Michael Totten is my favorite on line writer. Why? He constantly goes places that you and I would love to see but either don't have the cohones or the drive to get there. And once he's in these places that you and I would love to visit, he writes the most informative, beautiful articles that make me jealous as a writer and joyful as a reader.
Totten is just back from the Balkans - and not the nice, safe touristy Balkans but the places that are still seething from the ethnic and religious confrontations of the 1990's.
There's much much more about Totten's visit to the Balkans. And while you're at his website reading, please consider dropping a few coins in his donation jar. Michael is self funded and his trips only come about through the generosity of his readers.
Outer New Belgrade looks more or less like what I expected in a post-communist city in Eastern Europe, but Old Belgrade is beautiful, sophisticated, stylish, and fun. Neither Sean nor I had any idea what to expect from Serb villages aside from the fact that they're in no way cosmopolitan as the capital is. Small Serb towns and villages - especially in the Republica Srpska - were also the least friendly places for any Americans brave enough to visit the former Yugoslavia as it violently came apart at the seams in the 1990s. Serbian-American relations are tense again since American-backed Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February this year. Extremists in the capital responded by firebombing the American Embassy and a McDonald's.
The countryside beyond the city limits was flat agricultural land that looked more or less like the American Midwest. Sean and I could have been in Iowa or Illinois. Bosnia, we knew, is famously much more rugged, and we'd be there in less than two hours.