Belgrade : So tired I couldn't even think of a catchy name for this entry.
Belgrade Travel Blog› entry 193 of 268 › view all entries
Belgrade seriously seems to be the buzz city of Eastern Europe right now. People I meet whoâ€™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 â€˜Exitâ€™ 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 itâ€™s probably â€˜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 â€˜evâ€™rybody doesâ€™.
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 doesnâ€™t particularly feel like partying. Not now. Not later. Nor tomorrow neither. (Ya see, so tired heâ€™s deploying double negatives without givinâ€™ a darn). Itâ€™s just partyingâ€™s not often on the agenda of this particular global excursion. Tiring, tiresome, expensive, liable to right off most of Tomorrowâ€™s promise with the consequences of Yesterdayâ€™s foolhardiness and otherwise mostly unenriching. So. How to approach a city when youâ€™ve ruled out the number one reason everyone â€˜loooooves it!â€™ right now before youâ€™ve even arrived?
Well, Iâ€™m still not sure on that one.
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.
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.
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 Iâ€™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 Belgradeâ€™s angle on the â€˜90s conflicts. I am keen though to visit the Ivo Andric Memorial Museum but it proves so small and out of the way that itâ€™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 â€˜Bridges and Divisionsâ€™ ]
Thereâ€™s plenty enough â€˜ooh ainâ€™t that sort of impressive but not so much soâ€™ architecture to be spotted sporadically around town.
On day two of my time in Belgrade itâ€™s time to head for the beach. Well, thereâ€™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 â€˜tanned Belgrade women are probably the greatest asset of Ada in addition to the sand [ what sand?!?], music and sunâ€™. Itâ€™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 Savaâ€™s waters.
In the evening I take myself back to Kalemegdan to cheekily sit in the â€˜Reservedâ€™ seats at the Bitef Art CafÃ© (which on most of its signs looks to read Bite Fart CafÃ© actually), give in all too quickly to beer temptation ( No beer, no beer, no beer, no beer â€˜Would you like something to drink sir?â€™, â€˜Um, yes, onebeerplease!â€™ Dâ€™oh! â€¦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.
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 canâ€™t cure. And Istanbul and the journey back East are close at hand. First though, I have a train to catchâ€¦