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Category Archives: When in Serbia

Travel Tips for Americans Visiting Serbia


Traveling to a new part of the planet is always a very exciting thing for me. I always start getting this little BUZZ feeling way down in my gut a few weeks before I leave. I try to be as prepared as possible, but there are always things I neglect to think of.

Electrical ……

One thing in Serbia that is very different for American tourists is the electrical connection. The United States uses 110 volts while Serbia uses 220 volts. Electrical wall outlets in the USA are made for three posts to enter. You have a positive, negative and a ground. Check the pictures below….

American outlet

American outlet

While Serbian outlets are round and made for two circular plugs to enter. See the picture below..

Serbian outlet

Serbian outlet

..It is very easy to find the electrical converter here in Serbia. The majority of electrical stores offer them. I bought this one

110v to 220v adapter

110v to 220v adapter

for 200 Dinars or about $2.50 in Kragujevac.

Another big difference I noticed was that the light switch was on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom!!!!

typical Serbian bathroom outlet that is on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom

typical Serbian bathroom outlet that is on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom

I still find myself walking into the bathroom and looking for the switch! I can imagine the fun I would have had if this was a normal thing in the USA. You could shut the light off on your brother while he is in the shower. I think they do it for safety reasons. It is still annoying for me after all this time in Serbia.

Water Heaters…..

small waterheater that is in a bathroom and kitchen.

small waterheater that is in a bathroom and kitchen.

You might also notice that many of the older homes still have a little water heater in the corner of the bathroom and in the kitchen. You might have to turn on the water heater 20 or 30 minutes prior to getting into the shower, BUT be careful. The water gets so hot it will burn you! Most US homes have a large water heater that heats the water for the whole house and is always running on either gas or electric. It is usually hidden in a separate room. The Serbian way is much more cost-effective and I don’t know why it isn’t used as much in the USA.

Laundry……

The worst thing for me is the lack of dryers in Serbian homes. It is very rare to walk into an American home and not see a washer and a dryer. Serbian homes almost NEVER have a dryer. The vast majority of homes have a clothes line hanging outside and dry their clothes on it to preserve energy. This is a pain for a guy like me. I am the guy that likes to decide what to wear at the last-minute and if it is dirty…. wash it and throw in the dryer to dry and take the wrinkles out. That won’t be happening here. It is also difficult to find a laundromat. They do have a few in the larger towns but the smaller towns don’t.

Passport and Visa…..

Americans DO NOT need to do anything prior to flying to Serbia. Once you arrive at the Belgrade Tesla Airport you will receive a stamp on your passport that is good for 90 days. It is free of charge  and most of the time the custom officials will ask you nothing. A few times I have been pulled to the side and asked where I was going, who I was staying with, etc. I just said that I was a tourist and didn’t have all that info. They are friendlier than American custom police. 🙂 It is always advisable to head to the American Embassy to register your stay. You don’t need to do it, but they will take your email, phone, etc and keep you up to date on any activities that might jeopardise you safety. Their address , phone number, etc can be found on their website http://serbia.usembassy.gov/hours-of-operation.html

Serbia also requires that you go to the local police station within 24 hours of your stay. If you are staying at a hotel, they do it for you. If you are staying with a friend or get an apartment, you must take the owner of the home with you. They will issue you a white registration card. You must keep it with you at all times. Serbian police can stop anyone on the street and ask for your identification. If you don’t have it you can be in trouble. They will ask for the white card if you leave the Serbian borders. Many times they haven’t even looked at mine, but better safe than sorry.

Junk Food….

Serbia doesn’t have the large selection of chips, candy bars, soda and snack food that we have. They have lots of different chocolate products, but they lack in the other fields. Maybe  that is why you don’t see lots of fat people lumbering down the streets. LOL! I really miss Doritos!!!!

Doritos... American chips

Doritos… American chips

They have their own brand that rules the market in Serbia. It is called Chipsy..

Serbian chips

Serbian chips

You will also have a hard time finding Dr Pepper, Cherry Coke, Cherry 7-UP, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I am an addict so I have looked everywhere for them. 🙂
If you must have them, bring them from home! 🙂

Serbian Women…..

