From Belgrade, Serbia
After a short drive from Grocka, my nephew Stasa dropped off Elizabeth and me at Vukov Spomenik, a park next to the Engineering Faculty of the Belgrade University of which both he and I are graduates. And thus started our walk through Belgrade, and my walk down the memory lane in the city of my birth.
So many memories, so many tumultuous historical events, some of which I was a part. And now, just a peaceful city on the confluence of two great European rivers.
Four hours later, we finished our walking tour of Belgrade in a shady coffee shop under the walls of the Kalemegdan Fortress, perched high above the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. It was a strategic piece of land over which empires and kingdoms have fought ever since the time of the Roman Empire. But for us, it was just a place for juice and coffee on a hot summer day.
One thing that struck me as I was now looking at all these pictures, it was Elizabeth who looked like a soldier in her olive drabs while I looked like a typical American tourist. 🙂
Here are some other photo and video memories from that 4-hour walk…
THE DAY NATO BOMBED SERBIAN MEDIA
Amazingly, the small Russian church which is located between the RTS building and the big Saint Marko Cathedral was spared during this bombing attack.
Saint Marko’s cathedral has always been my favorite church in downtown Belgrade. As a student, I used to live nearby and would often hear beautiful choir music from the inside as I walked from my home to the university.
Ditto re. that small Russian church of Holy Trinity next to it especially at the Orthodox Easter or Christmas. which was miraculously saved during NATO attack on Serbian Radio & TV station right next door.
Elizabeth and I spent a few minutes inside the Saint Marko cathedral before continuing our walk.
CHANGING OF THE GUARDS AT SERBIA’S PRESIDENTIAL PALACE – BELGRADE, SERBIA – JUNE 16, 2017 – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic
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Going on to Terazije square, which has always been considered the heart of dowtown Belgrade, I could not resist a temptation and succumbed to my favorite dessert – a crepe with Nutella and walnuts. Yum! 🙂
We then continued our walk through, what used to be Belgrade’s most fashionable street – Knez Mihajlova – which is where I caught on video this excerpt from a concert by three young street musicians.
BELGRADE STREET MUSICIANS – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – June 16, 2017
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Not far from there, just a little farther down the street, there was a young Gypsy musician (the girl in red) trying to get an early start earning money by playing her violin in public.
“UNDER THE LINDENS: MEMORIES OF A STUDENT UPRISING 47 YEARS AGO… AND OF THE PLAY “THE PROFESSIONAL”
We then veered off to the right of Knez Mihajlova street to Studentski Trg (Student Square), so I could show Elizabeth the Faculty of Philosophy Bldg, which was our HQ during the student uprising against Tito’s communist government in June 1968.
Then as now, the beautiful scent of the Linden trees in the courtyard was overwhelming. But unlike then, when the courtyard was teeming with thousands of rebellious students, on this day, June 16, all was quiet.
This hallowed place from my memories of the 1968 student uprising also figured as a scene in the play “THE PROFESSIONAL” , which I translated and adapted for English audiences in 1990-1992. The play received rave reviews when it opened first in San Francisco, then in London and New York (see http://www.truthinmedia.org/bob-professional.html and this PDF of my script – http://www.truthinmedia.org/PRO-US.pdf).
I also shared with Elizabeth some anecdotes of what happened here during the 1968 uprising when the entire Student Square was surrounded by cordons of Tito’s armed police and the army.
VISIT TO OLD BELGRADE
We then veered off again, this time to the left of Knez Mihajlova St, to see the Patriarchate and the Saborna Crkva (Congregational church), where the Patriarch used to serve Christmas and Easter services before the large St Sava Cathedral was completed in another part of Belgrade.
This is also where I would meet with Patriarch Pavle every time I would come to the Balkans in the 1990s, during the years I worked there as a war correspondent.
“We had met many times during those years, but one such a meeting was particularly memorable,” I recalled to Elizabeth as we stood in front of the Patriarchate Bldg.
It happened at the height of NATO’s bombing of Serbia. Up until that day, all of the bombing raids took place at night. But that afternoon, Friday, Apr 16, as the Patriarch and I were sitting and conversing in his large reception hall, the air raid sirens started to wail their ominous warnings. It was the first NATO daytime bombing raid.
I just smiled looking at the Patriarch and the open windows of his reception hall.
“Your Holiness,” I said, “I cannot think of a safer place to be than this when the bombs start falling.”
The Patriarch also smiled back and nodded. Yes, the Divine protection is more powerful than any air raid shelters (see (see http://www.truthinmedia.org/Bulletins2006/NATO_secrets.html).
And then, Elizabeth and I continued our walk to the Kalemegdan park and the fortress where the opening pictures were taken.