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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Old Town Belgrade

When I was a little girl, way back in the last century, my father used to tell me about some of the restaurants in the Skadarlija area of Belgrade that he used to like in the days that he was a dashing young officer in the Kingdom of Jugoslavia.
He told me about the Tri Šešira [Three Hats],
Dva Jelena [Two Deer],
and Ruski Car [Russian Tzar], which is located in the nearby pedestrian area of central Belgrade.
Earlier this month, I got to visit all three of these restaurants. The ones in Skadarilja are located on an old cobblestone street that can be treacherous and slippery, especially at night. During the summer season, a local newspaper publishes the nightly number of twisted ankles and broken legs experienced by women wearing high-heels.  Fortunately for me, it was still winter and I wore "sensible" shoes.

At the end of the International Women's Conference that I attended, about 20 of us got together for a farewell dinner at Tri Šešira [Three Hats].

There was music
and good cheer
 and more good cheer.
There was also a terrific dessert of Baklava and tufahija [baked apples with walnuts, honey and a dollop of schlag]
Dad was right.  A great place with a touch of nostalgia.  They can leave the light on for my next visit.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Women's Leadership Conference

Earlier this month, I attended the International Women's Conference in Belgrade.  It was sponsored by the Speaker of the Parliament of Serbia, Dr. Slavka Đukić-Dejanović, USAID, and the Serbian Unity Congress (of which I was the first woman president).

This event brought together 160 women from the US, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Macedonia, Romania and Mongolia, who are involved in the government, philanthropic, NGO, and private sectors.  It gave us a chance to hear about strategies for empowering women to actively participate in all the arenas of life:  economic, governmental, scientific, and social.
The academic choir "Obilić, conducted by Mrs. Darinka Matić Matović, started off the conference singing "Vostani Serbije" [Arise Serbia], written to support the 1804 rebellion against Ottoman Turkey, and the African-American spiritual "I Wonna Be Ready".  Then, the first panel began.
left to right:  U.S. Ambassador Mary Burce Warlick; Dr. Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic; Elizabeth Sullivan, Office of Global Women’s Issues, State Department; and Mirjana Samardzija, President, Serbian Unity Congress 
The conference was also a chance to see old friends,
Olga from Vienna
Fionn from Los Angeles
and make new ones.
At the end of the first day, we all got together in Parliament building of Serbia, and heard a contemporary theater group sing a lively and toe-tapping rendition of Živele Žene [Viva Women!].
Some photos of the Parliament building ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beautiful Belgrade

Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of NATO's unjust bombing of Serbia, wherein both military and civilian assets were targeted. Oh, yes, NATO also "mistakenly" bombed the Chinese embassy.

Thirteen years later, I was gratified to see a country moving forward while not forgetting its roots or painful history. I was in Belgrade last week and had the chance to photograph some if its lovely architecture.

I took long walks in the chilly and often rainy weather ... starting with the massive and still-under-construction Church of St. Sava on Vracar hill ...
The Church of St. Sava
The Chruch of St. Sava (interior) 
The Chruch of St. Sava (interior)
 ... where I lit a candle for a recently deceased friend.

Then I participated in an International Women's Leadership conference at the National Assembly [Narodna Skupština] building,
 which has been beautifully restored.
More city views ...
The Nikola Tesla Museum
The Spanish Embassy and colorful neighboring building
Photos of buildings along the pedestrian-friendly Knez Mihailova and adjacent streets ...

"Meet me by the horse" is a frequent refrain, referring to the statue in front of the National Museum.
The library at the astronomical observatory on Zvezdara hill

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