Belgrade was never on the itinerary of my solo world tour, but after reading an article (read here) sent to me from a friend I made in Krakow I thought I’d give it a shot.
The overnight train from Budapest to Belgrade wasn’t the most comfortable trip unfortunately, even with my sleeper cabin. The 2 border checkpoints (Hungary and Serbia) first at about midnight and another an hour later didn’t really make for a good night’s sleep. Add to that the stench of urine in my cabin due to being next door to the toilet, well it could have been worse I guess. As my brother Kam said, it’s all part of the adventure.
After getting off the train at central station, I walked around the streets of Belgrade aimlessly for over an hour trying to find my hostel which got a little frustrating, especially when I finally found it and learned that I had walked past it about 3 times. I guess the positive side of that was that I found a cool Pekora which is like a fast food store and bakery combined in one.
For me, Belgrade is an emerging city – kind of an old meets new. It has some great nightlife and café culture but also retains old traditions like Kafanas and old-fashioned hospitality. Whilst the city doesn’t possess the architectural beauty that Budapest or Krakow have, if you look hard enough beyond the communist era buildings and bullet marked walls you will find a few little surprises.
With limited time, I was able to do a great deal at a relatively slow pace. I don’t see the point in running around trying to tick boxes.
Below is my Top 10 for Belgrade, and I’d definitely recommend a visit to this city if you are visiting Eastern Europe.
1. Befriend some locals
2. Drink local beer and make new friends in the ‘Students’ Park at night
3. Have a few shots of the national drink ‘Rakija’
4. Drink Serbian coffee, eat Cevapi (minced meat sausage) and drink local beer at one of the many Kafanas scattered across town
5. Spend a sunny afternoon at Ada Cigalina playing beach volleyball with the locals or hire a bike and ride around the lake
6. Hop from one club to another on the Sava on a Saturday night
7. Drink café lattes in any of the hip cafes along ‘Silicon Valley’ (named after the plastic surgery of choice for the girls that frequent this strip)
8. Do a walking tour of the city
9. Have Burek (cheese) and yoghurt at a Pekora drink for breakfast (especially following a night out clubbing)
10. Catch the train (day) to Bar, Montenegro and make sure you get a window seat – the scenery is breathtaking and gets rated as one of the most picturesque in Europe
So now I am in one of the most beautiful little towns in Europe and I can’t wait to update my blog with a post about this relatively unknown gem.
Finally, you can see a few pictures in my Belgrade album here