Getting Settled in Belgrade

So as we mentioned before, Serbia was an after-thought in our travel planning. It was mid-June, and we hadn’t really planned to include it at all on this trip, but then our plans changed, and we thought, why not head towards Romania by travelling through Serbia instead of continuing through Bulgaria? So we did! After a day-and-a-half spent in Nis, we hopped on a bus to Belgrade (we found that in general, travelling by bus was a lot cheaper for us than by train would be, since we were very last-minute in planning our travels, ha ha).

Since we’d be arriving in Belgrade later in the afternoon, we didn’t want to chance not having a place to stay, so we hopped online to look into our hostel options in advance.

Before we got to Belgrade, we didn’t exactly know what to expect of the city, and were quite surprised by how modern and big the city was! It almost seemed more Western European than Eastern European compared to the cities we’d experienced in Eastern Europe so far (keep in mind, our experience was still pretty limited). Still, there was a busyness and metropolitan atmosphere that we had not experienced anywhere in our travels until then.

Anyway, our bus arrived, and of course we headed off to our hostel, only a short walk from the bus station.

Walking towards our hotel from the bus station

Walking towards our hostel from the bus station



Our hostel in Belgrade, the Chillton 2!

Our hostel in Belgrade, the Chillton 2!



Our bright and colourful room

Our bright and colourful room



Although we had to adjust from having had so many private rooms the last few months, our hostel was neat and clean, and had lots of opportunity for socializing, if we wanted!

View of one of the parks from our hostel room through the skylight

View of one of the parks from our hostel room through the skylight



View of the city from our hostel's skylight

View of the city from our hostel’s skylight



Just a peak out of the skylight, and we knew we needed to get out and explore this city! We strolled around a little ourselves before stopping for dinner and heading to bed.

The next morning we got up early and, you guessed it, we joined another free walking tour (yeah!). We’ve found these walking tours to be such a great way to learn a lot about the people and the culture in each city!

The monument in Republic Square, where we met our free walking tour

The monument in Republic Square, where we met our free walking tour



After some initial comments, we headed on our way, to our first stop, the Bohemian District:

Our tour guide

The Bohemian District

A quick stop at the mosque, with a look inside.

One of few mosques in downtown Belgrade.  Due to continued religious tensions, there is a security guard posted outside the door at all times.

One of few mosques in downtown Belgrade. Due to continued religious tensions, there is a security guard posted outside the door at all times.



Inside the mosque -- a bit sparse compared to all the mosques we visited in Turkey!

Inside the mosque — a bit sparse compared to all the mosques we visited in Turkey!



And then on to the most impressive landmark of the city, the Kalemegdan, or Belgrade Fortress!

Kalemegdan - Belgrade Fortress, now the city's central park and home to walking paths, sports fields (tennis and basketball), and several cafes

Kalemegdan – Belgrade Fortress, now the city’s central park and home to walking paths, sports fields (tennis and basketball), and several cafes



Finally a castle that looks like a "castle", with evidence of a moat and a drawbridge!  (Okay, we saw one in India too, but it's been a while).

Finally a castle that looks like a “castle”, with evidence of a moat and a drawbridge! (Okay, we saw one in India too, but it’s been a while).



The confluence of Sava and Danube rivers.  You can see the two colours of water mixing!

The confluence of Sava and Danube rivers. You can see the two colours of water mixing!



A view from the fortress towards the rivers.  What cute old buildings! Too bad we didn't have time to walk towards them and check them out...

A view from the fortress towards the rivers. What cute old buildings! Too bad we didn’t have time to walk towards them and check them out…



The statue of Pobednik (Winner), one of the symbols of Belgrade, taken from the fortress

The statue of Pobednik (Winner), one of the symbols of Belgrade, taken from the fortress



Earl and I made a mental note to come back to the fortress, since it seemed like an interesting place to explore, and a nice, shady place to escape from the heat (plus, there were ice cream vendors everywhere!) Sadly, our tour had to continue, so we left the fortress for the time being, and headed back into the city.

Strolling downtown

Strolling downtown



It's incredible how ornate buildings are in this part of the world, and how "normal" it is for people, so that just like any other building, these beautiful ones get spray painted too

It’s incredible how ornate buildings are in this part of the world, and how “normal” it is for people, so that just like any other building, these beautiful ones get spray painted too



Stopping to let a children's outting pass by -- such cute kids!

Stopping to let a children’s outing pass by — such cute kids!



Our last stop was a pause outside of St Michael’s Cathedral, an ornate Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, known for its ornate interior. Too bad our walking tour couldn’t take a large-ish group in. We’d have to stop back ourselves if we wanted a closer look.

St Michael's Cathedral

St Michael’s Cathedral



The Patriarchate, across the street from St Michael's Cathedral

The Patriarchate, across the street from St Michael’s Cathedral



By the end of the walking tour we were famished, so most of us decided to enjoy some lunch together at a traditional Serbian restaurant.

Traditional Serbian restaurant

Interior of the restaurant

It was a good way to enjoy a taste of Belgrade and get to know our new friends a little better too!

Our table at the traditional Serbian restaurant

Traditional Serbian stew

What a delicious way to recharge before we headed out on the town on our own! Check out our next blog to read more about the rest of our day!

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