Posted by: bkropf | April 8, 2008

Our Poor Embassy

Today I got some toilet paper in my mouth! I don’t really know how it happened but it tasted horrible because they add this weird smelling chemicals to the fibers to make it smell like strawberries. On the topic of TP, man is this paper rough. Luckily I think I have toughened up and can handle it now.

The other day Tyler was happy because a Bosnian guy called him ‘Sir.’ I’m pretty sure he called him a ‘Serb’ but I don’t want to burst that good feeling he has going.

And what is up with all this smoking? I swear I’m going to die before I can get out of Europe. We were next to these girls in a restaurant the other night and they smoked one right after another the whole time. I had to shove some pipe cleaners up my nose afterwards to clean out my nasal passages. I considered burning my coat to get rid of the smell but thought better of it when it started raining.

We grabbed the 6am bus to Belgrade, Serbia. It is funny to see the road that connects the Serbian and Bosnian capitals. It doesn’t have a center line most of the way and I spent most of my time trying to calculate the odds of a head on collision (my estimate landed on 63%). Using a large bus to pass on blind corners doesn’t seem like a good idea to me but then again these guys are professionals, I’m sure they know what they are doing.

Belgrade was a huge gray mass of buildings and rain-clouds when we arrived. As the pattern has been noted previously, I had to wonder what I was doing in Belgrade. We walked to our hostel and it was really easy to find, which was really nice (at that point we didn’t know if we were going to be harassed for being American).

Our hostel was horrible: 1) it was militantly liberal with crazy posters plastered all over the place with completely insane poems and platitudes (I will transpose one for you soon) 2) People smoked all over the hostel, there was a literal haze attacking my lungs, 3) Loud music invaded my personal sound privacy, 4) I’m pretty sure the elevator was used in the tv show Fear Factor.

To avoid the hostel we left to see the town. It was lightly raining and quite gloomy. We decided to check out the burned remains of the US embassy. As we hit the streets we noticed our map was in English and all the street signs were in squiggly (I think the technical term is Cyrillic). We had a really hard time orienting ourselves because none of the names matched up. We finally found the embassy and we knew it was ours because it was surrounded with an army of police in riot gear. We sheepishly walked by and noted the Canadian embassy was entirely boring, not one guard. I took a picture by the Canadian embassy in an attempt to look Canadian and prove to the police they shouldn’t worry about little old me. We soon noted there were many riot police at other locations around so I didn’t feel so bad about hogging so many with our embassy. We also got a little nervous when we saw about 15 UN Nissan Defender’s filling up with guards and start driving off with their lights on. Other than the previous, we really didn’t have any other police interactions (besides having to register with the police when arriving).

People in Belgrade were definitely not as friendly, in general, as people in other countries. It seemed like a heavy weight was pressing down on everyone. And it makes sense, there are police in riot gear everywhere, the country keeps getting split into smaller and smaller pieces, and when countries split off much of the world doesn’t support you. One person compared it to the American Civil War. What if when the South tried to secede France, England and Germany would have come in and told the North, “No, they get to split off and in fact, if you don’t let them go we will defend them. With that said, we did have some really nice interpersonal interactions with individuals.

We tried to go to the Military Museum which had a Stealth Fighter shot down when NATO bombed them (You can see why they are not to fond of the US. Also, did anyone see Behind Enemy Lines with Owen Wilson).

We went to the Nikola Tesla Museum. That was really fun. I forget the name of the invention at the moment but there was a big generator that created a large electronic/magnetic field (I forget some of the technical things at this time of night). They handed each person florescent lights and when the field was created the lights in our hands started turning on even though they weren’t connected to anything. It was pretty fun. This was one of the nice personal experiences we had. The museum closed at 1pm and the last tour of the day was done at 12:40, there were no English tours that day. As we were leaving the tour guide said that he had an extra 20 minutes and would give us the tour in English for free. That was really awesome.

It is really late and I have to get up early for the bus to Sofia so I am going to finish the whole Belgrade story tomorrow. Tyler and I just had a huge discussion on travel philosophy and we are going to make a change (or at least I am). I’m getting tired of traveling through these countries so fast and am getting burned out. I would rather slow down and see where my feelings lead me. Last time I went to Australia we did it way to fast and I promised myself never to travel so fast again, it wears you out. What are we doing now, going way too fast AGAIN! I found myself stressed today running around the streets of Ohrid trying to see it all when I would have rather just skipped it if we were going have to be going this fast. So so from now on, if I meet someone fun going somewhere cool I am going to go with them and forget our inflexible itinerary. Or, if I am in Sofia and love it, I’m going to stay and extra day or two. I’m going to give myself some flexibility.



  1. A good read–the TP got our attention!, but you sound tired….probably all the smoke, darkness, etc. around you, and no doubt you DO NEED REST! I hope you can get some rest! Are you going alone to Sofia….sounds like you and Tyler are splitting up? Love, Mom

  2. The invention that was demonstrated at the Tesla Museum was a Tesla Coil (also called a Tesla Transformer).

  3. Tyler and I are NOT splitting up at least not now and we are not fighting if people thinks we are. We are in Sofia, Bulgaria at the moment.

  4. I’m making Barney sleep in the car tonight. It’s THAT bad 😉

    Ohhhh you did do Wiki links… that’s not a bad idea haha.

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