Balkans 2014 travel blog

A newer tram

An older tram

Modern Mall

Holiday Decorations

Communist-style housing

More communist-style housing

A Chinese store

An old market

Cute bunnies for sale

Appearance of being a normal town

Except the buildings are all fake fronts. No inside.


Winter arrived with a vengeance! I had been farther south and/or on the coast. Now, I'm inland in Beograd (Belgrade, Serbia). It's cold and windy! I ventured out for a few minutes trying to find an ATM. I found it but it's located inside the bank and the bank won't open until 9am. I went to the relative warmth of the train station and studied where the trains go. They aren't many trains and they don't go many places! I wrote down the few options in my notebook. Next, I purchased an all-day bus and tram pass (for about $3). By now, it was almost 9 so I braved the cold again back to the bank. The ATM wouldn't accept my card! I returned to my hotel to put on another layer of clothing.

My next goal was to visit the Muzej Nikole Tesle (Nikola Tesla Museum). I picked up a map from the Tourism Office. The map shows where the museum is and has notations for the bus routes. I have a bus pass, all I have to do now is take a tram to the museum. Right? No. Not so easy. The route notations on my map don't agree with the routes displayed on the map at the tram stop. I decided to trust the map at the tram station and boarded tram #12. Well, apparently the trams don't follow my map or the map at the tram station. As soon at the tram took an unexpected turn, I got off at the next exit. OK. Where am I? I've got a map. This should be easy. Right? No, again. My map uses the roman alphabet. The street signs use the Cyrillic alphabet.

Ignoring the trams and the names of the streets, I reconnoitered on foot by counting intersections. This worked amazingly well and got be directly in front of the museum. The door was unlocked. But, the guard inside said the museum is closed on Mondays. Great!

It's too cold to stay outside for a long time. The museums are closed. Now what?

I decided on an activity I've enjoyed for my whole life. When I was a little boy, my grandmother would buy me an all-day pass on the Boston MTA (now called the MBTA). We'd spend most of the day getting on and off of MTA trolleys going random places.

I've got an all-day pass and a whole city to explore! So, I just randomly jumped onto trams that seemed to be going in interesting directions.

I found a large, modern mall. Best of all, it was heated! It has everything you'd expect in a mall: clothing, jewelry, electronics, and a food court. Interestingly, the only restaurant in the food court with a long line was McDonald's. There were some holiday decorations but there was no Santa.

I also found an old market where almost all of the vendors were Asian, primarily but not exclusively Chinese. So that's where they've been hiding!

One of the locations I accidentally came upon still confuses me. If it looks to you like a scene out of the movies, I think you're right. From one angle, you could see a normal looking town with street cars but no people. But, from any other angle, you see that the buildings are just fronts. The whole area was protected by wire fences but I couldn't find any signs (in any language) explaining what it was. Discovering places like this is part of the fun of random travel!

This evening I had dinner with the parents of someone I used to work with in Massachusetts. We had never met before but thought this would be a good occasion to get together. Since I have no idea about the local foods and they have no idea what i like, we decided to order three different meat dishes. Then, we shared a little bit of each type of meat. It turned out to be a great idea because I got to try out several different styles.

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