Alignment of the Planets

I took this photo on Monday evening at sunset. The sun sets around 4:00 PM here and I was heading to basketball practice on our campus. It shows a crescent moon, venus right below it, and Jupiter to the upper left. Although it looks like they are close, they are all actually millions of miles away from each other. Later on in the evening, the moon blocked venus (called an occultation) which is a rare event. Thanks to my wife for sending this link, which explains more about it. An interest in astronomy is another thing we have in common.

Oliver & Ocean on top of Mount Avala
Oliver & Ocean on top of Mount Avala

On Sunday we drove to Mount Avala which is about 8 miles south of Belgrade. The mountain is a state park and it has some walking trails, war monuments, and a hotel that looked closed for the season. Being about 500 meters higher than Belgrade, there was still snow left and we had a good snowball fight. Owen showed his tropical upbringing, and he refused to get out of the car, prefering to stay warm with mom. We are both sick this week and driving in the car gives us a break with watching the kids so the trip to Mount Avala had an alterior motive. Behind Ollie and Ocean is the Unknown Soldier monument dedicated to the Serbian soldiers killed in WWI. I noticed some of the marble blocks were chipped. This was from the 1999 NATO bombing raids that targeted RTS state television transmission towers. They are building a new tower that looked like the CN Tower in Toronto, so perhaps there will be a restaraunt there.

We are loving our new car. We bought a GPS also, and I am a believer in it! It is so much easier than old fashioned maps, although I love maps. The GPS tells us exactly when to turn, etc., and you can zoom in and zoom out on the map. It also has pharmacies, supermarkets, etc. Amazing! Below we are shown filling the car up with gasoline. The neighborhood gas station is very low key, so much different than the big, lighted, American gas stations. The Serbian gas stations on the highways are similar to the US gas stations, but the ones found on side streets are like the one below.

Fill er up.
Fill 'er up.

Family Journal: Saturday August 8, 2008



Belgrade Rail & Bus Station, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Yesterday morning Ollie, Owen, and I took our first trip downtown in public transport. We walked down the hill and first took a bus in to the main train and bus station in Belgrade (picture above). From there we took an electric trolley (tram) to Kalmegdan Park and the zoo. It was raining off and on quite hard so we had to wait out the rain several times. It costs 60 cents and about 20 minutes. The boys were thrilled with public transport and the zoo.

The zoo is big and has a varied selection of animals. I have mixed emotions about zoos. I think they are good in that people learn about and see the animals and perhaps this will lead to better protection of their habitat and population numbers. But on the other hand, it is still an “animal prison” and the amount of living space is limited. It was especially sad to see the chimpanzees in their cages.


Boys Play At Kalmegdan Park near the Belgrade Zoo
Boys Play At Kalmegdan Park near the Belgrade Zoo



In the afternoon, the rains let up and the sun was shining. Owen and I were inspired after watching the Olympic Road Race, so we went for a long bike ride. Our neighbor, Radtko, brought a bike over for me to use. We went down to the Sava River bike trail and west to the Ada Ciganlija island. We rode on the river side of the island where Belgraders have small floating houses on the banks. It reminded me of the cottages on the lakes in my native Upper Peninsula. It was peaceful on that side of the island and many Belgraders potter about on weekends in their river shacks. We stopped for a Coke on the way home at Costa Coffee, the Starbucks of Serbia.

Saturday evening Nadia prepared a wonderful dinner of roast pork and vegetables. We watched an episode of the Spiderman cartoon, read a book, and went to bed. Ocean slept most of the night! We have been letting her cry it out the past couple of evenings. She was getting up 5-10 times a night, and now it is down to 2-3 and we don’t have to walk her until she falls back to sleep.