Gorgeous Serbian gals

Gorgeous Serbian gals

Before visiting Serbia it would be wise to exercise your neck. You will find yourself turning in awe at the gorgeous ladies that line the streets of Serbia. The majority are tall, very well dressed, beautiful jaw lines, long legs, very confident and sweet personalities. You will very rarely find a Serbian women that will walk out of the house without first going through an hour-long make up and primping session. hahaahah…

Think ahead!!! 🙂 You will enjoy Serbia all the same. Just a few tips to help you cope !! Serbia is the jewel of the Balkans. Long live Serbia!!!!! 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2013 in When in Serbia

 

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How to Avoid Irritating Serbian Grandmothers


One thing to expect when entering a Serbian home is to be offered a pair of house slippers! 🙂 I found this so funny! It didn’t matter if you were in the northern part of the country or the extreme southern part… if there is a grandmother in the house…. YOU BETTER TAKE THEM UP ON THE OFFER!

I have never owned a pair of house slippers and we never wore them growing up. I can’t remember going to a home in the US and using their house slippers to walk around in! 🙂 Maybe it is because many of our homes are carpeted. My grandmother and other old ladies would wear them, but not young men! Different story in Serbia. 🙂

I was invited to a friends birthday party in the little village of Krajisnik, Serbia. He lived with his grandmother and great grandmother. They had never seen or spoken to an American before. 🙂 The great grandmother was about 90 and so sweet. She kept speaking to me in Serbian and my friend would have to tell her over and over that I was American and didn’t speak Serbian. She kept using some foul language that I understood to tell him that she didn’t believe him. hahahahaha…I had to keep asking him to translate. She was telling me how one of her sons was perfect and handsome and the other was lazy and worthless. AHAHAHAH! The other thing she kept mentioning was my lack of slippers! She said it 3 or 4 times. She couldn’t walk very well, but she got up and got me a pair and placed them at my feet! 🙂 She was a doll! She also LOVED TITO!! HAHAHA.. My friend and his cousin would aggravate her by mentioning Boris Tadic. She wasn’t a fan of him! One thing is certain… Serbian grandmothers treat you like their own! She didn’t care if I was from America, next door, or Ethiopia … I was going to wear those slippers If I liked it or not!!!! 🙂

Put on the slippers when they are offered.. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in When in Serbia

 

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Tip # 7…. You MUST experience a Slava!!!!


 

Prior to visiting Serbia….. if anyone would have asked me what the word SLAVA meant… i would have said ” a slavic woman”. I would have been totally wrong. Serbia is country where 85-90% of the population is Orthodox Christian. They have some very unique traditions and beautiful churches and monasteries spread all over this beautiful country.

Slava or Krsna slava is the celebration of the home patron saint. It is one of the  greatest characteristics of the national and religious lives of the Serbian people. It is an exclusively Serbian custom and is one of the most important days of the year for most Serbian families. Slava is actually the celebration of the spiritual birthday of the Serbian people. It is based on the day their ancestors first accepted Christianity. Their saint is a “protector of their home”. They pass the saint down from father to son. There are many, many saints but some of the most common are “nikoljdan” or Saint Nicholas, “jovanjdan” or Saint John, “djurdjevdan” or Saint George, and St Sava … the slava of Serbian Schools…etc…. there are hundreds of them…..

A Slava celebration is most similar to our Thanksgiving day feast. They do have some differing customs depending on the household. Some of the requirements of a slava are :

  1. picture or icon of the patron saint
  2. lighted candle or “slavska svijeca”-reminds them that Christ is the “light of the world”
  3. wheat or “zito” usually grown in a small bowl- represents the death and resurrection of Christ.
  4. slava bread or cake or “svlaski hlejb ili svlaski kolac”- represents Christ as the bread of life.
  5. red wine- represents Christs blood

There are different customs depending on the household. Some celebrate with apples floating in wine or rakia and they try to catch them with their mouths. Also the slava bread is broken and each guest is given a piece. Most slavas are a three day event. The majority of Slavas are held during the winter months. There is a saying “where the Serb is, Slava is also”

The first Slava I attended was an amazing and an experience i will never forget.  The customary greeting when entering the home is ” cestitamo  vam Krsnu Slavu” or “greetings on your patron saints day”…I noticed a bowl of wheat growing on the table and many, many different kinds of food strung about the table. Sarma is one of my favorites. It is soured cabbage rolled up around meat, rice and other ingredients. It is also customary to bring a gift…. exp bottle of wine or flowers.. Don’t eat prior to attending the slava because you will be expected to try everything and that is A LOT!!! We also had live music at my friends home. It is a very unique, special and memorable celebration that you can always treasure! IT IS A MUST WHEN VISITING SERBIA!!!!!!

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Uncategorized, When in Serbia

 

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DON’T STAY IN A SERBIAN HOTEL!!!


I get lots of emails from foreigners that are planning to travel to Serbia. They ask me lots of interesting questions. The number one suggestion I have for them if they are planning to stay for a month or longer is “DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON A HOTEL!”

I found out last year that Serbs offer their homes to their guests. I was blown away by the amount of people that wanted me to stay in their home! They looked at me like a fool when I said “Where is the nearest hotel so I can put my things away?” hahaah.. They said ” YOU ARE NOT STAYING IN A HOTEL YOU ARE STAYING HERE!!!” If you are a private person and prefer to have your own space…. do not look for hotels. Look for an apartment!!! My friends mentioned that to me last year but I kept thinking ” How the hell can I get an apartment?” Back in the USA it’s a time consuming and expensive ordeal.. most of the time anyway…. You have to worry about saving up the security deposit, first and last months rent and usually sign a 6 month or 1 year contract! Then you have to have all of the utilities put in your name. It’s a pain!!!

After my awesome time at Exit Fest in Novi Sad…. we returned to Zrenjanin. I was in need of my own crib! The families I stayed with were amazing and in no hurry for me to leave but I felt it was time! My buddy and I picked up a little classifieds paper here and drank a few pivos while he translated the available apartments. We called on a few that were under $100 a month but they were behind someones home or inside their home. We finally called on one that was 100E a month. It was new, furnished, close to the center, with one large room, kitchen, balcony, quiet neighbors and on the 1st floor. My friend called the guy and he said ” you can come look at it today.” My friend said “Is it ok that he is an American?” He said ” It makes no difference to me.. i speak English.” We arrived and looked at the place.. It was perfect!! Clean and everything he said it was. I said ” How do I go about filling out the paperwork, switching utilities, and how much is the deposit and such?” He said ” You don’t need to do any of that. Just pay me 100E and here are the keys!” I was in shock! I paid him.. he showed me how to turn on the washer, heat, tv controls and such. It took me 5 minutes to find a nice apartment with no contract and only 100E for one month!  I can’t speak for Belgrade or Novi Sad but Zrenjanin is very, very affordable!!! My electric, water, and gas ran me about $40 or $50 bucks a month for this one bedroom!!! AWESOME!!!  Back home my electric was about $160 a month, water/sewer and trash were around $50, and  gas is outrageous…..

Search for apartments in the paper!!! IT WILL SAVE YOU HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS!!!!!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2012 in When in Serbia

 

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DON’T STAY IN A SERBIAN HOTEL!!!


I get lots of emails from foreigners that are planning to travel to Serbia. They ask me lots of interesting questions. The number one suggestion I have for them if they are planning to stay for a month or longer is “DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON A HOTEL!”

I found out last year that Serbs offer their homes to their guests. I was blown away by the amount of people that wanted me to stay in their home! They looked at me like a fool when I said “Where is the nearest hotel so I can put my things away?” hahaah.. They said ” YOU ARE NOT STAYING IN A HOTEL YOU ARE STAYING HERE!!!” If you are a private person and prefer to have your own space…. do not look for hotels. Look for an apartment!!! My friends mentioned that to me last year but I kept thinking ” How the hell can I get an apartment?” Back in the USA it’s a time consuming and expensive ordeal.. most of the time anyway…. You have to worry about saving up the security deposit, first and last months rent and usually sign a 6 month or 1 year contract! Then you have to have all of the utilities put in your name. It’s a pain!!!

