the world?

Without shadow of a doubt I’ll be returning to Serbia – in fact I returned earlier this year for a conference where spoke about my was through Serbia. I already have plans to take my fiance to Serbia,  have my stag party there and maybe one day by small house somewhere where I can spend my summers (not walking)

 

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 13. You have decided to publish a book about this exciting adventure, right? Tell me a little about the project.

OK, So the project was quite simply to walk through Serbia to try and discover the real Serbia. In my original trip to the country i felt i’d only scratched the surface and was intrigued to see more of the country so i set up Walk Serbia. When you look around the internet looking for more info on Serbia you’re met with a lot negativity (except for a few sites included yours) and i decided that i wanted to create a document of my personal journey to not so much counteract the negativity but give a truthful view of a country. Now, don’t get me wrong, i expected it to be a positive trip due to prior experiences but i was open to negativity also – i essentially wanted to create a truthful account of spending 10 weeks tramping around the country. And this is, i hope, what i’ve done.
I’m still in the process of writing the book – i’ve rewritten some chapters 4 times – but i decided that i would set a date (in my head) for it’s release. So now i’ve set up a website – walkserbia.com – which will be the hub for all things to do with the book including, the opportunity to buy the book, perhaps some videos from the road, exclusive photos and information on speaking engagements and a potential book tour. For the moment i’ve thrown up a very simple landing page which has a small blurb about the book and an area to signup to the newsletter which will give you exclusive updates, a free chapter here or there and an exclusive discount on the final book. I set up the newsletter for the reasons i just mentioned, but something amazing happened when i did – i realised just how much interest there was in reading the book; not just from Serbia but from all over the world. Serb’s from Australia, the USA and Canada and even South Africa have sent me messages to tell me they would like to buy copies for friends, families and co-workers which is exciting…and daunting.
My plan for releasing the book was to self-publish and through friends in Serbia distribute the book there and of course here in the UK. But, with the response i’ve had so far i’m not looking at other options. I’m thinking about getting the book translated into Serbian, i’m going to start looking for distributors in the US and Australia AND if the list keeps growing i could have a great opportunity to promote the book to publishers around the world  which will then (if i’ve done my job right) help to give the world a better understanding of Serbia.
Just like the journeys themselves felt like a community – i had people tweeting, facebooking and emailing to help influence what i should visit and where during the walk – the book is starting to feel the same.

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in What others think

 

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Mexican Girl Falls for Serbia…..


mex

I had a wonderful young lady contact me over Facebook. She was from the middle of Mexico , the exact state (Michoacan)  that I lived in for 1.5 years . She was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about her experience. I copied and pasted the responses so forgive any spelling or grammatical errors. If you would like to send her a nice little message, here is her Facebook profile.

Q) Tell me a little bit about yourself and your hometown

About me, well, theres not much to say Im a student, soon I will get Mayor in Psychology, next May actually, im 22 years old already, and I still live with my mom and my older sister, I have another younger brother, and he lives with my father and his wife. I loooove food, dance and sleep very well right now, im training crossfit, I really love it, its very complex and beautiful sport . My hometown… Morelia is a very historic place, it could take a looooooong while for me to tell smth about it, but, what can I say… mex2 mex1Morelia is the city with most populated city in Michoacán (its state), and is the most extense, with an area of 78 km² and 597,511 habitants. It used to be a very strategic place for wars (when it was founded) and right now, the most important activities are culture and economy, you know, it’s a touristic place, for example, we have one touristic event called “Mariposa monarca”, and is a reserve of nature, where you watch all butterflies migrate to Canada (I think), and of course its an opportunity to sell food and services, tratidional food, like enchiladas, corundas, uchepos, tamales, elotes, atole de grano, atole of different flavors, churipo, carnitas, buñuelos, tequila, charanda, mezcal and other funny drinks , by the way, mescal burns almost like rakija, and taste is very similar, and of course don’t forget the effect jajajaj

Q) How did you first hear about Serbia?

Serbia was a country I never heard before in my life before, I even thought it was some sort of Asian country xD (sorry people, but we only learned about Yugoslavia) I first heard about it on the internet, I won’t say more , but when i heard about it I started to investigate it. I looked up its location on the map, the music, culture, food, and started to like it.

Q) What gave you the idea to visit Serbia? 

With time, I wanted to travel, thanks to a special b-day present from my mom so I started to look for different scholarship or volunteer programs that would allow me to travel and have some experiences. I found a program called “Vive Mexico” it is an organization here in Mexico that allows kids to travel, experience new cultures and volunteer. I applied for many countries including Serbia. I was accepted into the Serbian program called ” Drustvo Istrazivaca- Vladamir Mandic- Manda.”

