A Travellerspoint blog

July 2021

Užice, Serbia

Užice


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I've had an absolutely wonderful week so far, teaching higher-level General English to older students.

Both classes are incredibly lovely - some of the nicest I've ever taught - as are also the contact teacher, the rest of the teachers in the English department, the head teacher and also the cleaning/ tea lady, who we've been getting our classroom keys from every morning. She doesn't speak English but smiles and responds when I say 'dobro utro' (good morning), 'dobar dan' (good day) and 'hvala' (thank you). After finding out what our hot drink of choice was at the start of the week, she started bringing us in cups of it as soon as we arrive in the morning and then during the longer of the breaks we get during the school day. For me she brings in Turkish coffee with a chunk of Turkish Delight, both common in Serbia due to the historical Ottoman link. I find it interesting to note that she makes it using a traditional jug on the hob, not a kettle - even the hot water she uses for people's tea comes from another jug on the hob.

Outside of school I've enjoyed taking in the Balkan flavour of the town. This included the market with shelled walnuts, honey, long pointed red peppers, big bulging tomatoes and other seasonal fruit and veg (I bought a kg of strawberries for only 280 dinars - just over £2); the combination of Cyrillic and Latin scripts; the occasional words and phrases I recognise from their Slavic similarity to Bulgarian; red-tiled houses contrasting with ex-Soviet-looking tower blocks; Orthodox churches; a cuisine based on grilled meats and vegetables, cucumber and tomato-based salads, cheesy pastries, yoghurt, stuffed cabbage leaves and peppers, savoury and sweet pancakes, fruit and/or jam pastries.

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Speaking of Serbian cuisine, yesterday I tried a speciality of the region Užice is in - a 'Komplet lepinja'. One of my classes brought one in to class for me as they wanted me to try it there and then for breakfast - they had mentioned the day before that they were going to bring in a speciality for me but kept what it was as a surprise. A komplet lepinja is a large savoury bun/ bread roll with a lid cut off, the main part hollowed out a little and covered in thick sour cream similar to clotted cream, then topped with whisked egg, baked and some warm pork dripping added on top. It sounds filling, and was - so much so, I had to save half of it for lunch - but it was certainly tasty and I enjoyed it.

Tomorrow my co-teacher and I have the production of the Shows we've been working on with one each of our respective classes and then after school we're going to be shown some sights by some of our soon-to-be ex-students. Something else very special is going to be happening immediately after school, too - but I'll describe this event in the next blog entry, along with the other happenings of the day!

Posted by 3Traveller 16:01 Archived in Serbia Tagged market serbia english_teaching užice serbian_cuisine Comments (0)

Back to the Balkans

London Luton Airport, Nikola Tesla Airport, Belgrade and Užice (Serbia)


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I'm back in the Balkans for the coming week, in Serbia to be precise. Serbia is new to me, but I've already been reminded of other Balkan countries I've been to.

I'm teaching in a small city called Užice (pronounced oo-zhi-tse), which is only about 35km from the Bosnian border. I got here OK earlier after a very early morning, uneventful flight from Luton Airport to Belgrade, a three and a half-hour bus trip from Belgrade Bus Station to Užice city centre, and finally a taxi ride to the hotel, which lies a few km out of town. The scenery near Užice is dramatic and stunning, with winding roads and river, stone enscarpments, hills and forest - it reminds me a bit of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, where I lived and worked for an academic year (see earlier in this blog).

I've met up with 'M', my co-teacher for the week, here at the hotel. We've spoken about how we're going to approach the week ahead, and taken advantage of the hotel's small all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner (only 500 Serbian dinars - about £4!). The selection they had for us to choose from seemed a little random; I had cheesy tomato and vegetable pasta, a very red, thin and tasty type of sausage, and sesame seed sprinkled chicken chunks. For dessert I was overjoyed to see a plate of tolumbi - like in Bulgaria, these are thick and flattened fingers of batter seeped in syrup - a bit mushier that the Bulgarian ones. They also had one of the most mouth-watering pastries I've ever had; a glorious combination of moist flaky pastry, cherries and cherry syrup.

I'm looking forward to what the next few days will bring!

Posted by 3Traveller 10:39 Archived in Serbia Tagged hotel airport buses serbia belgrade užice serbian_cuisine Comments (2)

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