After my awesome time at Exit Fest in Novi Sad…. we returned to Zrenjanin. I was in need of my own crib! The families I stayed with were amazing and in no hurry for me to leave but I felt it was time! My buddy and I picked up a little classifieds paper here and drank a few pivos while he translated the available apartments. We called on a few that were under $100 a month but they were behind someones home or inside their home. We finally called on one that was 100E a month. It was new, furnished, close to the center, with one large room, kitchen, balcony, quiet neighbors and on the 1st floor. My friend called the guy and he said ” you can come look at it today.” My friend said “Is it ok that he is an American?” He said ” It makes no difference to me.. i speak English.” We arrived and looked at the place.. It was perfect!! Clean and everything he said it was. I said ” How do I go about filling out the paperwork, switching utilities, and how much is the deposit and such?” He said ” You don’t need to do any of that. Just pay me 100E and here are the keys!” I was in shock! I paid him.. he showed me how to turn on the washer, heat, tv controls and such. It took me 5 minutes to find a nice apartment with no contract and only 100E for one month!  I can’t speak for Belgrade or Novi Sad but Zrenjanin is very, very affordable!!! My electric, water, and gas ran me about $40 or $50 bucks a month for this one bedroom!!! AWESOME!!!  Back home my electric was about $160 a month, water/sewer and trash were around $50, and  gas is outrageous…..

Search for apartments in the paper!!! IT WILL SAVE YOU HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS!!!!!

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in When in Serbia

 

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TIP # 6…. EAT , EATTTTTTTTTT


Tip # 6 .... EAT , EAT, EATTTTTTTT!!!!

I have traveled to many countries but have never seen or eatn such awesome food!!!!!!!!!!!! They are a country that prides themselves on their food. Most families are not wealthy but they eat soooo much awesome healthy food!!!

It shows even in the markets.. I bought some eggs in a cartoon and they still had manure on them!!! ahhaahh.. Shows they are fresh…

Ajvar is a great treat for those that have never been to Serbia. It is a added condiment like ketchup but has soooo much taste.. it is made with Eggplant, peppers and spice!!! I was in love the first time i sampled it!!! I love to add it to my hamburgers and add cheese for a dip!!!

They eat lots of pork and chicken in their meals so it would be a tough place to be a veggie lover!!! ahhaah…

Cevapis are a MUST have too!! They are made from rolled up bits of hamburger in a bun the size of your head and great with ajvar, sourcream and onion!!!

My all time favorite and most unique serbian food is Sarma!!! It is made from soured cabbage with rice and meat rolled into it!!! They eat it a lot on their holy “slava” or saints day!!! You have to have it!!! I could eat them all day!!!!!!!

 
12 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2012 in When in Serbia

 

Tip # 5…. no talk of the Hague


Serbia has had some rough times through the 1990s…. You have had years of war, high inflation, death, famine and a large % of the Serbs leave this beautiful land. There are still many patriots in this land and abroad that are very passionate about their history and military leaders. Many Serbians were sent to the Hague for military prosecution while many others were neglected. I have researched many bits of info on Slododan Milosevic, former leader of Serbia and General Ratko Mladic.I have many Serbs who do not support them and many serbs that do support them! There were many atrocities committed on the Serbian side, Croation side, Bosnian side, etc….. The sad part about Serbia is this is the ONLY part of their beautiful country and history that you hear about it!!!! One of our great American Union generals William Tecumseh Sherman said it well “WAR IS HELL“!!!!!! Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo… Bad things happened on all sides!!!! Dont let this touchy sad part of history keep you from befriending or visiting Serbia!!!! It is best to discuss these issues with very close friends in a private place! I am a proud American but we were guilty of mass killings of American Indians…. We all have an “UNCLEAN” side….. Lets move on!!!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 28, 2011 in When in Serbia