Friday, June 22, 2012

These boots were made for walking! And so was Belgrade!

I know the title to this entry is pretty enigmatic and you probably have no idea what this story will be about: it's about Belgrade and how it's a great city for walking around in. Never would have guessed, right? 

Why the title, though? Because I love walking around new places. And here it's really hard because even though Belgrade is a great place for walk-exploration, my feet just aren't up for it right now. I finished my studies in the beginning of June, which marked the end of a half-year period of  j u s t  s i t t i n g. For realzies now, all I did was sit in the library or at home all day every day and study or write or read or any one of those other super smart things you do when you're a student trying to finish a thesis you want to hand in or facing a huge exam. The point is, I didn't walk during that time. Or, I mean, sure I did, but not much, you know? To get from A to B, but nothing more than that. And then the first thing I did right after finally getting out of my study chair after that final exam was go to Copenhagen and explore it on foot - walking 8-10 hours straight every single day. What was that? Yes, stupid! Because now I have blisters all over my feet and they just fricking hurt like hell and I am not even exaggerating. Moping, yes. Whining, yes. Exaggerating, no. 

But Belgrade being Belgrade (as in really cool) I ended up walking around it anyways, only 4-5 hours a day instead of 8-10. I actually managed to find the middle way between total relaxation and total sightseeing-frenzy: sleep until noon every day, meet up with CouchSurfers in the afternoon to hang out and go for walks around town and see stuff and do stuff, read and watch movies until 2-3am! 

Београд је дивно.
(Belgrade is wonderful.)

Here's why in words:

I had a lot of luck with my hostel, the Chillton 2. I booked a private room (Because I knew I'd want to sleep a lot and just bum around reading, so CS and a bed in a dorm were out of the question. A little luxury is OK from time to time, I think.) and instead of a small room with one bed inside I actually got a five-bed dorm all to myself. So I was all like, this bed is for my suitcase, this bed is for my handbag, this bed is for watching movies (and writing, I'm in the movie bed right now writing this), this bed is for sleeping and this bed is too far up, I'll ignore it. Awesome! 

The people, oh the people! Even though I didn't surf with anyone, I still wanted to meet as many CouchSurfers as possible, of course. So I posted in the CS group for Belgrade and asked if anyone wanted to hang out and since I arrived I haven't been bored a single minute. The first day, Dejan gave me a tour of the most important sights of the city. The second day, Vladimir met up with me and we did another tour and then met up with his friend Diane, who's from the US but lives here now and then all of us went to pick up her surfer Maxi, a German girl, from the train station. The third day, I got some more people together to meet up at The Horse (the statue of Prince Michael at Trg Republike; actually, go and search "the horse, belgrade, serbia" in GoogleMaps) and we all went and had coffee and then we went to sit in the sun/shade at the fortress that overlooks the rivers Danube and Sava and in the evening we went down to the river to hang out some more. Yesterday, on day number four, I met up with Nesha and Natalie, a Belgian girl, and we went to Ada Ciganlija to relax and swim - which was so wonderful, I hadn't even realized how much I'd missed swimming... And after that we watched Portugal vs. Czech Republic with Ivica and Lily, another US surfer who'd just moved to Belgrade. Today I have to leave, but it's not a bad thing because ... well, let's say I'm up to something. 

The weather was also incredible. Never under 30°C, not even at night I think. It's actually way too hot for me, but the heat here is not as humid as the heat in, say, Cartagena or Miami. for example. So it was a lot easier to bear and it was just wonderful to enjoy the sunshine and be able to spend all the time outside - knowing there was an A/C in my room waiting for me!

Here's why in photos: 

A granny reading a newspaper.

Of all the places I have seen thus far, Belgrade is the one with most bookstores and booksellers in the streets and in parks. You've got to love a place for that, books are awesome!

Never forget.

This church has been under construction for ages (really) and it's still not finished, but there's already worshipping going on inside, so when you enter you hear hymns being sung but you also hear drilling and hammering and, you know, your typical construction-site-soundtrack. It's pretty funny.

Bakeries!!! Pekara or пекара in Serbian, a bakery is the place to go when you're hungry, but not exactly hungry for a big sit-down meal. They have so much to choose from, huge assortments of sweet and savoury treats and snacks and there's sandwiches and cakes and pastries with custard or cheese or jam or ham or whatever you like. I love them, I wish I'd been hungrier in Belgrade!!

Place destroyed in the NATO bombings. They're not tearing it down or rebuilding it - same as it's twin across the street-, it serves as a place to remember, like so many others in the city.


Belgrade is colourful too, this is just one example of many very pretty grafittis I found while wandering the city. Unfortunately, with the laziness that's implied in the relax part of this trip comes a drastic decrease in picture-taking. I surprised myself at how few times I took the camera out of my bag on this trip, didn't know I had it in me, because usually I am every camera-shy person's nightmare. 

PS: Remember I said I was up to something. I hope you're really intrigued and curious now.

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