Be Sure To Do This Before Visiting The Tesla Museum In Belgrade, Serbia

nikola tesla museum blegrade serbia

One place you really shouldn’t miss while you’re in Belgrade, Serbia, is the Nikola Tesla Museum. The Tesla Museum is an interactive experience about Tesla’s past as well as our technological future. A history about one of the world’s greatest minds you won’t be able to truly appreciate if you don’t call ahead to the museum first.

Who Was Tesla?

There aren’t enough science museums in the world and while old rocks or abstract paintings are mildly compelling to look at for a moment, watching a group of visitors hold up florescent lights being lit by wireless electricity is something hard to forget. Summing up the engineer Tesla is something one line of text can’t do but if you’re using a laptop right now that’s plugged into the wall, using wifi, sitting under florescent lights, and have ever used a remote control, you can thank Nikola Tesla.

Tesla was born in 1856 to Serbian parents in Smiljan (now in modern-day Croatia), later moving to the United States to work with Thomas Edison. Despite only spending a day of his life in Belgrade, the (then) Yugoslavian government established the Nikola Tesla Museum 9 years after his death. All of his belongings in the U.S. were sent by his nephew to the small building, now the museum, along with Tesla’s ashes.

nikola tesla ashes

I learned a lot more and if you’re particularly interested in the technical details of Tesla’s accomplishments, you should definitely take one of the offered tours.

Call Ahead To Take Advantage Of The Tours

The tours, where you can actually play with wireless electricity, are offered in different languages at varying times throughout the museum’s hours, 10am-6pm, open all days except Monday. You need to call ahead to join an English tour (ideally the day before or latest morning of) since the tour times change daily and aren’t listed on the Tesla Museum website.

tesla museum belgrade

  • Nikola Tesla Museum Tour Phone Number: +381 (0) 11 24 33 886

I made the mistake of just showing up, where I hopped on to the Serbian tour. The guide was very patient and translated everything for me but noted it’s not his preferred tour method. English tours are 500 Serbian dinar (~$4.50 USD), lasting 30-40 minutes.

A Museum Worth Visiting

I can’t recommend the Tesla Museum enough to see how far wireless technology has come yet at the same time, how much further ahead we could be. (Why the hell are we still charging everything with wires?) The tour guides are very informed – frankly passionate – about Tesla and the science of his accomplishments. Getting to the Nikola Tesla Museum is simple either by taxi or a 20 minute walk from most parts of interest around town. Just don’t forget to call ahead for the English tour times.

The Best Way For Foreign Travelers To Order A Taxi In Belgrade, Serbia

belgrade serbia streets

Hopping into a taxi – or even finding one – in a foreign country can be a daunting experience. Once inside you never know if you’ll see a working meter or have a sweet talking cabbie who knows how to extend your route just up to a price you’re not likely to argue about. Belgrade, Serbia, where Uber isn’t available, can be particularly tricky since there are a number of taxi companies with intentionally similar logos that confuse even locals.

There is a simple method (that isn’t very well advertised) English speakers can use to call a taxi with a working meter at any hour plus be fairly confident the driver is taking the most efficient route.

The Right Numbers To Call

For travelers using non-Serbian mobile numbers or calling using Skype To Go (here’s information for getting online at Belgrade Airport) you want to Beogradski Taxi, which charges set rates you can find on their website.

  • Beogradski Taxi International Number – +381 011 20 999 20

Getting a local SIM card is fairly easy in Serbia and if you have one, you can call Beogradski Taxi by dialing 19801.

Why This Is Worth Posting

It might seem finding a taxi number in a European city would be straightforward but after trying out a number of recommendations given to me by locals, I found Beogradski Taxi was the only one with dedicated English-speaking staff. Most taxi drivers in Belgrade don’t speak English so having the phone operator translate your directions is very helpful. (Especially if you’re going somewhere non-touristy, like jiu-jitsu class.)

Beogradski Taxi also operate 24 hours a day, something you’ll be thankful for if you’re flying in or out of Belgrade as most international flights take-off and land in the very early morning hours. You are no doubt paying a slightly higher rate for a ride but consider it an exchange for peace of mind.

