/Serbia //Belgrade ///2013

Bonjour!

Welcome to my first travel post! Some of you may recall my previous post about buying new Red or Dead “seven league boots”, i.e. the ones that I intended to wear every day for several years.  Unfortunately, a heel snapped off of one of them. Fortunately, I bought a new pair of awesome combat boots from New Yorker in Belgrade!

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First impressions of the city are that it was once a very regal and beautiful place. There’s some beautiful colonial-era architecture. However, most of the buildings have been stripped of their plaster and are now mostly exposed brick. Almost every one of them is grey with what I’m assuming is decades of grime. It’s not ugly, though, for that rather unhappy-sounding description. It’s actually charming in a way. We stayed in Skadarlija Sunrise Hostel, located on a sweet cobbled road in Old Belgrade. Well, sweet if you’re sober, lethal if you’re slightly inebriated! Stripy awnings and pot plants explode from both sides of the road – every building is a restaurant and several of them have a pretty girl stood outside with a menu to try catch you as you stumble down the street.

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If you’re looking for a cheap holiday then Belgrade is a good place to go. Here, you can pick up a large pizza for around 4 pounds.

We ran into our first cultural difficulty on the first night. It turns out that clubbing is very much a Friday; Saturday and Sunday affair in Belgrade, despite being a capital city. We were told by several locals that there are literally no clubs open during the week. The lack of clubbing didn’t mean that Belgrade was quiet at night: quite the opposite. All the restaurants I mentioned are open late into the night and each one has its own four/five piece band playing music all evening!

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Do not fear if you are looking for a night out; there are plenty of bars, but Belgrade mid-week is definitely the area of Eastern Europe you go to for a fairly quite drink. My friends and I, being crazy British, managed to convince one boat bar, The Lebowski, to let us take over their DJ decks. We dropped some tasty dubstep for the rest of the night, attracting in a load of Cambridge kids and some French travellers. The moral? You can make a party anywhere if you bug the bartender enough!

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The best place to find bars is in Novi Belgrade; literally “New Belgrade”. Here you’ll find fantastic looking restaurants lining the west side of the river. My personal recommendation would be Splay; a bar floating on the river. This is a very chic haunt, equipped with a liquor cabinet longer than my friend is tall (6’4″) and some sexy furniture. It is the home of The Flaming Lamborghini. Try if you dare…

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A handy tip for drinkers: stay away from the local rakija! And if you can’t, remember this: it reacts with water in the stomach to produce gas; therefore drinking water to help recover from a hangover of this type won’t help. Eat food! I learned this the hard way on my first night. Unfortunately, this pearl of wisdom wasn’t shared with me until 9am the next morning. I started being ill at 4am. It hurt.

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During the day, there are plenty of cool places to explore. We made of point of visiting the Tesla Museum where you get to see a real Tesla coil in action. For those who don’t know (because I didn’t before I went!), this is what it does…

There is also a huge fort on one of the bends of the river which is worth a visit. For those who enjoy military history, there’s a museum at the top with some of the most savage weapons I have ever seen. Also a hilarious skull with a hole for a mouth…

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I also captured some of the street art/graffiti around the city…

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And then we moved on to Budapest via one speedy overnight minibus and one stunning sunrise…

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