When I decided that I wanted to go to Belgrade, it was purely out of convenience as weird as that sounds. How is Serbia a convenient location? Either way, it worked with my travel schedule and it made sense for the travel planning. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and the only thing I knew was that one of my friends had volunteered there back in middle school and didn’t have fond memories of the country. I was talking to a teammate and he mentioned that his wife was Serbian and he had been going to Belgrade every year for the past few years since they got married so I asked for recommendations. His recommendations included telling me that they love their beer and it was super cheap. As a person who does not drink, this did not help me much.
I started off my day eating breakfast in the hotel. It wasn’t anything to write home about but there was enough food to hold me over for the day. After eating, I started on my way into the world. The one thing that i knew I wanted to see while I was in Belgrade was the Nikola Tesla Museum. I didn’t really know anything about Tesla and his relationship to Belgrade but I thought that it would be cool to check out the museum so I made my way there.
The first thing that I noticed was that it was very cold in Belgrade. But, I kept walking by people who were super fashionable and I wasn’t entirely sure how anyone was able to be super fashionable in the cold but regardless, it’s impressive. The second thing that I noticed was that the buildings were very square and not the most interesting architecturally and they were all relatively gray. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be so gray and square. Last thing I noticed was that there were a lot of people smoking. As someone who is not a fan of smoking, I was very displeased in how many people I had to walk by that were smoking up a storm. Maybe it was just the area that I was in or everyone I walked by had a bad day but I was not a fan.
Eventually I found myself at the museum and checked out the permanent exhibits on the first floor. From my understanding they have additional exhibits on the second floor but they are not permanent so it is not always open. I had the chance to check out the exhibits with a tour group so I was able to see the experiments happen with a full tour guide that I didn’t have to pay for. One of the benefits about going when it’s an off season. I learned that Nikola Tesla had no major tie to Serbia, he just really liked it which is why he wanted to have this experiments left in Belgrade. We also had the chance to test out the Tesla coil which was awesome, especially since it was significantly more hands on than other Tesla coil experiments. For example, the one in the Griffith Observatory in LA has the entire experiment enclosed in a glass room so you can only look in. The one in Belgrade was more interactive.
They gave us giant lightbulbs and then they would turn on the Tesla coil so that we could see them light up in our hands. It was a little shocking at first because as someone who doesn’t know much about Tesla, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And when you’re handed a giant lightbulb, you can only assume what is going to happen but there’s not a lot of forewarning besides the sound of electricity and then all of the sudden the lightbulb is bright blue. They do the demonstration three times so by the third time, I was able to look up and see the actual electricity shooting out from the coil and it was awesome. The exhibit in LA allows you to see all of this but you don’t get the benefit of actually holding the lightbulb in your hand.
We saw a few other early experiments from Tesla and after that, we were done with the tour and were able to roam the rest of the exhibit which included learning more about Tesla’s childhood and more about his life. It was definitely interesting and I definitely learned quite a lot about Tesla but also about Yugoslavia and how it eventually turned into the various countries we have today.
When I was done with the tour, I decided it was time to adventure through the rest of Belgrade so I started back toward the main square.