As I’ve mentioned in other posts, when visiting a foreign land, and not being able to speak the language, the mind starts to wander. Especially in the car. I spent a lot of time in cars, in Yugo, bouncing from house to house meeting the wife’s family. While sitting there longing to feel the wonderful breeze on my skin (windows up, at all times….promaja!!) as we sped along I noticed several interesting driving techniques, traffic control devices and harrowing roundabouts.
In Belgrade proper, in the city center I think, there is a monstrous round-about that could probably accomodate 7 cars abreast. If memory serves it had 5 roads feeding into it. It’s flippin’ huge!! For an American this Circle of Death was an amazing sight. We have very few roundabouts here. Most cities prefer the control and safety of a nice four way intersection with lights and turning lanes and those damn cameras that are gaining popularity (but thats a post for a different blog). Oddly enough I encountered a round-about outside Davenport, Iowa, in the middle of nowhere. Must be attempting to be more European. Nice work. The Circle of Death was in constant motion. There were pedestrians, taxis, and the tram even ran through the circle, further adding to the element of danger. When we went through it all I could think about was the scene in European Vaction….”look kids, Big Ben. Parliament.” It was quite exhilarating.
The parking situation in Belgrade would seem to have one rule: As long as its off the road, you’re good. In the middle of the business district there were cars pulled up to the front door of businesses. In front of an apartment complex there was a row of cars packed pretty tight. At the end of the row there was a light pole. One innovative Serb turn two feet of space into a parking spot. The car was about the size of mini, and he squeezed that thing in between the last car in the row and this pole. On either side of the car was probably 6 inches. “How did he get out?” you might ask. I did, and the answer I got was “he probably crawled out of the sunroof.” Genius.
One last thing. The traffic light in Belgrade go from red to yellow then green, not the other way around like in the US. So you can fully roll into the intersection as the light is turning green. I’m glad I didn’t drive at all.