Sunday, August 26, 2007


On a hot Saturday in Belgrade, my coworkers (three shown at right) and I took advantage of the only appealing option- swimming. Belgrade has an incredible park (Ada) that runs around a lake. While locals have warned us that the water may not be pristine (all of Belgrade swims in the stagnant water), we have decided that Ada is very underrated. The park is a recreationists dream, complete with beaches, cafes, carnival rides and even bungi jumping. The people watching is also incredible as European men all enjoy sporting very tight speedos.

Not only is Ada enjoyable for cooling off on a hot day, it is also the perfect distance from my house for a nice run. There is a trail the entire way around the lake which is preferable to risking my life with the crazy drivers on the road. Additionally, I will never get bored as there are often old men out performing their morning yoga in the buff (yuck).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Boat Cruise

International School Belgrade continues to amaze me in their treatment of teachers. Although we are in "severe budget crisis" (the students only pay 20,000 to go here--quite a bargain), we took a boat cruise on the Danube as a staff. It was beautiful with views of the city.

We also went past Kalamegdan, the fortress in the center of town (also the site of the beerfest where a man ended up in the bear's cage--check it out on CNN
Belgrade is also surrounded by parks and green areas that I have yet to explore. Perhaps after I pick up my bike this afternoon--hot off the black market.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Belgrade

I finally have my computer hooked up to internet so can begin my accounts of life in Belgrade.

ARRIVAL: After a full day of travel, I arrived in Belgrade smelling of smoke (in Munich and Belgrade, smoking is allowed in the airports and restaurants—is this 1950?), and with an unbelievable amount of stuff (yes, even my kayak made it). Luckily, I was greeted by four school staff members to help me move into my apartment. It is a beautiful apartment in a VERY upscale neighborhood. I will never be able to move back into the slums where I used to live.

While Serbian is a very difficult language, just about everyone here speaks some English. This is very helpful in trying to do things such as riding the bus (more difficult than you would think) and set up cable internet, but not so helpful trying to learn the language.

After misreading a map, I found myself on a marathon walk to downtown Belgrade. When I realized my mistake, I tried to get my bearings and realized all road signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet where c’s are k’s and s’s are c’s (yep, it is confusing!). With a few new blisters I finally reached my destination then braved the bus back.

SETTLING IN: After a few days in Belgrade, I have met a few coworkers who are incredibly fun and helpful. My principal even took me to the Merkatur (similar to Walmart, but more expensive). It seems odd to have my boss know what I eat and which brands of sheets I prefer. I tried to buy some aluminum foil and was not successful. There were boxes that looked like foil and had the word folije on them (similar to foil). Apparently, this means saran wrap.

I have also spent some time exploring the city. There is a beautiful bike trail that I have been running on that runs around a city island/park. The park is complete with a bungee jump station (I am chicken) and nude sun bathers in the afternoons—this really isn’t the US.

Downtown Belgrade is very interesting as it has just about every type of building you can imagine. There are beautiful churches and old style buildings right next to communist era ugly cement buildings right next to buildings that were bombed by the US less than ten years ago (why don’t they hate us?). There is also a walking street through the middle of downtown lined with cafes with outdoor seating—wonderful because I don’t come away smelling like an ash tray. However, just because an item is on a menu, does NOT mean they serve it.
Overall, the transition has gone quite smoothly. It is frustrating when something that should be easy (i.e. setting up internet) is incredibly hard because you do not know where to go or how to ask for help. The good news is that my coworkers are incredibly helpful!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

South Fork Salmon and other Summer Adventures

In my quest to run as many rivers as possible, I found the best multi-day river trip around--the South Fork of the Salmon. After sneaking around the Forrest Service Fire Fighters who wanted to stop our trip, we had four amazing days on the river. The whitewater was incredible, and the scenery beautiful. (Yep, that's me running Fall Creek)

Perhaps the most amazing part of the trip was seeing a wolf in the wild (and no, it isn't a coyote). The wolf was ready to come have breakfast with us, but we preferred it on the other side of the river. Instead, he was kind enough to pose a few times for us.
The summer is now coming to a close, and I am missing people and places already.... come visit me in Belgrade!