A Nostalgic Farmer’s Market

We had no particular plans in mind for Beograd. We didn’t know what to expect so we decided to wander around. We headed out a little later that morning because R wasn’t feeling well from yesterday morning’s cold shower. She ended up with a fever and cough.

We stumbled into an open air farmers market. The market was very lively with neat rows of stands and people selling their produce. From nuts, vegetables, meat, flowers , eggs, fish and anything else that you might expect to find in a market like this. The people were very friendly. I learned that if you want to take photos of them all you need to do is offer them a smile and show them the photo after. There was a sweet lady who allowed us to stand behind her stall for a photo. We gladly obliged.

We spent a lot of time wandering in market and taking photos. I was very curious to find out what people were buying, what was in season, and where did all the produce come from?

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A lady catching up on her daily news.

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One of the reasons why I love visiting farmers markets when I travel is because of how wonderfully colourful everything is.

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Some farm fresh eggs to go please.

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After we continued on into the bohemian quarters. The cobble street was empty. You can see shop owners are just starting to wake up from what appeared to be a busy evening last night. We walked into a shop and I got some fried fish to try. It was a bit salty but very tasty.
We decided to make our way to the restaurant which was all the way across town. The walk was a very long 45 min journey. We walked by St. Marks cathedral and took a short break. The cathedral had some very interesting brick work and beautiful columns. It’s always so fascinating to me that churches and cathedrals are so elaborate when it comes to the architecture, paintings, murals..etc.

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Onward to Beograd

I’ve been intending to continue documenting my travels to the Balkans and Turkey, but life has been busy. In my last post we were at Sofia, Bulgaria, and we were heading to Beograd (Belgrade), Serbia. We took an overnight train that was very old. We managed to get a private coach so that we could catch some shut eyes during the night. There were a few things that I had to prepare myself for the ride. I didn’t drink any water, to avoid having to use the bathroom. Bring food, because food is not offered on the train even though it’s a good 7 hour ride. If you are considering taking the train from Sofia to Beograd, you also have to be aware that at the boarders between Bulgaria and Serbia, the train operators change from Bulgarian to Serbians. At which point, they will come knocking on your door to verify your passport. I was very nervous when the Serbian boarder police took my passport and left with it. I wasn’t sure who he was, and why he needed to walk away with my passport. As I began to panic he returned with my passport.

Arriving at Beograd, we found ourselves on an old train platform. It was half past six, and we were exhausted. There was a weak wifi signal at the station (thankfully), and I was able to map out our airbnb location.

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I didn’t realize the walk was going to be very long with our heavy backpacks. We walked well over 45 mins on empty stomachs (because we didn’t eat the night before), barely any liquid, and lack of sleep.

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We made our way as quickly as we could to pick up the keys, and headed over to our apartment. We went through the front gate only to realize that I don’t know which apartment and which floor we are on! I walked up and down the building to no avail. The next best thing to do was try to call the landlady. I didn’t know how to use the pay phones in Serbia, so I walked into a convenient store to borrow a phone. The store owner wanted to charge us $5 USD for the phone call. I shocked that she would take advantage of lost travelers like that, but decided that we should pay her anyways because we were exhausted and there was no other way. The phone number didn’t go through. We were officially homeless.

We sat outside on the streets in front of a hotel, hoping that we could get a wifi connection so we can email the lady and hope that she would email back. We sat there and waited. The city was starting to stir and people were out walking their dogs. For a few people, I’m pretty sure we were their amusement for the day. Two foreign girls looking completely lost, sitting on the street with their backpacks. There were a few moments where I was convinced that we would be homeless for the next few days. Just as I started to panic, she emailed us back. We headed back to the building and finally found our apartment.

The place was a studio room with just a bed, a small kitchenette, a small bathroom with a shower. It was simple, well decorated and clean. We were pleased. At last, a hot shower and some food would be nice. R jumped into the shower and low and behold, the water was freezing. She was soaked in freezing water from head to toe. I emailed the landlady and she said that we had to turn on the heat in the apartment and wait half hour before the water warms up. Unfortunately, it was too late for R. We napped for what seemed like just a little while, and when we woke up it was 1pm already. I was starving. We set out to look for food. Having not eaten for at least 36 hours we were determined to feast. We walked around and realized that we were staying in a very quiet neighborhood, a bit away from city centre. Some nice bakeries and restaurants lined the street.

We decided on a retro looking restaurant called “Ime Restorana”. The decor felt like we were stepping back into an old Serbian home. There was little debate as to what we wanted to have, because we were so hungry we wanted to have everything.

