Belgrade

The hostel I’m staying at puts on a free (tips based) walking tour at noon everyday so I got ready and went to grab breakfast at Super Natural, a café near the hostel. It was very sunny and I got to sit outside, so it was already shaping up to be a great meal. But the food made it even better- it was delicious!! I got a green tea (comes with honey <3) and Greek yogurt with strawberry, orange, banana and granola. I expected it to come as a bowl of yogurt but it was actually a smoothie. It was still amazingly delicious! The waitress was very nice too. Then I met up with the other walkers at the hostel and our guide, Filip. He’s a very funny guy who made a lot of jokes (mostly at the expense of himself) and was very educated about the history and the sights of the city. We started with a sample of Börek, a traditional Balkan pastry that is filled with cheese, spinach or meat. It was quite delicious. Then we walked to the mosque, which is still used. There was a time when there were over 200 mosques in Belgrade (the Ottomans ruled for about 300 years), but most have been destroyed. Then we walked to Kalemegdan park and the Belgrade Fortress. As we were walking into the park, Filip ran into one of his friends who said that someone had jumped off of the fortress and committed suicide just minutes earlier. Filip redirected our tour a little, but we still ended up walking past the basketball courts where the dead body was. We were probably about 100 yards away and it was quite surreal. There was 1 police car maybe 20 feet from the body, but they must have been inside the car as no one was walking around, and there was no tarp covering the body. It was definitely a somber moment, but Filip made sure we kept moving and didn’t dwell on it.

20160513_104125727_iOSAt the fortress we saw the statue that is dedicated to France as they were an ally  of Serbia during WWI.

20160513_164238323_iOSThere’s also The Victor at the fortress, built to commemorate Serbia’s victory over Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian Empires.

Then Filip decided it was time to drink some Rakija (national liquor of Serbia) and learn some traditional dance. In the middle of the square. With lots of people around. So we drank and we danced and had a lot of fun.

Then we walked down the main pedestrian street to get to Republic Square, where a statue of Prince Michael on horseback sits. Prince Michael helped liberate Belgrade way back when. Our final stop was the Bohemian quarter where many Kafanas are set up. A Kafana is basically a café where you can eat and drink and that turns into more of a pub in the evening. Filip recommended one of the Kafana’s to grab lunch at (Three Hats), so a few of us from the tour decided to eat there- Mary, Max from Argentina, Jeanne from Canada and Stefan, Daniel, Thomas and Scott from Germany. The waiter suggested, instead of getting individual meals, that we do family style. We all agreed and he told us he would take care of the ordering then. We definitely had quite the Serbian feast! We started with some salad and bread with kaymak (a cream cheese like spread) then got the meat dishes! There was everything you could want if you ate meat. There was only 1 chicken dish and it was wrapped in bacon, but it was delicious. There was also veal, beef and pork, but I didn’t have any of that. While we made a dent in the food, we definitely couldn’t finish it all so we took it to go and the guys said they would eat it later when they were drunk.

20160513_131420655_iOSJust a portion of our feast

At this point, we headed back to the hostel, but Jeanne, Max, Mary and I decided to go to a local pub to get a beer while the Germans went to take a nap. After our beer I went back to the fortress to look around some more. I ended up walking by the basketball court where the dead body had been just a few hours ago and it was gone and there were guys playing basketball. I wondered if they even knew what happened. Then I headed back to the hostel and hung out in the common room with Jeanne. Since it was Friday night we decided to go on the pub crawl. Turns out most everyone on the pub crawl was from our hostel- including our 4 new German friends. We had a really fun time. Jeanne, the Germans, Rosy (gal from Ireland) and I hung out together most of the night and after the last stop decided to try to find a barge party to go to. Along the Danube river, large boats/barges are set up as bars/clubs. Well the first one we went to told us we needed reservations to get in. Of course we didn’t have these so we tried every other way to get in, but they were pretty firm. We heard this “you need reservations” a lot around Belgrade throughout the weekend, but we’re not convinced reservations were the only way to get in. We were all dressed pretty casually and had more males than females which we think didn’t help our chances. We decided to try another one (there are several on the riverfront), but we got the same story. Eventually somehow Rosy, Jeanne, Daniel and I got in, but the bouncer still wouldn’t let Scott, Stefan and Thomas in so Daniel and I decided to leave. As we were all walking back to get a cab, Rosy and Jeanne met up with us too. We ended up just heading back to the hostel as it was almost 4am at this point.

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