Travel is a wonderful way to broaden the mind, develop a fresh perspective and understand cultures that otherwise might remain alien to us. I guess most people will agree that seeing things first hand far outweighs anything that can be read in books or learned online. Travel has given me so many vivid memories and such a greater appreciation of other lifestyles that it has been integral to my education.
I have been lucky to travel extensively, visiting countries far flung and near. From the Caribbean, Asia and the Americas to the more familiar Europe and Australia, I have seen, heard and eaten things that I could only read about in my youth. I have just returned from three weeks in Peru. Travel has become more reasonable and countries have become more accessible, enabling us to satisfy our hunger for new adventures, and giving me chance to visit pandas in China, see gorillas in the Congo and hold koalas in Australia.
Serbia’s Željko Joksimović has some unfinished business with the Eurovision Song Contestand he is coming back to sort it out once and for all. That bold message was clear when Željko spoke with W!LD RooSTeR this week. Despite penning some of the Balkan region’s more memorable entries of recent years and coming in a close second place to the wild woman of the Ukraine, Željko has not yet managed to get his hands on the elusive winner’s trophy. He intends to put this right on stage in Baku.
“There is definitely something magical about Eurovision,’ Željko said, when he took time out of rehearsals in his studio. “It is a big and very important international TV show. Maybe I am coming back again as I feel deeply inside that I did not finish what I truly want. The Eurovision Song Contest gave me a lot and I believe that I will give something back to it as well.”
While travelling in Peru this month, my thoughts were drawn back across the other side of the world, to make comparisons with things I have seen and experienced. One constant I have noticed during my month of travel in Peru is the cleanliness of the streets and the care that is taken to keep towns tidy. While the outskirts of cities can be steaming refuse tips, litter is virtually absent in the main areas and armies of uniformed street cleaners work around the clock to keep towns spick and span. I even saw a man with a broom and bucket of detergent mopping gutters in a busy city square. Brushing gutters and picking up rubbish that has blown into parks and pavements, these workers take pride in the role they play in their maintaining their town. They would seem to realise that clean streets are not only attractive and provide a good impression for visitors, they make better places to live for the people who call these towns home.
As Serbia is granted candidacy to become the newest kid of the EU bloc, the country will face difficult questions and need to resolve many issues. Not only will the work begin to improve and develop Serbia’s political, business and social structures if Serbia is to take up this opportunity to join EU nations, but also the government must fight at the ballot boxes before an increasingly alienated electorate.
By joining Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey as candidate countries on the long road towards full membership of the EU, Serbia has set itself many challenges. Croatia has already seen this for itself in almost a decade of measures to make the EU grade. What will be required, but has previously proven hard to achieve, is a clear and open debate on the issues facing everyone in Serbia.