Stylish-looking architecture just off Belgrade's main shopping street
Mention to a media-influenced
person that you're heading off on a trip to Belgrade might prompt them
to question why on earth your choice of holiday destination would be a
place with such a conflict-tarnished past. The answer to all of this is
plain and simple - it is nothing short of fascinating and fulfilling to
see the extent to which the locals in Serbia have turned their whole
lifestyles around in the wake of a troubled history, and witnessing
their path along the ever-ongoing recovery process is, for my money,
all part of a soulful lifestyle. Belgrade bears the dubious distinction
of being the location for the world's worst ever recorded inflationary
rate, and while the city has gone very much back on track economically,
the traces of a shakier past are in evidence, and are as essential
parts of the urban fabric as any other.
St. Sava's church, a well-known Belgrade landmark
Highlights include the
ornate-looking St. Sava's church, alongside the city's best-known
landmark, Kalemegdan fortress, and neighbouring Belgrade Zoo, and the
city can be roughly divided (by the river, it seems) into two halves,
old and new. New Belgrade was the location for 2008's annual Belgrade
beer festival, and clearly, this is a nation which derives pleasure
from harmless alcohol-fuelled hedonism just as much as any other, with
the live music at the festival providing the energetic buzz for the
whole event. Wandering around the city itself revealed a few unplanned
(pleasant) surprises, namely the sizeable outdoor market in New
Belgrade, where I stumbled upon a local Serb only too happy to share a
conversation in English and a bottle of tasty locally-brewed beer under
the Serbian sun, suggesting that experiences of this ilk make casual,
unplanned treks so very worthwhile.
Off-the-beaten-track restaurant tucked away in a suburb of Belgrade - cute!
Reflections on the city of Belgrade
were shared upon departure at Belgrade airport with a Swedish couple
whom I had met at the airport bus stop on the way back, and they seemed
as equally enthralled as I was that the city had more appeal than you
might have previously credited it for. All of this means to me that
overseas travel is all about casting aside preconceptions, and making
your own mind up about places once you have visited them, and
experienced their sights and sounds to a substantial extent.
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