Had to keep the home fires burning at the hotel this morning after we all had breakfast downstairs before the girls head off to do a walking tour to get acquainted with the city. The back is sore and not up to trying to walk on slippery footpaths today as my greatest fear would be falling over.
Spent my morning rinsing out socks and jocks and jamas in the hope they will dry during the day. If not will sit with the hair dryer on them later. Watched a crappy 1960s Genghis Khan movie as I played with the washing and did some reading of my Outlander novel.
Here is a brief summary of the walking tour of Belgrade as recounted by the girls:
First up they went to the old part of Belgrade where there are no old buildings but a just an old cobblestone street. Apparently Belgrade has been the scene of so many battles, that it got destroyed on a regular basis and rebuilt. The guide Johanna gave every one of the group a taste of Serbian moonshine called rakija, that particular one made from plums. It can contain up to % alcohol. Their next stop was a building from the mid 1700s and it became the first school for Serbs mid that century. Before that no school for Serbs. It is built with old style roof which is apparently quite dangerous in its production of ice spike which drop off.
In this street, a fellow tourist got robbed of her wallet from her backpack while listening to the tour guide. Came to a crossroad which was the site of 4 idealogies, a synagogue, a mosque, an Orthodox church and another Of 4 mosques once in Belgrade this is the only one remaining but is not used for religious purposes any more.
Next they walked through a park for about 750 m to Zindan Gate which is two fortress towers. They were built between 1440-46 but were reconstructed in mid 1700s to the baroque style. Restored again between two world wars. The word Zindan is Turkish and means dungeons.
Walked through fortress grounds and from there saw an island which is No Mans Land and is the site of the first gun firing and battle of WWI one month after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, as this island lies between the Serbian and Austro-Hungarian lands where the Danube and Sava Rivers join.
Saw a statue of Viktor a soldier who is naked. He is meant to represent any soldier who has ever fought on these lands. That was the end of their walking tour which covered a lot of distance but they did not actually see a lot along the way.
The girls came back to warm up a little as the temperature got to -7C out there and was snowing. During the afternoon it also rained out there which left lots of icy puddles by the time we all went back out around 5.30.
Girls wanted to go to the Museum dedicated to Serbian born Nikola Tesla born in 1856 who was an inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
One of the staff of the hotel ordered us a taxi as we are on a pedestrian only street. There are also regular Saturday night protests just near the hotel which have been happening about a month. No one seemed sure what the protest is actually about but there was a rock band playing as well and lots of Police men on each street corner. Our hotel guy actually walked with us down to the nearest street accessible for the taxi to make sure we got it without any hassles.
There was an English guided tour of the Museum at 6pm and firstly we were set up with a short video explaining about Tesla, his origins, family, education and a brief outline of his life as an electrical engineer and prolific inventor. After this our guide gave us a short explanation of Tesla’s invention called “The Columbus Egg” and a brief story of Columbus approaching Isabella of Spain for patronage of an expedition to the East Indies. She supposedly gave him a question which, if he could solve it, she would fund his expedition. She wanted him to show her how she could sit an egg on its point. He pondered over it for a month then returned with a hard boiled egg which he tapped on the surface of a dish to flatten it a little to allow it to stand on its end. Hence he got his patronage and went off and discovered America. Not sure of the validity of the story but it inspired Tesla to use alternating currents and electrical fields to make a solid metal egg spin around and eventually stand on its end. The machine demonstrating this was actually a replica as the original one built by Tesla was huge.
In 1880s Tesla worked for Thomas Edison’s company on the continent in telephone engineering but then migrated to the USA in 1884 where he became a US citizen. He worked with Edison’s company in US for a short time before switching to the Westinghouse company.
Tesla conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless-controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited but most people were sceptical about that and accused him of having a monkey or something else in the boat controlling it. It was basically the very first remote control using radio waves.
The Museum had a collection of many of Tesla’s original patented motors etc. which our guide explained still all worked perfectly and never broke down. However, their replica machines such as the Columbus egg machine broke down frequently.
We also took part in the next experiment where most of us were given fluoro light tubes to hold while the guide turned on the coil machine. As the electricity was generated it passed through our bodies into the flouro tube then out our skin. Don’t ask me for a better explanation as I could not hear the poor girl properly as she had a bad cold and couldn’t speak loud enough.
The guy pretty much invented radio as well but Italian Marconi managed to get it up and running first. In all Tesla has 300 known patents in 26 different countries. We saw quite a number of his personal belongings and clothes and family pictures as well as an orb which contains Tesla’s ashes. He did in 1936.
Was quite interesting but a small museum. Finishing up there we got the staff to call us a taxi back to the hotel precinct so that we could get Vanessa her promised Italian dinner at Vapiano, the same chain we visited in Berlin. Had ourselves some pasta to fill us on a cold night before making our way back through the shopping district to the hotel and bed around 10pm. One more day here tomorrow before heading to Bosnia.