The House of Flowers, Belgrade

Our guide, Srdgan Ristic and Kathy hamming it up for the camera beneath a larger than life statue of Tito. Speaking of ham, I had pork for almost every meal in Belgrade. Oh bacon, I've missed you sooooo.....
Our guide, Srdgan Ristic and Kathy hamming it up for the camera beneath a larger than life statue of Tito. Speaking of ham, I had pork for almost every meal in Belgrade. Oh bacon, I’ve missed you sooooo…..

11/7/2015
Today, another post about Belgrade, which I visited last month. I met my dear friend, Kathy, there and she arranged for an all day tour of this wonderful city with guide Srdjan Ristic, owner of Explore Belgrade! One of the many sites he took us to was the House of Flowers, the mausoleum of Josip Broz, better known as Tito. He was the former head of Yugoslavia and can probably be best described as a benevolent dictator.

Entrance to the House of Flowers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Flowers_%28mausoleum%29
Entrance to the House of Flowers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Flowers_%28mausoleum%29
I no longer take English signage for granted.
I no longer take English signage for granted.
These were gifts to Tito, used in symbolic relay races. They are on display at the House of Flowers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relay_of_Youth
These were gifts to Tito, used in symbolic relay races. They are on display at the House of Flowers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relay_of_Youth
Here's one of his suits. He was surprisingly short.
Here’s one of his uniform. He was surprisingly short.
Tito's mausoleum is set in the middle of the house of flowers, below the skylight.
Tito’s mausoleum is set in the middle of the house of flowers, below the skylight.

Of course Yugoslavia is long gone, now broken into several countries–and the borders are still under dispute.

Later that evening, Kathy and I joined Mary Ann for a pasta dinner, something I've craved. Tasty food and good conversation make for a perfect evening.
Later that evening, Kathy and I joined Mary Ann for a pasta dinner, something I’ve craved. Tasty food and good conversation make for a perfect evening.
Our waitress did not let the language barrier get in the way--she brought us a chocolate mousse to share!
Our waitress did not let the language barrier get in the way–she brought us a chocolate mousse to share!
How can you resist this?
How can you resist this?

Belgrade, Church of Saint Sava

The outer structure of of the impressive white church is complete, but there is still much work to be done. It stands on a hill, in a Belgrade neighborhood. I felt honored to have such an amazing tour guide show me this work of art. Srdjan Ristic is the owner of Explore Belgrade and my dear friend Kathy had arranged for a private, all day tour with him. This was near the end of the tour and we felt like old friends by then.
The outer structure of the impressive white church is complete, but there is still much work to be done. It stands on a hill, in a Belgrade neighborhood. I felt honored to have such an amazing tour guide show me this work of art. Srdjan Ristic is the owner of Explore Belgrade and my dear friend Kathy had arranged for a private, all day tour with him. This was near the end of the tour and we felt like old friends by then.

11/6/2015
I’ve been battling illness for almost a week. I had a few drugs, which helped a lot, but ran out yesterday. Today I went to a pharmacy. Supplied with the correct Turkish words I asked for medicine for diarrhea and also something for a headache. I mimed the last part by holding my head, but the pharmacist repeated the words in English for me (I take it that my Turkish pronunciations were pretty bad). Then he whisked behind the counter to get the medications. While I was waiting, a woman who worked there asked, in broken English, to help me. She had seen me mime a headache. “Hair loss?” She says.

Wow. How sick do I look?

Seriously, I’m not in bad shape. It’s all new bugs and viruses when you travel and my immune system occasionally gets overwhelmed. This too shall pass. Pun intended, Michael.

I’m posting a few more photos of Belgrade, which I visited last month.
This is the Church of Saint Sava. According to Wikipedia:

In 1594, Serbs rose up against Ottoman rule in Banat, during the Long War (1591–1606) …….though the uprising was quickly suppressed. The rebels had, in the character of a holy war, carried war flags with the icon of Saint Sava. …. Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha ordered that the sarcophagus and relics of Saint Sava located in the Mileševa monastery be brought by military convoy to Belgrade. ….The relics were publicly incinerated by the Ottomans on a pyre on the Vračar plateau, and the ashes scattered, on April 27, 1595.

The Serbs never forgot the humiliation. This amazing church now stands on that same plateau, dominating Belgrade’s cityscape, but it wasn’t an easy rise.

