17 February 2008

Greetings From Serbia - Portents

It’s cold here, like really freaking cold. The temperature the last few days has been between -5 and -7 Celsius (19 to 23 Farenheit) with a wind chill that drops the temp a really whole lot lower. So when it’s miserably cold and windy and the country is on the brink of civil war what is the best thing to do? Go out walking of course. As per usual I chose to walk around the Kalemegdan fortress. The cold, grey sky, and thick snow flurries flying everywhere begged to have the fortress photographed in black and white. I wish I had not changed my mind about bringing my film camera and brought only my digital, sigh, next time I suppose. In the mean time I had to figure out how to balance my camera while wearing gloves since the one time I tried to take them off my fingers froze up and refused to work in about two minutes and since I rather need my fingers I decided to keep on my gloves.

The fortress, which has been controlled at one point by Celts, Romans, Huns, Turks, and Slavs (specifically the Hungarians) is one of the oldest areas of Belgrade. The government is currently repairing many areas where the walls are crumbling and many of the old towers and gates remain intact. Now mostly used as a park and a military museum, the enclosure teems with people in the summer and the main walkway is lined with vendors selling handicrafts, Soviet memorabilia, sweets, and many other things. In the winter though, it’s fairly empty and desolate. Today the crows outnumbered the people and they circled and plunged around trees and towers screaming against the wind. It was rather eerie really and felt very Poe-esque. Given the crow’s association with death and bad omens their presence and activities gave the park a very portenty feeling on the eve of Kosovar independence and Serb protests.

While still beautiful the park was too full of wild energy today and I left without gaining the peace I usually find within the walls. Not even in the church yards did I find calm as the crows disturbed even those holy places.

In the evening I went to my favorite pub for dinner as I’m getting a bit sick of pasta and pizza and remember seeing fish on their menu. Even though the English menu lists several fish it seems the waiter understood only that I wanted ‘fish’ and I ended up with some sort of smoked something or another. My intense and unwavering dislike of anything and every smoked warred with my inability to argue that I did not want smoked anything so instead of sending it back I ate it. While the requisite lemon that came with it helped somewhat to improve the flavour the saving grace really was the garlic infused slaver of oil that also accompanied the dish. That was brilliant and after drizzling that over the fish I tasted only garlic.

The snow and cold of earlier in the day made the sidewalks and streets sparkle in the lamplight like a diamond strewn deathtrap for people such as me who lack any competency in walking. My propensity for falling down seemingly without cause make me fear stairs and be wary of frost and ice covered surfaces so I picked my way carefully back to my hotel to thaw out and hide from the wind.


Anonymous said...

OMG. I am always amazed at the ignorance of this kind of people.

You claim to know what is the best for this region, yet, you show a complete ignorance of even the basic facts.

I will not comment on all your thoughts, but the following quote made me ROFL :)))

"The fortress, which has been controlled at one point by Celts, Romans, Huns, Turks, and Slavs (specifically the Hungarians)"

As a person who has spent so much time in the region, are you aware that the Hungarians are among the few ethnic groups in this region which are not of slavic origin? They are of Finno-Ugric descent. You can read more about it on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magyars

As for all your other uneducated thoughts, don't worry, I'll keep you in my prayers: God let him read a book.

Anonymous said...

Hey, nice photos of the fortress. I also found some photos of Belgrade fortress here