A Well Planned Day In Málaga Does Not Go According to Plan

I had a lovely Monday evening in Málaga. My host was in and I felt comfortable hanging out in the sitting room while she made dinner. We chatted, a glass of wine was offered, and before I knew it, I was sharing her meal! It was almost ten by this point and I’d had my dinner, but rice noodles with veggies went down very well! I got to know a bit more about her and she about me. I marvelled that I could understand her as well as I do when I struggle so much with speaking. I know, I know, I need more practice like this! I’m taking some conversation classes when I get to England (!) and will find some when I get to Mérida. I want formal one-on-one sessions where my mistakes are corrected.

I eventually called it a night and got up late again this morning to find that she’d left out a pile of stuff for me to have for breakfast if I wanted. I have some of my own things, but the fresh bakery buns have been a treat! I planned my day over breakfast, making a list of a couple of museums that seemed interesting and something to do.

My first stop today was a nearby train (underground) station my host directed me to, saying that it is a much easier and cheaper way to get to the airport. I found it easily thanks to her clear instructions and will definitely be using it to get to the airport tomorrow. She’s amused that I’m leaving at eight for an 11:30 flight while I’m freaked out at not being at the airport at least three hours before my flight!

My next stop was just a few blocks away. I passed an artists supply store on the way. I miss oil painting so much and have promised myself that I’ll take it up again when I get to Mexico.

I used to have a suitcase with all of these things in it.

So my next stop was the central market:

Inside, there was brisk business going and throngs of people. I saw fish, meats, and seafood, but no produce in the parts that I explored.

So many olives!

Here’s that amazing stained glass from outside.

What an interesting building!

I then wandered by the waterfront and remembered that I wanted to check out the Ferris wheel. I decided that if the cost for a ride was less than 20 euros, I would do it!

The cost was only 10 euros! I got a car all to myself. This is the Mirador Princess and moves from city to city. It is the tallest itinerant Ferris wheel in Europe. The London Eye is much taller, but is not strictly speaking a Ferris wheel.

Looking towards Alcazaba.

Africa is off in the distance.

A sign that I’m on my Path!

At the top!

The lighthouse.

Shipyard.

Done! It was so fast and, to be honest, I was rather disappointed because I barely had time to see anything.

Oh, wait. Off we go again! I was SO happy! I didn’t take many pictures the second time, preferring to soak in the view.

To my immense delight, we went around a third time! This time, I was stopped at the top for more than five minutes!

Here’s a terrible video I shot while I was up there. Unfortunately, the app I used to use to edit doesn’t work the same way anymore and I don’t know how to cut things out. So enjoy my stream of consciousness… 🙂

I then walked along the waterfront. It was cool, but the sun was bright and almost hot. I knew I had to savour it as this is likely going to be my last sunny day in months…

I like the name of this malecón area, palm grove of surprises.

Look how the shadows add interest to the structure.

I found the maritime museum, which I hadn’t seen any of the Málaga museum lists. It was seven euros and something told me not to bother.

I headed back towards Centro.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Ferris wheel trying to figure out this picture. At first glance, it looks like the iconic image of a mother with her children during the Depression, but doesn’t it look like actor John Malkovich?! It is. He was part of a project where he recreated a bunch of iconic photographs. Striking!

My next stop was the Palacio de Aduenas (palace of customs), the new home of the Málaga Museum. Its brand new, only a week old, and there is almost zero information about it online. I just knew that it houses in one building fine arts and archeological exhibits. It sounded like my kind of museum and more interesting than anything else I thought to see today, but I didn’t know if it’d be open or even affordable.

The museum turned out to be free for EU residents and a whopping 1.50 euros for others. 🙂

The building is beautiful. The ground floor has the lobby, the first floor has fine arts, and the second floor has the archeology collection.

I did the first floor backwards for some reason and started with the history of the customs house and the Málaga Museum. There were marches in the street demanding that Málaga’s iconic customs building become the new home of the city museum. It was amazing to see such interest in the project!

And then, I moved on to the fine arts portion of the museum, where I started with this rather interesting portrait of Fred Astaire.