Despite my best efforts to not make this sound like an advertisement you might be wondering if I got paid to write all of this? To answer your question: no, I didn’t. I just found Beogradski Taxi a service that saved me time and headache, I hope it does the same for you during your visit as well.

Of course if you have any other recommendations on how to get around Belgrade, I’m happy to hear them in the comments below!

WiFox, The Map Of Current Airport Wireless Passwords Worldwide, Is Now Available On Android

wifox app

WiFox is a map of airport wifi and lounge passwords from around the world that’s updated in real-time with information verified from other travelers, pilots, and reliable sources. Last month I released WiFox for iOS, starting today it’s available for Android devices on Google Play.

wifox google play

How WiFox Works

WiFox is based on my popular map of wireless passwords from around the world, letting users around the world add password information from airports as they travel. Passwords are then verified and added to the map, which is updated in real-time when you have an Internet connection. All of the hotspots are shown on a Google map, which you can download for offline use, as well as in a searchable list view.

wifox android app

  • Hotspot Information Includes – Airport, location in the airport or lounge, network name, password, plus any other details that might help you get online (e.g. “sit next to gate 47 for the strongest signal”).

All of the information is verified before being approved to the map – plus you can submit password changes as you discover them. WiFox also has a simple feedback system that let’s you vouch for working passwords or let me know one might need updating.

Unlock Airport Time Restrictions

WiFox currently has the access information for over 80 airports worldwide. Additionally, WiFox shows you airports with free wireless so you can better plan a trip. Many free wifi connections in airport often have time limits, so not only does WiFox tell you what they are but it also has information showing you how to turn limited into unlimited Internet.

Available On Google Play Now

WiFox is available for Android on Google Play as well as Amazon for $1.99. There are no in-app purchases or ads and airport wireless updates are free, for life. As I have for the iOS version, I’ll keep adding new features to WiFox, hotspots, plus other updates regularly based on your reviews. My goal is to help you travel smarter and get online in airports you might not otherwise be able to (or in airports that want to email you a password – before they let you online, ugh).

wifox google play android     wifox ios app store    wifox app amazon
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about WiFox in the comments below and if you’re happy with the app, I would appreciate your a 5-star reviews on Google Play!

Everything You Need To Know To Prepare For A Trip To Vietnam

This is a guest post by Claudia Tavani, a former human rights lawyer and academic who has previously written about traveling in Cuba and the 5 best beach in Sardinia, for foXnoMad. Claudia, who is from Sardinia, abandoned her career to follow her true calling, which has taken her on many adventures and misadventures across the world which she shares on her blog, My Adventures Across The World.

vietnam fields

A favorite destination among backpackers for being a super-budget destination, Vietnam is a gorgeous country that has a lot to offer. So much so that Vietnam can be overwhelming and without a bit of insider advice, you might end up picking expensive or lackluster choices for food, tours, or accommodation.

I spent weeks in Vietnam and want to show you how to ease any culture shock (as Vietnam can hit you hard) plus avoid the many, many tourist traps. Here is everything you need to know to prepare a trip to Vietnam.

Start By Picking The Right Time To Visit Vietnam

The weather in Vietnam varies a lot from region to region (there are three different climate zones) as well as within the same place in a short period of time.

an bang beach vietnam

  • North Vietnam – The weather in the mountainous north (Sapa Valley) can be basically divided in two seasons: the dry and cold winter, from October to March, and the wet and hot summer from April to September. It is overall better to travel in the dry season, even though the temperatures can be quite cold. When I visited, in March, it was actually much warmer than I had expected, with warm temperatures during the day, over 68 Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) but significantly colder (11C/52F) at night.
  • Hanoi And Ha Long Bay – The north of the country (including Hanoi and Ha Long Bay) has cold but dry winters, lasting from November to April and with average temperatures between 63F/17C – 72F/22C. Summer months (from May to October) are hot, humid and get a lot of rain, to the point that visits to Ha Long Bay may be suspended due to the adverse weather conditions. When I visited, Hanoi was pleasantly warm and sunny one day and in a chilly mist the next. Ha Long Bay was hot and sunny (79F/26C!) the day before I went, though after I arrived was welcomed with the more typical cool overcast. I would recommend visiting around February or March,
  • Central Vietnam – Dry weather between January and August, when the temperatures can reach up to 86F (30C). The most rainy months are October and November. Air conditioners are usually available in hotels and even in good homestays.
  • South Vietnam (which includes Saigon and the Mekong Delta) weather is divided into dry and wet season. The dry season goes from November to early May, with higher temperatures and humidity between February and May, and the wet season from May to November, with June to August being the rainiest months. Temperatures are always between 77-95F (25-35C). It was surely hot when I visited and I was glad to find air conditioners in hotels. Avoid August and September if you can, they are the rainiest months in this region.

