There seems to be a bit of a pattern here. A first night I wouldn’t forget and now an unforgettable second night. So that means then I’ve now warmed to Belgrade after my horrendously challenging first night and first impression???
No, not really. I still think it’s a bit of sh!thole. At least that grading has gone down from a lot to a bit.
Please note: To back up the above statement, I haven’t really found many picture-worthy opportunities after a day or two sight seeing! Although don’t give on this post just yet as by the end of it you’ll find me participating in a very different experience you wouldn’t normally attribute me to…
But first, after I promptly checked out of the half-filed migrant hostel from the night before, I moved location and checked into somewhere I booked that morning. By the way there is certainly no shortage of hostels all around Belgrade so it really must be a popular backpacker destination.
I dumped my bags and realised I was in time for a walking tour so that’s what I did and I learned that Serbia is vastly rich in history. So much so that I would not dare possibly do it any injustice by attempting to write about something I know next to nothing about. What I do know a tad more about is Rakia – a drink that is considered ‘national’ by a lot of the Balkan states in addition to Slivovitz – a plum brandy.
Here you will see our tour-guide surprising his 20+ followers by bringing some along with him for our ‘enjoyment’. Oh, this was taking place at 11.55am. Grreeat. What were you doing at 11.55am? Not close to throwing up I bet.
Admittedly this 30% variant had a hint of honey and was OK my new UK friend Ben and I agreed upon.
In addition to getting sloshed, I did learn some political basics: There were six republics that made up The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. In 1991 the declarations of independence of Slovenia and Croatia effectively ended The Republic’s existence. The year after further declarations of independence by Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina left only Serbia and Montenegro within the Federation. Over ten years later the last two remaining countries also declared independence.
Is that about right, Dad? Hardly touching the sides I appreciate.
Besides that’s about all my simple brain could ingest – particularly as I found it hard to concentrate a lot of the time because of scenes like this:
And in particular:
This was a kid of, I dunno, between 7 and 9 begging on the street whilst is excuse of a Father (I assume) was just led out or passed out on the bench. It was one of the most upsetting, confusing scenes I’ve seen for a long time.
In all fairness within just a day of being here I had seen the rummaging of the bin a handful of times. Also, the hopeful washing of car windscreens at the traffic lights. By contrast, I saw nothing like that in Romania.
Anyhow, enough of the sad stuff, you might be a little intrigued as to how a fairly dull and sad morning was going to end with an unforgettable second day….?
Well before that, some unexciting photos of Belgrade:
And there we have it…
Anyhow, within a few hours of checking in and returning from the walking tour I had been greeted by some of the hostel’s residents, including: several Italians, a 50 year old hippy American and a really nice chap named Igor from the hostel itself. They somehow managed to get me to go out with them late afternoon time – part of my just say ‘YES’ attitude but I was super-hesitant as I do like to know where I’m kinda going and stuff. Although when they said it involved some drinks and music, well what wasn’t to like? I just let things be ( YOLO, Paolo 🙂 ) and would see what happened. Although the thought of some chilling at a local decent bar did sound appealing.
Except that’s not where we went. Later I realised that the clues were visible from my fellow roomies attire…
I was in jeans, Nike trainers and a t-shirt!
Yes folks, I was on my way to a music festival with a team of varied ages and backgrounds whom I had only met a couple of hours before. Just in case you don’t believe me here is the stage area and me sampling some local produce.
Once I was able to sit down and bathe in the sunshine, strangely I appreciated the moment, my surroundings and the warmth and pleasantness of these relative strangers. This really just is a world full of friends who we are yet to meet.
Subsequently, I did something totally uncharacteristic. Instead of strategically looking for ways and methods of escape to ‘get home’, I relaxed and could almost go on record to say I enjoyed it. Easy, I said ‘almost’ 🙂
If you don’t believe me, here we are several hours later on route back and look, I’m still out!
And the night didn’t there. These people like to drink and so I stayed up for a couple more hours and managed two more shots of Rakia except this variety was 50% proof and easily the most disgusting shots I can ever recall drinking.
Nope, that’s not me in the photo but rather a proper Italian named Ivan. I felt so uncultured and so uneducated surrounded by people that could just mix in between multiple languages so effortlessly.
And so there you have it people, I went to a music festival with people with strange clothes and strange ways and I almost enjoyed it 🙂