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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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June 13, 2008 4:24 AM

The not so White City

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - I am told that Belgrade, or Beograd, translates to English as the White City. First impressions can be misleading and I am assuming my first impression of Belgrade will develop the more time I spend out of the hotel.

I arrived Thursday afternoon just ahead of a nasty storm. I watched from my hotel room as a black wall of clouds swallowed the drab apartment buildings that bleed into the gray horizon. While eating dinner in the hotel bar I was told that the old part of the city is gorgeous. I bet. I find that the old sections of most European cities are attractive, or at the very least interesting because of age as opposed to the relative newness we Americans are accustomed to.

Belgrade's grayness did not disapoint. I expected the communist era apartment buildings to dominate in the new part of town where I am staying. This is where people live. While the old town might have charm, it will probably be like many old centers, a place for shopping, eating, drinking, and sightseeing. What I see out of my window is people hoping on what looks like old versions of Seattle's new street cars in South Lake Union. (I am tempted to make some street car name jokes but I do not know any Serbian. I bet the popular nickname for our street car translates in most tongues).

Time to stop writing and go see more of this town. I slept in too late today after being up for 30 plus hours. Could not sleep on the planes. Off to see the White City.

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