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Awesome Investment Property Available ASAP


You guys remember that wonderful Serbian granny who showed me how to make sarama? If not, read this.  Well… She’s in a bit of a dilemma at the moment. She needs to sell her beautiful home in Sirig, Serbia.

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She is one of the many Serbians from Croatia who were expelled from Croatia in the 90’s. She had some beautiful, expensive properties in Zagreb, but had to find a way to get rid of them before losing them. She found a Croatian family with ties to Zagreb who were preparing to leave for Croatia so they traded properties. She has been living in this lovely home for over 25 years now. The issue is the size of the home and property. She’s a widow and it takes too much work to take care of this massive home so she needs to sell it so she can buy a small apartment in Novi Sad.

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Sirig, Serbia is a small, quiet village that’s located 20 km from Novi Sad. It’s in the municipality of Temerin and the first village you will encounter when heading north towards Sombor. It’s easily to reach with a bus leaving from Novi Sad every 15 minutes. Sirig has many of your basic needs such as : doctor’s office, pharmacy, schools, shops, churches and bars.

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The property itself is my favorite part.The home sits on roughly a 250sq mt lot with 100 of it being a massive backyard with outbuildings and many fruit and nut trees. It’s great for parties, slavas, bbqs or just private family gatherings. We had a great time at my friend’s birthday in June of last year

 

top floor

top floor (panorama with phone)

bottom floor (panorama with phone)

bottom floor (panorama with phone)

The home is two separated floors so two families could live there. They both have 100 sq meters and private entrances. Both of them have two bedrooms and separated kitchens, full bathrooms, living rooms, dining room, etc.

one downstairs bedroom

one downstairs bedroom

2nd downstairs bedroom

2nd downstairs bedroom

 

one upstairs bedroom

one upstairs bedroom

 

 

2nd upstairs bedroom

2nd upstairs bedroom

upstairs hallway

upstairs hallway

downstairs hallway

downstairs hallway

stairway to upstairs

stairway to upstairs

upstairs bathroom

upstairs bathroom

downstairs bathroom

downstairs bathroom

downstairs kitchen

downstairs kitchen

upstairs balcony

upstairs balcony

I can do a video walk through for anyone who is interested. The house will come fully furnished with the exception of the electronics (washing machine, tv). The price is starting at 75,000 euros which is way less than the value, but she needs to move quickly. She is a very motivated seller and for questions or offers you can contact her Norwegian/Serb grandson, William Nikola at will.jakobsen@gmail.com or +381621020546

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Thanksgiving for 500 in Serbia

Thanksgiving for 500 in Serbia

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Charles “The Host” Cather

The company I work for, Work and Travel Group, held the largest alumni summer work and travel event in the history of the world this past November.

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500 students from 2008-2016

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Mikser House in Belgrade

We had a massive Thanksgiving event at Mikser House in Belgrade Serbia on Thanksgiving.

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Upstairs displays

We had students from 2008-2016

We had students from 2008-2016

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Decor

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Throwing down Red Bull

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Checking in students

Work and Travel crew

Work and Travel Group crew

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Stage

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Can you feel the love?

 

Placing ribbons on each guest

Placing ribbons on each guest

 

We brought in over 500 former students from 2008- 2016 to experience an American Thanksgiving and to win some prizes.

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Students piling in

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Students having some free beverages

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Around 500 former students of summer work and travel

Once the students arrived, they were given coupons for two free alcoholic beverages and unlimited soda, juice and soft drinks. We started off serving some Serbian pies and American pie for them to snack on before our main course.

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Mixing Serbian and American foods. Serbian pie

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American apple pie

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Students enjoying some pie

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Two of my favorite students checking out the displays

We let the students mingle for an hour and then had the prize giveaway. We had the students from work and travel 2015 submit their favorite picture from their summer in the US. Once we received the photo, we placed it on our Facebook page to see which one received the most likes. The three with the most likes, received a refund of their program fee which was between $1,000 and  $1,300! The prize money came from CIEE and Work and Travel Group.

