Vesna has a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Belgrade and has also studied Playwriting and Scriptwriting at the University of Arts in Belgrade. At the moment she’s employed as a scriptwriter for TV and film, and as a translator for cultural institutions (festivals in particular).
Can you tell us a bit about more yourself?
All my professional occupations are tightly linked with very urban aspects of life which is nice when it comes to culture and stuff, but deep inside – I’m a bon sauvage: I love animals, nature, and the great outdoors, and the real pleasure for me is when I’m in such an environment. But, as I’m awfully busy, most of the time I’m just sauvage; bon – only during my holidays. For the same reason, my hobbies gravitate towards the activities not strictly linked to city: I write a lot, read a lot, and absolutely adore photography.
Why Belgrade? What is a must do when you visiting Belgrade? What is not?
Belgrade is definitely NOT one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited, but it is home and that’s what makes it special for me. Although I like traveling, and although I feel comfortable in most surroundings, I like that moment of excitement and happiness when I arrive from somewhere, and join the turmoil. For visitors? Well, I think that those who know someone in Belgrade can definitely have much more fun, because people tend to group up spontaneously, so a friend you’re with invites another friend who invites yet other friends, etc., and very soon you’re all together.
So “a must” would be to meet someone local, because that will offer you a glimpse into the real life, the hidden places, it’ll create the feeling of belonging. Otherwise, if you’re into culture, for example, you’d miss many site-specific performances which are organized in flats, on gas stations, on the rooftops, because those are not advertized anywhere and only a local can take you there. If you’re into nightlife, you’d miss special nights with special gigs. If you’re into relaxing, you wouldn’t find all of those small daytime cafés in secluded places, etc. What you can avoid if you don’t have enough time – and in my opinion not just in Belgrade but everywhere else – are the main sights. You can see all of that on the Internet, anyway.
Which prejudices about Belgrade are true? Which ones are not?
It’s true that it’s dirty, that people are loud and often rude, it’s true that traffic infrastructure is from hell, it’s true that women are good-looking, it’s true that one can eat well, it’s true that nightlife is excellent… Lots of things are as they say, both good and bad. The same goes for “not true” as well: there are “good” and “bad” prejudices. It depends on individual experience, I guess.
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Belgrade at this moment?
It depends who you are and what you need. Post-World War II Belgrade developed under socialist regime in which the dominant utopia was to create a classless society. In terms of neighbourhood, it translates into evenly distributed classes in most areas. Nowadays, it’s similar, as most people cannot afford to buy flats wherever they like. However, there is a noticeable tendency among the small-town people who move to Belgrade, to choose the very centre – both in terms of buying and renting, despite the fact that most apartments there are very old and in a very bad condition, plus grossly overpriced. The reason for that is, I guess, because that’s what they see when they come, and because they aren’t used to using public transport.
The most beautiful areas, though, Senjak and Dedinje – peaceful, green and cultivated – are not in the very centre, and that’s where houses of very old (and wealthy) families are. On the other hand, young families and business people opt for New Belgrade very often. There’s nothing to really “do there” but it’s close to work, I guess, as that’s where most companies open offices, and the flats are new, spacious and modern. I live in Zemun and I like the proximity of the Danube and the feeling that, although in Belgrade, somehow at the same time I am not.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
A perfect day would be to go out of the city, but if I stay then I’d do the next best thing: I’d get up early, go to Ada (pictured above), rent a bike (as Belgrade is very hilly and thus not bicycle-friendly), go for two or three laps around the lake, then meet a friend at “Mali Princ” for a cup of coffee and a chit-chat, then a long walk down Zemun quay, a stopover at the green market, and then home to cook something delicious. After dinner, we’d go to a late gig either on the floating club Kogo, or to Bitef Art Café.