Category Archives: Travel

Balkan Bash 2016, Day 1

I’ve decided to cross-post the blog entries from two recent and wonderful trips Johanna and I took. ¬†These are originally from, and many are purely Johanna’s work.¬† I’m going to feed these in one-a-day, back-posted as needed.

First day in Belgrade, Serbia, and visually it’s a Kiev-Budapest mashup: soviet buildings next ionic columns, next to burnt out structures along cobblestone streets. I love the green areas, open spaces populated by off-leash dogs, often in brightly color sweaters, meters away from owners smoking cigarettes in jogging suits. Roller blades are also popular here, along the wide pedestrian-only stretches of Stari Grad, lined by excessive bookshops, hair salons and coffee shops, all of which provide a long list of alcoholic beverages.

From 2-10pm, we explored on foot, checking the “largest temple (actually a church) in the Balkans” off our list, as well as the national buildings, which evoked DC in their proximity to each other and disproportionate number of phallic sculptures surrounding. Also cheeked out the Nikola Tesla Museum ( where his genius was referenced in every sentence and the museum was conquerable in the 30 minutes we had before closing. In case you were wondering, there were no cars.

Lunch was at Smokvica (Kralja Petra 73) and for dinner we were serenaded by a traditional Roma band of fiddle, accordion and base at Sesir Moj (MY Hat, Skarska 21). The best food, ‘salads’, are really dips. Roasted red pepper and feta; zucchini and yogurt; maybe something mayo based with garlic? We had a trout that was smoked and then seared providing a profoundly savory flavor that only James cared for.

Feeling like we have totally “won” the city, tomorrow we will take a day trip to Novi Sad to bite into the Po’Boy of Serbia at the Index House, explore what is described as a “chipper” and “less smoky” town, about an hour away by bus. Dinner plans include seeing the opera while enjoying smoked salmon (no one calls it lox here) at Little Bay (

New work of the day: Hvalah “thank you” pronounced like “hell-of-a”.

From there, the 10 days ahead look like this:

  • Sunday and Monday in Belgrade (nights of 3/13 and 3/14)
  • Tuesday travel to Mostar, Bosnia to visit the “most beautiful bridge in the Balkans” and explore some vineyards (nights of 3/15 and 3/16–unless we think that country can also be consumed in less time…)
  • Thursday travel to Dubruvnick, Croatia (nights of 3/17 and 3/18)
  • Saturday make our way to Kotar, Montenegro (nights of 3/19 and 3/20)
  • Sunday, explore Pristina, Kosovo or Skopje, Macedonia (spending 3/21 and 3/22 in whichever we select –coin toss likely involved)
  • On Tuesday the 22nd we will find ourselves in Sofia, Bulgaria where we fly out of on the 23rd and back to NYC.

This itinerary will absolutely change–check back daily for country updates.

First round of postcards to be sent out on Monday 3/14, photos to be posted whenever wifi is available (on Instagram first @johannaisgreat).