Serbia was one of the first countries I travelled in my trip around the Balkans and it was probably a good idea that I went to Serbia first. I think if I had have gone there last and heard some of the things come out of locals mouths that I heard while I was there I may have just slightly lost my shit at them. For the most part, Serbians are very lovely and passionate people. However it is an interesting place to travel if you want to see just how far government propaganda and media can place some of the most nonsensical and ridiculous ideas into a people and have them believe that these notions are true. Today the Serbs still fight for their pride despite losing the war and face in front of the world at the hands of Slobodan Milosevic. On the other hand, the Serbs also faced massive atrocities at the hands of the Turks from the Ottoman period and their five hundred year occupation. Add it all together and you have an interesting country that should be observed with a critical eye.
Here is some super trivial shit I learned in Serbia….
- The Novi Sad staple diet must consist of popcorn and ice cream because I failed to find any other form of food while I was there. (Maybe this happened on purpose.)
- I learned to read the Cyrillic alphabet. Hooray!
- The name ‘Belgrade’ comes from the Serbian ‘beo grad’ which means ‘white city’.
- During the NATO bombings of Belgrade, the animals in the zoo got out and were roaming the city. This includes the elephants and tigers…. shame they didn’t find and a) stomp on or b) eat Slobodan Milosevic.
- Serbs are unimpressed with nudity. So much so that this statue was shunned and removed from the town centre to where it could not be seen by the public.
- Nis was home of Constantine the Great. It was where eventually build his house the Medijana.
- Back in the days of the Ottomans, the more windows you had on your buildings, the more taxes you had to pay.
- Nikola Tesla is apparently Serbian…. he seems to be claimed by many different places around the Balkans, but his ashes rest in Belgrade’s Tesla Museum despite him never actually visiting Belgrade when he was alive.
- There is a sign in the city centre which has an arrow pointing to the moon so that when people get super drunk on rakija they still know which way is up
- Tito was a cool guy who was loved by many and had a rule of communism that was way less harsh than that of many other communist regimes of the world….
- The Yugoslavian National History Museum in Belgrade is a joke and gives no insight into anything that happened in Yugoslavia except for the fact that Tito was an ‘awesome dude’.
- And of course my glorious tour guide told everybody that it wasn’t Serbia’s fault that Yugoslavia broke apart and that everybody else decided to leave because of ‘religious differences’ and whatever anyone else tells you about it is false. She was also fairly adamant that NATO had no right to be in Serbia and couldn’t understand why it is that they bombed a few buildings because they were all innocent. Again, it was lucky that I hadn’t yet been to Bosnia or I would have been enlightening her with a few facts about say, the genocide at Srebrenica…. but anyway, I guess I learned that ignorance and propaganda reign supreme.
Despite some of the negative emotions that I had towards the Serbian government and the ignorance of some of the people that live there, I did find the local Serbians to be an incredibly generous and lovely group of people (well unless I was trying to by Bulgarian money at the exchange – the Serbs don’t seem to like any of their neighbours). I enjoyed my time here and wished that I had more time to get out into the countryside and explore further.