I arrived at Nikola Tesla airport for the second time having slept the early hours there on the way to Tivat a few weeks earlier.
After navigating my way through the usual taxi touts I made my way to the official taxi rank. The advice in the Lonely Planet Eastern Europe guidebook was redundant. There is no need to ask someone to call a taxi for you. You just have to locate the booking desk in the airport. It may not be immediately apparent but it is there.
On the way to the old town to Time Hostel where I was staying I was given an impromptu tour or guide from my taxi driver. Who enjoyed describing the differences of old Belgrade and New Belgrade and singing the praises of Serbian women while also slightly lamenting he was not younger.Most of the sites that will interest the tourists will be in ‘Old’ Belgrade as friend attested it is quite possible to become familiarised with one and not crossover.
Finally I had arrived as the taxi driver dropped me off at Time hostel..or so I thought.
As he drove off I searched for the name tag to no avail. The number seemed to refer to a courtyard.
As I pondered on what to do, a friendly looking Orthodox priest opened the door to the courtyard. Not as a result of my ringing as I had not yet done so
Surprised I asked ‘Is there a hostel?’
‘No, no hostel’ was a reply.
Then my taxi driver reappeared. He had taken me go the wrong address! I sought the blessing of the priest before taking the 30 second down the road to the hostel.
Despite the mishap of my driver my trip had got to a great start by receiving the blessing from the priest.
Belgrade does have its own atmosphere if not quite its own uniqueness in architecture. It is full of pleasant cafes and restaurants and its morning mood agreeable.
Belgrade does not like having its picture taken..[it] always looks like somewhere else (A guide to the Serbian Mentality – Momo Kapr)
For cafes and some nice architecture Skadarska street is often recommended by locals.
On my first morning I went to (the Belgrade fortress). The site is large and spread out. In the heat it wasn’t a lot of fun ascending the heights even as modest as it was. The whole fortress itself despite being in disrepair was not modest.
Scattered along the fortress there are several interesting Orthodox churches still in use and there I met a monk from Montenegro visiting for iconography. It was interesting to converse with him.
That evening I visited Saint Sava Temple. Where I visited several times. It is not just a symbol of Belgrade but Serbia. Built upon the site where the regional villains the Ottomans, burnt the St’s relics. Serbia suffered for long under the Ottoman yoke yet un-wavered in its faith. Food however and some architecture was not so resolute. And is part of the reason why the food has an interesting culinary mixture.
Belgrade is a really a city for walking, stopping at cafes along the way and just admiring the buildings and atmosphere. It also has good transport, its tram system is very convenient for longer distances.
On hot days in the centre there is even a water tanker that appears with taps so the populace can fill up with cool water.
In Serbia I met several couchsurfing friends and they great. When I met the very kind and cheerful Yvonne who has had some of the most interesting travel experiences I have heard.
In fact all my friends from Serbia were great and it was great to meet them all as I could learn more about Serbian culture, the food and lifestyle as well as add a new country, new people and a new city among my favourites