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Serbian wine story with Gvozden Radenković

In this interview session of EuroTribe, I am pleased to have the opportunity to interview Gvozden Radenković, who is the Head of the Vineyard-Growers and Wine Producers` Association of Serbia….

In this interview session of EuroTribe, I am pleased to have the opportunity to interview Gvozden Radenković, who is the Head of the Vineyard-Growers and Wine Producers` Association of Serbia. Before you start reading this interview on Serbian wine, be sure to check their official website too.

Enjoy reading!

1. What is a typical “Day in the life” of a Serbian winemaker?

It’s a hard working day. There is only one month in a year when growers and winemakers have no work in the wine cellar or in the vineyard, and it is January. Pruning of the vineyard starts in February, and we have many operations to undertake until the September harvest. The work does not end there. Until year’s end we devote ourselves to creating a new wine.

2. What is the biggest hurdle for the wine business today in Serbia?

The obstacles are numerous. Our country went through 20 years of terrible political turmoil and economic shock, which led to the devastation of vineyards and destruction of large industrial wineries. The gaping hole in the market has slowly been filled with the emergence of small boutique wineries. The problem is that the State institutions offer hardly any help to this branch. The signing of various international agreements opened our market to uncontrolled import of wines from all over the world, from countries with national strategies regarding wine that is being hyper-produced with extremely low production costs. Our own product has thus become uncompetitive even in the domestic market, let alone abroad. Having said this, you can only imagine the situation with the export.

3. What are the challenges that wine makers are facing? Is it finding right people and training them, logistic issues or something else?

In the first place, wine makers and growers are dependent on atmospheric conditions. It is, as we say, a kind of industrial plant under the open sky. It may be that some years bring a poorer quality of grapes, some years bring better, and some years can pass without even a harvest. All these other problems you listed are present because this branch of industry has not been taken care of for years. Besides the present lack of staff, there are many other problems, such as difficult collection of receivables. However, it is the problem we face in our market in all segments of the economy.

4. Nowadays, consumers are more aware of prices, so how can wine be a competitor to other types of alcohol?

It is a very tough struggle. Producers of spirits and beer, because of its massive sales have large marketing budgets, and even the strong global wine brands have difficulties to cope with such a strong campaign. In our country, it is even more difficult because small wine producers have almost no marketing budgets and the low purchasing power of the market dictates higher consumption of cheaper products.

5. You’ve mentioned that only 50% of the Serbian wines can be found in restaurants. What is the key for this solution? Should we as the citizens opt for a Serbian wine next time we go to a restaurant or is it up to the owners of these objects to include more domestic wines?

I’m afraid you have misunderstood me. I said it the Ministry of Commerce should adopt a law that would make sure that wine lists in restaurants feature at least 50% of domestic brands. We had this law a long time ago and this is nothing new. Moreover, similar practice is present in the neighboring countries that produce wine and thus protect their product.

6. What has been the greatest achievement of the association so far?

Our association has existed for only five years. But we are proud to have participated in the adoption of the new wine law. We are also the organizers of a major international fair, held in Belgrade, as well as of several local wine events. We actively try to introduce Serbian winemakers to various international institutions, as well as to gather and organize easier export to foreign markets.

7. Which markets will you be focusing in the future?

As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, now we are not competitive in the markets of Western Europe. The reason for this is not the quality of our wine, as there are prestigious awards won by our manufacturers on world competitions in recent years to prove that we have an excellent product. The reason for this lies only in the high production costs in Serbia, due to the absence of any government support and subsidies. For this reason we are forced to turn to the markets of the former Soviet Union and China. They are interested in our wines and they can accept our prices, but in these markets we have a problem with large quantities they need, and that we don’t have.

8. How do you see the ideal collaboration with the Ministry of Economy?

In the past five years, the Ministry of Economy has helped us a lot in mapping wine routes in Serbia and installing proper traffic signals. This has helped increase interest of consumers for wine tourism and cellar tours, which in turn directly influenced the increase in sales at the site. I hope that in the upcoming period, the ministry will continue with the same and greater efforts to promote wine tourism.

9. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Only a bottle of an excellent Serbian wine 🙂

Gvozden, thank you so much for giving us some of your time to take part in this interview!

2 Comments on Serbian wine story with Gvozden Radenković

A guide to Timisoara, Romania

So you are thinking of visiting Romania’s third most populous city? This guide to Timisoara should help you out. Timisoara can be easily reached from many locations like Budapest or…

So you are thinking of visiting Romania’s third most populous city? This guide to Timisoara should help you out. Timisoara can be easily reached from many locations like Budapest or Belgrade (click to read “Belgrade to Timisoara by train“). The name of the city comes from the river Timis that flows to the south of the city and this is the main center of the historical Banat region. It’s a small city and one day is more than enough for exploring it.

