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Published: August 31st 2010
Day 9-Belgrade, Serbia
Ditto on the weather. Each day starts in the mid-60s and reaches about 80. No clouds.
When we awoke, we were at the dock in Belgrade. After breakfast, we boarded the busses for a city tour. We were surprised at this relatively modern city and wished we could have had more time. The first stop on the bus tour was the old fortress. It was interesting but in most ways just another fort. It did have a number of modern day artillery and tanks on display. I never fully understood the meaning of the tanks but I remember hearing the guide talk about it. Maybe Jackie was listening….I’ll ask her later.
The best part of the bus tour was driving in the part of the city where the embassies and Serbian government office buildings were. In 1991, US and NATO forces took an offensive against Serbia to halt the ethnic cleansing that was ongoing in parts of the country. In particular, in the Croatian province of Kosovo was some horrible atrocities taking place. As a result, we bombed several government buildings in the city, including the Defense Ministry. By mistake, the Chinese embassy was
also struck. I can remember the fallout of this mistake. Other bombs did hit the target and the buildings are still in shambles. The impact of the bombing worked and a peace deal was soon worked out. I think that it was called the Dayton Accords, signed by Bill Clinton.
After seeing the bombed out buildings we stopped at the National Museum of Tito, the Communist Leader of Yugoslavia. He was able to somehow keep the Balkan countries to keep the peace from the end of WWII to 1980, when he died. He was brutal in his early years but gained popularity after standing up to the Soviets in the 60s after Stalin died. He is still considered a national hero.
The city tour was finished by 12:30pm and we had another lunch on the ship. After lunch, Jackie and I took a shuttle bus into the city center and walked around. I found two internet hotspots and was able to upload a couple of blogs, answer a few emails, check out Facebook and make a call to Christi on Skype. This time I got through but with excessive delay.
This evening on the ship, we had
We were told that this statue was taller than the actual man. It was only about 6-feet.
two students have a discussion with us on how life is after communism. It was very informative and gave us a better understanding of how things are here now. Only, they were 27 and 30 years old and could hardly remember how it was before the fall of communism twenty years ago. However, they did have insight into the NATO bombing 11 years ago.
Later, in the lounge, it was Karaoke Night. Four of our friends joined Jackie and me on the stage to do “We are the People.” If you thought that song was only four for five minutes, think again. After about ten minutes Jackie walked off the stage leading to a complete collapse of our singing troop. As I left I noticed a few old people asleep but another few with tears in their eyes.
Tomorrow we sail to Croatia. The Serbs and the Croats have clashed for ages. We are told that we will see the other side of the story that we heard here, in Serbia, tomorrow. Should be interesting….
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