I’ll just share a few things that struck me.

Emigrants.

NOT a peanut…

This is an orange tree.

This autopsy scene had me mesmerised!

A mother with her children.

Artist’s son. Looks like a spoiled brat, no?

This one got a WOW from me!

The English translation on this one made me laugh since French is apparently the language of fine arts. “Plein air” means “outdoors” and “rapprochement” means becoming closer.

Scenes from Venice.

I loved this nearly photographic scene!

This “gloomy winter” scene reminds me of home.

I then headed up to the archeology portion of the museum.

I like how they kept the neoclassical feel of the space, but incorporated more modern features as well.

The building is around a central courtyard.

Most of the exhibits in this section were behind glass and did not photograph well at all. I learned about the history of the region, from Neanderthals through to the Middle Ages. So interesting!

Neanderthal bones.

A recently discovered tomb that was in perfect condition.

The first of several wonderful mosaics.

This incredible mosaic was found by a guy renovating his house. It features Venus at its centre.

The museum was not shy about admitting that there are artifacts located in it that have nothing to do with the area, but were brought here to build a fake history that would strengthen Spain’s ties to the Aryan race during WWII. Here’s Himmler during his visit to Spain.

I was sad that I could not go out onto the balcony to view these in greater detail.

When I was done with this part of the museum, I took the stairs up that modern wooden box I showed earlier. At the top, I got to see the roof tiles close up. Can you see why they are remarkable?

They are etched with a scene from Málaga! There was no signage directing me to this. What a find!

I was about to leave when a guard asked if I’d visited the almacén. That’s a word I learned on the way from Almería and knew as meaning “warehouse.” Here, they mean it as a storeroom.

So many more treasures! This wound up being my favourite part of the museum!

Another guard came over as I left this section and told me to open all those drawers! One surprise after another! By the way, those museum guards were so kind and attentive!

Hands to go with the collection of feet.

Coins.

Lamps.

Bottle stoppers (I think).

Pipes.

A plate with my initial on it. 🙂

This one made me gasp. I can’t believe it’s shut up in a drawer!

There was a section of models.


Alcazaba.

Gorgeous!

This pitcher was a lovely rose colour; rather unusual.

I was able to access the courtyard from the ground floor.

I do believe that’s a pineapple.

Looking up to the modern roof.

I spent almost three hours at this museum! It was too late to do anything else on my list! I found a menú del día for a very late lunch (inexpensive, adequate, but nothing to write home about), and then headed home to start packing!

I ended up having a little work to do this afternoon, so I didn’t go back out again. It’s now getting late and I have an early start tomorrow, so I’m signing off. I’m not sure where my time in Spain went, but by this time tomorrow, I’ll be settling into my new life in Amsterdam. The adventure continues!

Sarajevo Siege Tour

Today was very much a lesson in the hard hitting truth that there are three sides to a story, yours, mine, and the truth that sits somewhere in between.

I went on a four-hour “Total Siege Tour” with Funky Sarajevo Tours. This felt like the best way to hit some sites that are just about not accessible by public transportation and at 40KM (plus 10KM for entrance to the war tunnel), it was better value than hiring a taxi. They were not my first choice for a tour, but could fit me in this morning, so that’s why I picked them.

I have such mixed feelings about my guide and the tour she gave us. Now that I’ve processed it all, I can say that the tour was a good experience and worth what I paid for it, but I think she needs a little guidance on what is appropriate to say or not. I am willing to give her a lot of slack for times that she said indelicate things that were perhaps lost in translation.

She was 23 when the siege started. The thing she said to us today that I will never forget is, “I was eating pizza when the first shell fell.” That says everything about how memorable the moment was, that she can remember it in such detail.

I think an issue I had with her tour is that I feel that such things should be neutral and represent both sides of an issue. But this war is very recent and the wounds are still raw. For her, there might not be war right now, but there is not peace and the Serbs were and still are very much the enemy. She invited us to get a Serbian perspective, repeating many times that there are two sides to a story, but it was very clear that she felt that she was a victim in the siege and the Serbs were aggressors.

