Walk to an electronics store evolves to a wonderful spur-of-the-moment walking tour of Belgrade
By now, you probably know that I do most things spontaneously. So when on Wednesday afternoon felt I needed a break from editing the videos from our amazing INAUGURAL BELGRADE “SOIRÉE MUSIQUE” the night before I decided to take a short walk to an electronics store at Terazije in the heart of downtown Belgrade.
Well, almost three hours later, I returned from the “short walk” with a plethora of pictures which rekindled some old memories and created some new discoveries. It was a perfect summer afternoon with temperature around 82°F (28°C) with a slight breeze from the west.
Care to join me?
Even before I got to Terazije and that electronics store, I passed two interesting sights..
Right in my neighborhood, a fairly major street – Svetogorska – is being repaved this week. I had to chuckle when I saw this white car still parked, and now trapped, at a spot where it was probably before the constructions started. A few steps farther, on Nušićeva Street, I saw this interesting wall mural. Some graffiti are actually art.
After the electronics store, I continued walking along Belgrade’s fashionable Knez Mihajlova Street. It was a beautiful afternoon and there were lots of people having fun like me.
I eventually got into the Kalemegdan Fortress park, and meandered my way hugging the shade toward the part that offers wonderful views of the confluence of the two rivers – Sava and Danube – and the panorama views of New Belgrade and the War Island past the other river banks.
But before I got that far, I noticed for the first time this monument honoring the Serbian and the Russian heroes. I have been here many times before, but had never noticed this monument. And I have no idea to which war it refers. There have been so many…
I continued meandering around the walls and moats of the old Kalemegdan Fortress which dates back to the Ottoman empire’s occupation of Serbia (between the 14th and the 19th centuries). And even much earlier, when the Romans built a fortification here in in the early 1st century AD.
At the time, Belgrade was known as Singidunum – a hybrid word composed of Thracian and Dacian tribal name Singi and the Celtic word for the town – Dunum.
I marveled at how well the Kalemegdan Fortress was well preserved and made accessible for the contemporary citizens of and visitors to Belgrade Underneath the massive walls, where once were moats to guard against invaders, now we see all manner of recreational facilities, tennis and basketball courts, a military museum, and even an archery club.
But it was that basketball court of the “Partizan” club (see below) that opened the gates to a flood of youthful memories.
“Partizan” was, and I suppose still is (?), one of the two main sports clubs in Belgrade (the other being “Red Star”). Even though I was actually a fan of Red Star, I played basketball here for Partizan during my first year at the university.
Not that I was much of a star. I did it mostly for fun and exercise. Which is why I remember how our coach used to make us jump up and down those stands first with both feet, and then on a single left and right leg. Guess that’s when I realized that basketball jumpers are not born, they are made. 🙂
By the second year of the university, I had sustained some kind of an injury (knee?). After that I decided to quit basketball and dedicate myself to my studies. So I guess this court was probably where I played my last game, though I am not sure about that.
Here are now some panorama shots from the Kalemegdan Fortress walls.
As I approached this corner, a young couple were taking pictures from the same spot. The woman offered to take some of me. And then I returned the favor.
I asked them where they were from. She said Spain.
“I love your country,” I said. “Last year, for example, I was in Granada.”
“Oh, but that’s where we are from,” she said looking quite bewildered.
We chatted for a few minutes about La Alhambra (see Day 9, June 2 – Granada – A dream come true: Our first visit to the Alhambra; and Day 10, June 3 – Granada, Alhambra: A perfect setting for a perfect birthday). Later on, our paths crossed again at another part of the fortress. Here they are, walking in front of me.
Here are now some panorama shots from the fortress walls.
Churches, More Basketball
After spending a long time at the fortress, I slowly started to make my way back past the Patriarchate and Saborna (Congregational) church.
In between these two religious sites and the fashionable Knez Mihajlova street, I noticed for the first time a building that is King Peter I Elementary School. It seemed rather impressive to me for an elementary school, especially one that dates back to the middle of the 19th century. But it must have been recently renovated because it looks great.
Anyway, what grabbed my interest was a plaque that said that this was the site of the first ever basketball game played in Belgrade. This took place in the backyard of this school in 1923.
So one basketball memory rekindled and another gained on this “short walk.”
On the way back, I decided to veer off Knez Mihajlova along Čika Ljubina street back toward the Republic Square. It’s sort of a shortcut which I remember from my wartime visits to Belgrade.
I used to meet with the Australian ambassador Chris Lamb at his embassy which used to be on this street (I’ve noticed now it has moved to New Belgrade). Chris was the only one of the western ambassadors who remained in Belgrade during the NATO bombing. The rest of them had all hightailed out of Serbia before NATO attacked Serbia.
