Beautiful Belgrade

Belgrade? Why did you go there?’ seems to be a popular reaction when I mention one of the latest places I visited. I had never been to the Balkans before, but now I’m trying to work out a way to go back. Serbia is beautiful, and although I only saw what I’m sure was a mere speck of what Belgrade has to offer, I’d urge you to add it to your list of places to go which haven’t been touched all that much (relatively) by tourists. Given that our local little post office now stocks the Croatian Kuna, that’s definitely a sign of the growing popularity of this part of the world. (I should add that Serbian Dinar is a closed currency, so don’t be too dismayed if you can’t find it anywhere in the UK, you’re not alone.)

Speaking of which, check out how seductive Nikola Tesla is on the 100 Dinar note:

11327968_10206186014624343_1463200776_o

You can judge how true a country remains to itself, I think, by your experience on the flight over. Flying from Luton with Wizz Air (so much pink), the main language was Serbian. The flight attendants and fellow passengers will often speak to you first in Serbian before they try English, which can prove quite a disconcerting experience if you’ve travelled to more popular tourist destinations in the past, where it would seem English is the default even once you’ve left our green and pleasant land.

Anyway, Belgrade, especially the Old Town, is wonderful, and not to mention incredibly hot in June. We had highs of 35 degrees, and the temperatures were set to rise further still in the weeks after we left. The weather is great, the people are lovely, the food is delicious, and Serbian traditions are alive and thriving.

Long story short- you might find that the road less travelled by, is actually the road most worth travelling. Plus, not only do you get a stamp in your passport (it’s the little things, eh), you also get to scratch out a small, obscure country on your scratch map, and who doesn’t enjoy that?

Here’s my experience of Belgrade in a few words and photos:

11279999_10206154760163001_781303408_o 11354381_10206156303201576_1042307586_o

St Sava’s Temple can be seen from miles away. I can’t convey just how huge it is to you, but to give you an idea, it’s still under construction and won’t be finished within our lifetime. It’s beautiful, and well worth seeing. Just wear more sensible shoes than I did if you’re walking there. There’s nothing quite like blister regret.

11303920_10206161645135121_829146336_o 11416489_10206161659135471_1056770451_o

No trip to Belgrade is complete without ambling around Kalemegdan. Broadly speaking, Kalemegdan is a park which also houses Belgrade Fortress, and affords amazing views across the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube, perfect if you love taking a good panoramic shot on your phone/camera.

11420185_10206163453260323_1487022093_o11335733_10206184831794773_1177895470_o 11273851_10206184832714796_1379609389_o11414964_10206163452380301_1650147160_o   11327885_10206163448860213_1594448728_o

Kalemegdan is also home to this fully naked man on a plinth, known as the Victor, or the Pobednik. Our good friend Victor is a work by Ivan Meštrović and was built, according to our other good friend Wikipedia, ‘to commemorate Serbia’s victory over Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empire during the Balkan Wars and the First World War’. So there you have it.

11249753_10206163446940165_125899635_o11328729_10206163446180146_1426386061_o

The wall of the fortress also encompasses a restaurant and a club/bar, known as Terassa Club, where we headed one night. The view is amazing. You find an upper and lower terrace, from which you look out on to the fortress, which feels within touching distance and provides a striking contrast to the modern style of the Terassa, in terms of both the decor and music. Probably not great when it’s raining.

11423543_10206194598638938_948687637_o

Do beware though, the atmosphere may be great, and the view phenomenal, but the lighting doesn’t lend itself well to photos. Unless you like purple.

11335674_10206189544392585_2143538391_o

We did venture out a little further one day, namely to Ada, or Ada Ciganlija, which is ‘a river island that has artificially been turned into a peninsula, located in the Sava River’s course through central Belgrade’. Gosh, Wikipedia, what would I do without you? One of the benefits of travelling with people who know Belgrade well and speak Serbian is visiting places like this, which a mere tourist like me would never have come across otherwise.

Arriving at Ada by bus, you walk through Serbian Stonehenge, and can see what looks like a giant bleach bottle water feature. Only in Serbia.

11324116_10206172991898783_2146510059_o11247882_10206172783893583_2028944512_o11414645_10206172782813556_1346252823_o   11262570_10206172783493573_1570489688_o

A short walk takes you to a long stretch of beaches, cafes, ice cream bars and sun-loungers, which I really wasn’t expecting to find in Serbia, but it just adds to the reasons why Belgrade is well worth a visit. It was 34 degrees on this day. which lent itself to plenty of photo-ops, including this one:

11335747_10206172792493798_737126929_o

This leads me perfectly to another reason why Serbia should be on your list of places to visit: the food and drink! Travelling with people who may as well be locals meant that we stayed away from all the familiar places we have here in the UK. There are plenty of well-known fast-food chains with restaurants in Belgrade, but if you’re looking to get a little more of the Serbian experience, then traditional food and drink aren’t a bad place to start!

Firstly, the Turkish coffee. Perfect for any coffee lover, and complete with a Turkish delight on the side. Just a warning, though, there’s what can only be described as ‘sludge’ which settles at the bottom of the mug, so for the love of God don’t try to down your coffee. Unless you like a sandy texture in your mouth, that is.

11420236_10206173103581575_1826102074_o 11420385_10206173295826381_1712919251_o

If you’re looking for savoury, look no further than a pancake. They’re available all over the place, and with all sorts of different fillings and toppings. Ham, cheese and sour cream was my personal favourite. Also, if you’re feeling especially Serbian, then a traditional Šopska salad is for you. It’s pronounced Shopska, and is essentially a mix of tomato, cucumber, peppers and onion covered in grated feta. It’s simple but delicious.

11352213_10206186016384387_1132272971_o 11330849_10206186017184407_1895048731_o 11249624_10206186015704370_603341444_o

Now, you can’t talk about Serbian specialities without mentioning Plazma. Plazma is essentially a biscuit, and I’m reliably informed that a plazma shake is a brilliant hangover cure, and so one morning we decided to give plazma a go, minus the hangover. It’s a biscuity milkshake, and that’s really the only way of explaining it! If you’re feeling indulgent or a little worse for wear, then find your nearest cafe and this should sort you out.

11414834_10206185071600768_1571007824_o 11330858_10206184841355012_367876130_o 11297238_10206199556922892_296618612_o

Finally, I can’t leave this without mentioning one restaurant in particular which is perfect for your inner Instagrammer. This is none other than Manufaktura, which most people will know as ‘the place with the red umbrellas’:

11426597_10206194811004247_1646871620_o 11354628_10206172796413896_650620580_o 11348728_10206172795053862_998419330_o 10662888_10206196871335754_871153784_o (1)

I took many, many more photos than this, I really couldn’t help myself. We went here on my last day, and thankfully the restaurant isn’t just pretty on the outside, the food is traditional and tasty, too.

11347884_10206196871255752_1302139242_o 11332840_10206196964898093_1869594855_o

Belgrade might seem obscure, but it has so much to offer and an incredibly rich history. If you’re looking for a city break with a difference, then you need look no further.

Just don’t forget your sun cream.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Beautiful Belgrade

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s