Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Belgrade, Serbia

* Pictures are of Belgrade, Serbia at night.

Belgrade was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

After Plovdiv, Bulgaria, I was prepared for the worst.  Plovdiv grew on me a bit by Day 2 (check out the pictures I took while hiking in the gorgeous Bulgarian countryside).  These Day 2 experiences elevated Bulgaria from Butthole of My Travels to...well...Armpit of My Travels.  Still, the armpit that was Bulgaria left me with a rather unpleasant feeling about eastern Europe...a feeling I hadn't experienced in Bucharest, Romania or anytime since crossing the threshold from western to eastern Europe on around April 25th.

More about Serbia...

Currency:  Dinar ($1 USD is about 68 din)
Population:  7.5 million
Capital:  Belgrade
Daily budget:  Basic $35/Occasional Treat $50
Language:  Serbian

The low-down on Kosovo: 
Kosovo is a disputed territory following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.  The Republic of Kosovo is a self-declared independent state.  Serbia does not recognize the secession of Kosovo.  Kosovo is a land-locked state that borders on Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, and central Serbia (the latter is a source of international dispute).

Rough Guides Description:  
"Serbia is a buzzy and boisterous country, compact enough for visitors to sample both Belgrade's urban hedonism and the gentler pace of the smaller towns or national parks within a few days - and it's one of Europe's most affordable destinations to boot.  Grittier than its blue-eyed neighbor Croatia, it is nevertheless an integral part of any backpacker's Balkan tour..."

Some websites to get you started planning your trip to Serbia:

One thing I've appreciated about Belgrade is that I don't feel like the tourist here.  In my Rough Guides book, it noted that a "live and let live" mentality is alive and well in the Serbian capital.  I certainly saw that mentality when I visited.  No one stared, gawked, interrogated, or hassled me.  No one treated me differently.  In fact, I felt like I was just another citizen.  As much as I've tried to blend in and be inconspicious on this trip, feeling anonymous is something I've not felt very often and I appreciated the relative obscurity.

In addition, there is a thriving nightlife in Belgrade and (for the low-key people like me) a thriving cafe culture.


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