Thursday, May 18, 2006

On the road, again. I'm in Belgrade, attending a seminar on media management and advertising, sponsored by the University of Georgia and the University of Belgrade. Part of the seminar includes a discussion of the role of media management and advertising sales in the curriculum of a journalism/mass communication program. We also visited Politika, a privatized newspaper that is a joint-venture between Serb owners and a German firm. It has been a fascinating and educational day for me. There were plans to offer a similar workshop in Podgorica but timing of Montenegro's Independence Referendum has interfered with the schedule.

I arrived here yesterday after driving from Dubrovnik, Croatia, back to Podgorica to catch a plane to Belgrade. My trip back to Podgorica took me through Bosnia. It was an easy enough drive but I must say, I had some mild concerns. Here I was traveling through a country where Serb aggressors (Bosnian Serbs, if I have my details correct) were the impetus for much of the ruin that beset the country. I was in Southern Bosnia, an area sparsely populated because of the rocky slopes and simple inability to make a living from the soil. As I passed abandoned stone houses, I could only guess whether the occupants had fled because of war or the poverty of the area...or a little of both. I drove through areas that seemed so remote I would have suspected no one lived there but then I'd see muddy tracks entering the highway from a hidden road or see cow manure that was deposited on the highway by grazing livestock. Fortunately, there were no cows on the road and on the entire trip through Bosnia (a 1.5 hour drive), excluding Tribija--I think I have spelled the name of the Bosnia town I traveled through correctly, though the name in Bosnian looks very different than this--I met fewer than two dozen cars. I even saw one warning about possible landmines along one area of the road. Don't worry, I had no plans to stop for photos. Before you think me foolish or crazy for traveling through here, know that these are the remains of war....not the current condition. And, what about the last time you traveled through an area of your city where for economic and social reasons, you would not be welcomed by the residents because of your race or perhaps it's only because of the big shiny, new car you drive?

I should add that in Dubrovnik, I visited a memorial to the citizens of Dubrovnik who were killed by Serb artillery shells that destroyed parts of the city. My Montenegrin friends kept telling me my rental car would be keyed when people saw the license plates of my parked car. None of this happened. While I suspect much of their fear falls into an urban myth category, I also was smart enough to pay for decent parking and to have no reason to put myself into stupid situations where there could be problems.

A tourist comment: Dubrovnik is a WORLD TREASURE. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. I stayed within the city in an efficiency apartment located in a refurbished building. I usually don't put commercial plugs on my blog but I highly recommend this place. It's early in the season so the rate was wonderful....50 Euros a night. Check this website to see what the place looks like:

I will try to post some photos here in a few days...just need to do some Photoshop work to make the files smaller and more manageable.