Chris was a great fellow and a jovial “mate,” as Aussies would say. We would almost immediately vacate his office and go down to a street cafe where everybody knew him. He would order “flat whites” for both of us (“flat white” – Aussie cappuccino).
“How do they know how to make a flat white?” I asked him. Because this is such a uniquely Aussie term.
“I taught them,” he replied.
We both laughed. Memories… even in wartime people had fun and laughed.
The Republic Square is probably the most prominent of Belgrade’s squares. Back in my university days, four decades before the cell phones, we used to meet ad hoc “kod konja” (“at the horse) – meaning this monument to Prince Mihailo Obrenovic erected in 1882.
We did not make any plans for evening outings. None of us had phones (at least not personal phones, and some none at all). So those who wanted to go out at night would come to this spot and see who else shows up. And then we would go and do things. 🙂
By the time I made it back home, I was exhausted. I looked at the time. My “short walk” lasted nearly three hours! 🙂
July 12, 2018
Saint Mark Cathedral, My Only (5-month) Engineering Job
Fast-forwarding to the next day, July 12. I awoke with awareness that this was my father’s birthday. He would have been 109 today. So sent this post out:
On this day in my personal history…Ivan Djurdjevic was born on July 12, 1909 In Pećinci, Serbia (actually, back then it was Austria).To find out more about his life, keep going…Today, I plan to light a candle for him at Saint Marko’s cathedral which is near my Belgrade home.
And then I did that. I went to Saint Mark’s cathedral to light a candle for him.
Right next to the cathedral was my first place of work after graduating from the engineering faculty of the Belgrade university. I only last five months before making my way to Switzerland, and then on to North America. I was interested to see that that building is now being demolished.
If only we could erase memories that easily.
UPDATE JULY 13, 2018
VISIT TO THE MUSEUM, LADY IN RED WITH HIGH HEELS
This afternoon, on a spur-of-the-moment [is there any other way? :-)], I decided to go to the National Museum. I have never been there before even though the building has been here since 1903. And that a fascinating visit it was.
In fact, the hour I spent there just on the main floor, where the ancient archeological artifacts were on display, was so interesting that I never made it to the other two floors. I also had very interesting conversations with a security guard and an assistant curator, Who said he would make an appointment to spend a whole day at the museum with the chief curator (Dina, his boss).
I will write about all this later, but for now I just want to tell you that my walk back home was similarly exciting.
CONTINUED… JULY 16, 2018
I have finally found the time to edit some of the pictures I took on Friday the 13th (:-)) during my visit to the Belgrade National Museum. What I saw was fascinating even though I never went beyond the ground floor (there are three floors of exhibits).
Some the artifacts were some of the oldest I have ever seen anywhere else in the world. And I have been to a ton of museums. Like the objects from Lepenski Vir archeological site which date as far back as 6,300 BC (over 8,000 years old!
Interestingly, without knowing anything about anything, and being guided just by intuition (there was no map of exhibits), guess what the very first artifact I was drawn to? This one…
Yes, the bust of Constantine discovered in 1900 in Niš (Nassius), Serbia, his birthplace. Unlike other busts and sculptures of Constantine I have seen in various places around Europe, this one, which depicts him in 325, the year of the Nicene Council and Creed, shows his true image (look at the slight bump on his nose in the profile shot). Compare his profile to these three.
And yes, I was also surprised to see a 9-foot concert grand next to these amazing exhibits.
For those of you who live in Belgrade and have not been to the Museum, it is definitely worth the trip and your time.
Beautiful (and Shy) Ice Cream Ladies
After the museum, I went to a store on Knez Mihajlova street and then remembered an ice cream stand in front of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences building, Two beautiful young ladies stood behind the counter. The taller one on the left, took it upon herself that I should choose the best flavor for me. And so she kept giving me samples from at least 6 different flavors.
After I made my choice and finished the ice cream, I came back and asked the two young ladies if I could a picture of them. Unexpectedly (for me), they turned shy and beet red.
“Are you shy?” I said surprised. “You shouldn’t be. You are both very beautiful women. I bet that because of that you sell twice as many ice creams.”
They kept giggling and finally turned around for this picture.
LADY IN RED WITH HIGH HEELS
Remember the construction (repaving) I mentioned earlier on the Svetogorska street in my neighborhood? Well the ditch has now deepened so that there is about a 4-ft drop (over 1m) from the sidewalk to the roadway. And the pedestrian have their work cut out for themselves trying to cross the street.
I stopped and watched this lady in red with high heels pause at the curb, and try to decide if she should go for it or not. Finally, she bravely jumped down and walked through the dirt to the other side.
Since I also had to cross the street, I did it at the same place, minus the high heels. 🙂