Day 1 in Serbia is a wrap. Almost. It’s 7 pm native time when I’m scripting this and the plan right here is to exit to both Belgrade Beer Fest alongside 100,000 of our new countrymen or discover a Splav alongside the Danube or Sava rivers that run by way of Belgrade. But after 14.5 hours of journey throughout three flights, the final of which landed at Belgrade at 8:25 am Friday morning, we’ll see how lengthy our evening lasts.
But the lengthy day of journey was value it. Serbia and its people have lived as much as the hype to date. The generosity and selflessness that this nation has already been displaying. We had been greeted on the airport and pushed to our Airbnb by two locals: Friend of the present Miroslav, him from Serbian Corner, and Luka, him as @Lykos011 on Twitter. They took us to our condominium near downtown Belgrade and started to provide us a really feel for the town that we’ll name dwelling for the subsequent week.
We paid our host, in all money, then obtained settled and went trying to find meals. Miroslav directed us to a neighborhood Burek spot close to our Airbnb. Burek is…attention-grabbing. It’s a skinny flaky dough, sort of scone-ish, stuffed with meat, cheese or potatoes. It’s the proper drunk meals I’d assume. Ours was stuffed with a cheese that tasted prefer it was from the feta household. We additionally obtained a aspect of yogurt, on the advice of our information Goran who runs a touring firm right here in Belgrade. He’s an absolute legend who is aware of every thing about every thing. Apparently, you are imagined to eat (drink) yogurt with Burek, which we did. You drink it straight from the container, as a chaser. It’s…once more, attention-grabbing.
Goran took us by way of downtown Belgrade and what I’d name the town’s buying district. If you are touring along with your girlfriend, spouse, accomplice, no matter, come right here. We walked by Hotel Moskva, the oldest resort in Belgrade and thru the town’s foremost squares — the structure right here is gorgeous by the way in which — and wound up at Belgrade’s oldest restaurant, “?.” That’s simply what it is known as. “?” The story, as Gordan put it, is that ?’s proprietor needed to call the restaurant, “By the Saborna Church,” which it is throughout the road from, however the church mentioned no to that. So it simply turned “?” It was inbuilt 1823 and its ceilings are coloured black now from all of the tobacco smoke that is been puffed there over the centuries.
We drank beers and ate meats and cheeses. It was an excellent first meal in Belgrade.
Next up was the Belgrade Fortress. Simply put, it is the historic core of the town that is been on the heart of a number of Serbia’s conflicts through the years. Now, it is extra of a park/museum that reminds you of Serbia’s previous. As Goran, put it, if you happen to took the Fortress, you took the town. There are partitions all through the Fortress that also have indents from cannon balls. There are gunshot holes nonetheless within the partitions of some buildings. Monuments reference historic figures from Serbia’s previous. There are retired fighter jets and tanks on the grounds too. When you stroll to the Fortresses’ far finish, you get why it was such a lovely goal in wartime. Check out Kalle Sorbos’ Photo Journal from Day 1 for better pictures than I might take of the Fortress and every thing else we noticed.
The remainder of our day was spent on the river. Belgrade lies on two large rivers, the Sava and Danube, and these rivers are the middle of the town. For centuries, they have been the material of Belgrade but in addition have linked it to the remainder of the world. Along the riverfront are eating places, bars and a seashore that draws each stroll of life: Men, girls, younger, previous, households, partiers, and people old-timers who’re tanner than tan and stroll the strand on daily basis in a speedo with their abdomen hanging out over their waistband. You know the kind.
Then, we met Ognjen, in entrance of a bungee leap over the Sava. We realized that he not solely owns the bungee however can be the “Nikola Tesla of Bungee Jumping.” That’s an actual quote. It’s what he calls himself. I feel it goes again to how he created and manufactures the perfect bungee twine on this planet. People from everywhere in the world additionally come to him to coach and grow to be bungee leaping licensed.
Ognjen additionally mentioned he was a former world champion and gold medalist swimmer. I feel he is a number of different issues too that he did not need to disclose to us — simply my learn — however the man was a legend and an enormous Nuggets fan with legitimately good Nuggets takes. At a restaurant that he might or might not personal subsequent to his bungee leap, we had Serbian burgers. Phenomenal stuff.
You can get an actual really feel for Belgrade by strolling the river and lake off the Sava. The metropolis’s people are so beneficiant and welcoming. I used to be supplied free beer, meals and dialog just because I used to be a vacationer, which appears to be actual apparent to each native right here. They need to know the place you are from and what you are doing. When you say you are from Denver and canopy the Nuggets and Nikola Jokic, they will give you extra beer and extra meals. Serbia is a rustic of basketball. It’s the No. 1 sport right here, and also you felt that on the river. Outdoor courts are all over the place. We most likely walked and drove by round 10 simply immediately, and youngsters stroll up and down the sidewalk dribbling basketballs.
So many components of Belgrade make you’re feeling such as you’ve been transported again into Soviet-ruled instances, from the streets and retailers by our condominium, to the structure, the historic landmarks and the older technology. You really feel such as you’ve gone again many years. There are not any Ubers in Belgrade or Serbia. Just taxis which you can solely pay for in money. It’s extremely old-fashioned.
But it is also clearly a metropolis that is attempting to modernize. At one level we drove by taxi by way of a brand new improvement known as “Belgrade Waterfront.” I’d evaluate it to LoHi in Denver. It’s lined with new flats and retailers. It offers you a really Denver really feel. However, as Goran advised us, actual Serbian people would by no means stay there. He’d by no means stay there, even when they supplied him an condominium at no cost. His people would fairly stay in an condominium or home constructed 200 years in the past with no air-con. That’s simply how this tradition is. They do not want or need the luxuries of life. They simply need to stay it the way it was meant to be lived. And truthfully, I respect it.
It was an unimaginable first day, that a couple of of us ended at a Splav on the river. I’m updating this at 4 am native time. Just attempting to attach with the tradition right here. Maybe extra on that tomorrow in Chapter 2.