SIGHTSEEING

The best way to start sightseeing is by grabbing a map of the tourist attractions at some of the tourist information centers in the city.

Timisoara tourist map

As you can see the map suggests some routes that you can opt for. I suggest you opt for route 3 simply because you will see more attractions. Timisoara is known as the “City of parks” in Romania, so it has a special park route as well. You will most probably start your sightseeing from the Victory Square. From here you can easily visit the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral which is one of the symbol buildings of the city. It’s also one of the biggest churches in Romania.

the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

Interior of the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

Victory Square has many buildings in the “1900s style” with great architectural elegance. One of the most notable buildings in the square is the Culture palace which houses the Romanian Opera House. It was devastated by two fires and rebuilt again. The auditorium has 600 seats. Timisoara is actually the only European city that has state theatre in three languages as it also hosts the German State Theatre and the Hungarian State Theatre “Csiky Gergely”.

Culture palace Timisoara

Culture palace

By exploring the city you will notice that street art is an important part of a city’s culture. Timisoara also hosts annual “Graffiti and Street Art International Festival” in September with the aim to represent street art works on great and visible sufraces. For more photos click here.

Timisoara street art

Besides Victory square another important square is Unirii. You can see the Holy Trinity Monument here, in baroque style. The three sides show bas-relief with scenes from the plague epidemics which occurred from 1738-1739.

Unirii square Timisoara

Unirii square

One of the most beautiful buildings is the Baroque palace which dates back to the 18th century. Franz Liszt held a concert in the baroque room of the palace in 1846. The building had various names and functions: it used to be the President’s Palace (18th century), headquarters of the Timis Banat and Serbian Vojvodina Governor and since 1984 it has hosted the Art museum.

Serbian Orthodox Vicarage and Serbian Orthodox Church are another important landmarks of the city. The building of the Serbian Vicarage is under the administration of the Serbian community since 1865 and it hosts an old religious art collection.

Serbian church Timisoara

Interior of a Serbian church

Theresia Bastion which used to be a fortress during the 18th-19th centuries is another interesting landmark.

Theresia Bastion Timisoara

Theresia Bastion

Eat/Drink

The local cuisine is influenced by Hungarian, Serbian, German and Arabic specialties.

There is a great Lebanese restaurant in the Victory square called “Beirut”. Shawarma here is really tasty and cheap! You can spot Hungarian kürtőskalács everywhere and Serbian pljeskavica is also quite popular.

Also, you will find many street stalls selling sandwiches, kebab, french fries etc. with great prices.

I recommend a visit to Bierhaus to enjoy a nice beer. There are more than 50 types of beer available here, so you won’t have a problem picking the right one. If you want to try Romanian beer choose Silva or Timișoreana.

Accommodation

There are not many hostels in Timisoara. I’ve stayed in Downtown Hostel which is located in the Victory Square. The hostel is small but cozy as it has three dorms: one of eight beds with shared bathroom, one double-bed room with private bathroom and one twin room with shared bathroom.

It also has a social room and a chill out balcony. But the best part of this hostel are the staff. Great place to enjoy your stay and I absolutely recommend it.

downtown hostel timisoara

Downtown hostel

Downtown Hostel in Timisoara

The walls of the balcony

If you have visited Timisoara, feel free to leave your suggestions below.

10 Comments on A guide to Timisoara, Romania

Timisoara Street Art In Photos

Timisoara street art- Timişoara is the third most populous city in Romania, located in Banat in the western part of the country. The city has many attributes and is known as…

Timisoara street art- Timişoara is the third most populous city in Romania, located in Banat in the western part of the country. The city has many attributes and is known as the “City of lights” and the “City of flowers and parks” which is totally justified.

But Timişoara also hosts annual “Graffiti and Street Art International Festival” in September with the aim to represent street art works on great and visible surfaces.

It’s a nice idea to refresh the urban landscape, even more considering that this is a small city. Take a look at some of the works;

Timisoara street art
Timisoara graffiti
Timisoara graffiti
Timisoara graffiti
Timisoara street art
Timisoara street art
Timisoara graffiti

4 Comments on Timisoara Street Art In Photos

Belgrade to Timisoara by train with “Banat Special”

So you want to go from Belgrade to Timisoara or the opposite direction and are thinking of the best way to do it. At the moment there are no direct…

So you want to go from Belgrade to Timisoara or the opposite direction and are thinking of the best way to do it. At the moment there are no direct lines between two cities, which means that you will have to make a stop in a small town called Vršac.

