Saturday 5 October 2019
05.10.2019 - 05.10.2019 19 °C
Exploring the City
My host Sanja advised me that there was a bus right outside that could take me into town. Looking at the map, it was probably only a 30 minute stroll so thought I’d find my way on foot. It’s also a better way for me to orientate myself in a new town. I was intrigued by the Armenian flags that were flying from lampposts together with Serbian flags. Doing some research I discovered that the Armenian Prime Minister was on a state visit.
The buildings on Kneza Miloša were very imposing - some were embassies - statues seemed to be a popular adornment.
To get into the Centre I had to turn left into Terazije Street - passing the famous Hotel Moskva - the most expensive place to stay in town. It certainly looks very grand. And the restaurant/cafe looked very stylish. Just along from there, Terazije Street was cordoned off for an event that seemingly involved cars. No idea what it was about, but when I passed by later, there was a row of vintage Fiat 500s lined up.
The centre of the City becomes pedestrianised, and is pretty easy to navigate. Terazije is the main shopping street with narrow, interesting streets leading off it. There is the obligatory Republic Square, several theatres, museums and other grand buildings. I started by getting a coffee and some breakfast at Baristocratia coffee society . Through a bit of poor communication on my part, I ended up with a croissant, Nutella and a great slab of cake that I couldn’t possibly eat.
Opposite the cafe, the Katapult Shop is an interesting store full of stalls with lots of handmade goods. I walked around, exploring side streets and independent shops. By lunch time I looked around for somewhere to eat and found that the menus were pretty 'meaty'. Pizza seems to be incredibly popular here but not something I fancied. Managed to google and find a vegetarian restaurant called Mayka which did a really good lentil dhal.
I was going to do the free walking tour in the afternoon but had to go back to the apartment to pick up my power bank as my phone's battery was running low and I wanted to be able to take photos. I got the bus back, to save time. Or I should say that I got the tram back. It was extremely crowded but somehow, people manage to ram themselves on. I also went to the station to check out the cost of a train ticket to my next destination, Ljubljana, on the following day. By the time I did this, I just couldn’t get back in time for the start of the tour.
Instead, I walked to the fortress and gardens in the Stari Grad area as there are good views over where the Sava and Danube river meet. There is no admission charge and being a Saturday it was really busy. Great to see so many people enjoying themselves, particularly young people with their friends. There is a lot to see in the fortress as well as the views - definitely worth a visit. Like so many cities, Belgrade has a history of being occupied or under siege. Most recently, ethnic conflict and the fight for independence during the Yugoslav wars - 1991 to 2001 - resulted in the break up of Yugoslavia into separate states, including Serbia.
I made my way back, picking up some food en route as there isn’t really any place to eat close to where I’m staying. I also got stuff for the train journey which was going to be another mega one. I made use of my day ticket as it was getting dark. Again, the tram was completely rammed. There were some guys with brass instruments waiting at the bus stop. As I'd walked around I'd seen several bands playing near Republic Square. I'd also seen a demonstration near the Parliament building so wondered if any of this was connected.
After eating I relaxed with my book and had a nice quiet night in. Definitely nothing to watch on TV!