Posturing in Eastern Europe
24.04.2011 - 30.04.2011
I am in Thessaloniki, Greece now. I arrived this morning at 7am on a bus from Belgrade, Serbia. It was a 12-hour bus ride but flew by as I now feel like a seasoned traveler, unphased by hours of cramped transport. We went through Macedonia to get here, and I slept essentially not at all. So, upon arriving in Thess, I walked the 30 minutes to meet my friend, Mike, near his apartment and proceeded to come inside and crash for 2 hours before venturing out to see the city. He went to church while I slept, and then I awoke to a delicious brunch he made for us and two friends...
Ah but I am not writing to tell you about Greece! I have to tell report on Belgrade. I was there from Sunday morning at 11am until Friday at 6pm. I was visiting my friend and roommate from college, Ruthie, which I think I mentioned earlier. It was so good to see her and to be with a friend. She was a wonderful host, and I left feeling like I had seen so much of the city and yet also feeling rested and revived. We went to the Kalemegdan Fortress at dusk, beautiful. We took a driving tour of the sights of Belgrade, including Eastern Europe's largest Orthodox temple, the Parliament building and a few bombed buildings left over from the war. This precipitated a conversation about the recent history of Eastern Europe, one I was glad to have and a topic about which I was glad to be further enlightened. We did lots of things, and I wrote down my favorites:
-Walking along the Sava River riverwalk at night, so beautiful with a view of the city and music wafting over from the island, Ada, walking past boat cafes all along it.
-Kalemegdan Fortress at dusk, beautiful lighting and structures and lots to explore with a friend.
-Lunch at a restaurant called Everest, such delicious Paneer curry and an avocado/tofu/miso salad and then pumpkin cheesecake and choclate cake and tea for dessert. Mmm.
-Wednesday evening i learned the Cyrillic alphabet and was able to then read Serbian because it is a completely phonetic language. So after beginning to learn it while we drank coffee, we walked around to shop for a few things and I could practice reading all the signs. That felt good to make notable progress at a language while traveling. Greek is similar, and so I have pretty much learned its alphabet now as well.
-I also slept really well in Belgrade. That might be my very favorite part.
-And I ate good food. Burek, Hot-dog-in-croissant, Plazma espresso shake, good cappucinos.
The bit about posturing is that I observed a key difference in Belgrade from all the other places I've been. A difference in myself, and it felt like a change in posture. Like I had been standing upright with a hole in my chest and heart, open and receiving all that the world could throw at me. Sun shining in brightly. But in Belgrade I slumped slightly as if in relief and relaxation, and the hole in me both received and poured out. My head slightly shaded its opening, and I found rest in this posture. I shared and I received and I rested in the shade of myself. Mah, I always turn things into weird pictures, but still, it is how I felt.
I have been thinking a lot, and won't share everything. Thinking, though, about how to convince oneself of something outside of and beyond being told by others. How to make yourself believe something deep inside you when you refuse to believe others and even your own mind. When conviction resists persuasion. I don't know. But I would like to.
This will be a good week of conversation. Deep, meaningful, relevant and productive conversation is never in short supply when I talk with Mike. Already we have walked through so much thought as we walked through the city. Tomorrow we will go to the Jewish History Museum and then to play music with some friends on the paralia, the waterfront. Monday I will go to Kulata, Bulgaria to visit Vesi's family. And Friday I take a bus to Istanbul. Before then I am hoping to take a bus out to Mount Olympus. It will be a good week. I can feel the end of this jumping-around portion of the trip approaching. After Istanbul I will be in Israel for a longer while and then South Africa and then home. Hmm.
Thinking of you all. Missing you and hoping you are well. Feeling distant from you but hoping I am not forgotten! I certainly have not lost sight of any of you! Much love. And peace.