Even though I don’t recommend planning too much around the variable Vietnamese weather, the best overall months to visit would probably be April or May.

How To Get A Visa To Vietnam

Citizens of more than 20 countries – mostly western European and southeast Asian – can get a Vietnamese visa on arrival if arriving by air. This visa, which is free, allows to stay in the country for up to 15 days, but for everyone it’s necessary to show proof of leaving the country within that time period. (Yes, they do ask.) Everyone else, you’ll have to contact your local embassy for specific visa requirements. Keep in mind in all cases your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Vietnam.

flag of vietnam

Vietnamese Currency And Exchange Rate

The official currency in Vietnam is the dong (VN). One US dollar is worth roughly 22000 VN. Dollars are generally accepted in hotels, in some shops and even at markets, but it is better to use dongs in order to save on the exchange rate. When exchanging money at the bank, go with an idea of how much you should be given for your US dollars using a free app like Currency, making sure to check that you get the correct amount. Tellers often pretend to forget to give exact change in an attempt to pocket a little for themselves.

Learn How To Cross The Street (It’s An Adventure Every Time)

There really aren’t any major safety issues in Vietnam, not even for female travelers. The biggest challenge for travelers in Vietnam is crossing the street in (always) very congested traffic, dodging scooters and cars that never stop for pedestrians. You’ll also have to deal with scams but in both cases, being prepared will help you avoid any trouble.

traffic in hanoi

In order to cross the street, keep on walking without ever stopping keeping in mind to avoid cars and trucks. Traffic won’t stop, but scooters will make sure to drive around pedestrians and somehow nobody ever seems to get hit.

Common scams are the typical ones of the tourism industry: prices which are doubled or tripled for tourists, with the right amount of applied pressure to push you into buying tourist services.

The key to avoid tourist rates is to haggle fiercely at markets (I generally offer about one-tenth of the price asked, working my way to a price I think is fair based on that). For taxis, insist on paying by the meter.

Here’s a few examples to help clarify things: the driver from Hanoi airport to the city asked me to pay a flat rate of  400000 VN (around $18 USD). I demanded to pay by the meter and it cost me 360000 VN ($16 USD) – not a major difference in this case. Similarly, in Ho Chi Minh City airport I was asked to pay 300000 VN, but I only spent 120000 VN paying by the meter (a significant difference this time).

hoi an vietnam travel

Hotel personnel can often get quite intrusive (if not aggressive) when asking about your plans for the next few days, then try to pressure you into buying tours (since they receive a commission). The best thing to do in this case is to give elusive answers; “I don’t know” or “I have no plans yet” usually work.

Transportation

The best way to cover long distances in Vietnam is by plane. Traffic is extremely slow (up to 5 hours to cover a mere 150 km) not to mention the driving truly terrifying. All forms of motor-vehicle are constantly honking machines that are uncomfortable because they’re packed tight with bags placed overhead without regard to gravity. So unless you like long, life-threatening adrenaline rushes, take a plane.

ha long bay travel tourism vietnam

It is also possible to travel by train. I took the night train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, the main city to access Sapa Valley, finding it a nice experience. I was able to rest on the small bunk I was assigned in a train car that was fairly clean and comfortable. You can buy the tickets directly at the train station in Hanoi, or online through the Vietnam Railways System website. All trains to the north of Vietnam leave from Tran Quy Cap station (Train Station B, P Tran Quy Cap, open from 4:00 to 6:00 am and from 4:00 to 10:00 pm every day).

In cities, taxis are easily available and inexpensive. As I have said before, always ask to pay by the meter. An easy alternative to taxis are moto-taxis, which are a fast, cheap and fun way to get around. Moto-taxis are easily recognizable: the drivers sit right by their motorbike on the side of the road, and have two helmets. In smaller cities and in the countryside, bikes are a fun and cheap way to get around.

