Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I went to Serbia so you don't have to!

Serbia highlights are up (click this).

As a refresher, here's the best of my posts from Serbia:
Belgrade: a balmy 97 degrees.
It's 1979 here in Belgrade! (or why Belgrade=Pittsburgh)
Belgrade bomb damage....
Which makes this picture understandable
Belgrade wrap-up

First stop on my tour of the Balkans was Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, the former capital of the former Yugoslavia, and center of all things Serbdom. (Just to show you how life is determined by perspective, before this trip I wouldn't have listed Serbs as a dedicated identity group when compared to groups with great scale, like the Chinese, or greater historical impact, like the Scots. But the Serbs think they're the big deal of the neighborhood, which partly explains why chunks of their city had been obliterated by airstrikes by real big deals- the USA and NATO.)

Visiting Belgrade on a trip to Europe is a bit like coming to the USA and visiting Roanoke, VA - notable, but far exceed by other destinations in interest and attraction. My time in Belgrade, Serbia was limited to ~24 hours, which was just about the right amount of time. Belgrade wasn't a bad place, but compared to my beach destinations, I wouldn't have wanted to spend more time in Serbia. 

Belgrade has 1 impressive site to see for any traveler in the area - the Kalemegdan, a large, almost 1,200 year old fortress overlooking where the Danube and Sava rivers. Not only is the fortress impressive when viewed and toured, it also provides some dramatic views. There's also some quirks - the fortress also hosts a local basketball club ("KK Partizan") and a tennis club who's clay courts are located in the fortress' now unused moats.

Besides the Kalemegdan, my other recollections of Belgrade are war damage (covered in an earlier post), and impressions of the people.

My friend Scott H has posited that the Koreans are the toughest people on Earth. He might be right, but I'd also nominate the Serbs as toughest, and they might edge the Koreans with their advantage in meanness. Perhaps it is the fact that life in Serb is hard - it's a poor country after all. Or perhaps it was the fact that most Serbs still seemed to wear the war on their faces, or perhaps because of the anti-NATO protest, I got the distinct impression that most Serbs still consider themselves superior to the other Balkan inhabitants, and that it would make most Serbs very happy to be at conflict again, against the Catholic Croatians, Bosnian Muslims, the Kosovars, the Albanians, the Bulgarians, or perhaps the Turks. (This is especially true compared to the people I saw and met in Bosnia, Croatia, and Montenegro.) The Serbs definitely all carry around a chip on their shoulder, but this isn't crazy, since the country has purportedly never, ever been at peace for 50 continuous years since the dawn of civilization.

At this point, though, Serb aggression is cultural, as is evident while tripping around town. In Belgrade, I didn't see any statues to great statesmen, but rather people with swords or guns drawn, as you can see here and here.

Click here to see the picture highlights of Belgrade, Serbia.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Sounds like you are cutting all ties with Serbia. You were worried about surviving the first time, now you'll be arrested upon arrival!

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