 

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Handing out prizes to the lucky winners

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The winners! Each one won their program fee back!:)

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Free pictures from InstaPrint

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Main course of 10 turkeys, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce

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Juicy turkey

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Beautifully laid out turkeys

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Students enjoying the meal

I was the host of the entire event so I had to nibble around between talking and preparing for my next presentation. I hated that part of the event because I love to eat.

After dinner, it was time to interview a few of our students about their experiences in the USA.

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Students telling about their experience in the USA

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Some great kids!

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Filip Uzelac telling about his time in St. Louis

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Sinisa Vojvodic discussing Chatham, Massachusetts

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Selecting the winners

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Congratulating the winners

The last segment of the night was another prize giveaway. Puzzle Group donated three vacation packages to be given away at random. We used a lotto wheel to randomly select a number that was on top of their ticket.

The night ended around 11pm when the buses arrived to bring the Nis and Novi Sad students back to their cities. I felt my night was successful as the host. I only had a few minor errors in my presentations. Not bad for someone who hated public speaking in high school.

We had a 5 minutes video made about the whole entire event that you can watch here.  A great time was had by all of the attendees.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbian Grandma and Sarma

Serbian Grandma and Sarma

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One of my dearest friends here in Serbia is a Norwegian from the northern region of Norway. We met up last winter at Horus Nargile Bar and have been great friends ever since. He was born and raised in Norway, but his father’s side of the family are Serbs from Croatia who were forced out of Zagreb during the 90’s. He’s in his 2nd year of English medical school here in Novi Sad.

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Church in Sirig

Last Sunday, he asked me to go with him and his beautiful girlfriend to his grandmother’s house in  Sirig, Serbia for lunch. Sirig is a pretty little village about 20km from Novi Sad. I knew all about his grandmother’s cooking because I was there for a birthday party last summer and she sent over some sarma for me a few times so I was thrilled to go. He tells me that his grandma is going to teach me to make sarma:)
We arrived at his granny’s house around 1pm. She lives in a big, beautiful home right in the heart of Sirig. There are tons of fruit and nut trees in her back yard,  a large garage  and two floors of living space. She had the table all laid out and prepared for our arrival.  The older women in Serbia really know how to take care of a dinner guest. We had some of her homemade rakija and beer, and then she brings out this lovely homemade soup.
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Next round of food comes after she clears the soup and bowls from the table. The ladies seem to refuse your offer of assistance:) This round was some appetizers of cold meats, homemade cheese, cvarci (fried pork fat), cabbage salad and pickled red peppers.

DSC_1505_1280x851She also had these lovely homemade breaded things that reminded me of doughnuts. They were super!

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The next round of food was some delicious pork and beef goulash that was poured over pasta noodles, fried pork strips and some delicious fried cauliflower.  That’s the first time in my life I tried fried cauliflower, but it was really good.

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Nikola, grandma and Valerija

By now we have eaten ourselves into oblivion. We have to take a break for my sarma lesson. Sarma is one of my favorite foods here in Serbia. It’s a leaf of soured cabbage with meat and rice rolled up inside it.

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1/2 kg of pork with chopped onion in a bowl

She starts off by putting 1/2 kg of pork into a bowl with a cut up onion.

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1 carrot, one potato, and another onion

She likes to put a carrot and a potato in her sarama. You don’t have to, but it’s her way of making it. She throws one of each into the food processor and grinds them up.

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add it to the meat and break open an egg

Once it’s all ground up, she throws it in the bowl with the meat and adds one egg to it. You need to put in some salt, pepper and a little Vegeta (Serbian salty spice).

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Rice

Next, you want to add a cup of rice that has been sitting in water for a few minutes to the mixture of meat, etc and mash it around with your hands until it’s all mixed together.