Where To Stay

Your dollar will go a long way in Vietnam, and even travelers on a budget can afford to get a private room, with a private bathroom and (a simple) breakfast included in one of the many hotels available. The average price for a double private room with private bathroom plus breakfast included is $9 USD per night per person.

  • Saigon: Yellow House Saigon, a hotel in the backpackers’ district located in a tiny alley that is closed at night, so despite the traffic of the city, the hotel gets virtually no noise. Rooms are on the small side, but perfectly organized and the breakfast buffet including noodles, fruits, and eggs is quite decent.

Lots of people opt to stay in homestays but beware that many of them are very spartan so research thoroughly before booking. Here’s a homestay in Hoi An I can recommend:

  • The Corner Homestay – A lovely homestay in Hoi An, literally a minute away from all the action. Rooms are nice and clean, the receptionist a real star who speaks perfect English and despite being so close to the center, it is in a nice and quiet street.

Keep in mind most hotels offer free wifi though you’ll have to put up with flaky connections.

What And Where To Eat

When in Vietnam, the best way to enjoy a meal is in the street or in the markets, or in small local eateries. Soups are to die for, especially the delicious pho bo, which consists of rice noodles in a slowly cooked beef broth, served with bean sprouts and raw beef sliced so thin it cooks in the broth. A whole meal (including drinks) can be as cheap as $2 USD.

vietnamse food

  • Nha Hang Ngon, in Dong Khoi, Saigon, is a very popular restaurant for locals and tourists. In a stylish setting with affordable prices, it aims at bringing together the best street food of Vietnam all in one place.

A note that seemingly vegetarian and vegan dishes (e.g. tofu dishes) often have fish sauce in them. One easy way to communicate food allergies or preferences when the staff speaks little or no English is to get on the Internet and show pictures of the specific ingredients.

  • Cargo Club – In Hoi An, a fantastic place serving a mixture of international as well as Vietnamese dishes that are to die for. It is as expensive as it gets in Vietnam, a full meal (including drinks and dessert) is no more than $18 USD. Chips ‘n Fish, right by the market, is another good inexpensive place to have seafood.

Finally, a bottle of local beer (usually Bia Saigon) costs around 20000 VN (less than $1 USD), but at local eateries it is possible to have beer by the glass (generally a 0.25 or 0.30 cc glass) for as little as 4000 VN.

Packing Tips

I recommend going to Vietnam with a backpack rather than a suitcase. More often than not, there are no elevators in budget hotels and carrying a suitcase up the stairs may well be a nightmare. Sidewalks are invaded by scooters, stalls, street food restaurants which make walking more like a steeplechase – not to mention getting on and off the boats in Ha Long Bay.

saigon street market stall vegetables

You will need a wind and waterproof jacket, a pair of hiking boots, lightweight hiking pants, plus a warm sweater if you’re heading to the north. For the south, cotton long pants and shirts to protect from the sun in the day and biting mosquitoes at night.

On the positive hand, people in Vietnam are generally nice, despite a language barrier in many cases. I found them to be way more reserved in the foggy north; conversely much more open, friendly with smiles in the south. They enjoy talking to tourists (as much as possible, given the language barrier!) and posing for pictures.

Are you ready to go to Vietnam? What do you look forward to?

You can follow Claudia’s adventures, including rafting down mighty rivers, zip lining across canyons, and trekking to the craters of active volcanoes on he blog, My Adventures Across The World. Have any questions about traveling to Vietnam? Leave them in the comments below and Claudia will do her best to answer them!

My Favorite Places To Smoke Shisha (Nargile) Around The World

cario egypt shisha nargile

The art of smoking shisha (or nargile as it’s also commonly called) isn’t so much about exhaling plumes of flavored smoke from your lungs as it is for cultivating conversation, reflection, and relaxation in many parts of the world. Originating in India or Persia around the 1600s, shisha cafes are now a regular sight around the world, many with their own characters.

Having stumbled into more than a few shisha bars as I travel, many often leave an impression on me as I jot down my thoughts about a town, chat with locals, or take in a few cloudy breaths at the end of an interesting day. These are some of my favorite shisha cafes from around the world, welcoming and perfect for a unique experience of your own.

