13.10.11

First Time in Belgrade

. . but definitely not my last. 

After 11 weeks in Serbia, I figured it was time for a visit to the bustling metropolis of Belgrade. Chris headed out to work, and my backpack and I made our way towards the Subotica bus station. Luckily the woman at the counter spoke a little English, but just in case I had memorized enough Serbian to purchase a direct ticket to Belgrade. Savvy traveler Note - there is a bus that stops at a lot of little towns on the way to Belgrade, and one that is direct. Three hours later on the direct bus, I watched Belgrade slowly come into view. The dark clouds and spitting rain gave the city an ominous and dreary appearance, but I was still excited to explore another part of my new home. 

The Real Housewife of Belgrade met me at the bus station and while navigating complicated traffic patterns, she pointed out a few interesting sites.  I dropped my backpack off at her place and we hit the streets with her cute little puppy and our umbrellas. As soon as we started walking around, the rain stopped and although it was still a little chilly, at least we were dry. 

The National Museum of Serbia  - currently closed for renovations. 
We made our way through Republic Square, and surprisingly it was not all that crowded. I attribute the lack of hustle and bustle to the drastic change in weather. Whatever it was, it was great to so easily navigate a city of nearly 2 million people. My tour guide commented that Republic Square is a common meeting place, although it may not seem that way on such a blustery day. In the picture above, I am standing in front of the stature of Prince Michael and the National Museum of Serbia in the background. The museum is the largest and oldest in Serbia, but unfortunately it is closed for renovations that will cost an estimated 26 million euros. That's a lot of money!


We walked through the pedestrian only shopping area of Knez Mihailova Street, and I had to take a picture of these four characters. What were they marketing?? A donut, coffee cup, banana, and . . . a radish?? We could not figure it out, but they seemed to enjoy all of the attention they were getting.


 There were little stands all over Knez Mihailova Street that were selling chestnuts! I had never had a chestnut, and The Real Housewife of Belgrade mentioned that you could no longer get them in the states. After singing "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . . " we bought our own and snacked on them as we made our way towards Belgrade Fortress. 


I took way too many pictures of Belgrade Fortress, but I will post a later blog specifically about the fortress. There is just too much to write about and I don't want to bore you! This monument is called "The Victor" - the protector of Belgrade. 


This is the Supermarket Concept Store, and I want to live here! Part clothing and home decorating store, part cafe/bar; it is unbelievable. 


As we walked through restaurant lined Skadarlija Street, the Real Housewife of Belgrade suddenly bent down to pick up a cell phone that had lost its owner. She explained that she had once lost a cell phone in Belgrade, but whoever found it, never took the time to track down the rightful owner. She went through the contacts and placed a call to "dear husband," he would most definitely know the owner. "Dear husband" was totally confused and the language barrier did not make communication any easier. As she was on the phone, a waiter from a nearby restaurant frantically ran up to us. "I know who that cell phone belongs to," he hurriedly exclaimed. "Please come with me." 


 We ducked into a well known restaurant and were greeted by an excited woman in her 40's. She grabbed each of our faces and kissed us over and over again. "Thank you thank you thank you," was all that she could say as she clutched her prodigal cell phone. She insisted that we take a seat and enjoy a drink on the house. We politely tried to duck back out, but they would not let us leave. It does not take too much to get a glass of red wine in my hands, so we finally agreed to the kind offer. A platter of desserts came out with our wine, and about 15 minutes later, a pitcher of wine also made its way to our table. They were so happy, and I was touched by their outward display of gratefulness. Would this ever happen in the US of A. . . over a cell phone??

We said many thanks as we shook hands, kissed again and again, and parted ways. 

Beautiful St. Sava at night. 
 We had a few more adventures in Belgrade, but I will save them for the next couple blog posts. I will wrap this up with a couple more pictures. 

 A sunny afternoon in the park. 

Where's the SAFETY?!
I used to work in the safety and loss control department of an insurance company, so this scene made me look twice. Where are his goggles and gloves and protective foot wear?! Thought my former co-workers would get a kick out of this picture. 


 If you ever get to Belgrade, visit Mama's Biscuit House for dessert (not biscuits). 


Just to make you hungry, that piece of gooey chocolate cake was mine, and I ate every last bite of it. 
To die for!