Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pada Kiša

Pada kiša means "it's raining" in Serbian. After a week's worth of sunny, 70˚ F days, we came out of a coffee shop last night to discover that it was raining. We had not taken our umbrellas (kisobrane) along, so we were a bit damp when we got in.
I'm not complaining about the rain, it's good. I wish it would stop raining in Philadelphia long enough for the Phillies to win the World Series though :)
If the Boston Red Sox had defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, we might be a house divided, as Laura is a Phillies fan (since 1993) and Steve is a Red Sox fan (since forever).
It has been 28 years since the Phillies have won a World Series, 15 since they even went to it.
After some skyping with friends and family on Sunday and Monday, we feel pretty in touch with both for now. We even learned it snowed on Monday in Erie!
Sorry, no pictures for today's entry. I wish we had taken a picture of the way that they paint road lines and crosswalks here. It seems that they make a tape stencil of where they want to paint, load up a leaf blower with paint, and then spray for the crosswalk lines, and for the directional arrows on the road. For the lane division lines, the seem to have a small paint pump attached to a small loader, and they drive and spray. It really is funny. Plus they pretty much shut down the whole stretch of road they are working on for several days to do it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tradition!

Humming the music from "Fiddler on the Roof" right now :). We have been exposed to many of the customs and traditions of the former Yugoslavian culture, especially on our recent trip through Serbia.


We passed by a heritage museum, unfortunately it was closed for Sunday. We did get a shot through their display window. We were informed that the shade of blue on the dress (and the outer walls) is the typical traditional shade. I (Laura) really like the blouse!

We also saw a man making some home brew (brandy we were told). I'm not sure how well the "still" shows up. It is just to the left of the dark car on the right, and has a great deal of smoke coming from it. Not sure what the wheelbarrow is for. Steve said you could really smell it as you approached.
It is legal and customary for people in the Balkans to make their own alcoholic beverages.


But the funniest thing was watching a bunch of "Coffee culture" people standing around a small, portable, gas burner in the middle of a sidewalk, so that they could make their mid-day java fix.
The small silver "pot" is used for the traditional coffee brewing (a sort of "turkish coffee-usually very strong, and very sweet). It is then consumed from tiny china cups (almost child tea-set size). Steve prefers espreso, it was hard to find the pot to make that here, but some friends brought us one from Albania.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Novi Sad, Serbia, There and Back Again











We took a trip to Serbia for a conference with a group of friends. On our initial trip we drove through Bosnia and saw some of the war damage as well as some of the rebuilding. It took 13 hours to get to the camp where the conference was held, and was mostly without incident. Our final destination was near Novi Sad, the home city for some of our group. One evening we took a walk around the city and snapped a few shots.



The return trip we took a different route, traveling through Belgrade to drop off one of our group to visit his uncle. This ride should have taken about 10 hours, but it winded up lasting about 15. Apparently there is a regulation that mini-buses need to stop every four hours for half an hour so that the driver can rest. We also needed to make frequent potty stops (there were a dozen of us, and one was a small child). As we were driving up a mountain, we saw several guys pushing their car up, so we stopped and roped them to us, and pulled them until we came to a gas station. When we were about an hour from home we came upon an accident, where a driver flipped his vehicle and then wasn't able to feel his legs. We had to wait while the police extracted him from his vehicle. Apparently, this is usually a job for the fire department, but this town no longer had a fire department because in a case of tragic irony, their building had burned down (this reminded us of seeing a minor accident involving a car labeled "auto school"). Until the ambulance came and took the victim to hospital, and the police cleared the wreckage, we were there at least another hour. Then we drove home through many tunnels (I counted at least 33) of different length and droppped off people at there homes and we finally got to our home at 2 in the morning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Candid Moments

I realized the other day that we didn't have any pictures of us together since we were here. So, I took some. It is not easy , and they tend to look goofy, but I thought you might enjoy a few any way. CHEESE!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Millennium Bridge and more

The Millennium Bridge (or Most Milenjium) is the iconic bridge that was built in Podgorica, because they wanted something that could be easily identified. You see it, and you know "oh, that's Podgorica!" in the same way you can regcognize Sidney by it's opera house or Fenway Park by the Green Monster.

