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Pluses and minuses

As every city in the world, Belgrade has its highs and lows, especially from the point of view of the tourist. I would like to briefly comment on the most negative points first:

Belgrade is not for tourists  : the Serbs simply do not expect that anyone would care for them, and even less that anyone could be interested in learning about their country, their history, their art and their culture. Even when they strongly proclaim their national identity, this is apparently only for internal use. This result in a kind of neglect of even the most elementary needs of the tourists, such as guide books, depliants, catalogues, captions and information offices. The personnel of the museums and monuments theoretically open to the public appears, in most cases, astonished if a foreigner, who is not even able to speak their language, asks to visit what you wrongly assume is on display for the tourists. To be a tourist in Belgrade requires a strong will, some patience, and a taste for research of hidden information.

Belgrade is full of mosquitoes  : in the summer, and especially along the rivers and in the parks, the mosquitoes are the dominating species and humans are just food for them. See the Belgrade mosquito on display at the Prirodnjacki muzej . Use mosquito repellers, or wait for the intervention of the anti mosquito airplanes.

Figure 5.1:  The anti mosquito airplane in action above the river Sava, in front of the Stari Grad

Now I will list the main positive aspects of the city, at least from my very personal point of view:

Belgrade is not for tourists 2  : that is, you can visit a true city, not a fake one set up for the tourists. The one you visit is the real city, in which people really live. What is on sale is generally locally produced for the inhabitants themselves, not a plastic replica from a low labor cost country, which no local would dream of buying. What you eat is their real food; unless, of course, you decide to enter in some of the temples of the ``everywhere the same'', like some luxury hotels and some fast food chains. Moreover, the touristic attractions (once you have found them, with the help of this guide) are never crowded; actually, sometimes you might feel lonely.

Belgrade is the capital of an European nation  : that is, Yugoslavia is now a small country, but nevertheless the Serbs are a nation, with their language, their art, their literature, their history, their traditions, their food, their crafts, their sports, their way of life. This may be I need to explain especially to the American fellow tourists. In Europe there are somewhere between 40 and 50 nations (the very number is controversial, you still can be rated a terrorist sympathizer for trying to increase the count by one). Each nation still has its language and culture (with some exceptions which are by themselves interesting); nothing to do with the ethnic groups in the USA, because the roadroller of the American way of life has reduced the different ethnic cultures to folklore (or maybe organized crime). Indeed the language is the essential thing, because without national language there are no national poets, stories, legends, songs, education systems. Europe is edging towards something like a federation, but the languages -and the cultural identities- should not and can not be homogenized. That means that every time you travel to a new country, you can learn anew history, art history, music and cooking, and much more. Thus I do not need to explain why in Belgrade there is so much to be seen, it is just the usual dose of cultural novelty you should expect from an European capital.

next up previous contents
Next: The legend and a Up: Useful tips Previous: Where to find

Andrea Milani Comparetti
Mon Mar 29 16:22:03 MET DST 1999