So even after four full days in Belgrade, I was still unconvinced by it so I thought I would seek some unbiased views from a couple of experienced travellers to see if my ‘feeling’ was wholly accurate or whether they felt endeared to it.
Having now done this I’m happy to report back that my suspicions were re-affirmed by the two other people I consulted. I was ‘happy’ about this outcome because it showed me that within just three weeks on the road, I am already ‘feeling’ the differences between the cities I visit and therefore I’m learning from these experiences.
Although I’ve moved away from the ‘unforgettable’ naming convention for this blog post title, actually I could have used that tag again because today I had several other brand new experiences that will forever be memorable and unforgettable and yet they’ll have taken place in a city which I remain ambivalent about.
Tomorrow evening I plan on leaving Belgrade so I will have one further full day of ‘sight-seeing’ in this vast, not so picturesque metropolis before moving on but I’m not leaving Serbia just yet. As you may know by now, I have no intention of being (where possible) a one-city-wonder traveller. To me that certainly doesn’t constitute having ‘done’ the country and so I’m wanting to see more of Serbia by heading off to its second largest city – Novi Sad.
Now back to today, as per the comment my Dad left in yesterday’s post, he remembers very different Balkan scenery when back in the 90s he came out here to bring aid to those suffering. What a man.
Dad, considering the above, see what is in the news right now for plans to modernise Belgrade. Apparently this deal has now been signed!
In contrast to that then, this is a perfect time to introduce people to Belgrade’s “bombed buildings which occurred during the NATO bombings of Serbia over Kosovo. I’ve read that this occurred over three months with hardly any days passing without an air-raid alarm. It takes a moment to sink in that these aren’t from Hollywood, this happened for real and the buildings remain as they were to this day forming part of the every day scenery for the locals. Definitely an ‘unforgettable’ site.
Note the guard in the bottom left hand corner ensuring people don’t get to close.
Apparently NATO demonstrated back in 1999 that it can do whatever it wants under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” or “war on terror”. The decision to attack the back then Yugoslavia republic was the first in history to be made without the approval of the UN. Oh, and if you didn’t already know, several thousand civilians were killed in these few months alone.
You will perhaps then not be surprised to hear that Serbia is one of the few states not interested in joining the NATO alliance. However, Serbia is said to be deepening its political correspondence and cooperation with NATO on issues that serve a common, mutual interest.
Later in the afternoon I managed to locate an old car museum in down town Belgrade. For an entry fee of around a £1, I couldn’t really turn this down despite having seen a lot of old classics in the past. You too I’m sure. Still, a few simple pictures to beef out this post starting with some home grown beauties:
And of course:
Just a few more for your viewing pleasure:
Oh, so about those personal experiences I eluded to, here they are:
New experience 1:
Cappuccino in a coffee house. Yes, that may sound strange I know but it’s true. My Mother, despite her background and ancestry, never brought us up on Coffee so my brothers and I were brought up traditionally English in the sense we would drink tea. And hot chocolate of course 🙂
Needless to say, there are no barriers out here so ‘When in Rome…’ and all that.
Didn’t get on very well translating the Serbian newspaper though. Oh, and I enjoyed the Cappuccino too. Well, after I added a little sugar.
New experience 2:
I’ve been desperate for a haircut since before I left those three weeks ago. Well, it finally happened and the results were alarming:
Ha, you wish. Enjoy that while you can before I pull it down and it never be seen again 🙂
New experience 3:
We ended the day by eating out – something I hadn’t done for a few nights. This evening would prove memorable for reasons outside the obvious (decor, ambience, price).I was introduced to an entirely new restaurant system. See what you think…
You enter the restaurant and are provided a magnetic card. This is then assigned to you as a person, rather than as a table. You sit, the waiter comes over and asks to take a drinks order. I didn’t realise it at the time but the waiter would have pretty much has no further involvement in our dining experience this evening. No, seriously. Process that for a second otherwise you’ll skip past that and not realise how strange that is.
We selected what we wanted from the paper-based menu and then we went to the open-planned kitchen to not only order our food but to optionally watch it being cooked! How cool.
You then swipe your card and your dish is billed accordingly. Our pasta dishes were cooked fresh in front of us in less than 10 minutes. When we finished up we took out cards to the bill counter and paid our dues and that folks, was that.
Is this happening in the UK right now does anyone know? If not, this has to catch on one day soon, right?