I just got in from what could best be described as a beautiful day sightseeing in Belgrade, Serbia. I have been in the city off and on now for a week or so and only slightly scratched the surface. Today, I dug quite a bit deeper in terms of understanding and sights seen; I liked Belgrade but now I’m really liking this area which has been inhabited straight since the first settlers ~9,000 years ago. It started with a game of golf at the Belgrade Golf Club followed by lunch with new friends which lead to a busy and brilliant afternoon sightseeing in and around the city. Again, I’ve seen lots but have still barely gotten past scratching the surface…
I won’t go into too much detail about the Belgrade Golf Club as I’m writing a separate post on that a little later but if you do like golf and you’re in Belgrade, you should look into it. It’s a really fun but also challenging course which is only a short cab ride away from the city center. It’s public so anyone can play and if you manage to par the 1st hole on your first attempt, I commend you. Just remember you need to start the ball right and have it land left of this large tree only ~40 yards from the tee box; the rest is up to you! I hit the tree square on and lost a ball on my first shot; a humbling experience.
Following that I rolled back to my hotel and if you’re taking a cab in Belgrade, I suggest you look for the Pink Taxis. A friend suggested it and then today it was confirmed by a new acquaintance and when catching one of their cabs to Republic Square, I overpaid and he gave me back the incorrect change! Once in Republic Square I met up with some new friends and we headed for lunch at Smokvica. It was pretty packed for two o’clock on a weekday and I enjoyed a delicious meal before heading out with my guide named Joca to explore the city.
This gent knew everything and if he didn’t he had a great opinion on the matter; our first stop was the historical town of Zemun which is on the other side of the Danube River. Belgrade is strategically placed on the Sava Delta which is where the Sava and the Danube River meet. The Danube is one of the most important and longest waterways in all of Europe and as a result, Belgrade was some prime real-estate back in the days when there were no roads and the main mode of transportation was by boat. The history of the area could take a few thousands posts but know that Zemun wasn’t always friendly with Belgrade and it has an interesting history of it’s own.
Today, Zemun is part of the greater Belgrade area and if you have time, I suggest you take a look. It’s got quaint old cobble stone streets, lots of history and if you’re up for it; offers amazing views from the Millennium Tower. It’s one of five towers built by the Hungarians(while they controlled the area) to mark their thousand year anniversary; it’s also the only one left standing. It will cost you ~200 rds to get in and after climbing the stairs you’ll take a quick breather with some breathtaking views, recommended without a doubt. Afterwards cruise to the town square and refresh yourself in the fountain; the cold water I had from it hit the spot as the weather here is quite warm and summer is most certainly in full swing.
From there we headed to the Nikola Tesla Museum to learn more about this marvelous man with a most magnificent mind. The inventions he made have truly helped shape the world we live in today. The museum itself isn’t that large so you won’t need that much time to see all of it but do look into the times of when they have a presentation because it’s quite informative and puts all the pieces together. Coming from Canada, I had no idea how large a part he played in the building of the Niagara Falls hydroelectric dam. He was a man who followed his dreams and made the visions in his head a reality; untold respect for him.
Next up was the Museum of Yugoslav History and it comprises of three distinct buildings. The first we visited was the 25th of May Museum. It rotates what’s on display and currently had an exhibit on photos of Tito and the former Yugoslavia in general. Following that we headed to the House of Flowers which houses the grave of Tito himself and his wife. It also had lots of personal artifacts of his and is said to be a place he thoroughly enjoyed spending his time. The third and final stop was The Old Museum and it’s slogan is travel the world in 23 minutes. It consists of artifacts collected by Tito himself as well as those sent to him as birthday gifts and whatnot from around the world; very interesting and easy to spend far more than 23 minutes.
At this point it was time to go by the river and relax with a cold pint and talk about what had happened while soaking in the final rays of sun. There were plenty of people of all ages relaxing by the shores as well as countless restaurants and tables under umbrellas. I really liked the vibe and remember, this was on a weekday can only imagine what it’s like in full summer swing on a weekend. The area is called Ada Ciganlija and not far at all from the city center. I had only been in the city center so getting a chance to see more of the city was also a real treat.
For dinner, myself and Jaco went for dinner on the Sava River in the old port. Today it houses countless classy restaurants which all have patios overlooking the river. The port is also a place where river cruises stop for a night or so and the vibe was laid-back and friendly. Belgrade has ~225km of shoreline which is quite a bit for a city that isn’t by the sea. Considering it’s geographical location and many recommendations, we decided to dig into a mixed meat platter. It was for 2-3 people and probably could have fed more but we managed it; after dinner there was some live music and the place just kept getting busier until we left.
In closing, huge hvala to the National Tourism Organization of Serbia for their hospitality; it was appreciated!
P.S: The live band played this as we were leaving and figured it was a sign to add it here…