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Q) What did you like the most about Serbia?

this is a hard question for me, cuz, basically, I can say im in love with this country. I cant say I like everything, but…when I got there I really felt like I was at home. Serbia is very similar to Mexico starting with the people. They were very generous and kind. The food, OMG, the food was so interesting because it’s not the same food we have in Mexico but had some things that were similar like style, flavors and ways of cooking. They had spicy foods, cheeses, homemade dishes, yogurt, milk, meats and bread and so on. My favorite of them all was  sarma and burek. I could eat them both forever and never get tired of them. and even if it’s not a dish or anything special, yogurt (moja kravica) and cookies was great. Landscaping is amazing in Serbia too. Mexico has some green places, but I never knew green until I came to Serbia, PERIOD. Another thing was the water. In my country you cant take water from the tap or public places and drink it. But in Serbia you can drink it which is so practical. I loved the music, dance and drinks too! Rakija is similar to our drink, tequila. but when i tried it the first time it made me think of “Metzcal” because it burns and tastes so delicious. I almost forgot, the old buildings, they are beautiful!!  The Serbian guys are also very good looking so girls GO TO SERBIA. ;)

Q) What were your favorite cities that you visited and why?

I cant tell you like my favorite, i mean i enjoyed staying at all those cities, but, instead i rather say like an order, and the number one would be Jagodina, its a small one, and because of that I think the most calm one, and i loved that, whole city is amazingand beautiful, very nice and great people, and one of my favorite parts besides downtown, is Potok park, that place is so simple and so misterious at same time, I couldnt be at the top of it, but where i was, I could see a place where you can just close your eyes and feel how the whole city embrace you, I cant explain the exact feeling, but is a great place to be chill . Number two, is Kragujevac, and again, city is great!, bigger, but still not crowded, I also loved the park, Veliki park, and I actually got lost there, it was very funny , anyway, that place is beautiful!!, green is all over the place, and there is a place where you can sit and watch people passing by, and still is quiet and relaxing, that place brings me lots of special memories, there, I felt some strong energy of love, peace, and fullfillness, its a magic place , third Valjevo, its a great city, great ice creams at plaza, but what I really loved from that place is Gradac, I actually stayed there, and we went to rock climbing, we were inside a cave, and the craziest and most amazing experience there was at this mountains, is near a border of town, but I cant remember the name of those mountains, we went there with Russian cars, and it was very fun!! Again, greeeen all over the place, there were like 3 mountains in a roe, all together, the smallest, middle and biggest, I wish i can remember the names, but, that was amazing. And last but not least, Belgrade, that city reminded me of Mexico city, crowded and big, people all around, transports, plazas, huge malls, even I rather more peaceful places, I still find Belgrade interesting, is because its huge, and full of history, buildings, that makes it so interesting, it still isnt that crowded as Mexico city, and gosh thats great, but, that city wellcome me and said goodbye to me of an amazing experience

Q) What was the strangest thing you encountered?

I cant say strange, but I wasn’t familiar with the carpets, you know, you get in a place, and take off your shoes. We don’t do that in Mexico. The toilets were also very strange. They are a different style and I didn’t know how to work it. One time in a restaurant I had to go out and ask a waiter to show me how to flush it. :) The door handles are also a different style and the electrical outlets are so different from the rectangle ones we use in Mexico.

Q) What was the biggest problem that you ran into? 

Not problem actually, the only thing I can complain is that I couldn’t stay longer xD :P

Q) Did you learn any Serbian ? 

I did learn Serbian, actually, im still learning, with my friends I made there, they help me a lot, plus, I search for pages where I can check grammar and all basic stuffs, but now is harder cuz im not constantly hearing it, when I was there, I realized I could actually learn it 100%, but of course I had to stay there way longer, I love Serbian, and the hardest part for me, probably to remember how to change last part of words, depending on tense and depending on gender, so, its funny for me sometimes to write it xD jajajaja

Q) What advice would you give to someone that is interested in visiting Serbia?

To not be afraid of what news, media or anybody that say things, especially negative things about Serbia, just don’t listen to that and go to Serbia, live your own experience. I can say that it is very safe, of course it isn’t perfectly safe, just like any country there is some crime, but it doesn’t mean there is a terrorist on every street corner, that is ridiculous. I can assure you that it is a place where you can find peace, so i am sure you are going to love the place. Go everywhere you can while you are there, try everything you can, meet all the people that you can meet , there are many things to enjoy. You will find a very close “family” there! :)

 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2014 in Through my eyes, What others think

 

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Another Movie that Portrays Serbs as Gangsters


lo5
Youtube is a great source of free movies. Every night before I fall asleep, I throw on some movie to watch because it helps me fall asleep. I was just randomly scrolling through some free movies and found one that looked interesting.

