By Tony Waterston
After a great day at Bajina Basta we headed to Valjevo where we were taken to a magnificent old traditional restaurant/hotel – perfect for a run in the rain up the river – and then a lovely fish meal with dancing, music and singing and Scottish dancing. This time, Velibor was the recipient of a Quaich.
Monday 18th Sept
Clea and Rob left us at 0730.
Leisurely start at 1100 am, time for a lovely walk with Liz up the river and coffee at a little café on the river bank.
A town of great importance where Elsie founded the SWH hospital headed by Dr Alice Hutchinson. Alice like Elsie was born in India where her father was a medical missionary. Before the Great War she worked as a doctor in the Punjab, and was one of very few SWH members who had tropical disease experience. The SWH hospital consisted of 40 tents and was situated in the foothills above the township.
Our first visit in Valjevo was to view the exhibition at the archive centre (set in beautiful grounds) which Velibor established. A really remarkable exhibition of the unspeakably terrible things that happened in Valjevo in 1914-15 when women were hanged by the invading army and huge numbers of refugees came into the city, followed by typhus. The Scottish women are greatly admired for their work for Serbians in the city which was turned into a huge hospital.
After this I spoke, played the pipes whilst a tree was planted and then was presented with a peasant’s cap and we drank slivovitz and ate dried plums.
Back to our hotel on the river bank for late lunch and off for the final visit of the day, to an orthodox church where there was a special service lead by the Bishop in quite magnificent robes and a crown. He spoke movingly of the SWH and welcomed us warmly. Then he introduced the children’s choir and the church choir who sang – again an extraordinary and beautiful experience which made us feel humble.
We spoke with the Bishop who is a kind and wise man with the common touch and a long white beard, and then with two of his priests.
Finally at about 5pm we started the long drive back across the mountains to Kragjevac, stopping at Lazerovac to check for my hat which could not be found, though others of our articles were at the desk.
Crisis no 5: I left my blue hat in Lazerovac..
We eventually arrived at our city centre hotel Zelengora in Kragjevac about 8pm, dinner with our rather smaller party and two municipal officials to whom I presented the 5th Quaich – only two left now! We are getting to know our Serbian friends more closely and greatly enjoying their company.
News clips from Valjevo