Srdgan was a very personable and funny guide, but he was very serious about the Church of Saint Sava. He was raised and continues to live in the neighborhood of the church. As a child, he played in the construction site, which was virtually abandoned at the time and full of trees and bushes. Now, though still under construction, it is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and ranks among the largest church buildings in the world.
Srdgan was a very personable and funny guide, but he was very serious about the Church of Saint Sava. He was raised and continues to live in the neighborhood of the church. As a child, he played in the construction site, which was virtually abandoned at the time and full of trees and bushes. Now, though still under construction, it is one of the largest Orthodox churches and ranks among the largest church buildings in the world.
Inside, is still mostly concrete, but it is permeated with the smell of incense. The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to Wikipedia: "In 1895, three hundred years after the burning of Saint Sava's remains, the Society for the Construction of the Church of Saint Sava on Vračar was founded in Belgrade. Its goal was to build a cathedral on the place of the burning. A small church was built at the future place of the Cathedral, and it was later moved so the construction of the Cathedral could begin. In 1905, a public contest was launched to design the church; all five applications received were rejected as not being good enough. Soon, the breakout of the First Balkan War in 1912, and subsequent Second Balkan War and First World War stopped all activities on the construction of the church. After the war, in 1919, the Society was re-established. New appeals for designs were made in 1926; this time, it received 22 submissions. Though the first and third prize were not awarded, the second-place project, made by architect Aleksandar Deroko, was chosen for the building of the Cathedral."
Inside, is still mostly concrete, but it is permeated with the smell of incense. The church is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
According to Wikipedia: “In 1895, three hundred years after the burning of Saint Sava’s remains, the Society for the Construction of the Church of Saint Sava on Vračar was founded in Belgrade. Its goal was to build a cathedral on the place of the burning. A small church was built at the future place of the Cathedral, and it was later moved so the construction of the Cathedral could begin. In 1905, a public contest was launched to design the church; all five applications received were rejected as not being good enough. Soon, the breakout of the First Balkan War in 1912, and subsequent Second Balkan War and First World War stopped all activities on the construction of the church. After the war, in 1919, the Society was re-established. New appeals for designs were made in 1926; this time, it received 22 submissions. Though the first and third prize were not awarded, the second-place project, made by architect Aleksandar Deroko, was chosen for the building of the Cathedral.”

Forty years after the initial idea, construction of the church began on May 10, 1935, 340 years after the burning of Saint Sava’s remains. Construction was interrupted by WWII. The occupying German army used the unfinished church as a parking lot. The Red Army later did the same. The Society for Building of the Cathedral ceased to exist. But the idea did not die and finally in 1984 Branko Pešić was chosen as new architect.  He redesigned the church to use new materials and building techniques. Construction of the building began again on August 12, 1985. The walls were erected to full height of 40 meters. The greatest achievement was lifting of the 4,000 ton central dome. It was first built on the ground and lifted onto the walls, which took forty days.

The building of the church structure is being financed exclusively by donations. Seen here is a table selling candles. You can see huge sheets of plastic behind to protect the ornately carved marble. The carvings remind me of the Haiga Sophia. One of the men behind the table with his hands outstretched, seemed to know our guide. They exchanged looks and I suddenly saw the man nod his head to the side with a questioning look. Our guide smiled and nodded yes. We were let to a cordoned off stairway, The polished marble stairs down to the basement were intricate and lovely. I thought we were just being shown the stairs. I was surprised when we were allowed to descend!
The building of the church structure is being financed exclusively by donations. Seen here is a table selling candles. You can see huge sheets of plastic behind to protect the ornately carved marble. The carvings remind me of the Haiga Sophia.
One of the men behind the table with his hands outstretched, seemed to know our guide. They exchanged looks and I suddenly saw the man motion his head to the side with a questioning look. Our guide smiled and nodded yes. We were let to a cordoned off stairway. The polished marble stairs down to the basement were intricate and lovely. I thought we were just being shown the stairs. I was surprised when we were allowed to descend!
The photos can't do it justice. It was dark in the basement of Saint Sava, but everything is marble and gold. The chandeliers are huge. The final decorations are in progress--a kind of new type of fresco on the ceiling.
The photos can’t do it justice. It was dark in the basement of Saint Sava, but everything is marble and gold. The chandeliers are huge. The final decorations are in progress–a new type of fresco on the ceiling, plus gold leaf and a few mosaics.
Srdjan says he remembers, from his childhood, that there is an under-basement, perhaps a place for a crypt.
Srdjan says he remembers, from his childhood, that there is an under-basement, perhaps a place for a crypt.

Belgrade, St. Sava, Oct 2015, 14 Belgrade, St. Sava, Oct 2015, 15

There was scaffolding for the artists working on the ceiling. I thought of Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
There was scaffolding for the artists working on the ceiling. I thought of Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Belgrade, St. Sava, Oct 2015, 17

You can see some of the strips hanging for the edges of the painting--part of the process in painting the ceiling. It's described as a new style of fresco.
You can see some of the strips hanging for the edges of the painting–part of the process in painting the ceiling. It’s described as a new style of fresco.

My first day in Belgrade

Last week I traveled to Belgrade, Serbia to visit my dear friend, Kathy from New York. I stayed with her when I got off the Appalachian Trail, so I owe her in ways I can never repay. I really needed to see a friendly face and she made my month! Here are some photos from the first day. Kathy had been on a group tour and Belgrade was her final city, so I was lucky that my school schedule allowed me to  join her there.

