Serbia is a shithole.

Posted by jswt | Posted in Serbia - Belgrade | Posted on 29-11-2010

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Belgrade, Serbia?
ihatethisplace. ihatethisplace. ihatethisplace.

This city could be fantastic – it’s accessible, cheap, classic and could be beautiful (if it wasn’t falling into ruin). Instead, I never want to return here because it’s a bleak frozen shithole full of assholes.

I wanted to come in neutrally.
I wanted to realize the war had nothing to do with me.
I wanted to recognize that not everyone is a rightwing nutjob who firebombs gay pride parades.

Unfortunately, the people here are the downfall of the city.

I suppose if you went to Germany 10 years after the war, you’d have a lot of nationalist pride, but they’ve had enough time to back off a bit, realize they might have messed up and take responsibility for their actions. There’s none of that here – in fact it’s the opposite: they’re blindingly prideful of their stance, proud to call themselves soldiers, take an aggressive stance towards women and outsiders. They have this strong pride that leaves them too blind to realize that what they’re working hard to achieve is leaving them bankrupt, poor, angry and stuck in the early 80s (at best).

There are no smiles.
There is no joy.
There’s just angry, dark glares.

It’s likely post communist residue where everyone had to scam for every little bit extra, but almost every cabbie tries to rip you off. If you go into a shop and say that you only speak english a lot of shopkeepers will just look at you annoyedly instead of offering to help. Every person coming into the venue had to go through a metal detector, have their bags x-rayed, get patted down, and check anything threatening – a savage state which makes sense when you realize that you’re in a land full of gun toting warriors.

I tried to go out to a club to enjoy a good DJ, but after getting aggressively knocked around the dance floor, being burned by endless cigarettes, and when the 3rd fight broke out, I just left. I wanted to walk back to the hotel, but within 3 blocks saw 3 violent fights and grabbed a cab instead.

We did have a decent day off wandering the city, where we experienced the 2 highlights of the week. The first was the Tesla museum, where most of the exhibits weren’t working, the “world renowned largest collection of over 160,000 artefacts from Tesla’s life” was down to 15 pieces because the rest were in storage, and the keynote video was directed by a Milsovic and featured a good interlude in the middle about how Tesla was a good Serb and believed in the need for a unified and strong Yugoslavia under Belgrade rule.

The second highlight was visiting the Belgrade metro, which was built in the 1980s as a monument to success, power and strength of Serbia. Plans were laid for a citywide metro, but when the first station was built and they attempted to dig a tunnel, they realized the marshy region wasn’t able to support the tunnels they’d planned to build. So instead of a metro, there’s one massive underground metro station that rerouted some open air trains through so they could continue to use it. You can still see all the planned metro maps, and visit the grandiose metro station, but one stop in either way just takes out you outside to the normal train line.

That kind of sums up the city for me.

It’s kind of like Cuba/other communist places – it kind of works, but not quite.

I mean, it might be nice in the summer – there’s a lot of boat bars, and there is a very accessible cafe/restaurant scene… everything is very cheap…

But I’d never bother going back, and I’ll just leave it as memories of bleak grey collapsing city full of cold hearts and angry stares.

Ah well – you don’t appreciate the good places until you’ve seen the bad, I suppose.

Week 3 down.
Only 7 left.

Stuck at the Belgrade airport for a 5 hour delay due to snow in Frankfurt.
Spirits are drained, but will hopefully bounce back once I’m out of Hellgrade.