My mom visited us this weekend. She was on a business trip to the outskirts of Berlin, and her company let her take the weekend to fly to Belgrade, Serbia.
Which was pretty cool of them to do.
She was here from midday Friday to Sunday afternoon, and we packed as many activities and sights that we possibly could into that short amount of time.
We ate some delicious local food, saw some beautiful architecture and historical buildings, and watched helplessly as a monkey at the zoo jerked off to completion while staring directly at us.
It was quite the adventure.
Check it out:
Museum of Yugoslav History (Muzej Istorije Jugoslavije)
House of Flowers
We started our little visit in Tito's mausoleum, the House of Flowers.
Quick history lesson: Josip Broz Tito was the "benevolent dictator" of Yugoslavia from right after World War II until his death in 1980. Though he turned the Balkan countries into a socialist federation, he was one of the only Eastern bloc leaders to turn his back on the Soviet Union and start his own socialist program.
Awesome Tito Quote from a letter found among Stalin's personal effects:
"To Joseph Stalin: Stop sending people to kill me! We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle... If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send a very fast working one to Moscow and I certainly won't have to send another."
Tito seems like he was a bit of a Trump, but it was a pretty badass move to threaten Stalin like that. Great stuff.
Anyway, check out the House of Flowers below:
Why is there a room full of ornate relay batons in Tito's burial room?
Because of the Relay of Youth, a symbolic relay race held every year. That's why.
The relay would start in Tito's birth town of Kumrovec, Croatia and move through all the major towns and cities of the country before finishing in Belgrade on May 25, Tito's birthday and also the Day of Youth, a national holiday.
After we walked through the House of Flowers, we stepped in the "25th of May" museum (that's the main building in the photograph above) and saw a super sappy propaganda video about how amazing Tito was.
It was narcissistic poetry.
Temple of Saint Sava (Hram Svetog Save)
On Saturday, we walked all over the city and saw some great sites.
Our first stop? The Temple of Saint Sava, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and strangest religious building I've ever been around.
The plan to build the temple started in 1895, but the First Balkan War, Second Balkan War, and World War I got in the way.
So it was delayed.
The first cornerstone of the building was finally laid in 1935 and the foundation was soon completed, but then that whole "Second World War thing" happened and construction was halted again.
For a long time.
Finally, in 1985, construction restarted and the walls were erected. In 2009, the outside of the building was completed, but the interior remains unfinished to this day.
Which means that, unlike every other Cathedral and religious landmark in Europe, you don't feel a sense of awe when you walk into the temple because of it's ancient craftsmanship or ornate decorations.
No, you feel a sense of awe because of the cavernous weight of being surrounded by unfinished concrete.
It's intense being inside such a massive but stark building.
Beautiful, in its own way, but intense.
St. Marks Church (Crkva Svetog Marka)
Built in 1931. Completed in 1940.
It's another Serbian Orthodox Church. Apparently the interior is unfinished as well, but it didn't seem that way to me while we were in there.
Belgrade Fortress/Kalemegdan Park
It's an impressive structure at the confluence of two major European rivers, the Sava and the Danube, and it is the oldest part of Belgrade. In fact, all of Belgrade's population used to live inside of its walls.
Belgrade's zoo is pretty cool for two reasons.
1. It's built into the wall of the fortress.
2. You can get WAY too close to the animals.
Below is the aforementioned monkey, the one that violated me and my mother.
Not Moira though.
He didn't look at Moira at all while he was "enjoying" himself.
My theory is this: he's used to Serbians, so he liked the exotic, pale, gingery-ness that my mother and I brought to the table.
We were forbidden fruit to him.
We forced a ton of delectable foods into my Mother's face while she was here, but this platter takes the cake.
We went out to a restaurant called "Tri Sesira," and my mom and I ordered the "Serbian Plate for Two."
It was practically all meat and included enough food to feed a family of four.
It was fantastic.
Overall, we had an amazing time with my Mom and can't wait until my sister visits in a couple of months.
I'm not sure what trips that we'll be taking until then, but I'll keep you all posted.
It should be a fun time.