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The name of the film I landed on was ” A Lonely Place to Die“. It was released in 2011 with a budget of $4 million dollars. I had no clue that it had anything to do with Serbs until I got 1/4 of the way through the film. The movie is about a group of 5 friends that are out on a mountain climbing excursion in the Scottish highlands.  They are in a very remote portion of the mountains that is miles and miles from the nearest village.

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One of the climbers happens to hear a strange noise coming from a pipe sticking out of the ground. They dig it up to find a young girl that was enclosed in a little box. They try to find out about her, but she speaks no English.

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One of the climbers says that he thinks the language is Croatian. That perked my ears up. I don’t want to give away the rest of the film, but once you watch it you will hear some references to Serbians being war criminals and the ending introduces you to her father who is a wealthy Serbian war criminal.

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This can be added to the long list of films that like to portray the Serbians in a negative light. The movie was rated at 6.3 out 10 by IMDB and I found it very entertaining and suspenseful. Watch it for yourself and leave your comments.  Click here for the free version.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Through my eyes

 

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My Serbian Food in Pictures


Karađorđeva šnicla

Karađorđeva šnicla with potatoes, bread, and a sopska salad

One of the reasons that I have yet to leave this country is the vast amount of delicious foods! I wanted to share some of my past food experiences with you. Hope you enjoy!

Easter dinner with colored eggs, stuffed peppers, pork and lamb soup

Easter dinner with colored eggs, stuffed peppers, pork and lamb soup

 

Homemade meal from a friend's house in Nis

Homemade meal from a friend’s house in Nis

Kafana meal with cevapi, fries, sopska salad and Zajecarsko pivo

Kafana meal with cevapi, fries, sopska salad and Zajecarsko pivo

Sarma, pickled peppers, green onion and homemade bread

Sarma, pickled peppers, green onion and homemade bread

 

Fish soup (ribala corba) bread, and Zajecarsko Pivo

Fish soup (ribala corba) bread, and Zajecarsko Pivo

 

Komplet lepinja. Specialty from Uzice, Serbia.  Grease from a roasted lamb on bread with egg and kajmak

Komplet lepinja. Specialty from Uzice, Serbia. Grease from a roasted lamb on bread with egg and kajmak

 

Fresh fish from a small village near Uzice

Fresh fish from a small village near Uzice

 

they raised these fish in a stream by the restaurant

they raised these fish in a stream by the restaurant

 

Mixed meat platter from Kod Srbe

Mixed meat platter from Kod Srbe

 

cevpai, steak, and big cuts of pork with some fries and veggies

cevapi, steak, and big cuts of pork with some fries and veggies

Sopska Salad

Sopska Salad

 

pizza with something called "beef sauce" smeared all of it

pizza with something called “beef sauce” smeared all of it

 

plate of fresh roasted lamb at Mokra Gora

plate of fresh roasted lamb at Mokra Gora

 

different meats from a restaurant at Zlatibor

different meats from a restaurant at Zlatibor

 

Gurmanska pljeskavica

Gurmanska pljeskavica

 

palacinka or Serbian pancake

palacinka or Serbian pancake

 

Eurocream and Nutella... sweet creamy hazelnut spread they put on pancakes

Eurocream and Nutella… sweet creamy hazelnut spread they put on pancakes

 

a few of the condiments you can get on your burgers

a few of the condiments you can get on your burgers

 

Sarma or stuffed sour cabbage rolls... my favorite

Sarma or stuffed sour cabbage rolls… my favorite

 

meat tray from a friend's party

meat tray from a friend’s party

 

big pljeskavica with bread, urnebes, and fries

big pljeskavica with bread, urnebes, and fries

 

little pumpkin pies

little pumpkin pies

 

cheese pies with spinach in them

cheese pies with spinach in them

 

snack tray of pavlaka, ham and fried zucchini

snack tray of pavlaka, ham and fried zucchini

 

my favorite snacks... cheese, ajvar, crackers and a big bottle of Zajecarsko Pivo

my favorite snacks… cheese, ajvar, crackers and a big bottle of Zajecarsko Pivo

 

after dinner drinks of Nescafe and boiled wine

after dinner drinks of Nescafe and boiled wine

 

Serbian traditional drink, rakija that was served in a glass of crushed ice

Serbian traditional drink, rakija that was served in a glass of crushed ice 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbia Leads the World in……?