The best way to do it is by train, which leaves two times a day from Belgrade and from Timisoara. The distance between two cities is about 160 km and the journey will last four hours.

Serbian Railways has a special offer called “Banat Special”, with round trip tickets costing 14 euros. This is great, considering that a round trip ticket by bus between Belgrade and Vršac costs 1365 RSD (11 euros).

*UPDATE* The international train line between Vršac to Timisoara and vice versa, is suspended from August 1st, 2017. 

 If you are going from Belgrade to Timisoara…

Trains to Vršac depart from BEOGRAD DUNAV station (Belgrade Danube station), NOT from the Central Railway station. As already mentioned, there are two daily departures so you have two options; 1) To catch the morning train which leaves at 07:19 and arrives to Vršac at 09:10. Then from Vršac you can catch a train to Timisoara which leaves at 10:18.

2) Or to catch the afternoon one which leaves at 16:20 and arrives to Vršac at 18:09. From 18:40 you can catch a train to Timisoara.

Belgrade Vrsac train

Serbian train operating between Belgrade and Vršac

Belgrade Vrsac train

Interior of a Serbian train

This is a modern train, the only downside is that it stops in almost every village, which makes the journey slower.

 When you arrive to Vršac, the train for Timisoara will be waiting for the passengers. This is a very small train stop and it’s not possible to buy any food or drinks at the station, although there is a kiosk right in front of the main entrance to the station.

Vrsac Timisoara train

Train to Timişoara

This train has less stops so it travels faster through Romanian teritory and its final stop is Timisoara NORD train station.

 If you are going from Timisoara to Belgrade;

You also have two options; 1) Catch the morning train which leaves Timisoara at 06:50 and arrives to Vršac at 08:52. Then catch the train for Belgrade which leaves Vršac at 09:44. 2) And afternoon option: Leaves Timisoara at 15:38 – arrives to Vršac at 17:45. Leaves Vršac at 18:45 – arrives to Belgrade at 20:37.

Vrsac Timisoara train

Romanian train to Timişoara

Romanian train is also quite modern and travels faster as there are no frequent stops, although the heating system didn’t work.

Vrsac Timisoara train

Interior of a Romanian train

Things to remember about Timisoara NORD station:

1) Toilets are locked (at least they were in early morning). Hopefully situation is different during the day.

2)  Don’t buy food at train station. It’s of bad quality and questionable health. So definitely grab something in the city before you arrive to the station.

And of course, always check the actual timetable and ask if there are any works on the railway. However, when buying a ticket you’ll surely be informed about that. You can check the timetable here. Just type (Beograd Dunav – Vršac; Vršac – Timisoara NORD).

 Safe travels!

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67 Comments on Belgrade to Timisoara by train with “Banat Special”

#bunk – A chic place to stay in Istanbul

Since the levels and qualities of services can wildly fluctuate in Istanbul, it might be more difficult than usual to find a decent place to stay, being affordable at the…

Since the levels and qualities of services can wildly fluctuate in Istanbul, it might be more difficult than usual to find a decent place to stay, being affordable at the same time. As this was my second stay in Istanbul, I know how truly hard it is to find not only a high quality hostel, but one that is safe and is situated in a good location in the epicenter of the city.

During my search for that ever elusive hostel, #bunk caught my attention primarily because of its beautiful design and chic spirit. I already liked the place before I have even arrived, and actually fell in love with its charm as soon as I stepped through the door. I received such a warm welcome from its friendly staff and immediately was drawn into the hostels cozy atmosphere.

Short Introduction to #bunk

#bunk is owned by an international team of four coming from England, Germany and Turkey. The brand was formed in 2011 and currently consists of two hostels: one in Beyoğlu and the other set to open next month in Taksim.

The owners are openly enthusiastic about their jobs, which can be seen from the fact that they highly value their guests’ feedback and you will probably be asked to fill in a survey during your stay.

Hostel Areas

I have stayed in the superior 4 bed mixed dorm, but the hostel also has standard twin private, deluxe double bed private and superior 4 bed female dorms.

#bunk hostel 4 bed room

4 bed room

The beds are really cozy and comfortable, and the rooms are designed in white minimalist style with the oriental motifs on the ceiling, which were inspired by mosques. The only drawback is that there is not enough space to spread out your luggage, especially if the room is full.

#bunk hostel marble bathroom

Marble bathroom

#bunk has marble bathrooms that look really luxurious for a hostel, a rooftop terrace and a cozy lounge area where you can chat with other guests or enjoy a cup of coffee with a magazine or newspaper.

#bunk free use of desktop computers

At #bunk you get free use of desktop computers

Free breakfast includes cereal, bread, tomatoes, olives, freshly boiled eggs, cheese with of course butter, spreads, coffee and tea.