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Soured cabbage leaves

Then you get your soured cabbage leaves ready.  You will then roll up your pork filling  into  balls and place a large ball in the middle of the cabbage leaf and then wrap the leaf around the meat filling

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placing filling into leaf

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Wrapping the sarma

Once you finish wrapping the sarama, you place a large poton the stove. She adds some bacon in the bottom to flavor it up.

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Strips of bacon in the pot

Stack the wrapped sarma around the entire pot, one row on top of the next, until you have it full.

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Filling pot with sarma

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Unused leaves on top

Once you have the pan full, place some unused leaves on top of the sarma and add some sausage , if you like , then place the lid on top. You can turn it on high heat until it gets hot, then turn it down to low heat and cook for 1.5 hours.

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Done

Remove the lid and let cool! It’s now ready to eat! Prepare yourself for a taste of heaven.:)

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Delicious sarma

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Svargla

By time the sarma is ready, i’m hungry again. I eat 5 of them and then Nikola’s girlfriend asks me if I’ve ever tried something called svargla. I’m a guy who usually likes everything so I accept a slice. The second it hits my mouth it almost triggers my gag reflex. The taste is HORRIBLE. It’s soft and meaty and reminds me of a juicy meatloaf. Blah! My friends tell me not to eat anymore of it and that it’s mainly a food for old folks.:)

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Barrel of sarma

After dinner, the grandmother takes me down to her basement to show me how she makes the soured cabbage. She has a large plastic barrel that she fills with full heads of cabbage, cuts a cross in the base and adds salt to it. After a few days, they are ready for sarma. She also has a lot of nuts from her walnut trees that she separates in the basement.

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Cabbage heads in barrel

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Walnuts

Nikola takes me upstairs to check out the living quarters up there. It’s massively big and beautiful just like a second house. They have a bar with many different kinds of alcohol in beautiful bottles.

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Decor

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Norwegian alcohol

Nikola and I throw down a shot of this Norwegian alcohol that he brought from home. It wasn’t too bad at all.

It’s time to head back to Novi Sad. The neighbor girls are driving back in their car so grandma calls to ask if we can ride with them. They have room so we all squeeze into her little car. Grandma sent me off with bottle of rakija, jar of peppers and a container full of sarma!:) What a great way to spend a lazy Sunday!  I learned a little something, filled my belly and had a slight buzz .:)

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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“Passage Women” of Novi Sad, Serbia

“Passage Women” of Novi Sad, Serbia

A confused man scratching his head wondering why

Passage women? o.O 

 

I can hear y’all right now “What the hell is a passage woman?”  Well, I’m about to tell you all about them.

I’ve lived in many different parts of Serbia : Zrenjanin, Nova Galenika, Kotez, Pancevo, Zemun, Nis, Sremska Mitrovica, and in Novi Sad. Novi Sad IS the most beautiful city in all of Serbia.

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Trg Slobode

My office is right smack in the center of Trg Slobode, the most beautiful and well known part of Novi Sad. I’ve called this city home for over 1 year now. Back in early June, I moved from one apartment right off Nikola Pasice to a small, 130 euro a month apartment in a passage off of Zmaj Jovina and Dunavska.

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Zmaj Jovina

 

People are usually blown away when I tell them I live there. It’s the busiest pedestrian area in the most beautiful part of the city. Could you live in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful city in any other country for 130 euros?:) It isn’t fancy or even nice, but it has a large bedroom with two beds, a hallway that leads to a big kitchen/dining room, large bathroom and a big balcony that overlooks the passage below.

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Passage off Dunavska

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Another example of a passage in Novi Sad

Most of the buildings in the center are connected so the only way to get through them is to stroll down one of the shop filled passages or walk all the way around.  The passages in Novi Sad are filled with an assortment of clothing stores, shoe stores, sports equipment, money exchanges, etc.