1280-Serbia-Grunge-Flag

You might remember my other post about Serbia leading the world in highest self esteem ….http://serbiathroughamericaneyes.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/serbs-1-in-the-world-in-highest-self-esteem/….. I just found out something else that Serbia leads the planet in…….

Thank God I never started smoking. My insides would be a total loss!! ;) Alcohol is enough for me!!  I have a lot of friends that tell me that they only smoke when they drink. Is this possible? How do you get the urge to smoke only when you drink?  I have a lot of friends that smoke and I’m not going to sit here and lecture them about their habit! I believe in the slogan ” live and let live”, but just keep your smoke away from me! I like beer and am not ashamed to say that. I don’t go around pouring beer down the throats of those that don’t drink so why should I have to breathe your cigarette smoke?

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Thanks to “http://www.mydoorsign.com” for the use of their image

The state of Illinois adopted the Smoke-Free Illinois Act on January 1st, 2008. The Smoke-free Illinois Act prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces, including offices, theaters, museums, libraries, educational institutions, schools, commercial establishments, enclosed shopping centers and retail stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities. It also prohibits smoking within 15 feet of all public entrances, doorways, windows, etc. A person who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited can fined between $100 and $250. A person who owns, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment who violates the act can be fined not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation within one year after the first violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation within one year after the first violation. The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • Retail tobacco stores that derive more than 80 percent of its gross revenue from the sale of tobacco products and do not have a liquor, food or restaurant license.
  • Private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes or long-term care facilities occupied by one or more persons, all of whom smoke and have requested to be placed in a room where smoking is permitted. The nursing home or long-term care facility must ensure designated smoking rooms comply with other laws and fire protection and life safety codes.
  • Up to 25 percent of hotel or motel sleeping rooms may be designated as smoking rooms, provided they are on the same floor, contiguous and smoke from these rooms does not infiltrate into 

I love Europe…….. specifically … the Balkans. One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Serbia in 2010 was the outrageous amount of smokers!! I would have to guess that more than 75% of my close friends in Serbia smoke!! No offence to this wonderful country that I have chosen to reside in, but it is hard to get away from cigarette smoke! I have heard that there are some laws about smoking in restaurants, bars, and public buildings, but I have yet to see any enforcement. Kafanas are my favorite hang out, but the amount of smoke in the air is enough to kill a bear! :) Smoking in the US isn’t as common as it used to be. I am sure that cost has played a major factor in this drop. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal…. the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the USA is $6.36 and rising. Serbia has an average cost of $2.03! One other thing that I notice is the amount of young kids that are smoking over here! You can see high school kids standing out in front of their schools smoking cigarettes during their breaks. You would be kicked out of school for doing the same thing in Illinois!

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Russia has led the planet in cigarettes consumed per capita for many years. That streak ended in 2012 when Serbia surpassed them!! Russians smoke around 2,786 cigarettes per person per year! Serbia hit 2,861 cigarettes per person per year!!!! :o :o The United States is sitting around 1.028. Russia has been pushing through some tougher laws to combat their smoking epidemic. I think it is time for Serbia to do the same!!!! Here is the entire article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443624204578058201182906048.html?mod=e2tw#articleTabs%3Dinteractive

I will probably get some death threats for posting this. :) You know one sick and twisted bit of information that I learned from my time in Nis?? N.A.T.O bombed the Yugoslavian owned cigarette company during our “peace” mission in 1999. Guess who owns it now????  Phillip Morris…. -_- I guess they were aware of the smoking epidemic!!! DISGUSTING!!

Keep smoking those cigarettes if you like. I am not a saint either! :) Volim vas!

Join our new Serbia website and share your passion for this great country and people….. http://www.sayserbia.com/ and for those that are interested in helping Mr. Cather with his Serbia documentary with a few dollars, go to https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes  I need you!!! We have completed the first episode and will be showing the premier to the Ruma community the first week of August and discussing it on “ZIKINA SARENICA” on August 3rd!!! I need you!!!! Hvala puno!!!!!!!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbian Athlete Discusses Life in the U.S.A


