Friday, March 20, 2009

Hello from Belgrade. I'm back in Serbia for the first time in three years. It's a joy to be back. The city looks good. There's been additional building throughout the city and traffic in the city is more chaotic than before. While I see progress, it comes with a price. The cost of living continues to rise and food is almost as expensive here as in the U.S. and my U.S. salary is much higher than media counterparts in Belgrade. When I ask people my stock question, is like better today than one year ago, the answer I get is no. The world economic crisis is a big part of their answer. It is no consolation to know that most Americans would have a similar answer.

Facebook and general Internet access has taken some of the introspection out of blogging. I started this entry Wednesday night. I am finishing it on Sunday and I'm even in a different city. I am now in Nis, Serbia, to the south of Belgrade about 220 kms--if you never remembered the conversion, 100 kms equals 65 miles. So, we traveled about 143 miles to get here.

When I first came to Nis in 2003, with my friend from the Embassy, we stayed at the Ambassador Hotel--a multistory official hotel from the old government days. It was a sad mess. No renovation or any sort. Just worn out and dirty. For the subsequent visits, I stayed in small private hotels. The sort of place with a couple of dozen rooms and accommodating staffs. Poor Ambassador still hasn't been renovated. I staying at The Regent Club--Google it if you must. I had a nice meal in the restaurant this evening. I'll start my sessions again tomorrow at Media Center Nis (MCN).