What's Really Unique About Serbia? Top-Rated YouTube Video is Clueless. Top 10 List + Your Suggestions?

Rosemary Bailey Brown RSS / 25.09.2007. u 14:43

On Sunday night, a couple of local friends stopped by our little house in Sombor, Serbia with their 13 year old daughter.   After half an hour of polite attention, she began to slump in her chair, bored, bored, bored with all the grownups chatter.  "Rosemary, I bet she would like to play on the Internet.  Show her your computer," my husband ordered.  Armed with a plateful of chocolate cookies, I led her into my home office to go online.  

She honestly had no idea what to do online (something unimaginable in a 13 year old US girl but typical of her peers here I've found).  So I showed her B92, Belgrade 2.0 and Krstarica which are about the only Serb language sites I know.  After 20 minutes or so she came out and listlessly joined us again.  The Internet, it appears, was awfully boring for a fashionable Serb 13 year old.  

Challenged, I got up again and this time went straight to YouTube and typed "Serbia" into the search box.  Surely there had to be something of interest.  Well, there really isn't alot unless you dig awfully deep.  The vast majority of results were either about Eurovision, sports, or Balkan wars.  Blah.

Here, in fact, is one of the very, very few videos that showed up under the general keyword "serbia" that was  anything the Serbian tourist  board might be happy about:

Since it was posted in November 2006, the video's been viewed more than 44,000 times, given a four-star rating by viewers, and gotten rave reviews online.  However, both my 13 year old friend and I were deeply disappointed by it.

We both felt it missed the point of what is worthwhile, and even remotely unique about Serbia.  A whole bunch of photos of mainly buildings is not unique.  It's not branding.  It's not special.  Every country has lots of buildings, some of them old, some of them lovely.  And most countries have some bits of water and greenery.  Big Deal.

I don't want to knock the maker of the video too harshly because he or she at least tried to create a positive video and hey, it's pretty popular.  I've never posted a video to YouTube so who am I to critique anyway?  

However, the whole situation made me realize yet again how little knowledge or perhaps appreciation Serbs have for what is special and unique about their country. So, here is my proposal -- I would like to start a list of things that are unique and special about Serbia here.  Most of you readers know far more than I do on this subject, so your contributions would be very much appreciated.  To start things off, here's my top 10 which you may find stupid, but at least it's honest (in no particular order):

1. Turbofolk - this is first because my 13 year old friend said it should be and she was very passionate on the subject (much to her parents' amused horror.)

2. Socializing - it's nearly impossible to be lonely here the way most Americans are lonely.

3. Vojvodina earth - possibly the best farm land in Europe.  Incredible sod for gardening.  Rich, brown, and oh so very deep.

4. Posture - Incredible, I have never seen so many men, women and children alike with near-perfect posture walking around anywhere in my life.  Posture may sound like a silly thing to praise, but a beautiful girl can turn instantly ugly if she has bad posture.

5.  Chess & mathematics - Serbs have unusually clever minds for this type of thinking, including computer programming.

6. Natural spas - I've been told there are more natural hot water spas in Serbia than anywhere else in Europe.

7. Orthodox monasteries - the art, the architecture, the perfect placement within the landscape.  These monks are/were artists.

8. Party On Belgrade! - serious people (and anyone over 25) may bemoan this image, but Belgrade is fast becoming second only to old New Orleans in party image.   

9. Jelen Pivo - I know it's the old fart's beer, but I like it, I really like it.  If that makes me an old fart then so be it.

10. Tomatoes - Anyone who is serious about tomato eating will agree with me.  Serb tomatoes beat Croatian tomatoes massively, completely, dramatically, hands down.

Ok that's my top 10 ... what are yours? 

Komentari (104)

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sheridan sheridan 22:57 27.09.2007

Re: Random ten

I did in fact think about this a whole lot...(what I would recommend), and in fact was in a situation twice where I was asked by british people what to look out for, what's good etc. And I do have a problem, I cannot really come up with ten things, strugling with five to be honest...anyway, here we go

1. nightlife in Belgrade - certainly not unique, from what I hear quite simmilar to places like Prague or Budapest, but I have some fond memories of it. Not sure if I would still appreciate all the posturing (lot less of that in London) but still should be interesting

1a. girls - again, likely skewed memories, but the girls in Belgrade are uncommonly beautiful. In fact this may have some basis in fact that it was a crossroad between east west north and south so everyone had a dip, providing fresh genes.

1b. cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and sex are very cheap and easily available (guns too if that's your thing)

1c. Exit and such

So in general, partying is not bad and is cheap. There are probably better places for it though.

2. kalemegdan, petrovaradin

3. danube, tisa, sava - if that' your thing, in places beautiful although the way they are treated now is painfull, so not sure

4. monasteries - if you have not problem providing support to the bastards (so in two minds here, they are probably -well some of them - the best there is to be seen but visiting them, advertising them etc does lend credibility to the junta in black, guys supporting Filaret, Pahomije & co, guys likely to be harbouring war criminals etc). Much like visiting Vatican.

5. St Sava - as a monument to the horror, poor taste and stupidity. It will probably be more attractive in a century or so when the conotations are not there any more

6. lepenski vir I suppose

So, none really a good enough reason, more thigns you should try and not miss once you are there already. None really unique either. And if I sound bitter about it, it is becaues I am, because every single thing listed in any of the replies is an ugly reminder of a missed opportunity, ruined resources and destroyed lives. It will take a longest time to fix it all enough to make it attractive to anyone other than poor westerners who don't mind a couple of hours of cheap flying for some cheap drugs, booze and sex with incredibly good looking guys and girls. Nothing else to recommend it really - a country run by military and criminals for a long long time and in a very bad shape for it. The few natural attractions that it has are being constantly destroyed. The few historic sites ignored. Polution is terrible, crime as well, STDs, poverty, levels of education... So I do get annoyed and cinical about posts that try to push through crap about the importance of an insignificant piece of land in everybodies way for the last several thousand years, the only purpose of which is to allow a bit of ignorance and avoidance of issues, to make people feel better about things that are actually terrible.

I do feel I am ruining it a bit for you guys, on a rare blog that attempts to give a positive spin, so Rosemary, feel free to delete this.

Have a nice day
Krugolina Borup Krugolina Borup 10:57 01.10.2007

One soon-to-be-completely-unique thing

One thing that is not completely unique, but is well on it's way to become unique, I'd reckon, at least in Serbia-Europe comparison is: you can smoke everywhere. And, to avoid any confusions, may I add I deffinitely consider it to be the candidate for the POSITIVE unique things about Serbia.
vucko vucko 21:33 01.10.2007

Re: One soon-to-be-completely-unique thing

And, to avoid any confusions, may I add I deffinitely consider it to be the candidate for the POSITIVE unique things about Serbia.

Well we can certainly consult non-smokers about this issue too :)
Krugolina Borup Krugolina Borup 08:30 02.10.2007

Re: One soon-to-be-completely-unique thing

>>Well we can certainly consult non-smokers about this issue too :)<<

Well... they've got all of European Union. And California. If they want fresh air, might as well go there.)



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