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The best part of my job is getting to speak to hundreds of Serbian kids that have had the opportunity to visit and go to school in my country. It is very hard to find one that had negative things to say about their time in the US or about the American people. The A-SMYLE exchange program is one thing that the government does well. Apply today….http://www.ac-see.org/programs/hs-citiesdates.htm Two months ago, a dozen kids from this program wrote to PRVA TV to beg them to help me stay in Serbia longer! :) They told PRVA that they use my blog posts and videos to introduce their classes to Serbian life and culture. I was very touched when the tv station reporter told me this. <3

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Exchange programs are very important and can really change the world. I feel that all high school students should be required to live in another country and experience a totally different culture. It really is the only way to destroy propaganda. There always seems to be  billions of dollars available  for bombs, guns, and terror…….. why don’t we try spending it on the kids who will be running this evil planet in a few years? Our governments would never do that. There is so much more money to made in military conflicts! Obama, Bush, Nikolic, Tadic…… they are all controlled by higher powers. :( Sad, but true!!!

This young man was going to school in a small town in Illinois. He has enjoyed his exchange program very much. I asked him to write down a few things that he noticed about life in the USA. Here are his thoughts :

“Before I came to the US two years ago all my knowledge about it was based on things that I saw in the movies, tv and the internet. There are many stereotypes about Americans and some of them are accurate at some level, some of them are not but in general the picture that the rest of the world sees is somewhat true but it’s not complete until you actually visit and spend some significant time living here. First thing that I have noticed is how things look better here. Buildings, roads and infrastructure in general are a lot better in the US. Serbia has many beautiful old buildings and monuments but in general most of the things in Serbia are built back in the post Josip Broz Tito era. Some of Serbian buildings are very old and they are pretty much falling apart but since Serbia don’t have money to build new ones we are forced to use them. In the US everything just appears nicer and newer since there is more money to spend to take care of it. Other thing that was very different is the amount of space Americans are using to build towns and cities. I could say that just a regular US town somewhere in countryside or suburban area with a population of 20.000 probably has a bigger area then, for example, Novi Sad which has a population of 300.000 or more. Now something about people. Mentality is different than Serbian for sure. People here don’t talk or discuss politics as much as people in Serbia do. There are people who disagree with the US government of course but politics are not as common topic as it is in Serbia. I would say that main topic in the US are sports. I knew that Americans watch sports but I wasn’t really aware how much it is big until I came here. I also knew that professional sports are big deal but college sports are probably even more watched than professional sports. In Serbia the sports that are followed by people are pretty much at the same time of the year but in the US it is divided by seasons. With the beginning of August/September football is most popular I believe, both college and NFL. Then later on, somewhere around October/November NBA starts but it is not really that much watched until the playoffs. College basketball however is very popular. Hundreds of Universities with great basketball teams so there is plenty of good basketball to watch. Then in March it becomes super popular. No wonder that it’s called March Madness. I haven’t met a single American who doesn’t follow March Madness. It doesn’t matter if it is 10 year old boy or 70 year old granny, everyone have their favorite team and pretty much everyone makes a bracket and tries to predict the team who will win the National Championship. Then after that baseball season starts and it lasts throughout the summer. There are other sports like golf, hockey, track and fields and other but I don’t know much about that. There are plenty of good sports to watch all year long and people love to do it in the US. In Serbia its mostly just soccer and basketball and maybe tennis. People in Serbia watch other sports only when our national team is playing. Other than watching it youth here plays a lot more sports during the middle school and high school. Very often kids play more than one sport and all the competitions are mostly related to schools. Girls involvement in sports is also way bigger than it is in Serbia. Pretty much everyone here is playing or has been playing some sports. Social life is very different. I would say it is much more “alive” in Serbia. For youngsters there is a big legal problem which is no drinking before age of 21 and if you ask me it is a big deal. Law is very strict and for kids younger than 21 sometimes it is really hard to get booze and have fun. Young people here have to be very careful with throwing a party because there is always a risk that police will bust it and check for everyone’s age. In Serbia there is no such a problem so it’s easier to have fun and that is the reason why other people would say that Serbians live “laid back” life style. So parties and hang outs until early in the morning are not as common as they are in Serbia. Fast food in the US is very popular. Not just fast food but the custom of eating outside the house is much more popular. Plenty of restaurant chains and many different types of food so there is always a new place to eat. In general life here is easier, there are more opportunities for jobs and careers and material wise there is a lot more things and products. It is way more organized and the systems and patterns that people follow in the US are better so that makes life here simpler. On the other side I believe life in Serbia is more fun. It is harder but I would say that Serbians enjoy life better. This is just my personal observation so it’s not necessarily true. There is obviously a lot more differences and these are just some of the most interesting ones but it would take me forever to write them down.”

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in What others think

 

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