First Impressions of Belgrade

It was my first time in Serbia’s capital city Belgrade. With only 3 days to spend in the city, it would be impossible for me to really get an in depth understanding of the location, but what you can get in this time is a taster of what the place is like, so that on future visits you can explore in more detail. These were my first impressions of Belgrade;

Local Pick up

When I saw that my hostel offered free bus or train station pick-up, I immediately emailed to let them know I would be interested in this. As I came out of the station however, instead of a mini-bus or car waiting on me like I’d been used to in the past with hostel pick-up. What they actually meant was that someone will collect you at the station then walk you the half hour to the hostel! Obviously our idea of “pick-up” meant something different, but in a way it was a good way to see a part of Belgrade as soon as I set foot in the destination. The weather right now in Belgrade is not good at all. There was so much mist when I arrived that tall buildings were completely hidden, and you couldn’t even see a few metres in front of you. It was intriguing in a way, as there was this eery misty quality to the city that I experienced on my first day. I can’t imagine what this place would look like during summer.

Off season lull

Right now at the time of writing this article it is the off-season in Belgrade. I was literally the only person in my entire hostel. Despite being an experience in itself, as a solo traveller this was a bit of a low-point. Finding out about parts of the city, in particular the history of Belgrade, was extremely interesting, but I was experiencing it all on my own. Even though I travel solo, I never really feel alone as I’m always meeting like-minded people as soon as I arrive into my hostel. Without this I really began to realise how much I rely on a hostel atmosphere to make friends, and despite it affecting my trip here a little bit, I’m glad I came to Belgrade for this reason alone, because it made me realise I need to try make friends with local people more wherever I go in future. In general though, I would advise people to go to Belgrade during summer. The place did at times feel like it was on a bit of an off-season lull.

History

For those who may not know, Serbia forms part of the old Yugoslavia. The history of Yugoslavia is something that fascinates me, and also saddens me at the thought of so much pain and destruction caused through the Yugoslavian wars. Then of course there is Kosovo, a territory/country still under dispute with the Serbian government who do not recognise it’s self declared independence in 2008. From an outsiders point of view, Belgrade is an intriguing place to learn about the history of Serbia. The city may not be pretty like other European capitals. In fact, it really can be a drab place to look at at times, but it’s vast amount of history could keep you busy during the entirety of any stay.

Fortress and Park

Belgrade Fortress, situated in Kalemegdan Park is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the city. The park itself is very pretty, and has some really nice features and statues dotted throughout. The Fortress however was particularly interesting. I’ve never seen a real tank before. They had a few lines of guns, tanks, cannons etc lined up within the Fortress itself. It’s a mix of weaponry from both the 2nd world war, and the Yugoslavian wars as far as I am aware. As interesting as it was to see these things up close however, it was also a little bit weird. I took a picture of one of the tanks, and then deleted it after. It felt wrong somehow to be taking pictures of machinery that probably killed somebody. There is no good and bad side in war in my opinion. That part is just down to perception. For me when I look at things like this I just think about the overall devastation they must have caused. I don’t want to glorify someone else’s nightmare, regardless of how this equipment was used, and who for. Still, it was something I’ve never seen before, and from a historical point it was interesting to view.

Depressing

On this current Inter Rail trip that I am on, I started off by going to Barcelona. In the post I wrote about Barcelona, I marvelled at Gaudi’s handiwork, and architectural genius. Going to Belgrade really made me appreciate that so much more, and it made me understand why art and our surroundings are so vitally important to all aspects of our lives. We need to be inspired. We need to be in surroundings which make us get up in the morning, and start our days with a smile. We need to be somewhere gives us a variety of views and sights to see everyday. To keep up interested, and alert.

Overall the thing that sticks in my mind about Belgrade most was the colour grey. Every building was grey. Every building was bland. Everything just overall looked depressing. This does not reflect the sincerity of the local people of Belgrade however, who I found to be very welcoming and nice, but I just remember going out walking during my first day and thinking – I’m glad I don’t have to live here. It makes my home town county of West Lothian look like a pretty picture in comparison, and anyone who has heard me speak about West Lothian in the past will know how much the blandness of that place inspired me to get away and start travelling.

Belgrade is definitely a place I would recommend visiting, but not for the same reasons as cities such as Barcelona, Paris, or Prague. The people in Belgrade are friendly, the history fascinating, and the cost of living very cheap, but don’t expect it to be anything remotely pretty. That is not the kind of destination Belgrade is. I’m glad that I don’t live in Belgrade, but I am also glad I visited the destination. I’m not sure what you want to take from that.

6 Responses to “First Impressions of Belgrade”

  1. vookasheen says:

    I think you missed the season 😉 Trust me.

  2. batman says:

    Belgrade is incredible!!,how about you try going there in the right season next time…………..

  3. BoKa says:

    I’m glad that I don’t live in West Lothian!

  4. Angelito says:

    travelling alone and remembering only about grey…ummm, that actually belongs together..

  5. daphne says:

    I love Belgrade . You probably visited at a wrong time and stayed at the outskirts .

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