Het Scheepvaartmuseum (Museum of Maritime History) and NEMO Science Centre

Well, I’m all museumed out. 😀 I have two days left here and two more museums on my list, but I’m ready to let them go. I have work to do tomorrow and Wednesday, I want to give the house a good polish as I’ll be leaving early on Thursday.

I definitely won’t be getting to Haarlem to visit the Ten Boom house because… I had a bad fall today and I’m not as ambulatory as I’d like. 🙁 I slipped on a slick surface while trying to avoid some of the billion out of control brats at the Museum of Maritime History and went down really hard. If it had been my bad knee, I know it would have dislocated. I just know that if I had let my health insurance lapse, it would have been worse, because that’s how things tend to go. As it is, I don’t think I need X-rays or medical treatment, but I may reassess in the morning. I’m RICEing (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) tonight. It was only about 4KM to get home from the museums and I ended up getting on a tram, which was a good move. I really banged it hard. 🙁

At any rate, off to the Het Scheepvaartmuseum! I can’t believe I almost skipped this one!

To get there, I decided to cut through the park near my flat, but did so on a different path and found an information placard about it. As it turns out, it is Vondelpark and basically Amsterdam’s answer to Central Park! It was created in 1834 as a place for riding and strolling. It is in an English landscape garden style meant to mimic natural landscape. The Vondelpark was designated a national monument in 1996.

I went down the street with the posh shops and noticed this shop name Stone Island that sells cold weather gear. LOL

I found myself at the front of the Rijksmuseum.

There was a magnificent house across the canal. I want to live in a house with a tower! 🙂

Here’s another interesting house I passed on my walk. I was going to do the museum of architecture, but, really, I’m museumed out. 🙂

So Anne Frank does have her own street!

I got to the Maritime History Museum with only a few wrong turns and barely any extra mileage, much better than when I was using Google Maps to navigate. It helps that Amsterdam does technically have a grid pattern and that street names are continuous rather than changing every few blocks.

I liked the tile and brick on this one.

I really looked forward to visiting the replica of an old ship!

The Maritime History Museum appears to be floating. The main entrance is around the side to the right, facing the picture. It is built over hundreds of Norwegian piles.

There’s the NEMO Science Centre nearby. I knew its shape was impressive, but not that impressive! More on NEMO later.

You enter the Maritime History Museum into a magnificent courtyard that is covered with a glass roof. There’s a desk for folks with a Museumkaart to sign in and get an admission bracelet, map, and instructions. Bit of a queue today, but better than at the ticket desk!

I went into the basement to stow my things in a locker. Loved the contrast of the teal with the red brick.

The basement was a bit of a maze.

The barcode on the bracelet is scanned at the entrance of the locker room and you are assigned a locker, which is locked and unlocked electronically.

To my surprise, I was really hungry by this point, so I checked out the cafĂ© prices. They were better than at most museums I’d been to, so I scrapped my plans to have a late lunch after my tour and ordered food. My coffee came with a meringue that I will confess I ate. My problem is really more with the yolk of the egg than the white. To the left of the coffee is “coffee milk,” which is beige. I’ve since learned that it is evaporated milk, which is not sweet the way condensed milk is. I was grateful to see it as all the coffee drinks with milk were significantly marked up, but I got charged for a black coffee, and the portion was about four times as generous as expected. I went with the cheapest thing on the menu, a grilled cheese with ham, that had this really good melty white cheese and a side of ketchup. It was a lovely lunch in a beautiful cafĂ© on a gorgeous day.:D

This museum has an audio tour, which I didn’t find as polished as at other museums. For one thing, the player never stopped nattering and would just repeat itself ad nauseum. The stops were also not well marked and it was rather a treasure hunt to find them. But I would never have gotten as much out of the museum as I did without it.

From the courtyard, you can go to the east, north, or west, with south being the exit. I started in the east, which has the actual exhibits.

I was inordinately amused that emergency in Dutch looks like calamity.

There was a big window on the first floor landing with a great view.

I started with the yacht models as I was still looking for stop number one of the audio tours.

Still looking for stop one, I moved to the next room, in which I spent the most time of my entire visit: the atlas room. It was pretty much my idea of heaven. Here is one of the nine volumes of the Atlas Mayor, which started in 1662, and was available in Dutch, French, German, Spanish, and Latin. Here, it is open to a city map of Amsterdam, dated 1649.

Someone told me the first stop for the audio tour was all the way back downstairs at the entrance to the East Wing, so down I went and then I had be directed to a rather well hidden audio point….

As it turned out, the atlases were the first room I was meant to visit. I learned that the Atlas Mayor is the pinnacle of Dutch cartography of the Golden Age and the result of two centuries of map-making and compiling atlases.

Some of the atlases on display are ancient. This map dates back to 1482. What was most fascinating was seeing the maps become more and more accurate, and especially seeing North America take shape.

The atlas above was scanned and I could flip through it. Entirely coincidental that I photographed a scan of the map above!

Just like with the iBooks app, you can literally flip pages. I spent a lot of time on this display. You could even email yourself your favourite maps.

England and Scotland, as understood in the late 1400s.

All the exhibits are dim and you have to press this little lightbulb to get enough light to read the text.

More volumes of the Atlas Mayor.

I then went back to the exhibit of yacht models. Notice that this one is on skates, for sailing on ice.

This is considered one of the finest in the collection for its craftsmanship and mahogany. I find it rather looks like a violin.

There is a third room that is not part of the official tour. It has a table set with china and the walls are lined with rows of cupboards. Curious, I opened one of the cupboards.

Ooh! Each cubby had a silver item.

I headed up to the second floor, admiring the construction of the building.

Next up was a maritime art gallery. To be honest, it started off as a lot of the same to me and I wasn’t really that keen to learn about the various battles, like the Battle of Gibraltar depicted in the scene below. I really was museumed out. 🙂

This one was stylistically interesting to me. Notice the sea monster?

Now, this was interesting because I’d never seen a pen painting before. It’s all done in pen and ink with perhaps a few brush strokes for sky and shadows.

Here’s another one, with a closeup on a whale:

Seascapes like these were in demand around 1650, when the Netherlands became a maritime superpower.

Notice how shiny this one is. That’s achieved with linseed oil. 🙂

I loved the design of the gallery. The paintings appeared to be floating over empty space, but it was just black mirrored flooring.

This was the first exhibit I’ve been to that explicitly talked about how the grey climate here contributed to the dark and subdued colours of classical Dutch painting. Let me tell you, two weeks in Amsterdam in winter and Rembrandt makes a lot more sense to me!

This one rather reminded me of my favourite Monet, with that little burst of light in the centre.

A very calm day with no wind. Can you find at least two clues that tell us that?

Hint:

We then got to more modern paintings and my interest was piqued as there was more colour.

Next stop, navigational instruments, another spectacular room.

I learned all about astrolabes. I had no idea that they are so rare, that most were melted down, and that the ones still in existence were usually found in shipwrecks.

I learned that depth finders had a bit of wax at the end of them to collect sediment from the ocean floor to give further navigational information.

Next up, the naval decorations.

All the figureheads pointed towards this display, which was of rushing water, complete with sound. Standing in front of the display case, I really felt like I was on the prow of a ship cutting through the ocean.

I loved the variety of figureheads and their expressions.

Gritted teeth and scared eyes.

And just… LOL!

Like downstairs, there was a room off the official tour, this one with squashy armchairs and photo albums. I picked a chair at random and found that my photo album was about the Arctic in Norway.

The third floor is not on the floor plan, but there was nothing telling me not to go up, so I did. 🙂

I got a good view of the roof from above.

Now, it was time to head out to the ship!

This ship was overrun by disorderly brats who were shrieking. Mexican, Balkan, and Spanish children are so well behaved and orderly that this was a shock. I explored as best I could, but it really wasn’t as much fun as it should have been.

This is the orlop deck, which accommodated 200 sailors and soldiers crammed in around personal effects.

I headed up to the first level of the exterior deck and the captain’s quarters.

Guest quarters were a tad cramped.

Compared to the captain’s quarters. I could not stand up in this part of the ship, however.

I went down into the hold, where the shrieking of the demon spawn was echoing, so I hurried back up.

This ship dates back to 1900 and was an icebreaker.

I was able to view the Royal Barge in its own boathouse. It was built for King William I of the Netherlands between 1816 and 1818. He didn’t use it, but his successors did. It was last used at the silver wedding anniversary of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard in 1962.

Coming out of this exhibit is when I fell. 🙁

I went back in to visit the West Wing.

Even if I hadn’t been sore, my brain was about to explode, so I went very quickly through an exhibit about the Golden Age of the Netherlands and one about whaling.

We were able to go into this giant whale.

The final exhibit was a game that looked like a lot of fun and had a grown-up version, but it was overrun with kiddos, so I didn’t even try. I went all the way back to the basement to fetch my coat. Green dots are free lockers, red dots are occupied, flashing green dots have been opened by the scanner at the entrance. Neat system.

I was really sore, but still wanted to go check out NEMO.

I made it most of the way up this staircase, but took the elevator back down.

Amsterdam looked like a painting…

The lineup into the science centre was absurd. I’d done my research and knew that I would not spend much time there, so I decided to see if I could jump the queue with my Museumkaart. Yes!

The NEMO Science Centre is a giant interactive playground meant to teach kids about science. If you plan to visit Amsterdam with children, put this one on your list!

I didn’t bother going near any of the interactive stuff since it was all too busy, but I did catch a few interesting static exhibits. These wooden figures were meant to illustrate the structure of different crystals.

These are primitive batteries, but work more like capacitors.

There was a neat display of old technology, like this 1980s model of CD player.

There was a very graphic multi part sex exhibit. I love how Europeans are not prudes.

I liked the models demonstrating creative sexual positions.

And this exhibit where young and old could practice French kissing.

In an exhibit on more futuristic tech, I found this hat with solar panels woven into it. Can you imagine something like this in Mexico? I’d never have to worry about charging my phone!

There was an exhibit about how solar cars are becoming the norm in the Netherlands and there is an increasing number of charging stations.

I only stayed about 40minutes, longer than I expected I would! I was ready to get off my leg by this point, but I still took the time to capture a few more images of the building’s incredible exterior.

I walked along the water a bit towards Centraal Station, where I could get a tram straight home. I knew I wasn’t up to walking 4KM on that knee. 🙁

This friendly guy (gal?) came to say hello.

How did it get up there?! And why is it not strapped down better?!

I found a whole neighourhood of folks living on the water. By the way, I learned that some canal dwellings are houses on piles while others are boats. The boats are more expensive to live in because they have to be periodically hauled out of the water and their hauls scraped and repainted.

People have real addresses with post boxes.

I bet this person doesn’t come home drunk…

Interesting floating pagoda.

This is a hotel right near Centraal Station.

Back at Amsterdam Centraal.

I got in and got my knee on ice. I researched places nearby to go have dinner, but ultimately decided to just pick up a frozen pizza at the supermarket as well as a few other sundries. I’m glad I didn’t try to go any further than that. I was annoyed that they don’t accept credit cards and I had to give all my remaining cash, which was supposed to get me through to Thursday. So now, I have to make another withdrawal, which will cost me 5CAD. Should have gone out for dinner after all. *wry grin*

Accident notwithstanding, this was another great day of Amsterdam museums! I ended up viewing 257.04CAD worth of museums for just 87CAD. So I think I got my money’s worth out of the Museumkaart! 🙂 I do wish I had gone out of Amsterdam one day, but it just didn’t make sense to do so when I had so much here to keep me occupied. The Museumkaart really was a smart purchase as I’m not sure what I would have done with myself otherwise since work was so slow and I’m on a tight budget. I’m also glad I didn’t get a transportation card and so was motivated to walk as much as I did. I got to know my part of Amsterdam very well and saw things I wouldn’t have noticed from a tram. I have two days left and if my knee cooperates, I want to go explore a bit more of West Amsterdam, where I’m living, since it shouldn’t be too cold…

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! 🙂

A Mexican Themed Second Day in Belgrade

Warning: Today’s post features photos and discussion on the subject of torture that some readers may find upsetting.

One thing I didn’t expect coming to Europe was that I would have to essentially become a night owl again. It’s been really hard to get to bed early because my friends and colleagues get online late in my evening, so that’s the best time to get in touch. Moreover, things seem to just start later in Europe and there is more nightlife. So midnight has been a normal bedtime for me since I got across the pond, but I haven’t necessarily been able to get up late enough in the mornings to make up for that late bedtime. If the dogs weren’t whining for their walk by 7:30 or 8:00, there was a worker at the house or I was holidaying and needing to get going.

So one of the things I expected is that I was going to need to crash at my next stop. This was one of the reasons why I chose to rent an apartment for the week rather than, say, stay at a hostel in a private room, and also why I was adamant about being downtown. This way, I can rest up, take it slow, and not have to go far to soak in the ambiance. So that’s why my daily plans aren’t particularly ambitious. Moreover, Belgrade isn’t really a city of museums or lots of set things to do. It’s really the perfect place to just amble and see what you stumble across.

This morning, I set off for Belgrade Fortress to visit the military museum and see more of the fortification. Spoiler: I need to go back there a fourth time. There’s just so much!

I finally headed out around eleven and didn’t get farther than Republic Square before plunking myself down at a cafĂ© and ordering an espresso macchiato. I used some Serbian for the first time, hvala, which is rather like saying “thanks.” Both it and please are two-word expressions, but my tour guide yesterday said that I can just say the first part. So I made sure to use “molim” and “hvala” a lot today, even when doing transactions in English. Baby steps! Hvala (Đ„ĐČала) has the dreaded X sound that can be like the ch in “loch,” like a k, or like an h, depending on its place in the word, and followed by a consonant. Not an easy word. Serbian doesn’t seem to like vowels much. Trg (square) and vrt (garden) are words!

After my coffee, I took a street that parallels Knez Mihailova Street, but there wasn’t much on it, so I took a shortcut through this magnificent courtyard to get there. Can you imagine living in one of those apartments?!

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I got to the fortress and ambled for a bit, finding this tennis court:

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The clocktower is one of several bits in the fortress that you have to pay to see. I will do that later this week!

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I went through the outer Stambol Gate, built in 1750-1760. On our tour yesterday, there was a young Australian guy who said that the fortress is really cool because they don’t have anything like that in Australia. Then, he turned to me and said, “You must feel the same way!” Um, no, we Canadians actually have several fortress-type things dating back to the 18th century! Citadel Hill in Halifax was fortified in 1749, the Fortress of Louisbourg (also in Nova Scotia) was constructed between 1720 and 1740, and the Citadelle in Quebec dates back to 1673!

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I was not expecting to see dinosaurs today…

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The fortress site is massive!

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Yeah, this was definitely not on the list for today…

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Holy smokes they look real and scary!

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As a medievalist, this sounded interesting, but also rather disturbing. After some debating with myself, I decided to check it out.

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It was on the way to the military museum.

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The entrance fee wasn’t expensive, about 300RSD, and I was rather disturbed that the cashier told me to enjoy myself… I stepped into this creepy dungeon setting that had really disturbing audio playing. There were no sounds of torture or anything like that, but the effect was very disquieting.

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This panel immediately put me at ease, with the curators addressing my fears that the exhibit might be gratuitous and explaining that their motives are to present  an unemotional, factual overview of a terrible subject that is still a problem today.

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A “break-knee.”

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This was a type of horrible gag.

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The bit on the chastity belt was a revelation to me. They pointed out how it was most likely used voluntarily by women to prevent rape. “We wish to however point out that the belt was nevertheless an instrument of torture to which women had subjected themselves to escape the violence of men.”

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The rack:

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It was here that I started to have enough of the terrible things humans do to each other. I’ll leave it up to your imagination what this did:

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A throne of spikes…

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“The idea of mechanizing torture was born in Germany…”

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A cloth of very rough fabric that would flay the skin.

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This was a horrible exhibit, but well worth going to. I’m getting a little upset revisiting it, but I’m glad I went and I think it was exceedingly well done. Many of these methods — and worse — are still in use today. We are not as civilised as we think we are.

Next up was the military museum. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about visiting it, not sure I wanted to pay to look at a bunch of tanks and various weapons. But entrance was only 150 dinars so I took  a chance.

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Coming in, we start with the weapons of the ancient peoples of this land. I really liked how they are presented in this mosaic. Already, I knew this museum was going to be special.

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So many of these exhibits, like this map, were beautiful and represented a lot of hard work.

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14th century quotes about a battle between Bulgaria and Serbia. Serbia won.

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Armour that is a work of art.

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Giant cannonball?

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First time I’ve seen “Bosnia and Herzegovina” in its own language.

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We eventually entered the early 20th century. The museum doesn’t go much further than that, except for showing tanks and missiles outside. While I wish more contemporary history had been displayed, I felt that this was a jewel of a music, well laid out and with really interesting exhibits.