Another thing that stuck out is that she told us many times how unfair the siege was, that they were a European country, not some uncivilised back water. I held my tongue at reminding her that the Bosnian War was just one of several terrible conflicts in Europe and among so-called civilised nations. But I said nothing because she was obviously so wounded and so marked by events that I cannot even begin to conjure. She was able to flee to France partway through the siege, but the damage was done.

She also seems to resent the foreign community, feeling that they didn’t care about the suffering of the Sarajevans and that they came in much too late. She also said something that I had to really process because I felt so insulted, but I’m going to chalk it up to a translation issue because of a conversation we had much later. I got the impression that she was saying that people are now coming to Bosnia, but where were we when Bosnia needed us, and that we’re basically rubber necking. But that is a lot of projection and interpretation on my part. Considering how many times she would later thank me for coming to Bosnia and Sarajevo and being a positive ambassador to her country, I think I totally misinterpreted her initial comment that threw me off.

So this was a very different account of the siege than that of a man who was but a young boy at the time. This is a woman who, if I understood her correctly, had many family members massacred, who had friends who were among the 20,000 women raped, who experienced the shelling and the privations. I am completely sympathetic to her and am grateful that she shared her story and reminded us many times that this interpretation is just one of many.

The day started off a bit rockily because I had a hard time finding Sarajevo Funky Tours office since it is a the end of an alley and there is no signage other than in a recessed window that you can’t see until you’re right up to it. It was frustrating to nearly be late when the location was so close and convenient for me, at the end of my street and about half a block over, that I didn’t give myself much extra time to get there for nine. But I could have been late since we had to wait for another couple anyway.

I can’t even begin to recall everything that she told us on our half-day tour. A huge chunk of it was as we were going down “Sniper Alley,” the main thoroughfare through Sarajevo, at too fast a clip to take pictures. I am definitely going to walk that way tomorrow afternoon and get pictures and more information on what I saw. It was just too rainy and I had too much work to do to go ahead with that plan today. So consider this post one of two. I cannot get out of my mind right now the sky-high apartment blocks that still have impact craters. How are they structurally sound?!

We saw and heard so much on that 20 or so minute drive. I was enrapt even if I found the guide’s rapid-fire delivery a bit much. But I appreciated how much she was trying to cram in. Being on site and having a guide who was right there brought history to life. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an Auschwitz survivor some years ago.

Our first stop of the day was the Tunnel of Life, by the airport. This was Sarajevo’s lifeline to the outside world and passed under the runway.

We saw this map quite a bit later in our tour of the War Tunnel, but I’m presenting it now so that you can get some visuals. I really didn’t understand the terrain until we got to this sign and then everything came together. So what you see is Sarajevo surrounded in red by the Serbian forces, with the airport (blue) at a narrow point to the south (top of the map is south, bottom is north). The tunnel was used to move everything from guns to food to medicine. People who had money were able to get out that way as well. The tunnel on both sides was in the basement of a private home. The tunnel museum is on the south side at the Kolar family residence and we can visit 25 of the 800 metres of the tunnel.

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Sarajevo Airport.

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The Kolar home, now the Tunnel Museum. Tunel Spasa means “tunnel of life.” We saw a 12-minute video of raw footage from ’92 that shows this house sitting in the middle of a mud field.

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The video was incredible as I could see buildings being bombarded that have since been reconstructed. I was 13 years old when this war started and 17 when it ended. I remember the news reports, but we didn’t have the internet back then so we were limited in how much we knew and what we did know was biased.

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I think I kind of sort of get what this sign is trying to say if you consider WWI as the start of the 20th century, with that conflict also being triggered in Sarajevo.

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The tunnel entrance is under that metal piece at the back. We will return.

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A Sarajevo rose.

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Mockup of a land mine. Our guide confirmed my research that says that mines are still a problem in the wilder parts of the country and to make sure an area has been cleaned up before heading out in the wilderness. She also spoke about how Princess Diana came to Bosnia just before her death to protest landmines.

