|Driving along we could see the leaves bursting open on the trees. It's my favorite time of year with spring and summer still ahead.|
Once we were settled, we set out to see a bit of the city and find some dinner. Walking around, it was pretty clear Belgrade has been through a lot. With so much history, there should have been more evidence of its various stages of history, but communism and 20th century wars took care of wiping out many historical landmarks. Many of the buildings were pretty run down. Settlements around Belgrade date back to the Vinča culture (circa 5000 BC); Belgrade was later inhabited by the Celts, Romans, Slavs, Byzantine Empire, Bulgarian Empire, Kingdom of Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Habsburg rule and it was the capital of Yugoslavia from 1918 to its final dissolution in 2006. Most of the times that power changed hands, war and destruction took its toll.
|The nicest areas are around the pedestrian streets at the center of the old town. This is Knez Mihailova (Prince Mihailo Street) where lots of people were out enjoying the spring weather.|
We walked to the Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park which are the core historical sights in the city.
|This was the best modern-day use of an old moat that I'd seen yet: Tennis courts.|
|The Inner Stambol Gate of the Fortress.|
|Looking down, from the fortress high ground, at the Danube and Sava rivers.|
|Every city has its share of performance artists.|
Nikola Tesla was one of the world's most brilliant scientists in the fields of physics and electrical and radio engineering. If one could identify the largest of Tesla's discoveries that has affected our lives the most, then it would probably be the three-phase electricity induction engine and polyphase (the distribution of alternating-current electrical power) system in general. Before the invention of polyphase, electrical energy was produced near consumers, just a few hundred meters away. After the construction of the Niagara Falls power plant, energy was produced in one place and could be distributed to consumers as needed. Capturing the power of Niagara Falls with his alternating current system, made it possible to transmit electricity all over America (and through the construction of similar plants, the rest of the world).
Tesla's legacy can be seen in everything from remote controls to neon and fluorescent lighting, to xrays, to guided missiles. He also patented the technology for wireless communication that is used in radio and television broadcasting. He was a technological visionary whose contributions often get overlooked in history. Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi get credited for inventing the electric light bulb and the radio, respectively, but their work was actually based on the discoveries of Nikola Tesla. George Westinghouse is well-known for creating the Westinghouse Electric Company but the products produced were based on Tesla's patents. Nicholas Tesla is overlooked because he didn't invent to earn wealth; he invented to make the world a better place and make people's lives a little easier. Those who capitalized on Tesla's research, and made millions, are the people that tend to get remembered. Tesla didn't protect his commercial interests and, in the end, he wound up more or less penniless and forgotten.
|A copy of the induction motor (two phase), with short circuit rotor, from 1887.|
|We visited the first McDonalds to open in Belgrade. Kind of stretching it in terms of historical interest.|
|We stopped at a city playground to let the kids run around for a bit. This was a playground whose planners had the parents in mind; it's equipped with mobile device chargers.|
|Walking along Kralja Milana which is a main shopping street with international and local brands.|
|Stari Dvor (Old Palace): Built in 1884, it was the royal residence of the Obrenović dynasty. Today it houses the City Assembly of Belgrade.|
|A peek at the Narodna Skupstina (National Assembly building) across Pironirski Park.|
|While many buildings are still in disrepair, there are some gems remaining in the city.|
|The Military Museum was founded in 1878 and has been in this location at the fortress since 1956.|
|With "military" on the brain while strolling through Kalemegdan Park, the kids all got these crocheted medieval-styled helmets/hats. Hilarious. I can't wait to see them wear these on a snow day.|
|Sarah standing by the pyramid on Knez Mihailova that shows coordinates of Belgrade. It sits in front of the Serbian Academy of Science and Art.|
|Hotel Moskva (Moscow) located on the Terazije Square: It is a 4-star hotel and is one of the oldest hotels currently operating in Serbia. Sadly, we didn't stay here.|
|The parking ticket used in Novi Sad: Go to a Tabac and buy one or more of these, each for 55 dinar (about $0.65). Each ticket is worth one hour of parking. Scratch the date and time that your car is parked.|
|Another view of Zmaj Jovina Street, part of the pedestrian zone.|
|Before we began, Boban went over the rules and the tips for a accomplishing our mission.|
|After the game, our Game Master allowed me to take a couple photos. Here, Paul and Sarah are listening to clues on the rotary phones provided, while James reads Mr Pig's suicide note.|
|Pressing the red button to dismantle the bomb. Success!|
|Hey it's Mr Pig!|
|Holy Mary Cathedral on Trg Slobode (Liberty Square).|
|City Hall on Liberty Square built in 1895: It is one of the most magnificent buildings, built in a neo-renaissance style, in Novi Sad. Both the City Hall and the Holy Mary Cathedral, at the opposite end of the square, were planned by Georg Molnar.|
|The countryside along the way was somewhat mountainous and mostly rural farmland.|
On March 26th, we arranged to have a walking tour with the daughter of our apartment host. We thought this would be a good way to see the highlights of the city and know to where we'd want to return over the next 36 hours.
