Sunday, August 30, 2009

Belgrade wrap-up

Am in Belgrade airport waiting for flight to Montenegro with a few thoughts:

-some countries have multiple official languages, like Switzerland. Serbia has multiple official alphabets (for the same language). I'd say 50% of signs were in Cyrillic (like Russian), while the remainder were in Latin (like ours) or outright English. What meager amount of Serbian that picked up for the trip was toast once the writing was in Cyrillic.

-There's no row#13 on my plane (I'm in #14.)

-guidebook tidbit: Serbia was a possession of Turkey for 500 years until 1867. I kinda see why they are very, very nationalistic, as measured by how many flags, signs, and traditional clothes that you see.

-dined well today. Wandered into the Skadarskija area of Belgrade, an area with old cobble streets dating back hundreds of years. Found a restaurant and ordered something off of the grill menu ("grill" was the only word that I could translate.)

But I figured you can't go wrong with anything grilled, and I wasn't disappointed - the main course was a frisbee sized and shaped piece of beef (gurmanesh vjelvasic(?)). I chased it with a salad of cabbage, lettuce, very fresh tomato and cucumber. Also tried the rakia, a local fruit brandy/jet fuel (waiter's suggestion) -wow!

The Yugoslavian cuisine is 90% grill, 10% stew. Every entree on every menu is in one of these 2 categories, which is great, until you realize that Yugoslavian cuisine hit its' apex just after the invention of fire.

But I like grilled foods so I am much happier than if I happened to be in India.

One other good thing about the cuisine: all food is local, organic, and free range. It's not a movement, it's just how things are grown here.

Finally, one experience that sums up Serbia: I had a Serbian salad the othe night (Srpska salate). I dug into it and enjoyed the first bite of tomato, cuke, and onion. Then the next bite. Then HOLY $@$)$&!!!!! Who put the Hungarian wax (hot, white) pepper in my salad?

I mention this not for culinary reasons, but because this is the perfect analogy for Belgrade -90% harmless, looking no different that any other Eastern European city, but also 10% don't-take-it-for-granted ka-BOOM!

Next stop: Budva, Montenegro, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea. Posting might be light, as I plan a beach day tomorrow.

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With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
Click to go to my online photography

World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous