Upon arriving in Belgrade, I noticed that the bully had taken a bit of a beating. The town was quite shabby, and that much of the bombing that Nato undertook went unrepaired. It’s a mostly filthy capital city with scruffy graffiti riddled buildings, showing the by-products of financial sanctions. It has been claimed that Nato owes them $100 billion in reparations and that this would turn things around for them. Perhaps they would take the cash and sort themselves out. Maybe they would use the money to beat up on their neighbors. Perhaps they should have left Kosovo alone in the first place since it was comprised of 90% ethnic Albanians. But they don’t call it the Balkans for nothing.
verb (used with object), Balkanized, Balkanizing.
I’m going to show you some of the nicer bits, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to visit here any time soon. Many of the people you pass on the street look like they just got out of prison or are still there for that matter. I’m sure there are prettier parts of the country. Better yet spend your money in a Balkan country where they appreciate it and treat you well, like Bosnia or Kosovo.
Actually, this is a fairly typical shabby structure.
The only mosque remaining out of 160, a testament to Serbia’s religious tolerance.
A gift from France, but its significance escapes me.
BELGRADE FORTRESS – The Kalemegdan Park
Tennis court in the moat.
A secondary perimeter within the first wall. Some of the hardware they used to beat up on their neighbors with.
THE VICTORY STATUE
One of our hostel mates trying out the local hooch.
Some souvenirs in the park. Looks like they are fond of a particular flavor of Russian bully.
Main Square with the National Theater in the background.
Restaurants in the Bohemian zone – A nice touristic area with good restaurants.
Belgrade’s Salvation: An “Amelie” stencil.
Lunch with the gang.
Serbia’s answers to Mariachis – Holy crap a cheerful Serb! I tipped him.
A typically cheerful Serbian waiter.
An uncharacteristically flawless and beautiful building just steps from filth and degradation. The building is a hotel and protected by the government.
Just 300 meters from that beautiful building and I’m on my way to catch a bus to Kosovo.
One thing that is fascinating about long-term travel across Europe is that patterns begin to emerge in the histories of scattered nations, and you begin to see that the same mistakes are being made over and over. Conflicts are based upon the same variables down through the ages. Economic pressures, real estate disputes, and conflicts of often ridiculous ideologies lead inexorably down the path to war. This was all fine, well, and good until we had nuclear weapons, and elected a president unable to pronounce the word, nuclear.
Of course, the most important and main ingredient in this laughable dance of death is the highly flawed, greedy, and aggressive naked ape. Plain and simple human nature is at the core of this self-destruction. If we are to survive into the 22nd century, we are clearly going to have to transcend our very natures to do so. If we continue down the path we are on, our luck will surely run out as the pressures of overpopulation, dwindling supplies, and the devastating effects of global climate change become more evident. The Cold War brought us to the brink, but the cool heads of Kennedy and Khrushchev pulled us back in the nick of time.
Unfortunately, in the case of climate change, we will not have an Alien invasion to unite us like in that cheesy movie “Independence Day”, but an enemy will emerge to bring us together as it takes its toll. This will be our moment of truth. We must face ourselves, and hopefully repair the damage before it’s too late. Hopefully, we can transcend our natures in time. Like drug addicts, we must go through a serious transformation in order to survive. We don’t have the privilege of waiting for our brains to evolve but will have to intervene on ourselves. From everyday people to world leaders to our Corporate Overlords, a major shift must occur if we are to prevail. One thing I’ve learned about people is that they usually wait until their backs are against the wall to take action. There are some that claim we are already past the tipping point, and that the damage is irreversible.
This is one of the reasons I am on this five-year journey. The world is a bit of a mess right now, and showing signs of getting a whole lot worse. I figured I’d best get out there, and have a look around while it’s still a nice place, and before it gets too complicated to do so. There are already a number of places that are not possible to visit already. Hopefully, some of them will open up in the future, but the lion’s share of the Middle East will be troublesome thanks to ISIS and the after-effects of George W. Bush which we’ll be feeling for years to come.