We were told that this bridge cost three times as much to build as the other bridges across the Morača (€6 million rather than €2 million).
I'm afraid that my photos don't do it justice. This looks a bit like an impressionist painting of it :)



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Bridge,_Podgorica has more information, and a closer up picture. I rather like the romantic quality of mine though :)
Today we also went to an interesting museum, the Contemporary Arts Center of Montenegro. It is located in the middle of a park, behind the American Embassy (which we have not yet entered-we registered with them online). According to the museum's web page, there are a number of buildings, however, we only went to the Palace of Petrovic one. Inside there was art (mostly modern) from many different cultures. My favorite were the art works on the third floor, mostly from Asia, including some beautiful, large "paintings" that were made with embroidery floss! from Korea. There was no admission cost, we were the only ones in the musuem, except a staff person, and she gave us a small full color book of all the museums in Montenegro. Here's the link:http://www.csucg.cg.yu/first.htm
Also inside the park is a small chapel, and we saw a group of well dressed people followed by a priest in flowing vestments go in, and presumed it was a wedding.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Food Glorious Food!



We both enjoy food. Since we've been here we have tried many new things. Here is a sampling of some of our adventures in eating.
This is a fabulous curried lentil recipe that we found in the More with Less cookbook. I highly recommend it. After tasting how yummy it is, we can sympathize with Esau. It might be worth selling a birthright for :). (For those who might be wondering, Laura made it, and Steve is already asking for her to make it again).





And here are two taste temptations. The red things are truly amazing. They are dried strawberries. Not the dehydrated strawberry slices you get in cereal, but actually candied, strawberry "rasins." It's like eating an entire jar of strawberry jam concentrated into one berry. And the Luna bar is a wafer cookie covered in crispy rice, caramel and chocolate! Steve was familiar with these from before.








This Milka bar IS watermelon flavored. And the best part is, the watermelon is in the form of Pop Rocks. Just imagine the flavor of rich milk chocolate, milk cream, and watermelon popping in your mouth! It's actually very good.




These jaffa cakes are a soft cookie with orange maramalade and dark chocolate on top. I highly recommend them if you can find them where you are. I don't remember ever seeing them in the States, but there is a whole shelf of them in our local supermarket.



Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma

video Because it's Grandma's 85th birthday, and we haven't figured out how to use the Post Office here yet.

We love you Grandma!

Mom, please make sure Grandma sees this, thanks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Basketball-Go Budućnost

Last night we went to the basketball game between the home team Budućnost (which means the Future) in white and Olympia (from Serbia) in green. Except for having to walk through pouring rain (an incidently flooded streets), it was a wonderful evening. Since it was the first game of the season, everyone got in free. The sponsors for Budućnost (a phone company) gave each fan a small paper flag with the team's name on it, and two of the inflatable "clapper" balloons to use for really rousing cheering. The arena was heavily guarded. You might see the guards just outside the tunnel where the athletes enter. There were also several stationed throughout the seating area.

The rules of European basketball aren't always quite the same as American, it is decidely more physical, which seemed to make the two obvious Americans (Wallace and Crawford are not Eastern Block surnames) on the Olympia team mad (Steve googled and found that both guys had played for Georgetown in college). The best part is that most of the players were really tall, so we got to see a number of slam dunks, and the no-hanging-on-the-rim rule doesn't seem strictly enforced.

We've noticed from watching European Football (soccer) and now in basketball, that professional teams in Europe tend to wear their sponsor's name on their jersey (sometimes more prominantly than their team name). Even the refs last night had a sponsor logo on their shirts.

On Sunday evenings, we've discovered that one channel plays American Football (with the annoucing dubbed over in Serbian) and so we have been able to watch the end of two games so far. The instant replays are sponsored by a local bank! It seems sponsors have found a way to capitalize on everything. In American, I've only noticed this on Nascar vehicles and the driver's jumpsuits. I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before other sports embrace this trend if it means making more money.
This is the first successful shot of the game. "Our" team won :) After finding out that Crawford came from Staunton (less than an hour from our American home), we wish we would have had an oportunity to talk with him.