We started with fresh corn bread. It was warm and tasty. The bread was a little dense and a little savoury. Very different from the typical french bread that we get in Toronto.

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We then had a mushroom with stuffed cheese and some sort of pork ham. It’s almost like bacon, but not as fatty. When we ordered this, we thought that the portions were going to be a lot smaller, and we didn’t realize that it would be served with rice. the mushrooms were essentially baked with the Serbian cheese (which resembles feta cheese in taste and texture). The mushroom was very juicy and the juice was absorbed into the rice. I’m assuming that the mushroom was made on the bed of rice so that the rice would pick up the flavour. The rice was like a balsamic rice. It’s a little harder than what I’m use to which is more along the lines of soft chewy Japanese rice.
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Next we had a Serbian pie. It was layers of pastry cheese. The pastry layers were crispy on the outside and soft and chewy with the cheese on the inside. Could you tell by now that we’ve over ordered?

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Next we had a simple tomato sauce pasta. There was a generous splash of olive oil. The tomato sauce was very light, and as you can see there were no bits of tomatoes in the pasta. It was just the tomato juice and olive oil. Very tasty and comforting after a long day.

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The protein came next. Chicken breast with herbs in a cream sauce. I personally wasn’t a fan of the cream sauce. I though that there was too much sauce on the chicken and the sauce was better served on the side. The cream sauce was savoury with generous amounts of herbs to balance off the creaminess.

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And did you know that Serbia actually grew it’s own grapes? I was delighted to find out that Serbia made it’s own wine. This wine had a dry finish to it. It had a grapefruit and citrus bouquet. It was pale straw in color with a slight green tinge. What you would expect from the cold climates of Serbia. After I got home, I read a bit more about Serbian wine, and learned that Serbia used to produce a lot more grapes. But during the war, people abandoned the vineyards and went to war. (War is bad, wine is good!) Before the war, in the 1970s Serbia had named 7 main wine regions with further sub region classifications. But now the industry is picking up again. You don’t get Serbian wine in Canada because it’s too expensive to ship. But if you ever get a chance to go to Serbia make sure you try out their wine.

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So now your probably wondering what the total damage is? Well it cost $3,240 Serbian dinar which is approximately $40 canadian! Isn’t that amazing? For such a delicious meal. The staff members spoke a bit of English and was extremely friendly. A lot of smiles, and came to check on the food. They did their best to explain what each dish was. Overall, a fabulous dining experience!

Symptoms and Diagnosis

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Symptoms:

- Restlessness
– Occasionally tantrums for no apparently reason
– Obsessively reading through travel blogs on the internet
– Staring at the world map and having fun looking at all the countries I’ve never been to
– Wandering into the travel section of book stores
– Secretly being jealous of other people’s travel on social media

Diagnosis:

These symptoms appeared a month and a half ago or so. I didn’t understand what it was all about. Other than R’s insanely long tax season which took a slight toll on me, I was otherwise a happy camper. It wasn’t until I started reading a lot of travel blogs, and talking things out with R that I realized I need to pack up and travel again.

When I started sharing my concerns with some friends, the unanimously response was: “You just came back from Denmark and Sweden 3.5 months ago. And not to mention 3.5 months before that you were in Turkey and the Balkans.”

I stared blankly at them. I believe I’ve come to accept the fact that the more I traveled, the more I need to travel. It sounds like the vicious cycle of a drug user.

With that being said, R and I have a long over due trip and yesterday we finally booked our next destination.

NEPAL

In less than 2 months, we will be going from YYZ > HKG > KTM > HKG > YYZ. We have a 1 day layover in HKG on our way there and on the way back. I honestly have not been back to HKG for over 8 years now. I’m sure a lot has changed and I’m really excited to see what it’s all about. This time, I’ll have my camera with me as well. I’m really hoping to get some nice photos of HKG. In addition to seeing Em, shopping, food..etc

As for KTM, I can not contain my excitement. Don’t even ask me about our plans because I will not be able to stop gloating. We have a little more than 2 weeks in KTM, and we are planning on seeing the Kathmandu Valley as well as trekking to Everest Base Camp. I’m a little nervous about the altitude sickness and the weather. I hope we will get some fantastic weather for the 2 weeks, but it’s unrealistic to hope for no rain at all. We will have to be extra prepared.

We started doing a lot of research already, and I will be updating this blog with progress of our prep work.

Rain or shine!

I was a little grumpy about the rain earlier this week. Then I thought about it, and I feel like an ungrateful child. I get to go on this fantastic vacation, I’m getting time off and I let a little rain bother me. I realized that I was just making my own holiday miserable and the rain had nothing to do with it.

