Posted by: bkropf | April 9, 2008

Deleted Rant on Tolerance

We have arrived in Sofia Bulgaria today. It was another long day on the bus but it was pretty nice to relax and enjoy the ride. We had a few hours in Skopje, Macedonia which was surprisingly amazing (We weren’t expecting much).

I have developed a new traveling philosophy, “When in doubt, follow the crowd.” This has saved my butt so many times and Tyler can vouch for it.

I think someone needs to tell the people here that jean on jean action is not a fashion option. I have seen so many people in Europe wearing jean jackets with jean pants and it just doesn’t work. I know right now I’m not the icon of fashion but at least I’m not wearing a striped shirt with pinstripe pants.

So back to Belgrade, after the Tesla Museum we went to meet the Australian woman named Skye (The same one we met in Sarajevo. A funny story about her is that when we were in Mostar people were telling us about a girl who jumped off the bridge. When we got to Sarajevo we met an Aussie girl and it turned out Skye was the one who jumped off the bridge). She had brought along a friend from her hostel named Werner, who was from Italy.

Werner and Skye are awesome! I wish I could spend so much more time with them. I had a blast. We went to a jazz club Werner had found the previous night. It was pretty empty for the most part and we had a fun time talking about our time in the city and traveling. Then we saw four Serbian guys enter the bar and head for the foosball table. We witnessed the most amazing and passionate foosball game EVER! These guys were hugging and kissing and laughing so much. It was amazing. When they had finished Skye and I challenged Tyler and Werner to a game of foosball. We were pretty evenly matched but in the end, that crazy Italian knew his way around a foosball table and ended up beating us. As we played, the Serbian Foosball team hovered and cheered us on handing out high-fives and hugs freely. This was my second very positive Serbian interaction.

The last very positive Serbian experience happened the next day. Suddenly the phone rang in the hostel and someone yelled, “Phone call for Barney!” Hundreds of thoughts flashed through my head from, “Who died and how did they track me down to tell me,” to “I hate phone calls!” I answered and it was Tanja, the most amazing girl, who I had met through the CouchSurfing network. I had told her what hostel I was staying at so she tracked me down to set up a time to meet. We settled on dinner at the ‘?’ Inn. Tyler and I met Tanja and Seth (another American CSer) and from the moment she yelled at me from across the street I knew I liked her. We all sat around the restaurant eating and laughing like old friends. Sadly, however, our train to Montenegro was about to leave so we all had to part. And this is why I love the whole idea of Couchsurfing:

It gives people from totally different worlds a chance to talk and become friends. Even though many Serbians are hurt by American policies and many Americans are scared of going to Serbia because of the news, when different people can meet, our differences melt away and we can see a human side to our differences. My case and point, Tanja wrote, “…meeting Barney and his friend Tyler was an experience that completely changed my opinion about American people. As soon as we met, we started to talk like we had known each other for ages, and I really do feel sorry he doesn’t live in the same city as I do so we can’t hang out every day. I became a victim of his openness and friendliness in a second! I truly feel special to be Barney’s friend…” I don’t copy and paste this in an act of pride (though it did feel nice to hear) but to echo my feelings about how Tanja changed my view of the Serbian people.

I really feel that if people back home try to get to know people with different points of view and become friends with them the world would be a much more loving and peaceful place (I actually wrote much more here on the topic but figured I was starting to rant so I decided to delete it) My hope is people try to be more loving and understanding of people with alternative points of view.



  1. Boy Barney, pretty soon your gonna be joining the Obamanation. Us back homers sound like a bunch of hatemongers. I’m just messing with ya. I know what your saying though. I think that when you get out of the routine of your everyday life and are in a foriegn land experiencing new things continually, where you don’t know many people the desire for human interaction becomes more prominent and thus it becomes easier to meet people. it’s either that or get lonely.
    Anyways are you gonna go to the National Palace of Culture and see if you can get some, culture that is. I have found out that if I want to actually find out what you guys are doing I have to read Tyler’s blog. Your good for some amusing stories though. Ask Tyler how he knows JoJo.
    Alright I’ll quit babbling, keep up the good work.
    I’ll have some missions for you in Brasov.

  2. No Obamanation yet. I think ‘hatemonger’ might be a little strong but I do feel that often some people back home (Seattle and Harrisburg) are not open to other points of view.

    He has known her for 3 years in Bend. I think they dated a while. JK He post more frequently given the fact he owns a computer and I am more at the mercy of the generosity of others (Him and Hostels) as far as to when I get to use the internet.

    Good we will need a couple more missions, we have been wandering aimlessly with no goals lately. When do you leave for China? You still don’t want to meet us in Ireland do you?

  3. Ireland! Make my trip cheaper…

    How do you know jojo? Are we talking about the same jojo? That would be random…

  4. Ireland’s not gonna happen. I wish it could, but i can’t afford it. I’ll just live the dream thru you two.
    Yea facebook told me I might know you(Tyler) cause I know jojo and barns, I call her jonny though. I have went rock climbing and backpacking with her.
    Anyways Barney are you wantin to go to the Death cab and Decemberists show on May 23. Check it out on myspace or something and let me know, i’ll get tickets. it’s in bend at the les schwab amphitheatre, it should be cool. Tyler should come too.
    leave for china in late july.

  5. Yeah, I want to go to the concert. Get me a ticket. Sounds like a perfect combo all around.

  6. Wow I can’t believe the awesome bands we get in little old Bend. Modest Mouse is coming the day after Death Cab.

    BB King is coming too… I though that was random.

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