"Tell me about Belgrade, mother. I've never been there, haven't I?" Little Sarah asked her mother with eyes pleading. She lay motionlessly in her bed, tucked in and feeling safe under the warm blanket. It was a cold November day.
"You were born in Belgrade, my dear child, but you were too young to remember it." Her mother started her story about the capital of Serbia.
"Belgrade is a big city, my little one. It has two parts: the old bohemian which is absolutely stunning and the new modern one with tall skyscrapers. I will tell you this time about the old part of Belgrade. The buildings there are not very tall, but they show the old, a bit ancient characteristics of architecture. The typical Austro-Hungarian style blends in nicely with the traditional Ottoman architecture. Many small streets, in the pedestrian zone, are paved with cobble stones which makes it difficult, for ladies in high heels, to walk along them. Luckily, the pavements are nowadays covered with cement. Well, luckily for women but sadly for architectural beauty.
There are pigeons in every corner of Belgrade. People feed them and they are tame. They are so tame that if you have some seeds or other food in your hands that you want to give them, and you are smiling and showing your friendliness, they would land on your arms and eat from your hands. What a pleasure!"
Listening to her mother talking, Sarah imagined she was there, on the Belgrade's streets, walking along the cobble stones and feeding pigeons. She smiled joyfully and her eyes lightened. No matter she couldn't move her limbs, she felt as if she had been running and jumping with joy. Her mother continued her story.
"There are bakeries on every corner of the old part of Belgrade. The smell which comes out of these places is so appealing that even if you are not hungry, you will stop by one of the bakeries and buy something to eat while walking. And probably you will buy a pretzel or croissant extra for any case, for later or for your mum and dad. These delicacies such as burek, different types of bread and croissants, strudels, pies, raisin and cinnamon rolls, chocolate croissants, meat and cheese pastries, tarts, quiches are usually prepared in the traditional way and they carry the taste of finest ingredients found in Serbia. Kalemegdan Fortress is probably one of my favorite places to spend a morning or afternoon. This beautiful citadel looks over the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Once upon a time, it was a fortress built on this special place as the stronghold and it was destroyed many times throughout the centuries. Nowadays, there is a beautiful park on the top of it with a lot of café bars. They are in the Upper Town of the Kalemegdan fortress. The Belgrade zoo is situated in the so called Lower Town. The view of the confluence and both rivers from the fortress is magnificent and breathtaking. On the very top of it, there is the bronze statue called "Victor". It is the statue of a man holding a pigeon in one hand and a sword in the other. "Victor" is the work of the famous Serbian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic."
Listening to her mother's gentle voice and words, Sarah pictured vividly every little detail. She saw herself running through the Kalemegdan park and standing on the plateau were "Victor" was with her arms wide open ready to fly over the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The linden tree blossoms were all around filling the air with sweet and dazzling fragrance. She breathed deeply letting her lungs indulge in the smells of spring. It was a warm April day, not the cold and gloomy November afternoon.
"There is one particular part that I really like in the old part of Belgrade. It is Skadarlija. It is the bohemian quarter that still keeps the charm of the old days. This special corner of small cobbles stone streets, flowers, and little taverns have always been my favorite place. And why I like it even more… you can often meet there some famous Serbian writers, journalists, musicians, painters. The evenings are lovely in Skadarlija. Music, songs, pleasant waiters and waitresses who always smile and wish you good evening make Skadarlija special. Its merry life continues every day, even when it is rainy and cold. Those little Serbian taverns are always full of people. Those taverns live day and night."
Sarah's mother stopped talking, and she seemed to be lost in her thoughts about Skadarlija. As if she had teleported herself to this beautiful Belgrade's corner. And she was not there alone. She held the hand of her daughter and the two of them walked the cobble stone streets, bought a few roses from the street vendors and stopped in front of few taverns to watch harmonica and violin players performing some amazing musical pieces.
Sarah's eyes were sparkling with surprise and wonder and her heart was beating fast. She had never seen something more interesting and entertaining. The years spent in bed due to cerebral palsy never allowed her to move and see the world outside. But she was lucky to have her mother whose stories took her to the most amazing places not only in Serbia but worldwide. Her mother took her to the lovely corners and showed her the beauty of the world while holding her hand and smiling. The two of them enjoyed their travelling and sometimes Sarah wished they could travel non-stop. But she also knew very well that she had to see the doctor, get some injections and take medicines and sleep. Therefore, these trips were interrupted. But she didn't mind. Anticipation of her mother's stories and trips was sweet and made her happy.
Sarah's eyes always sparkled with excitement and suspense while waiting to see where next she and her mother were travelling to.