 

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Another passage

 

So what hell are passage women? Are they some homeless ladies who live in these passages or  sleazy women who hang out in them and do “things” for a $1? NO, NO, NO!!!! Neither of the two. Let me continue with my little story. Once I moved into this apartment back in June, everything was pretty good with the exception of no a/c. The summers in Serbia can be brutal, especially when you live in the center. The whole entire center is concrete, brick and rock so the heat stays here. I had a fan that I would stick in the window each night and it made it bearable, but each morning around 8am I would be jolted from sleep by laughing and loud talking from below my balcony. The ‘passage women’ or ladies who work in the passage shops, had set out chairs right below my balcony. There are a number of shops and none of them do much business throughout the day so the ladies tend to sit out there for hours upon hours, smoking , gossiping and drinking coffee. passage 7

Living above the passage women is an absolute nightmare for those of us who look forward to sleeping in on our day off. Serbian village women have always been known for their nosy ways, but the young city gals are no better!

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Serbian surveillance

I dread walking out of my apartment each morning because every time I walk past their little 5 seat table, they get quiet. I’m always the first to wish them a “dobro jutro’  and they always reply with the  same greeting, but I know that the American is always the subject of their early morning gossip. I kept telling myself that winter would bring a little bit of silence, but the temps don’t seem to bother the gossipy passage women in Novi Sad. They just throw on a coat, make a cup of steaming coffee and sit below my balcony laughing and gossiping away the day.

Beware of the passage women………

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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An American, a Croat and a Palestinian in Munze Konza


The title sounds like the start of a bad joke. Zemun or Munze Konza (Zemun Zakon= Zemun rules) as it’s known over here, has a bad reputation by those who live outside of Munze.:) It was known as a rough place in the 90’s and home to the Zemunski Klan. It’s a strange place to start this  crazy story.

 

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I reached out to the Palestinian Student Diaspora group in Serbia last year. I’ve always been interested in those folks who come from countries that my nation labels as “American haters”. You usually find out the total opposite is true. I made a post on their Facebook page and quickly received a message from the student president. We spoke for a bit and I told him that I’d love to meet up with him and a few of the 30+ Palestinian students who study in Serbian universities here. He told me not to get offended if some of them had some harsh words for the American government. I assured him that nothing could offend me and that we had plenty of Americans who had harsh things to say about American foreign policy.:)

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The whole gang and me!

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Palestinian culture day

We all met at Yala Habibi, a nargile bar, over by Slavija in Belgrade. Sharar and his crew of 6 or 7 other Palestinians showed up. They were all very kind and happy to meet up with an American. It was an honor to meet them and to have  them share some of their heartbreaking stories about life in Palestine.😦 I also learned that Palestine is strong supporter of Serbia and they refuse to recognize Kosovo. They were one of the 50 brave nations that voted “NO’ to  Kosovo in UNESCO.

We parted ways, but kept in close contact. I took a few trips down to Kragujevac to visit Sharar and met a few of the other Palestinian boys and girls who study there at the medical and engineering faculty.

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Crazy Hassan

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My Palestinian pals and I in a kafana. The boys were singing some Miroslav Illic!

 

I stayed at their place for a few weekends and a few of them turned into some of my best friends over here. They come up and stay with me when i’m at my apartment in Zemun and here in Novi Sad. We are very different, but enjoy each other’s company. One of them even came over and taught me how to cook something called maqluba, a famous Palestinian meal.

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Suliman teaching me to make maqluba.

 

