Author Archives: Alexander Billinis

Obsessed with traces of lost empires (especially the Byzantine and the Hapsburg), Alexander Billinis self-identifies as an American-Generation-X-Liberal, but with a European’s faith in social democracy. An international banker who's spent much of his career in the Europe of the Financial Crisis, Billinis has most recently lived in Chicago and in Sombor, Serbia, in the multi-ethnic province of Vojvodina. Before that, he lived in the UK and Greece. A bi-national citizen of the United States and Greece, with a facility in several languages, this “Roaming East Roman” has now returned to the United States for the foreseeable future, unearthing his law degree to practice the law; and writing and lecturing on the side. His book, The Eagle has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe, is a travelogue of the Balkans, Asia Minor, and Southern Italy. His second book, a novel, Hidden Mosaics: An Aegean Tale, reveals the common heritage of an Aegean littoral now divided up by exclusivist states. Both books are available via amazon.com and other online vendors.

Becksi Skolovano (“Vienna-Schooled”)

“It was an elderly Serbian who said that, in the Sombor of the Hapsburg era, a Becksi Skolovan person spoke German, Hungarian, and Serbian, the better to communicate with his fellow citizens in their native tongues.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois (Weekly Hubris)—August 2017—In 2016, my family and I exchanged a […]

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On Bended Knee at Standing Rock

“He has that sense of history that is common among those of us who are graduates of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. What is uncommon, and heroic, is how he has transmuted that keen feel for history, and responsibility in the light of historical knowledge, into words—and deeds.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis […]

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The “Documented” Story

“My ancestor was a product of two distinct worlds, the Christian and the Muslim, the Ottoman and the Byzantine, and such a symbiosis was far from uncommon, though Modern Greece’s national mythology demands otherwise.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois (Weekly Hubris)—February 2017—Greeks are a peculiar people, prideful and prickly. Both quick […]

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Drinking with Thracians (Best of “Hubris”)

“We were all Greek citizens, and proud to be: yet we were so different. I was Greek yet American-born and bred; the other three were born in Greece, and in Thrace, specifically. One of the professors had origins in Asia Minor; the other was Thracian, but with roots in Eastern Thrace, now Turkey. The only true local, […]

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Unmasked Nostalgia

“As the years have passed for me here, and particularly in fractious 2016, I fear that the age of multiple masks, and luminous, colorful ones, is yielding to that of the mono-mask.”—By Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2016—Some people wear the mask of only one nation, assigned them at […]

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When “No” Actually Means “Yes”

“My family’s three-year sojourn in London was a great adventure and a linguistic one as well. On one particular occasion, after a long series of management meetings punctuated by British colloquialisms, I threw up my hands: ‘Such a strange language you speak, so different from English.’”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly […]

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Bulkes: The “Greek Republic” that “Never Existed”

“‘It was more than that, much more,’ Bincho said, pulling on the last tobacco in his cigarette. ‘They had their own ‘civil war’, a Bartolomeski Noc, or St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.’ I looked blank. ‘A terrible mass killing, here in the middle of Yugoslavia, and in the midst of the Greek Civil War.’ Standing up, […]

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Easter Eggcentricity

“There’s a saying, in the Balkans: ‘Only an onion skin separates one people from the other.’ We are so similar, one to another, despite perceived differences (though our misperceptions are often strong enough to bring us to blows). We are one people, and this is nowhere truer than in the Eastern Mediterranean.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East […]

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Thessaloniki Comfort Food

“Both of us were now full-on hungry, and hot in the midday Macedonian sun, and we retreated into a stoa, one of the arcaded pedestrian streets which define Europe’s great cities. Here in Thessaloniki, a stoa typically has a feel part Viennese, part Ottoman. The elegance of the past confronts a present tense of peeling […]

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The ‘Rakija’ Purchase

“We sat down, and before anything else appeared, the waiter returned with a small clear glass bottle containing his rakija, nearly a fourth of a liter of it, and it was 10 a.m.!  Smooth, no bite, and the delightful aftertaste of raspberry, but just as subtle as the drink was smooth. When homemade spirits are […]

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