Kathy in front of a sweets shop. Belgrade was once part of the Ottoman empire, so many of the sweets are familiar to me.
Kathy in front of a sweets shop. Belgrade was once part of the Ottoman empire, so many of the sweets are familiar to me.
Exterior of hotel Astoria.
Exterior of hotel Astoria.
Front dining room of the hotel. Quite glamorous and much better than I'm used to!
Front dining room of the hotel. Quite glamorous and much better than I’m used to!
Kathy on the left. Charlie in the middle (who I didn't know) and Penny. I roomed with Penny on my trip to Egypt. Lobby of hotel.
Kathy on the left. Charlie in the middle (who I didn’t know) and Penny. I roomed with Penny on my trip to Egypt. Lobby of hotel.
Yes, the hotel was much nicer than I'm used to.
Yes, the hotel was much nicer than I’m used to.
My room was quite large. Kathy moved in with me for the last night. We even got truffles each day. Yum!
My room was quite large. Kathy moved in with me for the last night. We even got truffles each day. Yum!
Grocery across the street from hotel. I wonder what this meant to the person who wrote it. Still no faith?
Grocery across the street from hotel. I wonder what this meant to the person who wrote it. Still no faith?
Not sure, but he was colorful!
Not sure, but he was colorful!
Republic Square or Square of the Republic (Serbian: Трг Републике / Trg Republike) is one of the central town squares and an urban neighborhood of Belgrade, located in the Stari Grad municipality. It is the site of some of Belgrade's most recognizable public buildings, including the National Museum, the National Theatre and the statue of Prince Michael.
Republic Square or Square of the Republic (Serbian: Трг Републике / Trg Republike) is one of the central town squares and an urban neighborhood of Belgrade, located in the Stari Grad municipality. It is the site of some of Belgrade’s most recognizable public buildings, including the National Museum, the National Theatre and the statue of Prince Michael.

Belgrade, Oct 2015, 4

Pedestrian mall near Republic Square. The shopping was easy because so much was in English. I found a really good pair of hiking shoes and a few other items I've needed but couldn't find in Istanbul.
Pedestrian mall near Republic Square. The shopping was easy because so much was in English. I found a really good pair of hiking shoes and a few other items I’ve needed but couldn’t find in Istanbul.
Fountain near Republic square
Fountain near Republic square
Traditional dancers near Republic Square
Traditional dancers near Republic Square

Belgrade, Oct 2015, 10 Belgrade, Oct 2015, 8

Hotel Moscow. Very posh. We went inside for a cappuccino.
Hotel Moscow. Very posh. We went inside for a cappuccino.
View from a city street near the Hotel Moscow.
View from a city street near the Hotel Moscow.

Belgrade, Oct 2015, 12 Belgrade, Oct 2015, 15

The parks are full of statues and I'd love to learn the history of each.
The parks are full of statues and I’d love to learn the history of each.
Bohemian Quarter
Bohemian Quarter
The front of an inviting little cafe.
The front of an inviting little cafe.
Statue of Dura Jakšic famous Serbian poet painter writer in Belgrade.
Statue of Dura Jakšic famous Serbian poet painter writer in Belgrade.
This is just a painting, good trompe l'oeil. But we kept coming across the word "Alcatraz" in the Bohemian quarter. Odd.
This is just a painting, good trompe l’oeil. But we kept coming across the word “Alcatraz” in the Bohemian quarter. Odd.
The Travelling Actor. Bohemian quarter of Belgrade.
The Travelling Actor. Bohemian quarter of Belgrade.
This is in the Bohemian quarter of Belgrade. Probably a bit touristy, but nice.
This is in the Bohemian quarter of Belgrade. Probably a bit touristy, but nice.
Here's the whole gang at dinner. All of them had been on the Go Ahead tour together and I knew a few of them from previous tours. From left to right: Carol (who I know as Cousin Carol); Mary, Penny (who I met on a previous tour), Kathy (my dear friend who I came here to see). Mary Ann (so sweet and she hasn't aged a day since we met on a tour in 2008!) and Mary Ellen. It was a nice girls night out.
Here’s the whole gang at dinner. All of them had been on the Go Ahead tour together and I knew a few of them from previous tours. From left to right: Carol (who I know as Cousin Carol); Mary, Penny (who I met on a previous tour), Kathy (my dear friend who I came here to see). Mary Ann (so sweet and she hasn’t aged a day since we met on a tour in 2008!) and Mary Ellen. It was a nice girls night out.
I had pork for every meal. Making up for lost time? Definitely! I'm living in a Muslim country and there's no pig allowed! This pork shish kabob was tasty, but too much meat, even for the pork starved!
I had pork for every meal. Making up for lost time? Definitely! I’m living in a Muslim country and there’s no pig allowed! This pork shish kabob was tasty, but too much meat, even for the pork starved!
Kathy always chooses good, local wine. And this is tastier than it looks--thinly sliced pickled beets. Crisp, earthy, excellent.
Kathy always chooses good, local wines. And this is tastier than it looks–thinly sliced pickled beets. Crisp, earthy, excellent.

I so enjoyed my stay. So much history. This is a city I will serious consider living in. I enjoyed trying to figure out the Cyrillic Letters.