I happened to be at my Zemun apartment over last year’s Serbian New Year’s Eve holiday. Sharar was staying at his girlfriend’s apartment in New Belgrade so we agreed to meet up for a few drinks to celebrate. We met up at a little bar in downtown Zemun with his Serbian girlfriend’s Croatian cousin. We had a blast throwing down a few beers and talking about all the differences we had between us. It was last call and the bar was about to kick us out so we paid our bill and started to walk over to Glavna for them to catch a cab. The streets were almost totally deserted with the exception of two police officers talking to the guy working at the trafika. I never like walking up on police officers in a foreign country especially when I didn’t have my id anywhere near me. Serbia requires you to carry a picture ID and police registration card on you at all times. We were talking when I notice the police looking at us. They started to walk towards us and I started sweating. I told Sharar that I hoped they wouldn’t speak to us because I didn’t have my id. What did they do? They walked right over and asked for our passports! :O My Palestinian pal speaks perfect Serbian as he studies medicine in Serbian language. The guys pull out their passports and I’m thinking to myself…. “We are doomed! A Palestinian Muslim, a Croatian Catholic and an American with no passport on him!”  The cops look at the guys and seem shocked that they are both foreign. Sharar has to translate to me. I tell him to tell the police that I do have a legal right to be here, but I hate carrying my passport because a Gypsy stole my last one! The cops don’t seem to give two shits about my excuse. They ask what id I have in my wallet. I pull out a Bank of America ATM card. The guy gives me an annoyed look and he asks me “What are we supposed to do with this!”  :o I then tell Sharar to explain to them that I promote Serbia in a positive light and have been on many tv shows for it. The cop pulls out his phone and tells me to prove it. I go to Youtube and pull up the Prva Exploziv episode I was in where I sing “Tamo Daleko” figuring it might pull some heart strings on some big, mean Serbian cop. They both watch it for a few minutes and then the younger one smiles really big. He says “We knew who you were. We saw you and wanted to give you a scare!”:):):):) I’m saved!!!! They tell me that I must keep id on me at all times. The older cop hadn’t heard about me, but insisted all five of us go in for a coffee at the kladionica. He doesn’t speak English, but the others translate most of the conversation. He said ” It isn’t very often that they run into a Croat, a Palestinian and an American at 2am in Zemun!” We have our coffee and I wish the gentleman a very happy new year! The policemen both add me on Facebook and we head out of the kladionica with a big sigh of relief.

The moral of the story? Make sure that you carry id on you at all times when in Serbia. You might not bump into the same friendly cops that I did!

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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My Expedition in Serbian Vlach Country


My birthday was a few weeks away, Nov 7th, and I was searching around for somewhere to go. I was so very close to booking a flight to Tirana, Albania. That might sound like an odd choice since I’ve been a staunch Serbian supporter for all these years, but I really wanted to meet some Albanians on their home turf. You shouldn’t judge a whole race by the acts of a few freaks on Youtube and Facebook.:) It was time to open my mind and go for something adventurous.

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Well, that all changed because of the video I made showing my support of  Kosovo’s denial into UNESCO. I received some very scary, nasty, and threatening messages from Kosovo and all over Albania. What was I going to do now?

Eastern Serbia is a region that I haven’t had many opportunities to see. It’s filled with some ancient historic sites, beautiful mountains, canyons and untouched forests. It’s also home to a minority group here in Serbia that has always interested me…… Vlachs.

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The Vlachs were totally unknown to me until about 2 years ago. Vampires, spirits, magic and superstitions have always interested me.They are big believers in all of them.

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The Vlachs are a minority group that are spread between Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine,Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria. According to the 2011 census, Serbia has roughly 35,000 Vlachs who mainly reside in the Bor and Zajecar districts of Serbia in the eastern part of the country. They have a separate minority council and are represented in the population censuses as a separate ethnicity. The language spoken by the Vlachs consists of two distinct Romanian subdialects spoken in regions neighboring Romania: one major group of Vlachs speaks the dialect spoken in Mehedinți County in western Oltenia, while the other major group speaks a dialect similar to the one spoken in the neighboring region of Banat .The majority of them follow the Eastern Orthodox faith.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to befriend any of them until last year. One of the students, Marko Radojkovic, signed up on our summer work and travel program last year and we became fast friends. I worked with him a lot on his English and how to get through the U.S. Embassy visa interview. He told me when he returned from the USA, he would take me to see how the Vlachs live in his hometown of Majdanpek.

