After a fun night of exploring the Belgrade fortress everyone was up and ready to embark on the last 2 meetings in Belgrade and a long bus ride to Pristina.
The Belgrade Fortress by night.
We first took a cab to CANVAS’ office in New Belgrade where we met with the very patient and kind Jelena. She helped us organise the meeting and also the place the meeting was held. New Belgrade was built to manage the large population growth – the objective to build as many buildings as fast as possible can be seen in the rather simple architecture. Today New Belgrade is a big business area. We had the meetings in this cozy coffeehouse right next to the CANVAS office, the only problem was that everyone was smoking inside, as they do in many places in Serbia, but this place also had bad ventilation which meant that the smell became even more uncomfortable. Coming from Sweden we were not used to this but had to adapt quickly as this was the case in most of the places we went to in Belgrade.
An example of the views in New Belgrade.
On our first meeting we met Sardja Popovic one of the founders of Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). Sardja shared his experiences as a young activist in Serbian nonviolent resistance group (Otpor), and what is was like growing up and studying in Serbia. He also outlined and discussed some of the work CANVAS does and some of the future projects they will be involved in.
Intense discussions with Sardja in the smoke-filled café.
After our meeting with CANVAS we stayed in the same coffeeshop because Sofija Vrbaški who works for Kvinna to Kvinna was meeting us there. Kvinna to Kvinna works with support for women who have been exposed to violence and with empowering women in the society. Sofija told us about the situation for women in Serbia, the work they do in the country and what the biggest challenges are. She also spoke about LGBTQ+ rights in the country and that police are needed to stand as a barrier the entire route of the Pride Parade because there have been violent incidents in the past with people throwing bricks. The parade has however grown bigger and this year the country’s Prime Minister who is a member of the LGBTQ+ society, joined. After the meeting we took a six-hour bus ride from Belgrade to Pristina.
Upon arriving in Pristina, we settled in our very comfy and cosy hostel, which was located within walking distance to supermarkets, bars and many coffee shops and restaurants. Just a stone’s throw away from our hostel stood the popular Famiglia Pizzeria. Hands down, the best pizza I’ve eaten thus far. After eating pizza those who weren’t sick went out to a nightclub in Pristina called Zanzibar to try the famous nightlife that we had been recommended on several meetings. It sure was an interesting experience!
Parts of the travel group posing with our waitress – the upcoming superstar Bleona.
Nickella Jose and Linnea Åkerberg