Trip to Belgrade and Sarajevo in December 2022

I ate my first pljeskavica when I was 27 years old. It was in 2008, my friend Yurets and I walked into a simple street-food kiosk near the Savelovskiy train station in Moscow. That kiosk was owned by a real Serbian woman, who was not only a chef but also a cashier and a waitress. Pljeskavica is a traditional part of Serbian cuisine. It looked similar to a hot dog or burger: a puffy pork and beef patty, that was cooked right in front of us over an open fire, in a freshly baked bun with either onion or garlic sauce that perfectly complemented the taste of the meat. At that time I remembered this food as the best street food I had ever tasted in my life. I never ate this pljeskavica again; I changed my job and this place became too far away for me, and then this kiosk went out of business.

I can’t say that since then I’ve been fanatically hunting for the place where I can taste exactly that pljeskavica from 2008, but I order this meal every chance I get. The first disappointment was that the original pljeskavica served in a restaurant is just the patty, but the bun is an extra added to the street-food version of this meal. The sauce I remembered is also not a traditional companion to the meat but a speciality of that first eatery. I tasted various pljeskavicas in Russia in several restaurants and street-food kiosks but none of them was right; not the same fresh and puffy bun, not the same patty and the completely wrong sauce.

And so, now in December 2022, I decided to take a trip to the Balkans. In terms of the weather, it’s far from the best time to visit the Balkan Peninsula, but there were three reasons why it wasn’t so important. Firstly, I had to take a vacation before the end of the year (otherwise, by German laws, it would simply burn). Secondly, I got the chance to see my old friends who recently relocated to Belgrade. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I got the chance to taste a traditional pljeskavica cooked by authentic Serbian chefs. This gave me some hope that I would find my ideal pljeskavica like the one from 2008.

The first stop on my trip was Belgrade, then I flew to Sarajevo and finally returned to Berlin with another overnight stop in Belgrade. In my original route I also had a stop in Tirana, Albania’s capital, but AirSerbia changed their flight schedule shortly before my trip started and this change made it impossible for me to get to Albania this time. I’ll share my impressions about the cities later, but for now, I’ll continue my story about hunting for the perfect pljeskavica.

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My story about relocating from Russia to Germany and looking for a new job

Hello everyone! My name is Roman and in this blog post, I’d like to tell you a story about how me and my wife relocated from Moscow to Berlin. It took about 4 months to solve all the bureaucracy issues and find a job, but this post is not a detailed instruction on how to relocate and find a job but just a narration about the experience and feelings I had during this period of time.

First and foremost, let me introduce myself. For most of my life, I had been living in Russia in Moscow, and over the last about 15 years I’ve been working as a programmer. I have had a lot of different jobs, but the most interesting step in my career before relocating was the previous six years I’d been working in Yandex.

Yandex is a large Russian IT company, which was started in the mid-90s as a local search engine and in that time it could have been considered as the “Google of Russia”. Russia is one of a short list of countries where the local search engine is more popular than Google. These days Yandex’s business is much wider than just internet searching. The company built a taxi service and acquired Uber in Russia; Yandex is famous for its self-driving cars; it created its own open-source column-based database called Clickhouse, ML library Catboost and dozens of other less famous but high-quality products. Nowadays, Yandex can be considered not only as the “Google of Russia”, but also as the “Uber of Russia”, the “Amazon of Russia”, “Whatever you can imagine” of Russia and most of these services are more popular in Russia rather than their international counterparts.

Me and my wife Olya had been dreaming for a long time about relocating from Russia to a few specific European countries, but we both wanted to get a job. I, with my experience, was sure that I would be able to find a job and we wanted Olya to find one first.

In Russia, Olya had been working for a Russian representative of a German company when in the summer of 2020 that company decided to close its Russian office and Olya was invited to continue working in the Berlin office.

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