The Buvljak - Subotica, Serbia

Chris, me and Dad after the wedding ceremony. 
In an effort to set up this blog post, let me tell you about one of the most amazing men in the world. 

My father. 

I could write a book about Him; and perhaps one day I will. My Father is a man of utmost integrity, a man who has traveled the world and back, a voice for the voiceless, and a man who has been shaped by the struggle and ultimate forgiveness of his own father. He is a strong leader who holds onto his convictions, but he desperately loves me, and I am certain that he would do anything for me. 

He absolutely influenced my life. 

Dad loved me through my awkward and defiant stages, and when I was 13 years old, he told me that I didn't need to tirelessly search for a boyfriend. . . he would be my date. 

He said that he would always be there for me no matter what happened in my story. 

I believed him, and I still do. 

He loved my mother and me in such a way that I knew exactly what I wanted in a spouse. 

I wanted to find a man who loved others the way my Father did. 

found on mimifroufrou.com
Dad started a tradition with me when I turned 13. We would grab coffee (or hot chocolate) at Starbucks, and then make our way to the Nordstrom fragrance counter. He would spread his arms wide and exclaim that I could choose any perfume for my birthday. I always had everything I needed as a child, but this was one of my first "indulgences." No label was out of reach, and no price was too great. I was in 13-year-old-paradise, and I instantly felt mature and important. The women at the counter treated me like I was someone, and I knew it was because Dad was there. One fragrance after another was sprayed onto tester wands, and we smelled them all. We laughed and discussed the "notes" in each one, and then we started smelling more. I could choose anything! It seemed as if the world was at my finger tips, and I remember feeling overwhelmed and treasured all at the same time. 

The first fragrance I chose was by the designer Faconnable. When I smell it now, I think it stinks, but it was the beginning of a tradition that shaped my childhood. 

Soon, Dad and I were making a trip to the fragrance counter for my birthday, Valentine's Day, and sometimes even Christmas. Eventually, we started picking out several fragrances for Mom each year, and in no time, Dad was the MVC (most valuable customer) at the counter. He started getting invitations to all of the fragrance events, and he was personally called whenever a new fragrance made its way behind the counter.  For an important man who traveled for a living, he somehow always found time to enjoy this tradition with his daughter. 

I felt special and important. 

It became one of my favorite places - because it was a place I went with Dad.

So, fast forward 15 years. I have packed up my life and made my way to Subotica, Serbia with a wonderful husband who greatly resembles my father in character, heart, and mind. About ten of my favorite perfumes made the trip with me, so really there is no need for a fragrance counter in the foreseeable future. 

But when I see perfume, I am instantly transported back to that favorite place that I shared with my Father. The first fragrance counter I encountered was at the Buvljak in Subotica, Serbia. What is the Buvljak, you may ask? Well, in short, it is a place, near town, where you can buy just about anything. From fake Nike shoes and track suits, to batteries and alarm clocks, and even puppies if you so desire. There must be several thousand little "shops," and often the items are cheaper on the Buvljak since they've been brought in from Hungary or Turkey (often tax-free). 

One of my friends was shopping for a fragrance for her father's birthday. I smiled as I remembered how many of my birthday gifts were purchased at a fragrance counter. This counter was a little different. While the women claimed that all of the perfumes were authentic, I had to wonder considering all of the fake Louis Vuittons hanging over my head. My friend asked the vendor if she sold any fragranced aftershave, and the vendor replied, "No, I am sorry, I only sell toilet water." What in the world?! She quickly corrected herself, "Ummm . . . you know, eau de toilette only, I don't sell aftershave."

With the toilet water comment cleared up, my friend proceeded to test a few of the men's colognes. Rather than producing a wand with a squirt of fragrance, the vendor instead took the cap off of the fragrance and allowed us to sniff whatever remnant of scent lingered in the cap. My second friend (not a Subotica local yet), picked up a fragrance that she liked and sprayed it on her skin. That seemed normal at a fragrance counter, right? Both the vendor and our Serbian friend stared in disbelief! The vendor gave the stink-eye and shook her head in disgust. Apparently at the Buvljak, you are not supposed to spray the fragrances. Everything that you see out on display is for sale,  and those opened perfume bottles are not traditional "testers." I am surprised that it was not me who committed the major Buvljak infraction. With my love of fragrance, that is something I totally would have done. Well, now I know for next time. 

I came to the conclusion that Dad and I would not be able to spend quite as much time at the fragrance counter on the Buvljak as we had spent over the years at Nordstrom. Nonetheless, I had a great time reminiscing days past. 

Thank you Dad for the wonderful memories that we created! When we could home for Christmas, we may have to make a trip to Nordstrom just for old times sake. 

 Below are a few pictures of the Buvljak in Subotica, Serbia. 

As always, thanks for reading!

Diesel jackets anyone?


  1. Great post Lana. Your dad is truly an amazing man. One of a kind and I love him for that. I know he was deeply touched by your words. He still doesn't mind shopping with me after 31years of marriage. So enjoying following your life in Serbia. Look forward to seeing you and Chris over Christmas.
    Mom xoxoxox

  2. You made me cry as I reminisced those wonderful days! I still think of them every time I walk through Nordstrom. I so enjoyed every phase of your growing up days, but those were special days... I am so very proud of you and can't wait to see you and Chris for christmas. Let's go to Nordstrom again for old times sake. Hey, you can buy any fragrance you like! You are dearly loved and missed. And you sure found an incredible man in Chris! Love you both...

  3. I guess the English expression is "flea market"...

  4. Hi, I am moving back to Serbia with my family next month. Novi Sad. We are Blessed with 4 wonderful children and also share your love of Serbians and Jesus. Perhaps early next year we can get together. We are interested in Subotica as well. I can help you with your new job description, as I have that one down pat;)

    Michelle ( another American soon to be in Serbia)

    1. Michelle, are you in Serbia yet? I just saw this comment from last year. Hope the transition is going well. Email me with any questions . . . I may be able to help since we went through the transition last year. chrisandlana@gmail.com

  5. Hello Michelle! Great to hear from you! I look forward to meeting you some time in the near future! Let's plan to meet up some time in the New Year! I loved Novi Sad, and I would love an excuse to get back there soon. Email me when we get a chance, and we will be in touch.


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