Guest post from a close friend who prefer to stay anonymous.
Have you ever wondered how it is to be in the Balkan and Serbia?
For some of you who may have been born in the eighties or earlier, you may remember all too well the images of the horrors of war in former Yugoslavia. It is now approximately twenty years later and now you can travel freely to Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Macedonia or Albania.
Inspired by a close friend, I decided to travel to the Serbian capital of Belgrade. For me, it seemed to be the cheapest way to fly with WizzAir to Budapest and to take a train from there to Belgrade.
Travelling from Budapest to Belgrade
It was really easy to get a ticket at the Budapest Keleti train station. I did not book the ticket in advance, I just went to the International Ticket Office, and had only to wait a few minutes to buy the train return ticket which only costs 26 euros, which is really cheap for such a long distance. You have to keep in mind that the train goes maybe only 2 or 3 times per day and the trip takes around 8 hours, as the train moves very slowly and stops for a while at the border with Serbia. There is a small restaurant in the train, but it is a smart idea to buy plenty of food and drinks at the station and make sure you have some books, music, movies or other entertainment as it is a long ride!
From the train, the landscape is mainly very extensive country side with a small village or large town every here and there.
Belgrade has a compact city centre, so i found it very easy to go around by just walking. There is the Kalemegdan fortress – citadel in the centre, which is quite large and very medieval and a beautiful place to walk around. The citdel harbours amongst others a well, which would star in one of the Alfred Hitchcock´s movie, a small orthodox Serbian church and panorama restaurant. From the fortress you have a splendid view on the crossing of the rivers Danube and Sava, which makes this place such a strategic and contested location.
On the other side of the river Sava, you can see Neo Beograd, or New Belgrade, where the TV tower was bombarded during the NATO bombardments at the end of the Balkan wars in the nineties. In this new part of the city, the districts are also numbered. In formers days, the rivers also were the border with the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
The city has a museum about the legendary Nikola Tesla, the inventor of electricity, who was in a fierce competition with Mr. Edison at the time. Although the museum is really small and compact, there is a fascinating guided tour which involves some interactive electricity experiments!
When walking around in the city, you can notice some old and new architecture. My local guide explained to me that when you see some modern architecture, most likely there was a building before that had been destroyed during the 2nd World War.
One landmark building not be missed is the famous Moskva (Moscow) Hotel, with its beautiful exterior and classic interior a true gem. It has a notorious past, amongst other being the Gestapo Headquarters during the second World War. Nowadays, it is a wonderful restaurant and cafe, where you can enjoy a tasty drink or dish with in the style and with the class and beauty of times long past.
The Moskva schnitt and the Cevapi meatballs dish are some specialties to be had here if you wish to have some local food. Together with one of the very affordable cocktails and on certain nights surround by piano music, it is a most pleasant and relaxing experience.
If you need some peace and quiet from the huzzle and bustle of the city, you can take a bus to the city beaches along the Sava River called Ada Ciganlija. Here you will find several bars and restaurants, a ski and snowboarding centre and shops where you can rent a bike to cycle along the rivers or in the city.
In conclusion, Belgrade is a perfect and affordable vacation destination, a beautiful city steeped in history, with fantastic surroundings, many shops, restaurants and bars and friendly people. “