World Cup

I’ve been enjoying the World Cup for the last few weeks.  I have enjoyed watching games at various venues in Sitka.  (Football is better watched in community.  The picture is at the Dock Shack in Sitka.)  When I lived in Europe I followed the game and during the 2010 World Cup.  I wrote about it (and past World Cup experiences) in four letters from Belgrade and Palic (Serbia), Istanbul and Winnipeg.  I merged and shortened those letters.  Here they are.      Sports events that don’t involve a bat and ball generally don’t interest me, but for the Football World … Continue reading World Cup

Belgrade, Krajla Petra (King Peter) St, March 2013

My office was on this street for three years, but who carries a camera to work?  When I realized I was leaving I took my camera but the light was never right.  On March 30 I had a camera and good light so I took these pictures.   The buildings on the street are a mix of empire style, Austrian Secession, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and modern.  I love the street. Continue reading Belgrade, Krajla Petra (King Peter) St, March 2013

Sargan 8, A railroad climbs a mountain in Serbia

This is an excerpt from a June 2009 letter:   This week we started our journalism summer school at Mokra Gora, (wet mountain) in the mountains near the Bosnian border.   As part of the program we had arranged an excursion on the narrow gauge railway. This railroad has fascinated me for more than 35 years.  Suzi and I encountered it in 1972 on a drive through Bosnia, the little steam engines pulled trains of logs and passengers along track that sometimes ran beside the rutted road on which we were driving.  There was a lot of construction on that road … Continue reading Sargan 8, A railroad climbs a mountain in Serbia

Vojvodina, Serbia

This is an excerpt from a November 2008 letter. The Pannonian Plain is Fargo flat.   It’s the bed of an ancient “sea” where rich soil settled into a flat bottom.  The part of the plain in Serbia is the Autonomous province of Vojvodina with its capital in Novi Sad.  The region was largely marshy swamp through which armies moved back and forth until the ground settled.  When the ground settled people settled too.  Serbian refugees, many from Kosovo, came north fleeing the Ottomans.  Hungarians moved south, Croats East and Romanians west, all into the Vojvodina.  Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa settled … Continue reading Vojvodina, Serbia

Subotica, Serbia

This is an excerpt from an April 20010 letter. On Easter Suzi and I decided to travel to Subotica, which is in the very northernmost part of Serbia.  It is a majority Catholic city, so we thought it might be a good place to celebrate Western Easter.  By the time we got there any Easter festivities were long over, but we got to wander the streets to look at this Art Nouveau-Secessionist town.  Although it is in Serbia, it is not of Serbia, but is tied, by history and tradition, to the Hapsburgs.  It’s where Serbs who cannot get a … Continue reading Subotica, Serbia

Palic, Serbia

This is an excerpt from a November 2008 letter, though some of the pictures were taken later. This weekend I spent time with some of the journalists from the region at Palic Lake.  The lake is set in the very flat landscape of the Pannonian Plain and on a windy day it may have more terrain than the surrounding countryside.  When I was there the lake was flat calm with mist rising, shrouding the piers and the 19th century empire hotels and villas.  Palic is a piece of the Habsburg Empire that found itself just a few kilometers on the … Continue reading Palic, Serbia

Novi Sad, Serbia

These are excerpts from an April 2009 letter.   Spring has arrived and I have spent as much time as possible overcoming vitamin D deficiency drinking espresso on sunny sidewalks and walking through Belgrade’s and Novi Sad’s parks. On Saturday Suzi and I drove to Novi Sad, Serbia’s second city, a Hapsburg town on the Danube a little over 100 kilometers north of Belgrade.   We visited friends and took a look at the Novi Sad School of Journalism weekend school.  We had a stroll along the Danube and enjoyed the views of the citadel across the river and the colorful … Continue reading Novi Sad, Serbia

Novi Pazar, Serbia

Here is an excerpt from a February 11, 2010 family letter. 7 AM:  looking out a hotel window, fog from the river, steam from tile roofs and smoke from chimneys all mingle and rise past the top of a minaret towards the snowcapped mountains carrying smells of baking bread, roasting coffee and wood smoke touched with soft coal.  Two hours earlier the muezzin’s call to prayer would have mingled with these mists but I wasn’t looking out the window just then.  The call to prayer nudged me awake long enough for me to check the time, think my own devotions … Continue reading Novi Pazar, Serbia

Nis, Serbia

Here are some paragraphs from a 2009 family letter. Last weekend we traveled to the southern city of Nis.We had a little time for sightseeing around work.  We were in Nis to help demonstrate remote broadcast at the Nis Film Festival.  The festival was in the old Turkish citadel so the main tourist attraction was all around us.  We had a pizza in the garden of the Turkish bath.  We drove out of town to visit the Skull Tower and the Nis Hot Springs. The tower is about 10 feet high and is lined with the skulls of Serb rebel … Continue reading Nis, Serbia

Serbia, Mokra Gora

(This is an excerpt from a letter from March 2009) Last week I visited a resort, Mecavnik, in the Tara Mountains near the Bosnian border just outside the town of Mokra Gora.  It was built by Emir Kusturica, the Serbian filmmaker (“Arizona Dream”, “Underground”).  We are planning to have the IREX Journalism Summer School there in June and July.  Mecavnik is an “ethno village” designed to look like a traditional Serbian village and was built, I think, first as a film set.  It is the site of the annual Kustendorf Film Festival and has a modern cinema, indoor pool, gym, … Continue reading Serbia, Mokra Gora

Belgrade, Tito’s Grave, Yugo Nostalgia.

This is from an April 2009 letter:   When I picked up my teacup a few mornings ago, the one with Tito, I noticed that my fingers were black.  I don’t know if Tito is rubbing off on me.  But the cup is a bit less stark than it once was. On Saturday I went to an exhibit “The Tito Effect” at the museum near his tomb.  It explores the charisma that held Yugoslavia together after the Second World War.  At the entrance a youth choir was singing.  The group was backed up by a bass, guitar, and drum.  They … Continue reading Belgrade, Tito’s Grave, Yugo Nostalgia.

Belgrade, NATO Bombing Sites.

This is from an October 2000 letter from Belgrade, on my first visit to the city after Milosevic lost power– and my first visit since the NATO bombing.   When someone asks “do you want to see the sights” he really means “sites,” the places hit during the NATO bombing.  Like in Pristina, the tour points out how accurate the bombing really was.  People mark time “before bombing, after bombing” always pronouncing the second “b” in bombing.  And when people ask “how has Belgrade changed” they expect me to cite the most visible of the sites, the tall building next … Continue reading Belgrade, NATO Bombing Sites.