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The tunnel runs under this field. There are plans to reopen the whole of it.

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Sobering facts. Our guide did remember the ’84 Olympics very fondly. She was 16 at the time.

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Here’s another moment where she just casually tossed out something that surprised me. This is what they cooked on and heated with during the siege. I forget what her exact quote was, but something along the lines of, “Can you imagine going from IKEA to this?” What a reminder that ’92 was not that far away. I spent a good chunk of the tour remembering what I was doing ’92 to ’95 (my high school years).

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Tunnel entrance.

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But first, we went into that little room.

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One of the rebuilding aids that was sent to Sarajevo was PVC windows. That explains why every house in Sarjevo seems to have really nice new windows.

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We went into the tunnel. I’m 5’6″ and I had to stoop. I had had enough of the experience about halfway through this 25-metre section. I can’t imagine going through all 800 metres with a 50-pound pack of supplies on my back…

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Here, we were shown an example of how people lived in their basements. She again make the comment about how they went from IKEA to this.

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This was a pump to get rid of the water in the tunnels. The video showed that the water was quite deep at times.

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Here’s a model of the tunnel and area.

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There were rails in the tunnel so that things and immobile people could be moved on wheels.

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She talked to us a bit about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s work in Bosnia, including Jolie’s movie Land of Blood and Honey. I haven’t seen it, but have heard pretty terrible things about it. Our host seemed to think it represented reality and told us that the Serbs are working on a movie of their own in retaliation for how they were portrayed in Land of Blood and Honey.

From the war tunnel, we headed up into the mountains to get a better perspective on where the shells were coming from and to see the luge track from the ’84 Olympics. Speaking of which:

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I was really disappointed that we didn’t even stop to look at it more closely…

And then, we pulled over to see Sarajevo spread out below us. There was light artillery here and on all the surrounding mountaintops. It’s “only” two kilometres as the crow flies to the city centre. Imagine yourself as one of the people in the city below in the sights of the big guns.

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You can see the parrot building clearly in this shot.

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City Hall stands out here. The movie we’d seen at the tunnel showed it, and many other buildings, on fire. The rebuilding effort has been amazing, but, like Neno said yesterday, our guide reminded us that there is a lot of corruption and in-fighting so the money isn’t going where it needs to go and rebuilding is very slow.

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So many cemeteries…

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Our next stop was the luge track! As it turns out, it’s now a walking path! What a lovely way to nearly end the tour, in all that fresh  mountain air. Because of Sarjevo’s position in the valley and the fact that there is a lot of pollution, the air quality is terrible. I could not believe the difference up there.

So you can see the start of a track and some stands where people sat. Our guide said that she stood some distance down the track to get a better view.

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The track was filled with insulation and then water to make slick ice.

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What an incredible space to walk or mountain bike!

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Our final official stop was this restaurant that was a headquarters of sorts during the war. It was destroyed by the retreating forces.

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I don’t know why, but coming upon this text freaked me out!

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She pointed out the Franciscan church and remarked on how unusual Sarajevo is because you can hear both church bells and the adhan. It seems like the many religions here have found a way to coexist and that this is very much a modern, European, Muslim population that cannot see itself in the more oppressive Islamic countries.

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There was an impressive storm rolling in!

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We were past our return time, so we then sped down the mountain into town. The Americans in our group wanted one last shot of the city and I took the time to take this shot of an old railway station.

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And another minaret.

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We were dropped off at the office, which, again, was convenient for me since it would be easy to get home. The threatening rain was holding off, so I decided to get lunch and buy a few groceries for a supper at home. I wound up wandering around in circles for too long looking for that Middle Eastern Tea For Two restaurant I ate at on Saturday and was just about to give up when I finally spotted it! Lunch was very good chicken kebabs. The Moroccan spice tea was was very welcome after that chilly walk!

