Croatian Countryside & Belgrade, The Capital

This particular side trip was led by a young man, Marco.   He showed us a lot of war damage from the 1991 war.  About 90% of it is restored now.

All the tours feature local guides. Here Marco is showing the historical events that happened in this Square.

Many western and other nations sent aid money and most of the country looks new … with some old buildings that were not bombed, along with the rest of the ones that are waiting to be re-built.

Machine Gun and Mortar Fire remnants on this building ... 20 years later. It's still waiting for renovation ... or maybe it's being kept this way as a reminder - not to do that again. Not a bad idea!

Some wont ever be re-built as the small towns are mostly being “de-populated” … As the younger people are moving into the big cities.   It is the same thing that happens in Middle American small towns that were centered around the family farm.   We stopped at a large home that had a special room and they served local snacks along with the specialty of the area, a plum brandy, that was about 100 proof.

Our host posing with a Buso mask.

They said it could be used as an antibiotic … and the ship’s doctor who was with us smiled and confirmed that if you had bad bugs, that it would kill them!   That’s also where we learned of the legend of the Buso masks, the Buso marches and parades that continue to this day.    Every year the Buso parade is the single biggest tourist and civic event of the year.   People dress up in masks, commemorating, as legend has it, the time when 600 young displaced Hungarians dressed up in scary masks and chased the Turks out of their country after 160 years.   The actual history is a little different, requiring the army of Russia and the Hapsburgs to accomplish that task … but the legend makes for a better festival  and the locality has made it the centerpiece of their tourism.

Reminds me of my girls back home.

It turns out that the home had just been finished two weeks before by Marco and his parents, who had purpose built it to entertain tour bus loads of tourists.   Kind of like a Bed and Breakfast.   We were then treated to a country lunch prepared by another local family … who were also a certified B&B.   The lunch was good.   The farmer and his wife spoke no English and we spoke no Hungarian.   But with a little interpretation and good food, plenty of communication was able to happen.    They had a little farm with some chickens, goats and a few pigs as well as about an acre of garden.

The War Memorial alongside the Danube River, Commemorating all the lives lost in the recent war.

Marco showed us a shoe factory where his grandfather had worked during the Communist time.   Marco remembers his grandfather saying about work in that place, “ We pretended to work … And they pretended to pay us.”     When asked, he said that the preference for Communism and the present system is split.  Especially some of the older people preferred Communism.

Current Borders in Eastern Europe

Currently there is about 30% unemployment.   In communism, there was no unemployment.   Whereas that 30%  who are now unemployed … In communism they would all be “employed” – with the famous ineficiency.   On that tour we also saw some early “indoor plumbing”   It was a hole in the floor of a second or third floor overhanging room.   It was more for safety and not having to go outside than the sanitation aspect.   But for 300 years ago, I suppose it was ahead of its time.     Belgrade This is a beautiful town at the confluence of two rivers,  The Danube and Sava rivers join here.    Unfortunately that made this a prize city for the warring leaders throughout the last several milenia.   Belgrade is in the middle, between the East and the West, so from time to time lot’s of generals thought that their country should control it.    The city was the site of 600 major battles and was overthrown 44 times in the modern era, resulting in over 6 million deaths … just in that one city.   This trip is alerting me to how bloody and inhuman us humans can be.

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