Monday, November 11, 2013


I had tried to visit Zemun earlier this summer, enticed by the promise of fish restaurants, a charming village and an Austro-Hungarian tower with a killer view. I took the 83 bus from Slavija Square to the end of the line, and when I got off, looked around at a bunch of nondescript stores selling auto parts.

I retraced my steps along the main road for about 45 minutes, until I was back in the main part of town, but I still didn't really see anything of note. I was about to give up, when I saw the river, and what looked like  a small park a few hundred metres away. I followed it, and soon discovered the walkway that follows the river, along with what looked like a few restaurants on the horizon.

I found the village, and wondered around the cobblestone streets, but I didn't find the tower, nor did I stop to eat at any of the cafes, as that was scheduled to come after the tower. After about an hour, I found myself, back in the area where the bus had dropped me off, and I called it a day. Not entirely unsuccessful, but disappointing nonetheless. And as I recall, it was very hot.

My colleague Milan asked me yesterday to join him, his wife and their 8 month old baby, Simona on a walk through Zemun, where Biljana grew up, and they now live. As I stared out the window of my apartment, watching the rain beat down, I wasn't sure that this sounded like such a great idea. "Still on?" I texted. "Sure," he answered. "Bring your umbrella."

Great. I walked over to the main square and waited for the bus. I had arranged to meet the Nikolic family at the post office, which was right in the heart of town. I got there a few minutes early, but Milan arrived shortly after, and we met Biljana and Simona at the car, which was chock full of all the necessary paraphenalia.

The sun came out a little and we strolled along the Danube, chatting about, what else, the baby, who went through the procession of "pick me up," "put me down," "feed me," "I hate my life" "this is the best day ever" familiar to all parents.

After about 45 minutes, mother and daughter left us, and Milan and I climbed up to the tower, built to commemorate the spot where a brave Austro-Hungarian held off the Ottomans. Yep, that's it. Nice view

After that, we went to a well-known restaurant, Sharan, and had a nice lunch of fish soup and an entree, fried perch with pindzhur for me, and smoked trout for Milan.

When I had asked the waiter to recommend something, the key decision point appeared to be fresh vs. saafter the meal, which was new to me.

lt water fish, a distinction that was confusing to me. We also enjoyed the Serbian tradition of a glass of rakia to start and a glass of white wine

After lunch, we walked the twenty minutes back to Milan's new apartment (Grandma lives upstairs) and had a coffee and some cookies, while Simona
struggled to figure out how to crawl, which was alternately frustrating and fascinating.

The Nikolic family was then scheduled to meet someone else for coffee, and invited me along, but I decided to head for home. They dropped me back on the main street, just as the bus was pulling up. Perfect.

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