Sarajevo is one of the most historically interesting and varied cities in Europe. It is a place where the western & eastern Roman empires split and where the people of the Roman Catholic (west), Eastern Orthodox (east) and the Ottoman (south), met, lived and warred. The city is historically known for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting here for centuries.
Mary met us at 10:30 and we first stopped off at Svrzo's House, which was built by the wealthy Glođo family in the 18th century. It is viewed as a traditional muslim, Bosnian house; this was the best example of a dwelling built during the Ottoman rule that we had seen on our trip. It helped to illustrate the lifestyle of a muslim family from the late 18th century throughout the 19th century. It was built by the upper-class Glodo family but when the family failed to produce a male heir, it was passed through by marriage to another old Sarajevo family, the Svrzos, who were merchants. The house consists of the selamluk or public areas, commonly known as the men's quarters, and the haremluk, or private family areas, also known as the women's quarters. Normal family life took place in the haremluk while the selamluk was used by the male family members to receive guests and conduct business.
|The main courtyard: River rocks, a material that the wealthy used, line the courtyard. The home was fortified with iron doors on the lower levels and heavy floor doors which could block access to the second level.|
|Vince pointing out the iron shutters on the windows to the large halvat on the second floor.|
|Many of the doors and cabinets had fine wooden inlay detail.|
|Fireplace: This fireplace was located in the bedroom but most rooms had one like it. It was built for radiating heat. The fireplace had a small opening in which to place wood and start the fire. The warm air would rise and heat the ceramic discs.|
|Many of the rooms had an en suite privy like this one. (Too) many washrooms that we'd seen during our travels haven't progressed from this hole in the floor concept.|
|The dining room contained a sofra (table) consisting of a large round tray known as a demirlija, around which people sat to eat. Beside the sofra are an ewer and basin for washing one's hands before and after eating|
|Franciscan Monastery and Church of Saint Anthony of Padua: Located across the street from the Sarajevska Pivara brewery, the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua is a Roman Catholic church that was consecrated in 1914.|
|Interior of the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua: The monastery and church were seriously damaged in the 1992/95 war but have since been reconstructed.|
|The Miljacka river flows through the city westwardly where it eventually meets up with the Bosna river.|
|The Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914.|
|Remains of a Taslihan built between 1540-1543: Its purpose was to provide accommodation for merchants, their wares and their horses. |
|Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos: It was erected between 1863 and 1868.|
|Interior of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos: It is constructed as a three-section basilica with a cross-shaped plan and five domes.|
|Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (1889).|
|Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque: Completed in 1531, it is considered the most important Islamic structure in Bosnia-Herzegovina and one of the world's finest examples of Ottoman architecture.|
We first visited a tiny photo gallery outlining the siege of Sarajevo. It was on the second floor of the Insider travel agency located next to the Latin Bridge.
|The Insider's 1992-96 War Gallery showed a video consisting of a montage of photos covering the siege and consisted of two rooms with photographs and news clippings.|
One of the things that saved the trapped inhabitants is that they built a tunnel from the city to the Bosnian-held territory on the other side of the Sarajevo airport, an area controlled by the UN. The tunnel allowed food, war supplies, and humanitarian aid to come into the city, and people to get out. The tunnel was one of the major ways of bypassing the international arms embargo and provided the city defenders with weaponry.
