"Don't let the concrete fool you" Belgrade by mikey_e
Belgrade Travel Guide: 2,336 reviews and 4,813 photos
Those who, for some strange reason, have been following the weekly updates on my page will remember that one of the places that I listed as a "want to visit" destination was Belgrade. I have finally completed the pilgrimage, which is why it has moved from the front page of my travel pages to the more detailed section. I made my way down to Serbia's capital from Budapest, with a two-night stopover in Novi Sad, and was a bit surprised at what I found. Perhaps it was the image of Belgrade that I had built up in my mind, or the fact that I thought it would be somewhat like Moscow, but my first impression upon arriving was that Belgrade seemed so small. Obviously, the city is fairly large and spread out, but I think that I expected something a bit more like Budapest and a bit less like Sofia.
Belgrade did have much of what I wanted, and then some. It was not the shrieking, gawdy destination that some East European capitals have become, and despite the influx of backpackers and tourists looking for a cheap getaway, central Belgrade has largely been spared from the casinos, adult movie stores and cheap expat bars that plague some places. The only problem, at first, was the weather, which was cold and rainy. That, in turn, induced a bit of fever, and I spent much of my time in Belgrade wandering about slightly delirious or hepped up on cold and sinus medication that I bought from a pharmacist who was only too happy to practice her English. My medical problems notwithstanding, I found that Belgrade still has it's isolationist charm, complete with daily anti-Western protests, scary police, and the crumbling remnants of a civil administration that once ruled over three times as much territory as it currently does.
A lot of cities that I have been to try to preserve a bit of whatever aura made them famous in the global spotlight. Budapest is filled with reminders of the failed revolution of 1956, Athens highlights its ancient heritage, and Toulouse often plays up its role in the Albigensian crusade and the Cathar heresy. Belgrade doesn't necessarily look to impress upon the visitor the effects of nearly two decades of international isolation and pariah state status, but some of the signs are still there for you to enjoy. Like the fire emergency sign in my hotel room that kindly requested visitors to not bring hand guns or grenades into the room. Or the advertisements in foreign languages reminding visitors that Kosovo is Serbia. Or the fact that hotel room with telephones often come with rotary phones, something I have vague memories of from my childhood. All in all, Belgrade is a great voyage into nostalgia and the past, without intending to be so.
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