Majdanpek

Majdanpek is a little town of 7,000 folks nestled in the forests and hills of eastern Serbia. The town is famous as a copper mine district, since the early 17th century. The origin of the name is based on words majdan(related to Turkish madän, mine) and river Pek – mine on river Pek. Throughout its history, mining development was held by many foreign owners (Czechs, Belgians, Austrians) , and was extensively exploited. Today, it’s controlled by the Russians.  The town was industrialized in the mid-20th century, by the industrial program supported by SFR Yugoslavia’s Government of that time, and the personal influence of J.B.Tito (marshal and lifetime prime minister since the end of WWII until 1980). He once referred to it as “The Golden City”.  Through the late 20th century, the town was in a period of industrial progress and one of the most developed areas in copper mining and metallurgy.

I took off work for three days and decided I’d spend it at his place on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday in Donji Milanovac. I met Marko at the bus station in Belgrade early on Friday morning. We boarded the 8:45am bus to Majdanpek. It’s a long trip (3.5 hours) as the roads are not very developed and the bus stops in all the little towns along the way. Marko brought along a little bag full of snacks and a little bottle of homemade rakija, dunja mixed with apple, that made our ride a little more bearable. The bus ticket was only 1300 dinars ($13) for a round trip ticket and it was surprisingly empty. We took up the the 5 seats in the back of the bus and chatted about randomness for the entire ride to Majdanpek. The worst thing about Serbian buses is the lack of a bathroom. You need to make sure you take care of business prior to boarding or you have to ask the driver to pull over on the side of the road.:)

 

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Marko told me a lot about the creepy tales of some of the places along the way. We passed this little abandoned house along the way that was known to be haunted. They say that people can hear a baby screaming late into the night from the depths of the old house. No one has been able to stay in the house for an entire night. It would make a great episode of Ghost Hunters.

 

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We finally arrive into Majdanpek. The surrounding area is amazingly beautiful. There are untouched forests with a spatter of farm houses and abandoned homes. My first impression of Majdanpek was how massive the  mine that’s located right beside the town was. They say it’s one of the biggest copper mines in Europe. It’s currently owned by a Russian company and is one of the biggest employers in this region.

 

Mine

The town of Majdanpek is surrounded by forests and almost every single resident lives in an apartment complex. You don’t see very many homes at all. We jump off the bus, grab our bags and head to his family’s clothing store that’s right in the center of Majdanpek. There’s a lovely little church right in the center.

Church

The town has a downtown area that’s at the bottom of the hill and an uptown area that’s on the top of the hill. It’s no wonder we didn’t see many overweight folks, because it’s a workout to go from one side to the other.

We meet up with his mother at her lovely little clothing store. She’s a very cheerful and welcoming woman. We grab the house keys from her and head up to his apartment. The apartment is a charming little thing that has been remodeled with care. The mother had some hot Vlach pie waiting for us in the oven. It was delicious! It was made with layers of crust with meat and cheese inside it. We ate till we couldn’t eat anymore, showered, drank a coffee and waited on his parents to get home. They had a surprise for me!

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The father and mother arrive in a big yellow van that they use to haul their clothing from Belgrade to Majdanpek. We grab our stuff and jump in the van. They still haven’t told me what we are doing, but we stop off at the tourist organization in the town center. A tour guide hops in and we are on our way to some surprise location. The tour guide is a middle aged lady who speaks English very well. She accidentally mentions something and I know where we are headed, Rajko’s Cave! This is the one tourist site that I had really wanted to visit in Majdanpek, but they had told me it was closed for the season!:) We were going to have a private tour of the cave!

 

Marko and I

Rajko’s Cave is a nature lover’s dream!  The total length of the cave is 2.304 meters while the tourist path is 1.410,5 meters. Air temperature is 8 degrees Celsius and relative humidity is 100%. The cave consists of two physically separated caverns: an underground river channel and a spring cave, both of which have two floors. A series of attractive groupings are found in Rajko’s Cave: The Egyptian Goddes, the Snail, Stump with Mushrooms, Sleeping Bear and several cave halls. The Rajko’s cave has the highest quality of cave ornaments.

