Kosovo hadn’t been on my list of possible destinations when I decided to tour the ex-Yugoslavian countries this summer. I’d been repeatedly advised that Kosovo was dangerous, so when, on a whim, I decided to visit the capital city of Pristina on my way to Macedonia, I admit to being a little anxious.
I had been told that crossing into Kosovo from Serbia would present no problem, but that I would have trouble getting back into Serbia with a Kosovo stamp in my passport. At the very least, Serbian border control officers would strike through the Kosovo stamp, but re-entry into Serbia is at the discretion of the individual officer and there have been instances of people being turned back. Since I had no plans to return to Serbia on this go-around, I forged ahead.
Upon arrival at the border, I dutifully turned my passport over to the bus driver’s assistant. The “border” in this case was a row portable guard houses that have been plopped down in the middle of the road. Though it is forbidden to take photos of border crossings, I couldn’t help myself; I aimed my iPhone down the aisle, hoping no one would notice. And then I waited, nervously. I needn’t have worried. Seeing I was American, the Kosovan border guards placed no entry stamp in my passport (nor did they stamp me out when I left). I later learned this is a courtesy provided to Americans so as not to cause them trouble should they wish to return to Serbia. Read More
Click on title of post to view photo in large format: Peppers, like these beauties in a market in Niš, Serbia, are a mainstay of Serbian cuisine. They are served stuffed and topped with cheese, roasted, baked, fried, ground into a paste used as a spread, and probably a dozen more ways that I did not try. I was told that Serbians eat meat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and from what I saw, it’s the truth. As a vegetarian, I practically lived on these peppers during my stay in Serbia.
I waited uncomfortably as our guide prepared to demonstrate the Tesla Coil at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia. Would my hair stand on end? Would I be shocked? He threw the switch, and a lightning bolt split the air, reaching for the copper ball suspended above the coil. The people holding flourescent bulbs in their hands became conductors as the electricity flew through the air and lighted up the bulbs, with no wires attached! To read a longer version of my visit to this museum in Belgrade, click here.
The copper-coiled tower that rose before me was simultaneously fascinating and frightening. I knew the enormous Tesla Coil had the ability to create lightning bolts that could fry a person. Our guide eased my nervousness, explaining that we would be perfectly safe, as electricity channeled through the coil would seek the highest conductive point in the room, a large metal ball suspended directly above the coil. My unease returned, however, when he began handing out long fluorescent light tubes to those in the front row. “This is for the doubters among you,” he said. “When I turn on the electricity, your bodies will become conductors and the fluorescent tubes will light up, but please don’t raise them too high or you will become the highest point in the room.”
I was visiting the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia, the city that claims Tesla as its native son. Born in the Austrian Empire 1856, in what would become present-day Croatia, Tesla was an ethnic Serb. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1884, to work for Thomas Edison, later entering into a long partnership with George Westinghouse. Tesla spent the rest of his life inventing technologies that today pervade our lives, including the polyphase induction motor, alternating current, and radio wave transmissions, among others. Read More
Click on title of post to view photo in large format: Local legend says that this geologic formation in southern Serbia was created when a furious God turned a wedding party to stone. Known as Devil’s Town, the spires are formed when softer volcanic tufa that lies below a hard layer of andesite rock is eroded by wind and water. Known as “hoodoos” by geologists, there are currently 202 of these pyramids at Devil’s Town, however the count constantly changes as new ones emerge and existing ones erode away.