Serbia: Novi Saad to Belgrade
Serbia was a place that I did not know a lot about before I found myself there. It was fascinating to learn of the history and to see the two major cities during my brief stay. The first stop was Novi Sad, the country's second largest city and home to a mostly student population. I arrived in the height of summer and had a strange experience to say the least. It was a Sunday and the city was completely deserted. Am important football game was happening and the streets were lined with riot police. It made me chuckle as there was no one around! Perhaps it was too hot for the locals or they were all inside watching the game, I couldn't quite work it out. It almost gave the city an eerie feeling.
Nonetheless, Novi Sad was a lovely spot to walk around. Gothic, Renaissance and Communist architecture line the streets and it was interesting to see the different styles next to each other. The churches were open for visiting and tourists were welcome inside to take photographs or sit to escape the heat outside! You can cross the bridge and visit a hilltop fort and museum (closed on Mondays). This provides good views of the city and has some lovely lunch spots where you can sit and relax.
Walking along the promenade of the Danube's banks is a pleasant way to spend a few hours. Once you get to the end, you will find the beach which has an entrance fee but is a popular spot with locals and visitors alike.
Towards the end of the promenade there are a selection of cafes and restaurants offering local and international food and cuisine. The city centre has plenty of squares which offer shopping, eating and drinking opportunities. I recommend trying an Eastern European favourite drink: Rakija. It's a 40% alcohol brandy flavoured with different fruits. I sampled plum on a couple of occasions, it's not for the faint-hearted and will certainly warm you on a chilly evening! Food and drinks throughout Serbia are very well-priced and you can have a night out for a very reasonable amount of money. If you're into partying then Serbia could well be the destination for you. Scroll down to read about Belgrade.
I took the train from Novi Sad to Belgrade. The journey can be done in ninety minutes but depending on the number of stops on the service you choose, it can take two hours. The cost of a oneway ticket is less than 200 dinars and the trains leave regularly throughout the day.
Belgrade is definitely an up and coming destination for people looking to party. There are many bars and clubs appealing to Serbians and foreigners.
My time in Belgrade is skewed somewhat by the amount of partying that took place! I met up with a friend of a friend who took me to some underground spots where the hipsters tend to pass the time. I tried a variety of specialist cocktails that I can't begin to tell you about!
Walking along the banks of the Danube in the sunshine looking at the street art is a must-do. There are lots of stationary boats which double as bars so you can stop and sample some more local beverages.
The architecture in Belgrade, along with most of Europe, is as stunning as ever, particularly at night when it is all lit up. The public transport system works well with regular buses and trams running to all parts of the city. Simply hop on and hop off. Most of the stops have maps so you can work out where you need to go. The cobbled stones of Old Belgrade are home to plenty of lovely restaurants where you can be entertained by Serbian dancers performing traditional dances to famous folk music. Belgrade was one of the most friendly cities I have visited. I spent a whole afternoon in a bar sampling the different local brews - shots and beers - and chatting to the locals. It was a good way to gain insight into the country's history and to learn about the changes that had taken place over time.
There is a hilltop fort which allows some insight into the country's past, as well as good views of the city. You are free to wander between the walls of the fort, tunnels and different structures.
Having only been to two of the cities and catching a glimpse of the countryside from the windows of public transport in between, I would definitely return to Serbia to experience more that the country has to offer.
Old and New