Visiting Belgrade was an eye-opening experience for this WASPy, sheltered, privileged (by comparison) optimist. It made me realize just how fortunate I am and how sheltered my life has been. Our first activity was a bike ride around Belgrade.
We rode across the Danube and stopped at the site of a Nazi extermination camp just across the river from Belgrade. Originally the site was used as a fairground, similar to a World's Fair. During the war it became an extermination camp. Over 20,000 people were annihilated. It was sobering to hear the details. A few of the buildings are used for industry today, others house squatters.
The central point of the fairgrounds was a tower, which Phillips used to broadcast the first television signals from in 1925. It was later used to patrol the concentration camp's borders.
So, we got a brief snap-shot of Belgrade. We didn't spend a lot of time here. But, our overall impression was that Belgrade today is a lot like Budapest when we visited in 2006. The city seemed dirty and the citizens seemed weary. I can only hope that time will be kind to those living in this Serbian nation.