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According to a legend, Rajko’s Cave was named after a leader of “hajduks” (outlaws fighting against the Ottoman rule) Rajko, who attacked and robbed people on the way from Donji Milanovac to Majdanpek and hid his prey in the cave. They say the area has been ripe with treasure hunters who have dreams of stumbling upon the riches of Rajko.

 

Marko and Charles

The guide takes on an hour long trip through the depths of the gorgeous cave (video available here). She fills us in on all the facts and mysteries surrounding the cave. I’ve been in numerous caves in my life, but this one takes the cake!

 

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They tourist organization and Serbian government have done a great job making this cave tourist friendly. They have beautiful lighting in most areas and pristine walkways and stairs in all the locations. Rajko’s Cave is a must see on any visit to Serbia! You won’t be disappointed!

 

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We depart the cave to explore the surrounding forests and hills. Marko’s parents and the guide head back in the van while Marko and I decide to walk the 3-4 km back to Majdanpek through the dense forests. The area around the entrance has some bbq pits and picnic tables for all of their summer campers. We sip some of the water that’s pouring out of the cave depths. The water is cold and refreshing and very clean!

 

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November was a great time to come to this part of Serbia. The trees were an amazing array of different colors! The pictures do it no justice. We wander around this large lake that’s a few meters from the cave.

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Marko tells me more legends of the area while we walk up this big hill surrounded by thick forests and layers of orange leaves. I’m hoping to catch site of some of the Vlach witches!:) There’s an episode of VICE Serbia that shows some of the strange customs of the old Vlachs that was filmed right around this area.

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They show how some of the Vlach magic believers hang doll heads throughout the forest to rid themselves of evil spirits so that’s what I wanted to see. Well, I would have probably crapped my pants if I had, but it sounds good to say now. We reach an old wooden fence in the middle of the woods where there are bits of clothing wrapped around many of  the little trees.😮 We don’t know what it was for, but it spooked me a bit. A little later, we run into an old farmhouse up on a hill. There’s an old man entering into his gate with some wood on his back. I wanted to speak to him, but thought better of it.

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We continue on our mission and run into this old bridge that’s made out of broken slats of wood. I’m glad Marko knew about the loose slats, because I would have fell through one or two of them if I had been alone!

We come out of the clearing by the Majdanpek high school and one of the biggest indoor swimming pools in Serbia. It was built during the Yugoslavian times for the Yugoslav National Swim Team to practice in. They don’t have enough money to keep the water heated in the winter months so it was closed. The high school is in very rough shape. There was spray paint and broken windows on many portions of the building. It was Friday evening so school was out, but there was a group of kids sitting on the front steps of the school. We walked around back to see this large monument that Tito had built. It had a large open space in front and seating for some kind of outdoor speeches or performances. The monument was in a similar condition to the school. It had been spray painted on, busted in a few places, and wasn’t worth much of a look.

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The sun was rapidly falling and dinner was ready so we headed back to Marko’s house. Momma had prepared a delicious Vlach meal for us to eat. It was something called vlaski kacamak. It reminded me a little of cornbread-like substance that you place on a plate and then spread this thick, delicious stew of peppers, pork, and sauce all over it! It was terrific! I ate more than I should of while chatting with the family.  Marko had to do all the translations so he was starting to get a headache.:) I hear that from a lot of people who aren’t used to speaking in other languages.

Time to head to downtown to check out the nightlife. We didn’t want to stay long because we had to get up early to explore a few more things and then head to Donji Milanovac. We took a long, easy, downhill walk downtown which was nearly empty for a Friday night. The thing I noticed most was the lack of cafes and bars. The majority of Serbian towns have a trillion of them, but not Majdanpek. We stopped in one of them that was pretty full. Marko’s cousin was in there so they chatted away for a bit while I sucked down a couple beers.

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I saw this little kafana type place on the corner with a bunch of old men in it and told Marko that we had to go there. The old, places are usually some of my favorite places to visit in Serbian towns. I never go alone, but since he was with me we headed inside. It was a lot nicer than I had expected. We watched a little bit of Rocky I on tv, chatted with the waitress and threw down three or four beers.

