Belgrade : So tired I couldn't even think of a catchy name for this entry.

Belgrade Travel Blog

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Belgrade seriously seems to be the buzz city of Eastern Europe right now.  People I meet who’ve travelled from it have a sparkling afterglow in their eyes and the hint of an eternal hangover not yet fully shaken off.  Particularly true of survivors of the recent and increasingly popular ‘Exit’ music festival that occurs around this time every year.  Those heading towards it get all excitable at the mere mention of it.  Belgrade.  I think it’s probably ‘cos of all the contenders Belgrade currently beats out all the competition in the race to be the party capital of the region right now.  And as the song goes, who likes to party? Well ‘ev’rybody does’.

There is plenty of fabulous graitti art around the streets of Belgrade.

 
Well almost everybody anyway.  But this one tired little backpacker rolling into town at 5.00am after a night bus trip broken by numerous halts and a border stop doesn’t particularly feel like partying.  Not now.  Not later.  Nor tomorrow neither.  (Ya see, so tired he’s deploying double negatives without givin’ a darn).  It’s just partying’s not often on the agenda of this particular global excursion.  Tiring, tiresome, expensive, liable to right off most of Tomorrow’s promise with the consequences of Yesterday’s foolhardiness and otherwise mostly unenriching.  So.  How to approach a city when you’ve ruled out the number one reason everyone ‘loooooves it!’ right now before you’ve even arrived?

Well, I’m still not sure on that one.

Old and New : Belgrade Fortress with some of Novi Belgrade in the distance
  Basically I have to offer Belgrade, and indeed Serbia - for Belgrade will be my only stop in the country - a minor apology for generally just being fatigued of Europe in general and a little disengaged by the time I arrive.  I did neither the city nor the nation justice with my attentions over the course of three days and therefore my lacklustre approach to what is undoubtedly a ‘going places’ city will probably be reflected in this blog.

The weather is extremely fine the whole time I am here which allows for good walking tour potential.  Belgrade offers plenty enough decent places for such activities.  On the hill over looking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers sit the remains and grounds of Belgrade Fortress.  This large area of 18th Century fortification strikes a great balance between time honoured dilapidation and well manicured grounds for you to happily stroll around.

The confluence of the Sava river with the Danube.
  The views of the Sava and the Danube as it wreathes around little Veliko Ratno Ostrvo island sat on one of the fortress top benches are fab.  Novi Belgrade ( ’New Belgrade’ ) struggling to free itself with high-rise prolificacy from the green forested carpet over the river bends.  I sit and admire and set a behavioural trend for my stay in Belgrade by practically falling asleep on one of said benches.

Strolling down from the high walls of the Fortress you enter the large park area which is apparently most loved in the city by the locals; the grounds of the Kalemegdan.  Lots of tree shaded pathways, green spaces, kiddy play areas from which metronomic squeaks of swings and see saws issue forth accompanied by the aroma of the many popcorn sellers to be found here.

Belgrade Fortress
  From Kalemegdan you can follow a logical route towards and along Knez Mihailova, Belgrade’s longest and most populace pedestrianised street and shopping/ café area.  Nice enough if you’ve got money for leisure, ‘sob sob’ :(

There are absolutely reams of museums in Belgrade which you think this little party-pooper would be heading to, to escape the sun and crowds but I’m just too darn tired to even read a clock right now let alone endless placards on the history of the former Yugoslavian state and Belgrade’s angle on the ‘90s conflicts.  I am keen though to visit the Ivo Andric Memorial Museum but it proves so small and out of the way that it’s a couple of days before I actually figure where it is.  [ For more on the reasons why this museum particularly interested me see my previous entry ‘Bridges and Divisions’ ]

There’s plenty enough ‘ooh ain’t that sort of impressive but not so much so’ architecture to be spotted sporadically around town.