#bunk free breakfast

Kitchen area

Location

The location is just perfect! Situated in Sahne sokak, just two minutes from the Istiklal street (Istiklal Caddesi) and few steps from the Nevizade street makes #bunk a great base for exploring the city. Taksim square is within 1km from the hostel.

#bunk location

Staff

My favourite thing about this place are actually people working there who are always smiley, friendly and ready to help. Thank you Pauline, Dunya and Muhammet for your kindness!

So again what you get?

   
24h reception/security key card room access
free secure luggage storage marble bathrooms
free wireless internet bunk beds
free use of desktop computers chill out lounge
free breakfast roof terrace
free fluffy towels cafe
hairdryers/straighteners no curfew
air-conditioning in every room etc.

How to Get There

#bunk is located 25km from the Ataturk airport, and 50km from the Sabiha Gökçen airport. The best way to reach Taksim square from both airports is to use HAVATAS coaches that operate regularly.

For more info and schedules you can check their official website or their Booking profile.

If you are looking for a high quality accommodation with moderate price I suggest you check out #bunk. You will spend your time in a trendy and clean environment, surrounded with friendly people!

Disclaimer

I’ve stayed as a guest of #bunk.

© All photos belong to #bunk brand.

2 Comments on #bunk – A chic place to stay in Istanbul

23 Essential Do’s in Istanbul

“Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with the same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is…

“Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with the same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on earth.” – Edmondo De Amicis

Here’s the pick of 23 essential do’s in Istanbul;

1. Befriend Turkish people and see for yourself why they are famous for their hospitality

Turkish people

Photo: quinn.anya on Flickr under CC

 2. Cross the Bosphorus Bridge

Bosphorus Bridge

Photo: http://www.bariskaradeniz.com/ on Flickr under CC

3. Try Turkish specialties

Iskender kebab

İskender kebab

4. And beer

Turkish beer Efes

Photo: erenemre on Flickr under CC

5. Don’t miss the Asian side, especially the Bağdat Avenue

Bagdat avenue Istanbul

Bağdat Avenue

6. Attend a sport match of one of “The Big Three” teams

Galatasary basketball team

The Big Three teams are Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. And all are based in Istanbul.

7. Ride in dolmuş!

Dolmus Istanbul

Because doing it local style is the way to go!

8. Hang out at Taksim square – the heart of modern Istanbul

Taksim square Istanbul

Taksim means ‘division’ and originally it was the point where the main water lines from the Belgrade Forest were collected and laid to this point. Nowadays, Taksim is a favorite meeting point for locals and a location for organizing public events and social gatherings.

9. Combine Simit and Ayran

simit and ayran

Simit is a popular street food, sold everywhere by street vendors.

 10. Stroll along İstiklal Avenue

Istiklal avenue

Beautiful. Vibrant. Cosmopolitan. Sleepless. Visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day.

11. Get on top of Galata tower for spectacular views

view from Galata tower, istanbul

A place to see all Istanbul.

12. Climb the Kamondo stairs

Kamondo stairs

Photo: ahunziker on Flickr under CC

13. Feed the cats. They rule the city.

Istanbul is a city of cats.

14. Feel the history in Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia interior

Istanbul’s most famous monument.
Oh, and if you want to be cured from all your ailments, don’t forget to stick your finger in a hole of the weeping column.

15. Visit the stunning Blue Mosque and listen to the call to prayer in the cortyard

Blue Mosque

Remove your shoes, put on a headscarf and enjoy the beauty around you.

16. Take a ferry trip to the Asian side.

ferry trip to the asian side

Enjoy the great view!

17. Search for the Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern Istanbul

The cistern was used as a location for the 1963 James Bond film “From Russia with Love”

18. Try your art of bargaining at the Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Explore, drink lots of tea but don’t get carried away. Note that the Grand Bazaar is a typical tourist trap and everything is overpriced here.

19. Have a cup of Türk kahvesi (Turkish coffee) or çay (tea)

Türk kahvesi - Turkish coffee

Check out the tea gardens (çay bahçesis) or coffee houses (kahvehanes).

20. Explore Üsküdar – One of the city’s more conservative suburbs

Uskudar, Istanbul

One of the streets

21. Istanbul is huge, so don’t forget to have a rest

Uskudar. Istanbul

🙂

22. Try tulumba

turkish tulumba

Besides Turkey, this is a popular dessert throughout the Balkans.

23. And if you have some spare time, escape to the Princes’ Islands

Büyükada

Beautiful white homes of Büyükada

All photos are © Eurotribe except where noted. All rights reserved.

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