One of the greatest thrills I get out of traveling is the chance to finally see all of the cities, monuments, and attractions that I only heard about on TV or saw in textbook pictures. From Big Ben in London to the Louvre in Paris or the Parthenon in Athens, I’ve experienced the feeling dozens of times before, but there is one building in particular that stands out in my mind as the quintessential monument that I felt would forever remain just a picture - the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. At first glance, it may seem a bit strange that out of all the monuments in the world, this Byzantine church, turned mosque, turned museum holds the number one spot in my mind, but it's all the result of an unexpected class I took years ago back in high school.
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During my stay in Belgrade I found a variety of great restaurants, bars, and attractions scattered throughout the city, but the most interesting activity for me was a visit was the Nikola Tesla museum. The relatively modest, seven-room museum tells the story of Tesla’s life, his remarkable inventions, and exhibits a rotating collection of his personal effects. I’ve seen more museums than I care to count at this point in my life, but in honor of my Tesla-mad friend, Artyom, who I went hitchhiking with a few months back I felt it prudent to visit.
I’m going to admit, much to my embarrassment, that I knew next to nothing about the history of Serbia (or any other country in the Balkan Peninsula for that matter) prior to my arrival in Belgrade. Back in grade school, the Yugoslav Wars were either glossed over or marginalized to a couple paragraphs in textbooks that teachers tended to skip regardless. This was partly because the conflict was still ongoing and the "history" had yet to be written, but I felt ashamed for my ignorance on the topic considering I was traveling through the region. Thankfully, my tour through Belgrade proved to be an excellent place to learn about the history of the former Yugoslavia.