My quick visit to Belgrade
I have to be honest with you. The Balkans have never been on my top list of the places to visit. But this year I decided to change it and give it a well-deserved chance. I will spend my time there later on in August and September again but already now in February I took a sneak peak.
I was invited by the German Tourist board to attend the International Fair of Tourism (IFT) in Belgrade and I just could not say no. First, because I like to visit new places, second, I wanted to spend some time with fellow travel bloggers I know, and third, to meet new people.
We only spent less than 3 days in Belgrade when I walked through the town for just a few hours on the first day when it was nice and sunny. The other 2 days it was snowing and not very pleasant for a walk.
I can only tell you my first impression of Belgrade.
Walking from the bus stop to the Excelsior Hotel, we passed by a few destructed buildings giving a very negative feeling. I have never seen anything similar so started taking photos with my smartphone. It was not only my first time being surrounded by bombarded buildings right in the city centre, but also the first time ever when I forgot my camera and was forced to use my phone only.
Later on, I took a walk from the hotel stopping by the majestic Parliament and the famous white and green Hotel Moscow to Knez Mihailova – the pedestrian street.
The pedestrian zone, one of the oldest areas of Belgrade, is now protected by law. Most of the buildings are from the late 19th century. You can find all the best shops along the street, cafes and a lot of life. I even saw cafes and restaurants with open terraces and those lovely heaters I remember from Rome. So even in cold February you can get a coffee or hot tea sitting outside and observing the busy shopaholics.
For a second I also spotted a colourful street with an image on the wall.
I walked until the end of Knez Mihailova street and passed a bunch of older people selling many different things at the street. At the end of the street I saw a building with broken windows and a scanman with a suitcase in another shop window.
Then I entered the fortress area and fell in love with it the first minute. Trees and views? Count me in! The Belgrade Fortress built at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers really gives you a unique view of the city. From the first to the 18th century the fortress was used as a defense.
I walked around the fortress enjoying the Kalemegdan Park, the biggest park of Belgrade, and also the preserved parts of the monuments, gates and churches which make the park the most important historic location. Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit the ZOO, Music pavilion, Art pavilion nor anything else in the park.
I had to rush to the opening ceremony of IFT in the Old Palace which is the seat of the City Assembly now. It has lovely ceiling and window mosaic.
The following night in Belgrade we drove for a bit to Zemun, situated along the right bank of the Danube. It used to be a separate town which belonged to the other state still years ago. But then after the World War II the New Belgrade developed and reached until Zemun which is now not only part of the same state, Serbia, but part of Belgrade too.
I was super happy to visit Zemun even though just for a few minutes. Until then I only saw Belgrade as a really dark city with greyish architecture. I saw it as very sad city indeed that was even worsen by the weather. We entered Zemun and I was surrounded by colours, white, blue, red buildings full of live and happiness just next to the Danube river.
For me, my first visit to Belgrade was about chatting with travel blogger friends, popcorn stands in the pedestrian zone, devastated buildings, greyish architecture, German musicians and Serbian cuisine very similar to our Slovak cuisine.