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On my first day as a Londoner, above the entrance to the Knightsbridge serviced apartment building where I was staying, I saw this plaque (below). It turns out I wasn’t the first Serbian resident there. Encouraged by those Serbs who came before me, I set out to discover my own virtual little Belgrade within the cultural maze of London.
Here’s a typical trek through it.
Most Serbs start the day with a good, strong coffee. It may as well be from Monmouth in Covent Garden (filteruÅ¡a for the Mitteleuropa northerners, a latte for the Italianate Belgraders, and for my southern compatriots: the nearest Turkish restaurant for your strong black stuff).
Properly fuelled, it’s a short Boris-bike spin to Daunt Books for some paper media. Its exceptional Balkans section includes the stunning memoir of a Serbian Londoner, by Vesna Goldsworthy. Read it, weep, laugh, then call your mother to tell her you love her.
Heading further west, it’s time to be confronted by one of Serbia’s eminent enfant terrible. Marina AbramoviÄ‡ is back in town for Frieze and she will be treating us to a retrospective at the Lisson Gallery. For all who couldn’t make it to her run at New York’s MoMa this year, here’s your chance to catch up with the godmother of performance art.
For something daintier, it has to be afternoon tea at Claridge’s. This legendary hotel is the birthplace of Alexander II, the current Serbian Crown Prince, born at a time when continental elites were camped out in London waiting for the Second World War to end. To ensure Alexander’s claim to the throne, Churchill’s government temporarily placed suite 212 under Yugoslav sovereignty.
With the sun setting, it’s over to the Southbank for a glass of an oaky red at the BFI, before catching a Serbian film. The recent month-long Goran PaskaljeviÄ‡ retrospective was a treat. Really, a fitting bookend to a rewarding day in London.
Do you have any more tips for enjoying Serbian culture in London? Let us know in the comments below.