The time has come to move along with my trip. After spending a month or so with my family, I've decided to raise the anchor and embark on a new traveling adventure. So, I bought an airplane ticket to Vienna in order to meet up with Amber. A sense of anxiety and nervousness took over as I was readying to continue this trip. Things haven't been going on as planned, so a dose of skepticism lingered on every corner awaiting for something unwelcomed to happen. In contrary, the smoothness of it all surprised me quite pleasantly.
Initially, Amber told me that she was going to meet me a day later so, just a thought of staying in this unknown city by myself raised a lot of scared emotions and uncomfortable feelings. Luckily, she changed her plans and met up with me as planned. Was I relieved!!
Honestly, I was quite nervous about meeting up with her again because I didn't want to impose on her own travelling experience since she has been doing so well on her own. However, two hours into the reunion, we both felt a sense of a relief that we are doing this together, once again.
If I have learnt anything so far, is that the world is becoming a big pile of different cultures leaving no spot untouched by diversity and heterogeneity wiping the authenticity out and destroying the locality of nation states. Vienna felt so familiar despite the fact that I've visited the place 13 years ago. It seems that cities are resembling each other due to the influences of migration, globalization and economic dependencies. Various languages echo more than the official one, completely overpowering the Austrian presence. Surprisingly, I found myself in the center of Serbian diaspora in Europe where everything is run by Serbians themselves in a Serbian language. Even the bus station from where we took the bus to Belgrade, was operated explicitly by Serbians. Finding local spots and enjoying domestic atmosphere presented a challenge but nothing feels better than accidental encounters without any expectations. Despite of all the obstacles somehow we found ourselves on the outskirts of Vienna passing by a small outing that looked like a restaurant. However, it was a club meeting and we definitely crashed their little gathering. Hosptiable Austrians allowed us to sit with them and enjoy a cup of coffee with some homemade cakes.
Vienna felt random and uncategorized. Obviously, it became a melting pot of different micronationalities ruling the city through the cuisine, loud immigrant presence and diminishing macronationalistic inclanations of Austrians themselves. I have a hard time deciding whether such change is for better or worse. Like all the cliches, this particular movement toward shuffling of groups of people and intergrating them into different societies than their own deffinitely has its possitives and negatives. Eventually, a lot more countries will follow this course of action but there is still a place in the southeastern Europe that strongly clinges onto traditional values and hardcore essence for identity - my overused term appears again - the Balkans! After couple of days of dining in Mexican restaurant whle conversing about American socioeconomic state, sightseeing and drinking with a South Korean guy Amber met in Budapest, we decided to move more south; to a more distinct region.
After a long ride on the bus, we finally approached Belgrade, the capital of Serbia located nowhere else but on the Balkan Peninsula. The city bleeds communist era through its architecture while contemporary political situation of so called democracy and capitalism resembles the state the country is in -- afraid to move forward with the western concept of "progress" that created a limbo for the citizens of this country with now way back but only one way forward. And that way forward is pricey. The bulidings are decaying yet some new structures can be seen on the horizon. Even the buildings destroyed during the Nato bombarding in 98' are left untouched to commemorate and remind on everyday basis injustices of Clinton presidency. Partly, the reminder serves nationalistic agenda and "inat" (spite), while on the other hand is the lack of government funding. Although, a metropolitan city with the reputation of partying has lost its label becasue of the governmental attempt to regulate working hours of bars and to bring about some kind of order. Yet, nothing happens gradually in the Balkans; our extremity surfaces in every aspect of life so, politicians decided to close down bars relatively early crippling Belgrade and its people to do what they do best.
I managed to pay a hommage to the grave of our lifelong president Josip Broz Tito. It was quite intriguing to do so and see how a person can be adhered to such heights of respect and attention. Whether it was a cult or true love for a leader, it is difficult to say from my stance but even though he died before I was born that man was truly something. Even though I have never seen him or exprience him, the mysticism around him and my parents devotion allowed him to enter into my life as an inspiring figure and some that has become timeless for better or worse. Seeing other tourists visiting his grave reminded me of his greatness. This dividing line between the west and the "east", from occidental and oriental lingers still in this region through holding onto the past and digging deeper into history in order to refrain from looking where the west is going and it is sad that we cannot pave our own way without restrictions, judgements and someone else telling us how to live. The arbitrary west continues to impose "righteous" ways by completely taking over entire Europe and erasing the balance of difference and distinctivness that harmonized the world at some point. The Balkans are truly the crossroads of history, of our Earth. Once they succumb to the ways of the west, there is no stopping this vigorous force of globalization. l
Either way, I am on the road again.