Opa bato!

I am not even going to try to explain what this post’s title means in English, it has to do with being seriously impressed with something, but this is one of the many Serbian phrases that Una learnt during our 2 weeks long visit. Seriously, she learnt more in those two weeks than she does in two months here with me. And she definitely learns quicker from other people than from Mark and me. Go figure.

Well, this post is not meant to be about Una’s language development but about what we did during those two weeks. It was just the two of us, Mark stayed behind to supervise the bathroom works so we came back to a shiny brand new bathroom. With a bath, what a luxury (if you’ve ever lived in a rented apartment in Holland you know what I am talking about)! It hasn’t got much to do with Una really (since this is a blog about Una) but I will probably not resist and throw in a few photos of it later on.

But first a few photos from our holiday… So what did we do? Well, pretty much the same we do every time we go there:

Una hung out with Jana and Pavle and enjoyed every minute of it

She got spoilt rotten by baka i deka

We ate. Lots. Serbs are really good at it.

We hung out at my parents’ cottage, it is so relaxing and peaceful there…

We spent a few days with my best friend and kuma Jasmina and her husband and their adorable little boy Velja. Velja and Una had a few power struggles over Velja’s Thomas trains (put together a 2 year old and a 3 year old and if there is no blood drawn you can call it a success) but mostly really enjoyed each other’s company. And had tons of fun! Jasmina was as always, even now that she was almost 8 months pregnant, a fantastic host and always ready for action!

We also met up with our dear friends, Irena, Nebojsa and their sweet boy Misa. I’ve written before (after they visited us in November last year) how well-mannered and sweet he is and how much patience he had with Una. And that hasn’t changed. We stayed at their house over night and Nebojsa was kind enough to stay with the kids after they had fallen asleep so that Irena and I could go out for a couple of drinks and a long stroll through the center of Belgrade. I really needed that.

And of course we enjoyed a bit of what Belgrade has to offer.

Ada – a piece of heaven in the middle of the city.

Lounging at coffee shops – a very important part of the culture of Belgrade 🙂

Shopping in Knez Mihailova – now to be honest, doing this with two toddlers was not quite the same experience as some years ago (Jasmina – about ten, huh?) but we pulled it off. Yes, and she was almost 8 months pregnant in this photo, can you believe it?

So at first glance not much changed – we did all the usual stuff, things we always do when we go there. But every time we go we realise how much everything has actually changed and we are not part of it. There are new names on the political/music/literary scene that I haven’t heard of, new advertisements that I don’t understand, Belgrade is changing so much that I sometimes fail to recognise the city I lived in and loved… I could go on… But these things don’t cause the same nostalgic reaction as they did some 4-5 years ago. I have accepted them as part of my expat life, life that I am really happy living. I am slowly getting into the Dutch political scene (I will definitely vote in 2011), the music scene I will not go into now :), Delft is such a charming little place that you cannot not love and has some seriously cute little coffee shops (not that kind of coffee shops :)). So it is all good. This is our home now.

But something that I haven’t come to terms with yet and I doubt I ever will is being away from family and friends. Funnily enough it is not my generation that I struggle with so much. For some reason I feel like we have all the time in the world to spend together. Tina and I didn’t get to check out that new wellness place now but we will some other time. We are definitely going to sail the Adriatic with Jasmina and Zoki maybe not next year or the year after that but there is no rush. We are going to make it to Schenectady NY soon, as soon as we make it to Australia before my uncle disowns me :)…. What I do struggle with are the two other generations, the children and my parents. Even though my parents are not old at all (61 and 60), their health is deteriorating which has made travelling taxing on them and keeping up with Una’s physical skills practically impossible. The children on the other side – well they definitely do have all the time in the world, but they are reaching important milestones and we are not there to share it with them. Now I am (almost) OK with being “the aunt from abroad who we see twice a year” to Jana and Pavle and “kuma from Holland who sends Thomas trains” to Velja. But one of my biggest fears is that the bond between Una and them will not be as strong as we, the parents, are hoping it will be. But then I look at Radomir, my big little cousin (he is 16 already and taller than 190cm, how did that happen?) who immigrated to New Zealand at the ripe age of 2.5 and who, thanks to my uncle and aunt who really put a lot of effort in talking about his family across the ocean and made sure they visit regularly, feels a strong connection with us and gives us a big fat hug you wouldn’t expect from a 14 year old boy (last time we saw him was when they packed up all the way from Australia to Crete just to be there for our special day). So it is possible, it definitely takes effort and sacrifice but it is doable. And that always makes me feel a bit better, at least until the next milestone that we miss.

This was supposed to be a happy post, so to end it on a lighter note, here are a few photos of our
new bathroom. And if you don’t get the full picture of what it looks like – well that was the intention, come visit us and you’ll see!


1 Comment

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One response to “Opa bato!

  1. Cleverclogs

    Aww- Una is a real beauty! Glad you have a great trip- they do learn so much more from everyone else, don't they?! Nice bathroom, by the way!!!!

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