Weird Travel Facts! Central Europe Edition
More worthless — but interesting! — travel tidbits.
Earlier this year, I wrote how everywhere Michael and I go, we learn pointless but fascinating facts and stories about the places we visit. Since we’ve spent most of this year in Eastern and Central Europe, here are some weird facts from this area of the world.
Living in Serbia, we quickly realized that almost all transactions are done with paper currency — called the Serbian “dinar” — and coins are very rare. But that got me wondering if any countries use just paper currency and no coins at all.
In fact, these countries have no coins: Belarus, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Laos, Somalia, and Zambia. And Guinea, Vietnam, and China issue coins, but they are even more rarely used than here in Serbia.
One of the most chilling — but effective — pieces of public art I’ve ever seen are the “Sarajevo Roses” in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the Bosnian War, Sarajevo was under siege by Serbian forces for almost four years, and mortar shell explosions left scars in the concrete streets and sidewalks that were later filled in with red resin in every spot where at least three people were killed.
There are now around 200 of these haunting “roses” throughout the city.
One of the countries that now make up the former Yugoslavia is known as “North Macedonia,” but don’t say that to any locals: they just say, “Macedonia.” Their name was a compromise that the United Nations negotiated between that country and Greece, which also has a region known as Macedonia.
In fairness to the Greeks, that part of Greece has been known as Macedonia since antiquity. But in fairness to the North Macedonians, in 168 B.C., the Romans named their part of the world “Macedonia” too.