Passing through Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, we'd been exposed to a number of accounts of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Of course it was interesting to to read the local views of events from each country. The turbulent demise of Yugoslavia left an estimated 200,000 people killed and some 2.7 million refugees displaced – the largest displacement in Europe since the Second World War.
After leaving the 1992-96 Siege Gallery, we then walked across the street and visited the Muzej Sarajevo, or one branch of the museum. (We visited a second branch of the museum in another part of the old town the next day.) The museum, located next to the Latin Bridge, told a bit about Sarajevo during the period of 1878-1918. The chronological exhibition began with an outline of events preceding the Berlin Congress, when Austria-Hungary was given a mandate to administer Bosnia and Herzegovina, and concluded with WWI and the part played in it by the First Bosnian Regiment. The museum also covered the assassination of the heir assumptive, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia.
|Displays were static and not very engaging and therefore not very interesting for the kids nor me. Vincent spent more time working his way around and therefore may have gotten more out of it.|
|James and Sarah undertaking the impossible task of chasing the pigeons away in Baščaršija square. Definitely more fun than Sarajevo museums.|
|Sarajevo's tram system looks particularly retro. Most of Sarajevo's trams are donations from the Czech Republic (delivered in the 1970s & 80s) and in 2008, Amsterdam donated 16 old trams.|
|Many buildings still show the signs of war and are in need of some TLC.|
|Molly has finally won. Through dogged persistence over the past several weeks, she's managed to move herself from the floor of the front passenger seat and has landed herself the primo spot on Paul's pillow on Paul's lap.|
|The view from our lunch-stop restaurant.|
|Paul and James ordered a tuna pizza with ketchup. So often the English translations are off and we correctly interpreted ketchup to mean tomato-based pizza sauce. In this case, they really did mean "ketchup". Probably the worst pizza of the trip.|
|Driving along, what I believe to be, the Neretva River towards Mostar.|
We arrived in Mostar about 15:30 and got settled into our accommodations, Pansion Anja (which was great by the way). We then walked to the old town to explore a bit and find something for dinner.
|Stari Most (Old Bridge).|
|Standing on the Stari Most looking down stream towards Lucki Most (Port Bridge).|
|Standing on the Stari Most looking up stream with the old town on the right.|
|While eating dinner, we watched this metalsmith working away. Looks like he needs to slow down his production a bit until his rate of sales catches up.|
|The old town is small and quaint. I imagine in the peak tourist season it would be packed and not the same pleasant experience as it was for us in March.|
|The Neretva River runs through Mostar. While not readily apparent here, the river is usually a striking shade of green, like so many rivers in the Dinaric Alps.|
|Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque: Completed in 1618, this mosque is the second biggest in Mostar. The Karadjoz-bey Mosque is the largest.|
|Entrance to the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque.|
|Lovely river rock-lined streets in which to stroll and shop.|
|See that loud speaker posted on the minaret? That was pointed directly at our bedroom window.|
|No shortage of rosary beads here, or anything else to do with the image of Mary or Medjugorje written on it, including those airline neck pillows.|
|Would Mary really support "no dogs" on the grounds? Paul sat with Molly while the rest of us walked around. In the background, is the St James Church.|
|On the grounds of St James Church is a huge outdoor theatre; this is the site of enormous congregations.|
|Drinking the water, so to speak.|
|The falls are about 25 meters high.|
|Top of the falls.|
|The diameter of the lake at the base of the waterfalls is about 120 metres.|
|Vince and his best girl, happy to be back at our home away from home.|