A Belgradian Miscellany

It was a bit of a rough start today after going to bed way too late. A have a client that is huge in terms of its importance on my portfolio. It’s not, say, Apple, but I say the name of this company and people have the same reaction as if it were. So when they informed me that they needed to formalise our relationship and sent me a bunch of forms last night, I felt it was imperative that I fill them out right away to show that I might be a one-person outfit, but I’m serious and I have all that information on-hand.

So I finally got up around nine this morning and didn’t get out the door till past eleven. I got as far as a cafe, where I enjoyed an espresso before setting off to find a post office. I passed this sign asking a question I’ve asked myself a million times…

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I found the post office easily behind the National Museum. There was no English signage and several queues, so I popped some of the sign text into Google Translate until I found one that said something like “registration for letter mail.” I was rather impressed by the look of the post office, being much closer to what you find in Canada and he US than what I found in the UK and Bulgaria. While waiting for my turn, I Googled “postage stamp” and learned that it’s the same as in Bulgarian, marka.

The clerk spoke English and said that I had to buy a stamp at the “post shop in the hallway.” I went back out and noticed a small kiosk-type thing. I went to the cashier and asked for a stamp (Marka, molim), showing my postcard. She took a glance at it and went, “Ha, yes!” She found a stamp and put it on the card for me. The cost was only 75RSD, about 0.90CAD. She then started to gesture from the card towards outside and I realised she was trying to tell me where to mail the card (there were boxes out front). Wow! What great service! Who would have expected Serbia to have a less intimidating and more professional seeming postal service than Bulgaria, a member of the European Union, or the UK! Now, to see if the card arrives in Virginia!

Next stop was the ethnographic museum, a couple of blocks away. Could that be it?

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Yep! It’s here that I have to comment on something that baffles me about Belgrade. Serbia uses both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets interchangeably. Like in Bulgaria, they make up tourist maps with everything written in Latin letters while the bulk of their street signage is in Cyrillic. So like in Bulgaria, I’m left wondering how tourists who don’t read Cyrillic manage to match their maps up to street signage and why in a country that favours Latin letters, they don’t use them for street signage… I remain grateful that I can go between the two alphabets, even with the few Serbian characters I haven’t learned yet!

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The ethnographic museum had a special exhibit on:

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I really enjoyed the richly embroidered textiles.

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And beaded objects.

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The building is quite remarkable and the museum is spread out over several stories. It’s much bigger than I expected and is basically a history of the Serbian people to the start of the 20th century.

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The first floor is dedicated to traditional dress in the area, not just within the boundaries of modern day Serbia, but neighbouring countries as well.

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I’m rather sad that we live in a time where we don’t dress up. I could see myself wearing a number of these gorgeous costumes!

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I really liked this photo showing real people wearing the costumes.

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The dresses with the coins reminded me of Native American jingle dresses.

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This reminded me of the rug in my room in Malak Izvor.

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In the late 19th century, the region became to adopt Western European dress.

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We then moved on to exhibits showing transportation, housing, and economic ventures.

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The housing style reminds me a lot of what I saw in the more affluent parts of Mexico, being built with inner courtyards to have privacy from the street.

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This panel absolutely fascinated me. All those years of studying history and anthropology and I never noticed that humans have gone from living low to the ground to gradually working their way upwards. For example, we’ve gone from kneeling before a cooking fire to standing at a hob.

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Brandy distilling.

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Some of the local industry included beekeeping, olive growing, viticulture/winemaking.

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Cobbler’s shop.

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One style of house that is almost like a North American log cabin.

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And this one is made of stone. Two different areas, two different kinds of building materials.

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I was surprised to learn about the tobacco growing. For some reason, I though tobacco was a New World crop!

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I have to share a shot of the unexpected fancy bathroom!

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There were models of different house styles, including this single-story house typical of Kosovo.

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I thought this was a rather interesting looking hearth.

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Wine cellar.

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This was a very interesting little museum that gave me a lot of insight into the different classes of people in ancient Serbia.

It was one by this point, so I decided to go back to Burger House for lunch! En route, I passed some beautiful buildings.

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My burger was great! Not as good as the first one, but that’s only because I was more reasonable and didn’t get as many toppings. The base was just as solid. Mmm!

I then headed back to Belgrade Fortress to see some of the paid exhibits. Spoiler: I found plenty of ticket takers for the exhibits, but no vendors! I was appalled and disappointed by that. By the time I’d walked the site three times trying to find the elusive ticket vendors, I’d also learned that the exhibit I was most interested in was closed on Tuesdays, so I gave up.

But I did see lots of wonderful things in my amblings!

First, I stopped for an ice cream. The lady did not speak English, but I was, of course, able to say, “Chocolate hazelnut, please.” She pointed to make sure she had the right one and I said, “Yes.” Then she say, “65,” and, get this, I understood her perfectly! The numbers are super close to Bulgarian, but simpler. As she scrambled to find something to write on, I said, “It’s okay. Here’s 70.” The look of surprise she gave me was wonderful! I will never get as far with Serbian as I did with Bulgarian, but such small victories are truly precious!

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I didn’t notice this cottage on my tour the other day. Looks like a private residence as there’s even a satellite dish out front.

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I got to a good vantage point where I could see all the way to Zemun. I can’t believe I walked there yesterday!

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The clocktower is one of the paid exhibits I wasn’t able to visit.

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Here’s the Monument to Victory from the front.

