Sunday, March 29, 2009

Losing Time

Europe switched to Daylight Saving Time yesterday, and so, we "lost" an hour. And we ended up losing even more sleep, because we watched the Montengro/Italy game with some friends. Sadly we weren't able to get tickets to the game, because only 1000 were made available for sale, even though the stadium holds 12,000 (we were told that the government gave the rest of the tickets to friends and supporters-the day after the game was election day). These 1000 tickets were snapped up right away, especially because Italy is the current World Cup champion. Even though Montenegro lost 2-0, we were impressed by the ability of one (very young) player, Stevan Jovetić (picture taken from the internet). He is only 19 now, and has been the team captain since he was 17. You can read more about him at this link.
When he's not representing his country's team, he plays for Fiorentina, Italy (he was transferred from a team in Belgrade for 8 million Euro).
What makes him especially interesting to us is that Steve has actually seen him in a restaurant here in Podgorica.
By the way, as we walked to our friend's house, we saw so many people wearing Montenegro scarves, flags and team aparrel, and lighting sparklers and singing and carrying banners, that it almost seemed like a parade. We even saw the police escort for the team bus. Our friend who was hosting actually lives within view of the stadium, it was the first time I've watched something on TV which I could (almost) watch from the window.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Making It Our Own

If you remember some of our earliest posts, there were pictures of our apartment when we moved in. Since we have been living here for almost seven months now, we have added and changed some things to make it reflect more of who we are. I thought I would include some pictures of how some of the rooms look now that we have put our personal stamp on them.

In the bedroom we have bought new duvet covers for the feather ticks, with matching pillow cases and we also got a scarf for the dresser and added a small jewelry box purchased in Macedonia.

We covered the sofa in our spare room/office with a (fairly traded) cloth we brought from home and a throw pillow bought here (both with elephants).

We found another nice throw pillow here, and also a woven cloth from Sarajevo to make the living room "homey." And for fun we found these strawberry coasters and place mats for when we eat there.

Other than purchasing a microwave, we have not made many changes to the kitchen/dining area. We've bought some mugs, glasses and utensils, some and a few other small items, but these are the major additions we've made.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Sprung!

Even though it's not "official" until tomorrow, as we look around at the flowers coming out and the trees in bloom and hear the birds serenading, we know that spring is upon us. We decided to take a stroll around the city and snap shots of springtime.

All week, so far, each day has been sunny and breezy. They are calling for rain tomorrow though. It isn't hot out yet though, still definitely jacket weather in daylight, and once the sun goes down, it's back to coats and hats.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Cultural Observation

Disclaimer: this post is in no way an attempt to criticize or degrade the Orthodox Church.

On occasion we eat at the Duhovni Centar (Spiritual Center) an Orthodox restaurant. The prices are very good (you can get a medium sized pizza for under two Euros, even less if it is a "fast" pizza-no meat because it's Friday, or Lent). Also, it is the only eatery we know of where no one is smoking (not allowed).

On our last visit there, I (Laura) noticed something I had never seen before. The waiter went over to the Icon of Sveti Nikola (Saint Nicholas is apparently the patron saint of most families in Serbia and Montenegro) and kissed the bottom corner of the painting. He then took a bottle of olive oil (off one of the tables-just regular olive oil, not some holy, blessed stuff) and poured some into the censor hanging in front of the icon. He added something from a little jar (I presume this was the incense) and using a lighter, lit the wick in the censor. He then crossed himself (Orthodox do the horizontal cross reverse from Catholics), bowed his head (in prayer, I guess), crossed himself again, bowed to the icon (like you would bow to a king) and went on waiting tables.

I found this extremely fascinating. By the way, the Icon of Sveti Nikola at right is taken from an internet site, I did no think it would be sensitive or appropriate to photograph someone while they were in prayer.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ribnica Running

When we first arrived here, there was a bridge that crossed over rocks and some litter. We were told that this is a river bed for the Ribnica. Since there was a drought, we figured that after it rained a few times we would see this river. But time passed, and we were here for several months and many rains and still there was only rocks and no Ribnica (which probably means something about little fish). We were beginning to think it was merely a myth.
If you go back to our anniversary post in November you can see Laura standing on an ancient bridge that spans the Ribnica bed.

But when the winter rains of December came (and came, and came...) finally we could see the river we had heard about. Now that spring is in the air, we decided we'd better capture the Ribnica on film before it once again faded into myth.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Women's Day

March 8th, in addition to being Laura's grandma's
91st birthday, was Women's Day. This seems to be the main gift-giving day of the year (for women anyway). It's sort of like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day rolled into one, but focusing only on women (all women, even those who aren't mothers).

Many women we saw were carrying roses. We didn't actually happen across a rose vendor but we did see a garden with Laura's favorite "to pick" flowers, daffodils. As tempting as it was, she did not pick any.

We chose to celebrate by going to the Italian restaurant. It is much more authentic then the Mexican one. This does make sense considering the proximity of Italy compared to Mexico. The food was excellent, and we even were served cake "on the house" although we have been told that everytime you go in you get "free" cake, they just figure it in to the cost of your meal.

Steve found the olives to be wonderful, and the bruschetta was simply out of this world. The meal was also very good. And the cake was pretty awesome too.

It was a lovely day, and we enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Of Dogs and Men

While we have not seen this to be true, the stereotype of Montenegrins is laziness. One joke is that the dogs here are as lazy as their owners. In the hot days of September, we did see many dogs who wouldn't even turn their heads if you whistled to them, but continued to lay there, staring into space.
In the cooler weather we have seen more canine activity. Sometimes a dog or small pack will follow us for a little while, or come up and shyly indicate a willingness to be petted. We are somewhat discerning as to the cleanliness and overall healthful appearance of the dogs we pet.
Many homes have "guard dogs" on the roof which bark at strangers passing by. Some of these are about the size of a Jack Russell terrier, while others are German Shepherds.
When we visited Lovćen, this little pregnant dog (pictured above) found us (or at least the remains of our lunch) appealing. Once when we left a restaurant with a "doggie bag" we were followed for four blocks by a hopeful stray. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a particular pas (dog in Serbian) is someone's pet roaming free range or simply a homeless wanderer. There are some very cute ones who rummage through the garbage container near our home. The run away when we get close though.