Sweetcorn and bomb sites in Belgrade

Now, Belgrade isn’t exactly the first place you would think of to visit – Serbia in general just sounds a bit scary so we really didn’t know what to think. We imagined that Serbia would look completely deserted and on the drive in, it sort of was. There wasn’t much to see in the north of Serbia, it was very flat with nothing but sweetcorn growing in the fields, broken up with a couple of factories. The bus drive in was really uncomfortable as it was so hot!

Going further east means that the humidity is increasing too so we don’t ever really feel clean! But I guess we had better get used to it and fast – as it’s only going to get hotter from here!!

Heading towards Belgrade itself, the countryside began to liven up a bit, with flat land merging into rolling hills. Still millions of sweetcorn however – think the Serbians must be obsessed with this stuff!

As we drove into the city, the first things we saw were two old buildings side by side, with half the roof caved in. Here we go we thought – this is what we expected to see in Belgrade – bombsites!
These buildings had just been left where they were and were rather a dramatic introduction to Belgrade. Further in, Belgrade looked just like any city, albeit a slightly dishevelled ex-soviet city, but once we had got to the hostel and wandered around we found that it was actually quite a cool place.

Our hostel was slightly random, a really nice welcome – the owners son gave us all the traditional ‘serbian welcome’, a shot of plum brandy. Yuk! It was so strong!! But it all sort of went downhill from there. The communal area of the hostel was lovely- laminate flooring and flat screen tv with quick wifi, but the loos and the shower room were Disgusting! Hair, dirt and flies all over the place. Needs must however and we still used them!

Not long after we arrived we went for a walk around. The part of Belgrade that we were in meant that we could basically just walk round in a square and take in a good few points of interest. We set off first of all with Tomas and found our way to the Bohemian Quarter with the help of a local girl who Tomas asked for directions. She let us follow her towards the centre then pointed us in the right direction. We then had to stop a couple of lads to ask for more detailed directions to the Bohemian quarter – they spoke such great English. We’ve been amazed at just how many people in random countries across the world speak perfect English. Really does put us all to shame!

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Once we’d got to the Bohemian quarter we saw a completely different side to Belgrade than we saw when we first drove it. This was a gorgeous little area with cobbled streets and really pretty cafes, bars and restaurants. Tomas then went off to find a new case for his reading glasses so we took the opportunity to get something to eat. We wanted traditional Serbian food and went to a restaurant called Skadarlijski which was situated inside Le Petit Piaf hotel. We both opted for some kind of meat dish – I think mine was a kind of escalope and Richard had meatballs – we also tried the obligatory Serbian beer, which was very nice. Once again, we ate very reasonably – with the whole meal costing the equivalent of £17.

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After dinner we went to have a look at the sites of two NATO bombs (1999) – buildings that had been half destroyed and basically left there, not just as a monument to the people who died but also because Belgrade city just couldn’t afford to repair the damage. Very eerie just standing there in between hotels shops and brand new complexes, felt a bit macabre standing there taking photos of them with the locals walking by, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

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One of the highlights of our visit to Belgrade was seeing the view from Belgrade Castle. We walked up there at dusk and it was absolutely amazing. We could see right over the city and the Sava River and could have stayed there all night looking at it. The castle grounds were cool too – people were rock climbing up the old castle walls and there was a fair and picnics going on. Would definately recommend the trek up to the castle if you ever vist Belgrade!

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Up early once again the next morning although didn’t set off until about quarter to 9, as the owners son who was supposed to have organised breakfast for us all, turned up half an hour late then scrambled around laying out some bread, meat and cheese. Was a good spread in the end but just meant that we had an even longer drive ahead of us to Bulgaria!

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5 Comments

  1. July 20, 11:00 #1 Helen Vernon

    Hi Aisleen, Richard (and everyone 🙂

    Sounds like you’re having fun, but think I’ll be joining as you’re leaving, so enjoy China!

    Looking forward to reading your blog (and hopefully getting that a/c bus!)

    Helen.x

  2. July 16, 18:13 #2 Aisleen Author

    Hi Helen!

    You’ve got lots to look forward to! We might not actually get to see you ourselves though as we’re getting off and heading into china on 21st August (or 22nd, I can’t remember!).

    Hope you’re looking forward to it – and hopefully you’ll have an air conditioned bus by that time!

    x

  3. July 16, 14:17 #3 Helen Vernon

    Just wanted to wish everyone a fab trip…I’ll be joining you on 21st Aug for the Kathmandu-Sydney part 😀
    (Don’t worry, I’ve read the pet peeves section!)

    Loving reading your blog and looking at the pics.

    A presto! Helen.x


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