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It is called Pobednik (the victor) and “built to commemorate Serbia’s victory over Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empire during the Balkan Wars and the First World War” in 1928. He has his back turned away from the Ottoman Empire and is facing the Austro-Hungarian empire. He was put up on a pedestal because he is nude and that was considered scandalous. He measures 14 metres and is one of the most visible symbols and landmarks of Belgrade.

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This is a tomb.

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I was curious when I came across this archery range. I used to really be into archery some 20 or so years ago. So when I learned it was just 600RSD for lessons and 12 shots, I signed up!

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I was rusty but got in a few good shots! This was definitely my favourite part of my day!

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I loved these foundations barely poking out of the ground.

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It was only mid-afternoon when I decided I’d had my fill of the fortress, so I decided to head across downtown to the Nikola Tesla Museum, which I knew my friend Bast would be interested in. Tesla was, of course, a great inventor who is credited with the invention of AC current and of wireless communication (post-humously winning the battle against Marconi for that claim). It’s interesting that his museum is in Belgrade since he was only here for three days, was born in modern day Croatia, and died in the United states.

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It was around here that a young woman in her late teens or early twenties came up and asked me if I would buy her an ice cream. I much prefer to buy food or a beverage for a panhandler/homeless person than I do to just give change if I can afford it. There were tons of gelato vendors around, so I figured she’d take advantage of my generosity. Nope. She went to a convenience store cooler and picked out the cheapest treat that was ice cream, only 60RSD. I’m only sharing this to show that while this world gives us plenty of reasons to be cynical, it also gives us plenty of reasons to rue our cynicism. I will not miss 0.75CAD and I left her stunned that I’d done this for her. I wonder how many people she asked.

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The National Assembly.

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Here’s the big post office again.

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Another one of those buildings that would be impressive after a power washing!

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A fountain in glass…

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Here’s the home of the Nikola Tesla museum.

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The museum is tiny and does not in any way do justice to this genius and everything he invented, but if you can get an English tour, it’s worth a visit and is quite the experience!

Some of Tesla’s articles of clothing.

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This plaque shows that the Niagara Falls power plant was mostly built using Tesla’s patents.

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We watched a rather enthusiastic, but still very informative, film on Tesla’s life and work before the guide took us to recreate some of Tesla’s experiments.

One of his many coils. This one converts 220V power to an output of something like a million volts.

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When the machine is on, sparks shoot out of the top.

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I was one of the chosen for this experience. I’m holding a standard fluorescent light tube.

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It’s alive! My tube lit up with a bright green light that doesn’t show in this picture, although you can see that it is lit up, using me as a conductor! We all joked that we looked like we were holding lightsabers from Star Wars and the guide claimed that this is how the effect was done in the original movies…

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He then showed us the “dragon” coil.

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Which illuminates that light.

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Then, we moved onto the baby coil, where folks were actually electrocuted, the shock being stronger the farther their hand was from the rod. This one also featured people holding light tubes that lit up and the highlight was that two people were used as conductors. Electricity is magic!

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I then saw a few of Tesla’s patents.

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And an urn that supposedly contains his ashes! Tesla died in New York, but his nephew, who owned this house (explaining why the museum is in Belgrade) had the body cremated and the ashes brought to the museum.

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It was five when I was done and I was absolutely tuckered out. I found my way home without a map (I’m finally starting to get orientated!), stopping at a convenience store for a beer to enjoy with dinner. It was rather neat to join the throng of people heading home at rush hour and, like them, pop into a shop to get whatever I was lacking for dinner! I really missed out not getting urban living experience in Bulgaria.

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I’ve got lots of work for tomorrow, so I probably won’t get any exploring done. Just a heads up! 🙂

15 thoughts on “A Belgradian Miscellany

  1. I love all you put into your blog. I love all the pictures & maps (always).
    I was at work & wanted to reply quickly.
    You put sooo much effort into your posts & reviews. You are a wealth if info & knowledge. *bowing…I’m not worthy*
    Thank you Rae, love you
    HUGS

  2. “I was surprised to learn about the tobacco growing. For some reason, I though tobacco was a New World crop!”

    A lot of tobacco is grown in the southeastern part of Bulgaria. There were even small plots of it within the town of Zlotograd where I lived. It was ‘the’ cash crop of the area. A very small leaf and what the locals referred to as an aromatic Turkish tobacco but was Basma tobacco which is considered by the experts to be the finest aromatic tobacco in the world. The word Basma comes from the Turkish word meaning “to compress”.

    • “All that walking,” LOL It’s less than I hiked in an average day with the dogs in Bulgaria! 🙂

      The guy who shot the picture knew what he was doing!

  3. Thank you for letting me come with you to the museum (Tesla)! You made my day. <3

    (I'm enjoying everything you're experiencing… well, except the accidents…)

    • Had a feeling you’d like the Tesla Museum! TBH, I probably wouldn’t have gone if it was just me, but I knew you’d be interested. I’m glad I went!

      I still think I got luck with the accidents! I mean, I got to Belgrade on time with the first one and I got dropped within walking distance the second. 🙂

  4. “It’s interesting that his museum is in Belgrade since he was only here for three days, was born in modern day Croatia, and died in the United states.”

    It is because Tesla willed his things to relatives who lived in Belgrade. Also he was an ethnic Serb, the son of an Orthodox Priest and his mother was the daughter of an Orthodox Priest. Croats also destroyed his statue, which was a replica of the one in Niagara Falls, and they ransacked his father’s church, during the recent wars, plus none of his relatives on either side of the family are left living in Croatia – they’ve all been ethnically cleansed. So Croatia really is not deserving of his legacy, and the area he lived was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire at the time.

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