(pausing to listen to the adhan)

It was spitting when I came out of the restaurant. I went to a little grocery store I’d spotted the other day that is conveniently located and got salami, cheese, and tomatoes for a cold supper. Then I remembered how damp the flat was yesterday in the heavy rain and added a package of soup so I would have something warm! That reminds me that I went out in the pouring rain last night to get dinner and was so soaked by the time that I got to the market that I went straight back to Minder Fast Food, who were, thankfully, open! I had another lovely meal there. It’s a new restaurant, not even on TripAdvisor, and my own little secret piece of Sarajevo!

I got in and went to work, pausing in the late afternoon to do laundry that I really hope will dry by Thursday morning!

It’s been another big day in Sarajevo, with so much to ponder. I’ve got two days left and will try to visit a few buildings and museums, as well as do that walk downtown, depending on my workload.

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! 🙂

Afternoon Tea at the Wolseley

I just happened to find myself in London on the anniversary of five years of running my transcription business and wanted to do something special to celebrate surviving all those lean years. Afternoon tea felt like the right thing, but I was intimidated by the prices and the fact that you have to dress up. I did a lot of research my first night in London, during those long hours when I couldn’t fall back asleep, and The Wolseley seemed to be perfect for me. It was the least expensive tea I found that was still in an upscale, by my standards, place and they didn’t seem too snotty about people dressing up. The cost was just over £30 with the service charge. I could have had tea for £10 (or more!) less at a small informal café, but I wanted the whole experience.

The Wolseley is located right next to the Ritz, between Piccadilly Circle and Green Park, but much closer to the latter.

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I wore a long black skirt, a plain dark grey top, my walking sandals (not too sporty), and earrings and felt chicer than most of the patrons there, many of whom stood out from the elegant art deco surroundings in their jeans and sneakers. I was greeted like a valued customer and promptly seated and served. They don’t like folks to take pictures, so I respected that (although I did sneak a picture of my meal!). The atmosphere was comfortable. Definitely upscale, but not intimidating.

When I booked online, I had made a point to say that I have an intolerance to eggs, so I didn’t want mayonnaise, egg salad, or meringue, but a bit of egg wash or egg in a cake was fine. Someone came out to confirm that the kitchen got my order and told me the proposed menu, which was fine.

There didn’t seem to be that much food when it all came, but it was enough even though I was offered more!

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I was surprised that they replaced my egg salad sandwich with a second of smoked salmon instead of something cheaper, like cucumber. All the sandwiches were great. I think the chicken with tarragon (on my plate) was my favourite, but the smoked salmon with butter was a close second!

The cakes layer had a chewy chocolate and nut thing that I didn’t care much for (difficult to eat), but I loved the strawberry tart and the cake with marzipan around it, so much so that I did accept a second piece of it! I finished my meal with the two raisin scones with jam and clotted cream.

For tea, I chose their Wolseley afternoon blend. It seemed really pale in the cup, but had a good strong flavour that paired beautifully with my food.

Service was stellar and attentive all throughout the meal. I had asked for water and every time my glass was empty, it would magically fill up.

My celebratory afternoon tea at the Wolseley was even better and more special than I could have hoped for. It will be my fondest memory of my brief trip to London.

I then decided to go check out Piccadilly Circus. On route, I checked out a menu that reminded me of something I wanted to share that has surprised me. Look at the coffee and tea prices.

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Coffee has been consistently cheaper than tea. I wonder if that’s because you get a whole pot of tea?

I passed Fortnum & Mason, but wasn’t tempted to go in.

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So strange to see a Mexican bank here in London.

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Piccadilly Circus was hopping and there were buskers…

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Until it started to rain. My rain coat is great!

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I wanted to go check out Soho, but it really started to pour, so I headed home. Piccadilly Circus is on the Bakerloo line, so I didn’t have to change trains again until Queen’s Park. For some reason, even though the Bakerloo line goes much further, you have to do it in two trains. Kind of a pain when I’m only one station from Queen’s Park.

It was an awesome last day in London! Now, I am trying to work up the energy to walk the 20 minutes round trip to the nearest pub for a final pint…

I will do a sum up post of London later, as well as a write-up about Oyster. I don’t think I’ll do much tomorrow since I’ll have my luggage with me.