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I loved the moss growing inside this gun!

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It was past one by the time I got out of the museum and I was famished. I headed back to Knez Mihailova Street and took a side street at random where I found a sushi restaurant next to… a “Mexican” restaurant, Zapata Ciudad! Having had sushi in the last week, I decided to try the Mexican joint. The food descriptions were only in Serbian, but the Spanish dish names were enough for me to have an idea of what I would be ordering. I went with the “burrito traditionale.”

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That was rather a lot of food. No, I did not come even remotely close to finishing it!

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Here’s my TripAdvisor review of Ciudad Zapata:

I live in Mexico part-time and spend a lot of time traveling through the southern US where there are several American interpretations of Mexican cuisine. So I was curious to see how Serbia would interpret the various cuisines of this part of the world.

My first impression was that the portion size was insane (two huge burritos!) and I wished I’d realised I could order a half portion for 30% less.

Then, I noticed the chips and salsa. The chips are real Mexican tortilla chips like they make in restaurants from their leftover tortillas, not the yellow corn chips that are more commonly used in the US! While lacking in chiles, the pico de gallo was exactly like what I get in Mexico, with perfectly proportioned onion, fresh tomato, a squeeze of lime, and even a little avocado. I was immediately transported back to my Mexican village, even with the lack of heat. Very impressed!

The burritos were… interesting. It would have been nice if they had been heated up. They were wheat tortillas stuffed with kidney beans, plain white rice, mushrooms, marinated sweet peppers, and your meat of choice (I went with chicken, which was marinated and tender — so yummy!). I don’t like mushrooms and picked them out, then found the burritos quite tasty thanks to those peppers. To my great amusement, the only hot sauce on offer was Thai (a Sriracha knock-off), but it added some much needed kick to my meal. The size of these burritos was very American, but there was none of the Tex-Mex/Southwest heaviness since there was no meat or sour cream.

I really enjoyed my little taste of Mexico and the Southwest in Belgrade and would definitely come back to Ciudad if only for the chips and salsa!

After lunch, I ambled down towards Belgrade’s Museum of Science and Technology. Entrance was free!

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It was very loud in there at the beginning because a lady was playing this giant organ.

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The museum is a series of small collections of themed items showing the evolution of technology. I’m always disturbed when something from my childhood is presented as an antique in a museum!

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What a massive camera!

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Utensils for roasting, grinding, and brewing coffee:

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A mainframe analogue computer. WOW. There were also other similar components that were just part of a bigger computer!

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I remember these…

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These instruments were used to fasten boats to undeveloped shorelines.

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I was smitten by this pretty blue phonograph!

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Interesting stove, so antiquated on top, but with rather fancy knobs on the front.

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So pretty!

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They don’t make appliances like they used to!

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What a lovely printing machine!

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Typesetter cabinet:

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The Science and Tech Museum was small, just one room at the top of the building, but it was filled with treasures. I would have felt I got my money’s worth if I’d had to pay a few hundred dinars in admission.

I decided to head home for a break (it was almost 4:00) and passed the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky (Crkva Svetog Aleksandra Nevskog), which was really beautiful!

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There’s always an interesting building around you in this part of Belgrade.

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The house of Nikola Paơić, an important Serbian/Yugoslav politician and diplomat for more than 40 years.

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I was surprised to see that AXA insurance operates out in Serbia. They are the company that did right by me after my toad was murdered in West Virginia.

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I walked up Skadarlija Street, crossed an intersection, took a right, and… realised I was behind my building! I couldn’t believe how close I was to the Bohemian Quarter and promptly made plans to have dinner there!

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The reason that I had gone back to Skadarlija Street was that I’d spotted an earring vendor on my tour yesterday. This woman hand makes earrings in a dĂ©coupage style. I was surprised by how unattractive these look up close when they are so striking from a distance. I think that’s part of why I fell hard for them. They were only 400RSD! So that’s now two pairs of Serbian earrings! These are light as a feather despite their size.

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I love the filigree detailing on the bottom.

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I went back out to have dinner around six, opting for Dva Jelena (two deer) as it was highly recommended. I started with a cold glass of chardonnay.