Belgrade Fortress, great to walk around.
  The government buildings, a few grand but not-so-impressive-on-the-inside churches and basilicas and a smattering of non-descript palaces old and new.  To be found to the North East of Stari Grad ( ‘Old Town’ ) is the one or two street area of Skadarska Street referred to as the Bohemian Quarter.  Cobble paved and quaint and filled with cafes and bars that I’m sure come alive in quite inviting ways come evening.  I enjoy the curious first person personification of the street used to deliver the area’s history to the inquisitive visitor as follows : ’My name is Skadalija or Skadarska Street, which ever you prefer.  I am no boulevard.  I am no avenue.  Neither am I a highway.  I am a simple, steep, winding and poorly cobbled alley in the heart of Belgrade.
Old fountain art and new.
  And that would be everything worth saying about me if I did not have my Bohemian past.’
  Almost makes you wanna give the street a hug don’t it.

On day two of my time in Belgrade it’s time to head for the beach.  Well, there’s the island of Ada Ciganlija that sits in the final stretch of the Sava before it meets the Danube and possesses a several kilometre stretch of pebble shore line that serves Belgradians in their thousands as a fine enough place to go take a dip and tan for the day.  Oh yes, the Trip: Best of Belgrade Culture Guide is very keen to enthuse that ‘tanned Belgrade women are probably the greatest asset of Ada in addition to the sand [ what sand?!?], music and sun’.  It’s an okay place to crash in the sun and people watch as this time of year the shore just teams with people happy to be away from their jobs and splashing in the Sava’s waters.

'The Chess Player'
  I have a good number of swims myself and try to get used to the phenomenon of long strands of pond weed getting caught up in my beard.  And I thought eating an ice cream in a dignified manner was about as complicated as my newly grown furry friend would get!

In the evening I take myself back to Kalemegdan to cheekily sit in the ‘Reserved’ seats at the Bitef Art Café (which on most of its signs looks to read Bite Fart Café actually), give in all too quickly to beer temptation ( No beer, no beer, no beer, no beer ‘Would you like something to drink sir?’, ‘Um, yes, onebeerplease!’  D’oh! …And one more for the road. ) and relax and watch some f**king great live music being put on as part of the Belef Summer Music Festival.

Moon over Belgrade Cathedral
  The headline act being a stunning jazz-funk orchestra collective from Ethiopia very reminiscent of the vibes and performance ethos of the Buena Vista Social Club.

So good times were had in Belgrade, I just sleep walked through most of my time in Party Town is all.  Tired and time to move on from Europe I feel.  Tired of writing for a time.  Tired of photography and the strange existence of constantly snapping ones every footstep for nearly a year now.  Nothing a change of scene can’t cure.  And Istanbul and the journey back East are close at hand.  First though, I have a train to catch… 

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There is plenty of fabulous graitt…
There is plenty of fabulous grait…
Old and New :  Belgrade Fortress w…
Old and New : Belgrade Fortress …
The confluence of the Sava river w…
The confluence of the Sava river …
Belgrade Fortress
Belgrade Fortress
Belgrade Fortress, great to walk a…
Belgrade Fortress, great to walk …
Old fountain art and new.
Old fountain art and new.
The Chess Player
'The Chess Player'
Moon over Belgrade Cathedral
Moon over Belgrade Cathedral
Some of the Military Museum housed…
Some of the Military Museum house…
Statue in Republike Square
Statue in Republike Square
Saint Marks Church
Saint Mark's Church
The National Assembly building
The National Assembly building
Public art stunt
Public art stunt
Stevie not awake in Belgrade :)
Stevie not awake in Belgrade :)
The man behind The Bridge On The …
The man behind 'The Bridge On The…
Sun and shade in Kalemegdan
Sun and shade in Kalemegdan
Being heavily renovated on the int…
Being heavily renovated on the in…
Interior of Saint Savas Church
Interior of Saint Sava's Church
Interior of Saint Savas Church
Interior of Saint Sava's Church
Republika Srpska
'Republika Srpska'
The painted facades of Skadalija, …
The painted facades of Skadalija,…
Love Grafitti
'Love Grafitti'
Belgrade
photo by: tj1777