Dear art folks,
Just a description of what it's like in downtown Belgrade....
A Sunday in Downtown Belgrade
Kalenic Green Market
Taking a bus to Slavija Circle, I walked the rest of the way to the Kalenic
Green Market, the largest green market of the city. The aisles between the
small stalls were crowded with Sunday morning shoppers carrying goods in
baskets, plastic bags, or wheeled bag carts. Stalls selling similar items
were grouped together; plastic containers, clothing, household goods,
antiques, produce, meat, potted flowers, and cut flowers. Although the
vibrant colors of the fresh nectarines, grapes, peppers, and watermelon was
tempting, I made my way to the plant section. After buying some pots, I was
drawn to the spectacular display of freshly cut flowers. Succumbing to the
variety and presentation, I bought a small bouquet for myself and one for my
neighbor. In a way, it¹s good that the Kalenic isn¹t closer to my house, for
I¹d be buying many more.
We started off at the Trg Republike, the famous horse statue commonly used
as a meeting point. Typical of such a nice day, the pedestrian street Knez
Mihaila was filled with people strolling, buying popcorn, getting out coins
for an ice cream cone, or peering into the many shops. Roasted sweet corn
added a new scent to the air. Since the outdoor section of the first café
was full, Olja (a local who teaches Serbian at our school) decided to try
our luck at the ? Café. Located in a typical Balkan house of the 19th
century, the café has an interesting history. After changing hands several
times, the owner in1892 decided to name it ³ At the Saborna Church,² due to
its proximity to the church structure across the street. Not impressed with
the name, church authorities told the owner to change the name or they would
close it down. Unable to come up with a name right away, he hung out a sign
with a ³?² on it. The name has stuck since, becoming a well-known landmark.
Olja explained that some thought the café should be updated to appeal to a
younger crowd, but many want to preserve its historical significance.
Walking through the narrow tunnel, an inner courtyard was revealed. The menu
was in Cyrillic, so Olja began translating for me. Later, the waitress
brought out an English menu, but even that needed some explaining. I ordered
some meat stuffed with local cheese and light green peppers cooked in garlic
and olive oil. A grey cat went between us, begging for some meat scraps.
Suddenly the sound of a band penetrated the area. Olja explained that a
wedding was occurring at the church, and the band plays to announce the
entrance and exit of the wedding couple. Curious to catch a glimpse, I
walked outside the café. The bride wore a western-style white dress and
veil. Across the street was a car decorated in ribbons and flowers. While
eating dessert of walnut pie, the band played again, with the sounds of the
drums and tuba especially permeating. As the band¹s silence indicated the
newly-married couple had left, we also realized that it was time to go.
Knez Mihaila Street
Once again on the Knez Mihaila walking street, we proceeded down towards the
Slavija Circle, where I would catch a tram back to my neighborhood. Olja
pointed out that more stores were now open on Sundays a recent change.
People sat under the umbrellas of the cafés, drinking beer or coffee and
socializing. Two young Roma boys performed for passers-by, one playing the
violin and the other playing the accordion. The two boys played with energy
and a fair amount of skill, prompting several audience members to place
money in the violin case. After catching the tram, I walked back up the
cobble-stoned hill up to my neighborhood. I hope to spend more weekends
experiencing parts of Belgrade and the country.
The International School of Belgrade now is around 330 students. The middle
school was opened for teachers on the Saturday before school started. It was
amazing to see the transformation of the building since May, at that time a
moldy, decaying, neglected former Syrian embassy building. After chairs,
desks, and tables were brought in, teachers made the best of things and
tried to get the rooms as far as they could. A tent was set up at the high
school for class use for the first day. As a start of the IB program, the
school had its first 11th and 12th graders. Some supplies came in, but
unfortunately the computers were not in the first shipment from the US. We
are told that the next shipment should arrive around the 17th. Wireless
access points have been installed at various parts of each campus, enabling
laptop use. I am excited to see the growth of integrative computer use of
technology, by teachers, staff, and students.