So I rain proofed myself and went to face off with the rain. I was determined to learn to enjoy this rainy weather and not let it get to me. I was hopped on my bike and peddled through the rain. As it started to pour, I took cover in front of a bakery.

I stood there watch and watched as the rain fell. I had no where to go, no places to be. Then I began to notice…

The rain washed colours off buildings, and onto the cobblestone.

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Mom and Dad alike sheltering their children and getting soaked themselves. Couples holding each other closer to stay warm. Everyone rushing to where they need to be.

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Except for her. She’s learned to laugh and dance in the rain.

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Good food, great company!

I always feel so lucky when I go somewhere, and I get to meet up with friends. Lucky for me, Heidi lives in CPH! Her and her boyfriend (TB) are so sweet for showing me around. Here is the super fun couple!

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We went to Dyrehaven for lunch. It’s a cozy restaurant frequented by locals. The place use to be a bar and then it was purchased by someone else and now they serve smorrebrod as their specialty. The place is easy going, relaxing -very Danish.

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It was a smorrebrod feast. My first was a fried fish smorrebrod with dill, this creamy mayo-like sauce, and some pickles. The second one was a potato with this creamy sauce and fried onions. Both extremely tasty and very filling.

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TB ordered a roast beef and a bacon one.

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Heidi went with a goat cheese salad.

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They also had a very good selection of beer on tap. Being extremely satisfied, we went for coffee and sat outside to enjoy the nice weather.

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Thank you Heidi and TB for being such wonderful hosts.

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I have a confession to make.

So I have a confession to make. I went to Nyhavn for the shot that every tourist takes when they visit CPH. (Can you blame me? It’s so pretty)  Nyhavn is a 17th century harbor.  It’s the image that every foreigner thinks of when someone mentions CPH.  I went an hour before sunset.  The clouds were beautiful, the sky was a rich blue, and the sun was out.  Nyhavn was lively with locals and tourists alike enjoying the weather.

It was picture perfect.

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With a photo like that in the bag, I felt like my trip is complete.  But.. I have a confession to make.  When I got there and started my shoot, I was a little shocked.  Houses were beautiful, people were happy, sun was shining.. the water was dirty.  Actually, the water was SO DIRTY, there were cans, plastic bags, flags…etc floating.  It was gross.

Mind you CPH is a fairly clean city.  No where in CPH have I seen a neighourhood this dirty. (Maybe I didn’t look hard enough)  I consider Nyhavn a city landmark.  It breaks my heart.  I know what it is.  It’s the number of tourists that come here every year, and don’t respect the place.  Leaving trash and junk behind.  But, let’s not blame it all on the tourists.  Locals spend time there as well.

So, I confess that I Photoshopped all the garbage out (above noted photo).  I’m a perfectionist and I just can’t have so much garbage floating around in my photo.

So here you go, for those that love spoilers.  The unedited photo.

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Helsingor

One of the most visited town for tourists visiting CPH because it’s only a 45min train ride away. A return ticket cost around 90DKK x 2 = 180 DKK. However, if you are just making a day trip, Helsingor is within the 5 zones and you can buy a unlimited ride day pass which only cost 130 DKK. (Saves you about $20 CAD)

Train travel in Denmark is very comfortable and convenient. The lovely thing is that the train stations all look very unique. This is the Helsingor Train Station. Looks like a chateau!

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Helsingborg is a small city near the port. On clear sunny days, you can see Sweden from Helsingborg. The main attraction here is Krongborg Slot.

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But the town itself is very old and shouldn’t be missed. You can expect one of those tiny cozy towns with colorful houses dotting narrow cobblestone streets.

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Among the historical buildings, this cathedral stood out. The brick work is very interesting, the patterns are bold. The garden is well kept.

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The jewel of this cathedral is the courtyard. There’s something so captivating about a perfectly squared courtyard with a single tree in the middle. For whatever reason, it felt nostalgic like I’ve seen this before. But among my travels, I don’t recall ever seeing this.

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I wandered out to the docks. The weather was fantastic before, but the clouds moved in quickly.  Created the perfect sky backdrop for this shot.

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Selfie: No pole climbing here.

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Close to the docks you will see an interesting building. It’s a community centre/ public library. You can’t miss it when you go because it is one of the more modern looking structures. I love how Danes really focus on getting light into buildings. It’s dark most of the time in Denmark, so they use larger windows and a lot of glass to maxim light from the sun.

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