Boat Trip, Day Nine

Serbia

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[The daily ritual.  The Super was always the first one on the bus . . . because she has to be! She would use various apparel and carry-ons to “hold” seats for the other seven of us.  But by this stage in the trip, most people had settled to a particular seat anyway.]

belgrade

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[So now we’re in Serbia, the capital city Belgrade to be exact.  And the city was the capital of Yugoslavia from 1918 until “things fell apart” in 2006.  I believe this building, the first important looking one we ran across, is the Austrian Embassy.]

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[Once again, just to let you know where we are in the grand scheme of things . . . and in case you had to send a cab.]

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[And this is where we’re going first.]

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[We had been enjoying lovely weather throughout the trip, until this day.  Very windy and chilly as we force marched into the fortress.]

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[There is a story here, but a rather lengthy one.  We’re going through Stambol Gate, and one remembers that because the cobble stone road through the arch is quite uneven so one is prone to “stumble.”  The fortress walls are from antiquity, but the clock tower is Austrian and rather more recent (as I recall).]

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[This is our guide, Srdjan, and I wish I could remember his last name.  All our guides were very good, and I suspect are all teachers in “real life.”   I suspect Srdjan probably at the college level.  And why not?  A bus load of 50 tourists, a 3 – 4 hour guided tour, such as Srdjan may pick up a hundred bucks or more just in tips. That’s real money in this part of the world.]

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[Watch your step!]

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[An original Big Bertha, appearing about 85 years before the golf club version.]

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[Entering the Fortress . . . ]

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[Be afraid, be very afraid!]

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[Srdjan came on the boat that night to give a talk on the history of Serbia. He’s writing a book on it, “Crossroads of the World,” where behind him here the Sava River enters the Danube (Belgrade has been destroyed 44 times and had 60 different controlling occupiers over its 2,700 year history). I asked if he would come to Alex for a book signing? BTW, everything in the background in his photo, on the other side of the rivers, is all new since WWII.]

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[The statue overlooking the city is The Victor, constructed in the 20’s to commemorate victories in the Balkan Wars and WWI.  And probably the best view I got of the Sava River Bridge (background left), an engineering marvel featured in “Building It Bigger.”]

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[It’s like May in Minnesota!]

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[Hey, there’s a Human Cannonball in here!  Says he’s been stuck for two weeks and living on Jimmy John’s deliveries!]

4-29-15-22 - Copy[Again, in case there is confusion as to location.]

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[This is obviously a planned effort . . . but graffiti is rampant throughout this part of the world.]

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[One of those must be the Jarl!]

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[Federal Executive Council (SIV) Building, built before Yugoslavia decomposed into six separate countries.]

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[Apartment from the Soviet era.  Many are simply abandoned now.]

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[Built to host the Basketball World Championship of 1994, it seats 25,000 (contrary to what I initially reported to Basketball Dan and Gus).]

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[But you should see it during rush hour!!]

4-29-15-34 - Copy4-29-15-35 - Copy[The Sava River Bridge – we never really got a good view point for it?]

4-29-15-36 - Copy[Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in River City.]

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[Our first glimpse of the Temple of St. Sava.]

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[House of Flowers (and Museum of Yugoslav History) was Tito’s winter garden and where he is buried.]

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[Temple of St. Sava, a Serbian Orthodox church, that just happens to be so large that the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul would fit inside it!]

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[Through fits and starts, construction began in earnest in 1989 with the lifting of the 4,000 ton central dome.  It is still under construction, funded only by donations.]

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[Don’t build these kinds of places much these days.]

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[The drive-away.]

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[A 19th-century Mickey D’s?]

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[The rain, the park, and other things . . . ]

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[This is a defense building, Army as I recall, right around the corner from . . .]

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[A first view of the Ministry of Defense building that NATO bombed in 1999 during the Kosovo War.  There are kids in high school today that were alive when this happened!]

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[Again, I wonder if these buildings remain in this condition as a reminder?  This is in the heart of the city, there are streets and sidewalks passing this building.  I assume the building has been judged safe to walk or drive by.]

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[A city boulevard . . . doesn’t get anymore exciting than that.]

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[National Parliament]

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[We disembarked for a walk around Republic Square with Prince Michael on horseback.]

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[Where we were dropped, I believe the building is a theater of some sort, right across from St. Michael.]

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[Into city center, a block from Republic Square . . . ]

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[Here Srdjan left us to our own devices for an hour and a half of so – the usual practice at most tour stops.]

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[Before we struck out on our own, he mentioned something about this chocolate shop.  Not surprisingly, a lot of us ended up here!  🙂   ]

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[With my extensive knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet, I translated the above building name and came up with bupkis?]

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[Back on the boat that evening, we were again treated to the dance and music so proudly displayed reflecting the local culture and traditions.  And then we had to wonder how this was any different than what we saw in Croatia?  How could these countries, so alike in so many ways, fight a war, with many atrocities, over perceived differences?  A riddle mankind has yet to resolve.]

Men marry because they are tired; women marry because they are curious.  Both are disappointed.  ~  Oscar Wilde

Up next:  We’ll see.

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