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I was brought this bread that I didn’t ask for and which was not included, but which was rather yummy. Check out that huge clump of garlic, Vicki! Shame there was a bit too much salt. I ate about half of it.

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I forgot to take a picture of my dinner, but wish I had because it was hilarious. Like at lunch in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, I ordered the bacon wrapped chicken, completely missing that it was actually ham wrapped in chicken wrapped in bacon! I was so glad I’d done the grown up thing and asked to substitute cooked vegetables for the potatoes! The veggies were just frozen carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, but perfectly tasty. The meal was nothing special, to be honest, but it satisfied my need for some meat and veggies.

After dinner, I ambled down Skadarlija Street to the other end. It’s a very short street! It was still rather early (about 7:30), so music and other entertainment were just starting.

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I found another one of those helpful directional signs!

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At the end of Skadarlija, I turned left to do a loop back to my place. I passed a hardware store, which fascinated me for some reason.

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It was dark, but there were actually a lot of people milling about. Most shops were closed, but there were a lot of fast food places open.

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Not the best shot, but it shows one of many buildings, including my own, with blinds on the outside of the building. I find that a mixed blessing in that I have tons of privacy, but they block some of the light.

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I popped into a convenience store for an ice cream and got a sandwich. I burst out laughing when I opened it. I found an amazing ice cream sandwich in Mexico where half has the wafer and the other half is chocolate covered. Guess what I bought tonight? It wasn’t quite as good (not as chocolately), but still yummy!

I’m really pleased with how my day turned out. While I did stick to familiar streets, I started to venture outside my comfort zone a bit now that I’m better orientated.

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Most tourist attractions are closed on Mondays, so tomorrow will be an ambling day as I don’t expect any work. I will have at least a little bit of work the rest of the week, so I’ll probably just go out in the afternoons. I have to check out on Friday, so I’ll definitely have to come up with my next move in the next day or two. I am debating whether going to another Serbian destination or heading straight for Sarajevo. I have a lot of research to do!

A Fun Afternoon at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas

Undeterred by the pouring rain, Ms. Cinnamon and I headed out for the afternoon. I asked if she wanted to have lunch out and she suggested Vietnamese, which was exactly what I had in mind. So we headed over to the Bistro B.

The restaurant has a crazy huge and overwhelming menu. I decided that we didn’t have all day and that I wanted vermicelli, chicken, and lemongrass, which I found as a number 113. Ms. Cinnamon ordered the same thing.

The ginormous meal of fresh salad, noodles, meat, and a side of fish sauce looked lovely and tasted pretty good, but it was nowhere near lemongrassy enough for me. There was just a hint of it in some bites, but for a meal labeled lemongrass, it wasn’t enough. So I questioned the server and he offered to take back our food, but we refused since there was nothing wrong with it and we didn’t want to have to wait for them to make something new.

Well, he came back minutes later with a small plate heaped with more lemongrass and sautéd onions! And guess what he told us? That the chef purposely toned it down because the dish is too flavourful for most of the folks who come to the restaurant! Now, what we were served was not bland in the least, but the added lemongrass really made it shine. Yu-um!

Sated, Ms. Cinnamon and I headed out to tour the Perot Museum of Science and Nature, which is new in Dallas. I took a picture of the exterior when I was out the other day. It was almost 2:30 when we arrived and the museum closes at 5:00. Well, we had just enough time to see everything, but would have really needed another hour or two!

This is a very hands on museum with a lot of fun activities. From the lobby, you get a dizzying escalator ride straight up to the fourth floor dinosaurs and space exhibits, and then you work your way down.

The museum is great for kids and the kid at heart. My favourite exhibit was up in the fourth floor mezzanine birds exhibit where you put on 3D glasses and get to soar like a bird. The effect is remarkable as you get to swoop, dive, and fly by moving your body. This photo gallery gives a small sample of the exhibits. At $15, the museum isn’t cheap, but you get a lot of bang for your buck!

We stopped at the Central Market, a super fancy grocery store, on the way home to grab something quick and easy for dinner. I got a few groceries and then spent some time in the deli area trying to decide what I was in the mood for. The sushi very tempting, but I went with my first instinct, which was to have a mixed Mediterranean plate with hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, cucumber and tomato salad, and lots of other good stuff where you pay by the weight of your container. Yum!

It was really cold today (I doubt we hit 50F), but at least the sky has cleared.