It was time to head home. Marko didn’t want to catch a taxi which are only 70 dinars in Majdanpek so we walked the whole way uphill! It just about killed me, but didn’t seem to phase him.:)

The parents had my bed made for me and I crashed for the night in the home of a Vlach.

Continued in the next article……. If you want to see the video I made of this first part of the trip, click here.

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Questionnaire for Serbians Living in Serbia


serb food

I’m 100 steps closer to getting my tour idea legal. After years and years of answering questions from foreigner after foreigner about traveling in Serbia, I decided to create my own travel association. Creating an actual tour company in Serbia is very difficult. There are tons and tons of requirements that must be met. If you want to create your own customs tours, you must have a degree in tourism and a few years of tourism experience. They also require 50K euros in an account. My lawyer here in Novi Sad, after hearing about what all I do here and my mission, suggested I create an association instead. She is going to take care of all the legal paperwork and such to get this association registered. We have a number of aspects that we need to get completed, but we are on our way! My Serbian pal from Novi Sad is a business owner here in Novi Sad. His father was kind enough to allow us FREE office space in this 3 floor, new office of his on Europe Blvd here in Novi Sad! We will just have to pay the electric, trash, etc. It will be the headquarters for our association.

We have some big plans for the organization that might include:

** Organized trips to many interesting locations in Serbia. My Gmail, Facebook and Youtube message boxes are always full of questions from foreigners who are interested in Serbia. The majority of them know about Belgrade, but know little else. This country has soooo much more to offer than just Belgrade.  We are going to be seeking advice from locals in many different places in Serbia and organizing trips to many of them. It will help expose Serbia to the large quantity of tourists who come here with money, but don’t know what to spend it on. My large following and contacts can help draw interest and tourism to many struggling communities. A few months before Exit Festival, I get a ton of messages about Serbia. This massive group of foreign visitors are looking for things to do, but can’t seem to find the info they need. This will be a way to funnel them to other parts of Serbia.
** Free conversational English courses for the underprivileged Serbs and minority groups who don’t have money for regular English courses in a private school

** Foreigner meet and greet sessions. I have a ton of friends from many different countries who live, study and visit this city. Many Serbs are interested in meeting others and learning a bit about their culture.

** Fundraisers for some of the sick Serbian kids that are in need of money for different medical conditions. This is a constant issue over here in Serbia. My Facebook is always packed with messages from Serbians who want me to post about sick kids here in Serbia. Many Westerners are interested in helping, but are unaware of their struggles and how to help.

** Helping villagers market some of their homemade products. I’ve been living over here for around four years now and have experienced many, many locations in Serbia. Many of the villages and towns that I have been to are filled with local folks who make wonderful crafts and other items that need some exposure. I’ve asked many of the folks how they market their products to folks outside of Serbia and they usually say “We don’t.” It would be a great way to assist the little man in Serbia by having a place for them to market their products to the massive diaspora and others.

And more…..

I need all of you Serbians to help me out now. Please take a minute to fill out this questionnaire. I’m seeking advice on what to see, eat, where to sleep, etc in your communities. I know there are a lot of “hidden gems” in this country, but you guys know your communities better than anyone. Please take a moment to fill out this brief questionnaire. It won’t take long, but your answers will be vital to my project.

Thanks so much for your time and stay tuned for info. We will have a beautiful website with tons of links and info to help spread the word about this awesome, unique little country.

Ready to start the questionnaire? Click here!

If you are a Serb from the diaspora or a foreigner who’s interested and have the means in assisting with  some needed cash for our project, please feel free to donate to my Paypal.  You will be listed on our website as a “friend of Serbia” for your assistance. We don’t need a lot, but furniture, website design and creation, legal fees, etc will take a big bite out of my miniscule Serbian salary. Feel free to message me for more info or throw some cash to my Paypal account at charlesserbia@gmail.com 

Volim vas!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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