My latest little adventure took place in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade. This is an interesting city. Other towns that I have visited in recent days I have described as ‘charming’ and ‘magical’. I am not sure that is fitting for Belgrade, but that doesn’t mean that it is lacking its own identity.
The city is run down in certain parts, particularly where they have left damage from the Yugoslav wars untouched and unrepaired. I am not really sure whether they are doing this because they cannot afford the repairs, but I am more inclined to think due to the damage being limited to certain buildings, that they are leaving it as a reminder of the effects the war had on the city.
We did get an opportunity to learn a little bit about Serbia’s history. I have reached the conclusion that I actually quite enjoy giving a quick rundown of the recent history of some of the countries I have visited. It is good to have written down for my benefit. Feel free to skip over it if it doesn’t interest you. Here goes:
When Serbia wanted freedom from the Austrian/Hungarian Empire in the early 20th century, they played a large role in the start of World War 1. First, they helped orchestrate the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Bosnia. Then, they failed to comply with a list of demands from Austria after the assassination, which provided motivation for the war. They lost 28.5% of their population in WW1, before being freed from the empire and becoming a part of the former Yugoslavia. That figure actually boggles me. 28.5%. I can’t even begin to imagine that level of devastation. They obviously pulled themselves together, before suffering more damage in the Yugoslav wars. I won’t go into that, because I harped on about them a fair bit in my last couple of posts.
Now for our evening activities. It was my tour manager’s birthday last night, so naturally we wanted to have a big night out. We all had dinner at a quaint little place where we were given a free shot of Brandy and some great Serbian food. We then moved on to a cocktail bar up the road. I had a ‘Cosmopolitan’, ‘Caipirinha’, ‘Multiple Orgasm’, and a ‘Sex with the Bartender’. Others had a ‘Peter Pan’, where absinthe was mixed with another spirit that they set on fire and drank very quickly through a straw. It was a lot of fun, and we were all feeling a little worse for wear this morning. We also checked out a night club where there was a live band playing and it was PACKED even though it was a weeknight. It was in an awesome chain of clubs that are along the river. Can I just say, in a very non-creepy way of course, that Serbian girls are GORGEOUS!!!! Seriously gents, pay this place a visit… they know how to make them over there. It was kinda intimidating. The club was really different from anything I had seen before and had a really cool vibe.
We did have some negative experiences with the cab drivers in Belgrade. A lot of us were significantly over-charged, and one group were not let out of a cab until they paid 5 times the amount that they were quoted, to the point that the cab driver physically took money out of someone’s wallet. I am not going to hold this against Serbia. I feel that this type of thing probably does happen in a lot of places, and we are lucky no one was hurt or lost a serious amount of money. Still, for when you pay Serbia a visit, keep your wits about you in the taxis.
Summary: Belgrade has a personality that makes it intriguing. The food, the people and the nightlife really surprised me. It was a good blend of fun and completely insane. I had a really good time, definitely worth the visit.