Arabesque Cafe In Cairo, Egypt

Aptly named, Arabesque‘s yellow walls are an oasis of calm a few minutes walk away from Tahrir Square, the heart of Cairo’s Arab Spring. Several months after Egypt’s revolution, I looked up from my laptop (Arabesque has free wifi) to see a large crowd chanting slogans and marching toward the American embassy. Nobody in Arabesque took more than a glance as we all continued to smoke as hundreds of angry protestors marched past a few meters away.

arabesque cafe cairo egypt

Mesale In Istanbul, Turkey

Open 24 hours hours a day, with live music in the evenings along with excellent food, Mesale is nearly always full of interesting locals and tourists alike. Mesale isn’t hard to spot if you’re visiting the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, just follow the sweet scent of light, fruity, tobacco smoke to the left of the Blue Mosque. (You’ll also want to keep an eye out for a colorful waiter who likes to pretend he’s going to spill a tray of hot coffee on unsuspecting tourists for a laugh.)

mesale cafe istanbul turkey

Shisha Cafe In Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

The city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq has a bizarrely strong Chinese influence, plentiful liquor stores, and this massive two story shisha cafe is the center of it all. The service is great and after a while the groups sitting at neighboring tables tend to mingle and mix. As the evenings go on at the shisha lounge the entire cafe becomes a large conversation you can join as you desire.

sulaymaniyah iraq shisha nargile

Annette In Sofia, Bulgaria

Primarily a Moroccan restaurant, Annette has probably the best shisha in Sofia. The hookahs last for hours, going well with the tasty appetizers offered here. Bulgaria has some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world so if you’re looking for a good spot to get online while enjoying apple, mint, or other flavors of tobacco, make sure Annette is in your Sofia plans.

sofia bulgaria vitosha parking

Babylon Shisha Lounge in Lubeck, Germany

Ironically, Babylon Shisha Lounge is a breath of fresh air in a town that’s a bit stiff. Babylon is cramped, which means you’ll have to arrive early in the evenings to be assured a place to sit – or closer to midnight when the thoroughly pre-gamed crowds head out to dance the alcohol off. There is free wireless at Babylon (not always a given in Western European cafes) where you should plan to watch at least one German national soccer game if you can.

Mhirsi Cafe Alta In Tunis, Tunisia

I’m fairly certain Mhirsi Cafe Alta isn’t the right name of this den cut into a stone wall, slyly positioned in a busy intersection of Tunis’ medina ideal for people watching. Around this area, you’ll find many of Tunis’ most popular travel attractions making Mhirisi Cafe Alta a good location to rest and chat with locals.

Mhirsi Cafe Alta Tunis Tunisia

There are quite a few places I didn’t add to this list but could have – like Address Restaurant And Cafe Bar in Fethiye, Turkey – plus a number of others not big or official enough to have a proper name. All though, with intangible qualities making them worth a visit, even if you’re only in it for the tea.

For those of you who enjoy a good nargile, what are some of your favorites places? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below!

Where Leonard Nimoy’s Famous Vulcan Salute Came From

This post is a part of Geek Takeover Week 2016.

chisinau jewish cemetary

This above is a photo from Chisinau, Moldova’s Jewish Cemetery, the largest in Europe. But you may be noticing something familiar about the hand gestures on this tombstone – especially if you’re a Star Trek fan. Yes, this is the famous Vulcan salute, created by Leonard Nimoy, during the show’s second season.

It was a gesture he made spontaneously but has described its origin from his childhood. Nimoy, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, took him to services at a local synagogue in Boston. He recalled as a child being told not to look at the kohen (priests) during one particular part of prayers each service – but of course his curious Vulcan mind took a peek.

spock live long and prosper

This gesture of the two hands is what he saw and it’s the inspiration for the now famous Vulcan salute.

So, to you my friends and fellow travelers, live long and prosper. To which the appropriately Vulcan response is, peace and long life.

This post originally appeared on foXnoMad Tales.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More

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Recent Articles

The Best Way For Foreign Travelers To Order A Taxi In Belgrade, Serbia

WiFox, The Map Of Current Airport Wireless Passwords Worldwide, Is Now Available On Android

Everything You Need To Know To Prepare For A Trip To Vietnam