My venture into the Balkans was on an 8-hour train ride through Hungary and Serbia to Belgrade. It was a long train ride during the day, but I somehow managed to sleep on and off for the entire trip. What didn’t occur to me is that I should buy some food, so I kind of forgot to eat the entire day yesterday (paired with the fact that it’s not easy to find vegetarian food in Serbia.
After getting off the train, I walked to my hostel pretty easily, then went out to a couple local bars with two people I met at the hostel. We went to The Black Turtle and and a couple other places. The beers were good and cheap, so that was a plus.
On Friday I did a lot of walking around. I toured the Belgrade Fortress, walked by the Church of Saint Sava, and went to the Nikola Tesla Museum. There were nice views from the Fortress, and the actual museum was interesting and interactive. I also had some Asian food, so 1 meal in 2 days is pretty healthy I figure.
At one point I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures, so here is a picture of something.
They have Costa Coffees here but the internet didn’t work, and Coffee Dream, which was a nice shop but it didn’t have a vibe where I could sit and work.
The hostel is actually quite nice too – smaller, but the staff is very friendly too. Everyone is going out to a Halloween party tonight, but I’m not feeling that. So I pretty much have the entire hostel to myself. I have to get up fairly early to catch my bus.
But all in all, Belgrade was kind of shit. And so was Serbia in general. We started a 7-hour bus journey at 8am, and the entire ride through Serbia there wasn’t anything interesting to report on. But once we crossed into Bosnia and went South, driving along the Drina River and into the mountains, it was a beautiful drive. Fall colors, mountains, water, etc – everything that need to be checked off in my book to be a nice time.
Sarajevo also has a really nice feel to it. It feels much smaller in the old town area, very walkable, and the people generally seem very friendly. I got checked in around 3 and then walked around the old town area, had some Burek (wooo – a vegetarian option – basically tasted like Spanakopita).
Thing are cheap here as well – half a bottle of wine, two beers, and some toothpaste cost me $3.50.
We put together a nice group of 5 of us to check out a bar I found called Zlatna Ribica which was extremely cozy and really quite odd. The table ended up rather cosmopolitan between beers and wine and a Bosnian brandy and cheese. The pub was showing a very classy American TV show in black and white with Albanian subtitles as well.
Sunday morning I went to Gallery 11/07/95, which discusses the Srebrenica tragedy/genocide in Bosnia (in 1995, as you might guess). I didn’t really know much about it, so it was a worthwhile experience.
I also walked by the City Hall. This is what it looks like.
After a bit more walking around and tasting of potato pie burek at Sac, I decided to have a walk up the mountain to see the 1984 Winter Olympics bobsled/luge track. The walk was a bit more ambitious than I thought, but weaved me through some of the homes going up the hill, and provided some nice views of the city in general. My friend’s phone died and used mine to take pictures, so that’s why there are more than usual.
We hiked all the way up here and I almost adopted a couple puppies along the way. Couldn’t think of a reasonable way to get them back to the states though.
That night we had dinner somewhere else in the city, which was good (they had a vegetarian plate!) and then back to the same bar since we liked it from the previous night. Not many highlights, but it’s nice when you find a good group of people to do things with.
The next morning I decided to get up early to walk to the Yellow Fortress and see what all the hubbub was about. After being all the way up to the bobsled I wasn’t all that impressed, but it does have a nicer angle at the old town.
I also saw a bunch of wild dogs fighting, which is what they do in the mornings. That’s kind of sad.
Then I jumped on a 7-hour bus ride to Split with a guy from the hostel that was on the same track as I was. Long ride, but it was very pretty.
Anyways, the drive along the Neretva river is very nice. It’s greenish, and the surrounding mountains make it for a pleasant few hours.
The coastal drive in Croatia is great as well. It’s going to be a relaxing few days in Split, which I’m looking forward to.