It has been a tremendous week of early mornings for Goran and me dealing with the snow and cold temperatures. Goran is the head of the maintenance and security at the school. He and his crew started the week plowing the school grounds, parking lots, and nearby roads to make them passable for the community. He also was dealing with getting the buses to the homes through the snow-filled streets of the Belgrade suburbs. Finally today, he was trying to heat up diesel engines on four of our buses as the cold, bitter temps were freezing our fleet at school. That doesn’t include clearing the icicles from the roofs, salting sidewalks and steps for pedestrians, and maintaining the heating system.
We are pictured in the parking lot of the high school, still managing to smile after a crazy, but very interesting week. We are all looking forward to February Break which starts this weekend.
Owen shot this video yesterday of us going down Senjak Hill. Kablarska street is blocked off to traffic by two garbage containers and made into a sledding hill. We are planning to go again today. I promise no more snow videos. it is just after so long in the tropics, I am really enjoying the winter. It reminds me of my childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I am happy to experience this with my children.
I have used the opportunity to introduce the boys to the Olympic sports of luge and bobsledding. We did a bobsled competition last night in the house. They were having trouble understanding the concepts of tenths of a second and the lower number means a faster time and a higher place in the standings.
Yesterday both Nadia and I took advantage of having our housekeeper working this week and we both went for runs. I went outside and Nadia inside. Despite a temperature of -11 C, the whiteness was refreshing and I enjoyed a long run.
In the afternoon we almost completed our Christmas shopping. Nadia baked gingerbread cookies last night and we ate tacos. I hope I can take the boys to the Red Star basketball game this evening.
Snow is still falling as I write this late Thursday evening. Above, I snapped a photo of our yard on Wednesday evening. I shoveled the side walk, driveway, and steps and then walked out in the yard and snapped some photos. This is the most snow I have seen in Belgrade in my year and a half of living here. Today I managed to finally put on the snow tires on our car. It really makes a difference! We have struggled to get the car out of the garage and to a major street. The snow plows do not come down smaller streets here in Senjak, partly because of all of the cars parked on streets. They do a good job of the main roads.
Ocean loves the “sneg” as she calls snow in the Serbian language. She helped me shovel Wednesday evening. It looks like it has snowed another inch tonight, and at this rate the accumulation will be another 2-3 inches by morning. Perfect timing for the snow as Christmas is approaching and our school holidays start tomorrow afternoon.
It started snowing Monday afternoon, and as I sit here and write this on Wednesday morning, the flurries are still lightly coming down. We probably have 8-12 inches of accumulated snow. The official weather service of Serbia measures 32 centimeters this morning with more to come in the next several days. This is the second snowfall of the year, first one in December. After so many years in the tropics, we are all excited for the change of seasons and we plan to take full advantage of the snow and winter. We can hopefully do some sledding this weekend!
Above, the family is going to school yesterday morning. As you can see by the top of Eidelweiss, our trusted family car, it had snowed quite a bit Monday night. There is even more accumulated today. It doesn’t snow here to often and the city does not plow the streets well. Only the main roads are clear and so near our house, it is tough going. Of course I don’t have our snow tires on yet! They are sitting in the trunk of the car and I hope to do this soon. I’ll take some more pictures today as it is absolutely beautiful, we snow on the trees and covering everything.
Owen and Ollie are shown above this morning in our yard. It snowed yesterday a few inches and it temporarily turned Belgrade into a winter wonderland. Sadly, it was warm and sunny today and almost all of the snow melted. The boys did find time after school to make a snowman, although I was not able to because of work. I love when it snows and hope we have more this year.
Ollie and Ocean are pictured above preparing snowballs to throw at our car. We were excited to see lots of snow on our trip to Sarajevo. We are on fall break and are exploring Serbia’s neighboring country.
We got off to a slow start yesterday with many errands to do around the house. I cleaned the car, fixed the rearview mirror, and helped Nadia pack. We made a delicious pancake breakfast as well as downloaded stories to listen to while driving. After exchanging some boots for Nadia, we were on our way.
We had a slight change in plans even before we got started. We had originally planned to stay near Visegrad, a town just across the Serbian border. The town was made famous by Nobel Prize laurate, Ivo Andric, a famous Yugolsavian author. He wrote “Bridge On the Drina”, a historical fictional account of the town. I blogged about the book here. We did not stay there because the best place in the area according to the guidebooks, was used in the 1990’s as a rape camp by paramilitary forces in the Yugoslavian civil war. The Bradt Guide to Bosnia didn’t mention this. Young and beautiful Bosniak women from the Visegrad area were kept there. Nadia felt queasy about staying the night in a such a place, 16 years after. I didn’t realize how much of the war happened in Visegrad. Many Bosniaks fled the area and what used to be a mixed area, is not predominately Serbian. That is consistent with the history of the place. Much violence happened there over the centuries, from the Ottoman Turks taking Serbian boys away from their families to be raised as Ottomans, to the Austro Hungarians subduing the Ottomans.
Perhaps it was a rainy, cold night, but the town felt a bit depressed. We stopped and I took some pictures of the bridge and walked out to the capia. There is no car traffic on the bridge. It is quite an impressive architectural feat, considering how wide the river is and how long ago the sultan ordered the bridge to be built. I used Serbian RSD to buy gas in the city.
The highlight of the day was the beautiful snow in the mountains. On the Serbian side in Zlatibor, there was lots of snow. We stopped at the Hotel Mecanik for a late dinner, just outside the village of Mokra Gora. We wanted to spend the night, as Ocean vomitted and the kids and I were tired. There was no rooms available, so we decided to go on to Sarajevo. It snowed the whole way and I was a bit disappointed not to be able to see the beautiful canyons and mountain views as we were approaching Sarajevo. Being from northern Michigan, USA, the snow brought back memories of my youth.
We finally arrived in Sarajevo around 10:00 PM. Distances are deceptive in Serbia and Bosnia as the narrow, twisting mountain roads make progress slow. It took about 200 hours to travel the roughly 100 kilometers. The hotel we booked was full so we found another nearby. Initial impressions are a lively, beautiful city. I can’t wait to explore it.
We are having a bit of car trouble. The temperature gauge is cold even though we drove through the mountains all day. I think it is a thermostat problem, we’ll have to get it checked out today or tomorrow before we leave on Tuesday.