Betsie a black Labrador standing in back of car

LONDON–BETSIE, MY ADORED and spoiled black Labrador, has just come back from wintering in Serbia. A proper Londoner, she was born in Hampstead and spent the first nine months of her life traipsing around north London, learning to swim—avoiding those territorial swans and ducks—in the ponds on Hampstead Heath. But when my husband had to go back home to Serbia for several months, while his spousal visa to the U.K. was being processed, he refused, point blank, to leave without Betsie.

I was hesitant about taking her, because I knew that transporting pets in and out of the European Union could be stressful—though, luckily, the U.K. got rid of its archaic six-month quarantine laws in 2012. However, he was insistent, so we started looking into all the requirements for both getting her out of the U.K. and across the EU to a non-EU country, and then for getting her back to London. Read more

Kajmak on wooden plate

LONDON–DURING A RECENT stint living in central Serbia, I became obsessed with kajmak, which, if you can imagine, is like a lovechild between cream cheese and salty French butter. Made from the skimmed fat of cows’ milk and then mixed with salt, its consistency can vary from rather runny and milky (new) to more like clotted cream (old).

My mother-in-law and her sisters run some sort of kajmak mafia in their hometown of Kraljevo: There are frenzied meetings to discuss which of the sisters—or their one friend they also allow in on their operation—will make the kajmak pick-up, how much they will pay and how they will transport it (each sister seems to have a specific kajmak plastic container they use).

By the way, there is a huge debate in Serbia about whether the kajmak from Kraljevo or Čačak is the best.

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Two girls kissing on cheek

BELGRADE–FOR ME, IT’S one of the biggest expat conundrums: to kiss or not to kiss. I grew up in the Midwest of America, where we were all about giving big bear hugs to friends, family and colleagues. But then I moved to London and I was thrown into the deep end of European kissing culture, which still remains awkward for me as it feels rather false and I have never worked out the unspoken understanding there seems to be between two people of whether the greeting should be a kiss or a handshake.

I once had a very cringeworthy exchange with a British army colonel at an exhibition opening. We had met a few times for interviews and also exchanged friendly emails, but in my mind our relationship was still on the handshake level. So when we saw each other, I went for the handshake and he went in for a kiss. It ended up being a very cloddish and uncomfortable greeting. Read more

Warsaw Poland

WARSAW, POLAND –Warsaw has long been seen as the ugly stepsister of Krakow. While Krakow gets all the invites and accolades—pretty, special, sweet—the Polish capital is forgotten, seen as nondescript and cold. But scratch beneath the surface and Warsaw is a dynamic and lovely old gal. Read more


IDLEWILD, MICHIGAN—John Meeks apologises profusely for his grimy clothes. “I’ve been moving tree stumps with my tractor,” the 90 year-old says, as he dusts off his tan trousers and white t-shirt that reads, “Idlewild, Michigan: The Black Eden.” The spritely Mr. Meeks—who started summering in Idlewild in 1954 and later retired here— has, since the late spring, been building a small park to mark the centennial of the founding of what was once America’s largest black resort.  Giving a tour around Idlewild, a three hour drive northwest of Detroit, Mr. Meeks points out several spots of interest including the home of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first successful open heart surgery in the US and the site—vacant since it burned down more than two decades ago— of the Paradise Club, which saw the likes of the Four Tops, Della Reese and the Temptations perform there. Stopping in front of a sprawling boarded up building, Mr. Meeks starts to chuckle. “This was the Casa Blanca Hotel where all the dignitaries would stay,” he says.  “One night the exotic dancer Lottie ‘The Body’ Tatum-Graves, who was just 16 at the time, jumped out of a second floor window during an after-hours party because she could not dare be caught under age.” Read more