A short stopover in Belgrade, Serbia on the way to Warsaw.
Quick, random observations:
Serbia and Serbs are in some respects very similar to Poland and Poles:
- The looks: Serbs thought I was one of them - they would speak Serbian to me. I saw a few people in Belgrade who looked like doubles of people I know in Poland.
- The language: not close enough to understand when spoken, but often close enough to decipher the written form.
- History: the communism of course, although, unlike Poland, Yugoslavia was independent from the Soviet Union, but it goes further back. Serbia was a dominant force in a multicultural country that became officially known as Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s left Serbia scarred, out of NATO, out of EU. I think Poland could face a similar fate, if after 1945 it was to keep its eastern parts with significant Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Lithuanian minorities. At some point, nationalists among these peoples could declare independence, and the clash with Polish nationalists could turn Poland into a pariah of the modern world.
- On the way from/to the airport: a big Gazprom ad with Russian and Serbian flags (same colours, just inverted.) declaring Russian-Serbian friendship.
- Plastic bags in the forests along the road. I see that in Poland too.
- Very few tourists. The airport to city bus driver didn't speak English. People did not know where the airport bus stop was at the central railway station.
- People in Belgrade look good. Cars look modern. Buildings, and public transport, not so much. The are modern Solaris buses visible, but most trams are ancient.
- Serbian currency is hard to convert. A currency exchange in Poland wouldn't take it.
- Big choice of tasty, cheap snacks at bakeries.
|Central Railway Station|
|Temple of Saint Sava|
|I remember such uneven asphalt from Warsaw of my youth|
|Looks like a WW2 era tram.|
|This could be in Warsaw too, although more likely 20 years ago, than now.|
|The NATO bombed ministry building finally being repaired.|
|This and many other trams are gifts from Switzerland.|
|Opposite the central railway station. Kvass and Adidas ads.|
|Panorama of Belgrade - no skyscrapers yet|
|Short-range Air Serbia planes at the Nikolai Tesla airport|
|Fields, no houses - very different from Poland. Strange shapes showing underground water?|
|Another look at Belgrade|
|Communist apartment buildings and lots of greenery. Could be in Warsaw too.|
|Similar to Poland, but bigger. Multi-family houses?|