Read, Write, Run, Roam

Hvala, kafa: Belgrade cafes


Thanksgiving, Serbian style

Thanksgiving week snuck up on RHOB this year. Obviously it’s not a Serbian holiday, so most people don’t mention it. And because Muz and I decided to save all our pennies for European travel, we aren’t going home for the holidays this year.

This may not seem like a big deal, but RHOB loves Thanksgiving. Good ol’ American overeating, overspending, and way too much television.  I’ve even almost—almost—missed the Black Friday ads and “new” tips on how to cook a turkey. I love that Americans have been cooking these birds for hundreds of years but somehow people come up with a different method every November.

Since we won’t have a traditional Thanksgiving week (i.e., obsessing over grocery lists and airport delays) I’m celebrating by posting what I’m thankful for in Serbia.

Today, I’m saying thanks/hvala for Belgrade café culture.

Zelim mocha i mai tai, molim vas

Cafes along Belgrade's "walking street" Knez Mihailova

A café isn’t just a place to drink a cup of coffee. It’s a political roundtable, relationship soundboard, reading room, or in RHOB’s case, an office. (Free wifi is the norm.) Food is usually not available, but many places offer smoothies, called frappes, with yogurt and fresh berries. And if coffee’s not your thing, most cafés double as a casual bar. Wine or beer is usually on the menu, along with whiskey lists and curious cocktails like mai tais and fuzzy navels.

Cafés are designed to waste time. Walk in, take a seat, and wait for the server. Is the server staring at you but not coming over? Relax. He or she is giving you a chance to get settled or, more likely, waiting for an “important” text. No matter. Listen to the men in the corner debate. Watch friends greet each other with three kisses. Smell the cigarette smoke in the non-smoking section. Wonder if anyone actually orders a mai tai.  After a few hours, you’ll learn that free time isn’t a luxury here—it’s a way of life.

A café in Belgrade offers more than beverages; it lets you drink in Belgrade culture. Thanks to the many cafés that opened their doors and city to this Real Housewife.

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