oH SERBIA, SERBIA, SERBIA….how shall I explain you? With your cryptic CYRILLIC letters and signs, your old rustic eastern block cars and traditional country dressed seniors…women with scarves and men in old caps, your old-world charm vs modern day amenities is such a contradiction of sorts. The topography yields to changes around every corner…from flat and featureless to canyons and hill tops! The agricultural countryside is a puzzle of vineyards (signs adverting local Shiraz wine), fruit trees, corn and sunflower fields that line up along the roadside and always an assortment of various trees that block the views. Too many stray dogs run along the roads, chasing, barking and nipping at your legs as they try and race against our motorcycle and moving cars. Cats combing the fields looking for a meal and stopping to rest along the bicycle paths that line the roadways. Large ‘crow like’ black and gray birds fly overhead and paired doves sit along the notable electric wires cooing at each other. Decrepit buildings are found everywhere but at least there is less graffiti as in the former countries. Roads are at times bumpy and sometimes you’ll spot a horse and buggy or a farmer using his tractor as his transportation for an errand into the village. At times there would be piles of trash long the road…was it a trash pick-up area or anybody’s dumpsite? Colors are toneless yet calming and there is that slight bit of character in the details of things that bring out a burst of beauty… that at first glance seemed oppressed. The occasional goat or pony could be found at a country home and infrequently a few horses or cows dot the landscape. Upon entering Serbian border and into the first village there was a notable change from Hungary into Serbia….you just KNOW you are somewhere different….it will arouse your curiosity.
Belgrade is a wonder to behold….it’s busy, noisy, old vs new, roads not made for traffic, and loads of construction on everything. Loved the old Artsy Fartsy district we stumbled upon with restaurants and coffee shops and mural graffiti nicely done. The young people were usually brunette and unusually Tall, which was very notable to us, and on occasion we’d find a smartly dressed blonde cosmopolitan woman that would WOW us. Many men were found carrying Manly Purses and they had no issue with ‘straight man’ physical contact which I found rather endearing and family like.
The 2 rivers, Danube and Sava river connect just below the old stone Fortress walls with a VISTA I won’t soon forget…a view of the floating river restaurants, forest of trees, the bridge and the bustling life of Belgrade! We walked along the inside walls of the mote and along the river as well. The trams are aged but the bus and transportation system worked for us = $3.50 day pass. We did see a refugee camp near the main bus terminal….a local told us it was a stopping point for a couple days. It had tents and camping gear and LOTS of people sitting around waiting to move onward. Near by was a McCafe…something we don’t have in the USA that I have seen…it’s a part of McDonalds that serves up espresso and local bread pastries and such….who knew!!
As for our room…again, hard to find for Sept for the off season with medium price rooms and this one, was by far the worst yet…with adventure continual travel, it’s a crap shoot. (MOM don’t read this part, lol!) It was a high-rise in the center, so a great location and with our 14 floor room view, well that part was GREAT…but the room, not so much. Soviet Era Rustic, with cardboard sheets and sandpaper toilet paper, my poor bum! A toilet that had to have the seat down when flushed or it reared it’s ugly head and gave you a shit bath. A floor drain that sat in front of the toilet which you would kick off every time you sat down and a kitchen faucet for a bathroom sink that kept running after you shut it off and leaked, so now we know what the drain was for! The grime of commie years in every crack *ugh*. The bed ‘fitted’ sheet was a flat sheet that didn’t fit the bed forcing you to see the disgusting mattress underneath, no comforter just scratchy starched top sheet from hell with a gross orange blanket (I quickly removed) and nothing in the room but a built in desk/chair and 3 coat hangers. The scary elevator had no inside door guard….don’t lean against the moving wall door or never live to tell this story. BUT, include was a FREE buffet breakfast and your killer view! Cheap decent dinner set meal with 4 entrée could be had for $6.00…and it wasn’t bad. NOTE: Dinner area of hotel was better and cleaner. Our room was also above the famous CRAZY ROUND-ABOUT with hoards of traffic disaster…so earplugs a must, lol! But what a view!! Living the dream…hahaha! We could have had better accommodations but that starts to bust your economy budget!
WE found this country to have the most FRIENDLY people and so helpful…they came to us if they saw we had a need for directions or assistance. One gal bartender that spoke English well (helping us with directions to a jam place we never did find, lol) told me to tell people “the war is over many years, please come to visit us, we don’t want to kill you!” WELL SAID!
Overall, it was the perfect setting for adventure ‘outside the box’ travel. And that’s my story and I am sticking to it……..carry on!