Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Beograd - A Real Capital

Getting to Belgrade (Beograd) was a bit more difficult than planned as the 7:30 am bus from Jajce to Banja Luka was cancelled and we had to hop on an 8:00 am combi headed to Zagreb via Banja Luka instead. And although we were dropped off 500 meters from the Banja Luka bus staion at 9:24, we caught the 9:30 bus to Belgrade, flagging it down as it pulled out of the station. Whew!

From Banja Luka we headed northeast across the Sava River plain and into Croatia. Being Saturday there was lots of roadside Spring planting activity; with shovels in household vegetable gardens and with tractors in larger fields - we even saw one horse-drawn plow.

While the combi drove through a gorge with the occasional white water kayaking course in the river below, the bus shot along a modern limited access highway, getting us into Serbia and Belgrade on time at 3:30 pm. The border controls were painless. Our feet never touched the ground in Croatia; however, we have entry and exit stamps in our passports.

Belgrade is not an easy city to navigate but we found a nice room with a kitchenette before it started raining. And then made it up to Kalemegdan Park and Fortress in a drizzling dusk for some great views.

Being a real capital, Belgrade has wide boulevards, great architecture, plenty of public transport, spacious public spaces, both up-and-coming and gentrified neighborhoods, a Changing of the Guard ceremony, and more than one McDonald's. [The single vegetarian restaurant appears (we did not eat there) to be mainly for tourists.]

On our first full day in Belgrade we rode bus #84 over the Sava River to the suburb of Zemun (zeh-moon) on the Danube River, checked out the Old Town and the amazing Art Deco former Air Force Head Quarters building, then walked the ~6 kms back to Belgrade Center following the promenades, quays, and paths along the Danube and Sava ending up at Kalemegdan Park and Fortress.

The next day we checked out some of the  main sights in Belgrade: churches, government buildings, parks, monuments, and of course returned to Kalemegdan Park.

Walking to Kalemegdan Park on our first evening in Belgrade.
Belgrade, Serbia

The French Embassy near Kalemegdan Park.
Belgrade, Serbia

View of the Sava River from Kalemegdan Park.
Belgrade, Serbia

The Victor Monument.
Belgrade, Serbia

View from the Zemun Fortress back to Belgrade.
Belgrade, Serbia

Several photos of the very cool Art Deco airplane-shaped Air Force Headquarters, bombed by NATO in 1999.
Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

Icarus up close.
Belgrade, Serbia


Swans and boats on the Danube.
Belgrade, Serbia

Here are two of the many floating cafes, restaurants, bars and hostels along the Danube and Sava.
Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

Cyclists.
Belgrade, Serbia

Looking across the Sava to Old Belgrade.
Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

Sun-Ling's boots atop the fortress wall.
Belgrade, Serbia

Looking across Kalemegdan Park to the confluence of the Sava and Danube.
Belgrade, Serbia

Architonic murals on Skadarlija Street. We stayed on this street and can report that currently the evening music scene consists solely of acoustic folk quartets working for tips in the restaurants...Look closely at the mural - it's all in the same plane.
Belgrade, Serbia

Republic Square - the heart of the Old Town.
Belgrade, Serbia

Looking towards Albania Palace; at one time the tallest building in the Balkans.
Belgrade, Serbia

The very low key guard changing.
Belgrade, Serbia

Looking down Tasmadan Park to St Mark's Church.
Belgrade, Serbia

Buying and eating lunch at Toma Pekara (Bakery).
Belgrade, Serbia

Trams and buses near Slavija Square roundabout.
Belgrade, Serbia

St Sava Temple - a very large Serbian Orthodox church. It's got dome.
Belgrade, Serbia

The Train Station.
Belgrade, Serbia

Our last stroll along the rivers.
Belgrade, Serbia











4 comments:

Kathy said...

Good to hear from you, I was starting to worry that you had fallen foul of the mines!

Hope you had time to enjoy the cafe culture. Looking forward to your photos of Subotica!

Crash Eddy said...

You make me give Google a workout. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_bombing_of_Yugoslavia 15 years ago so my memory is dim if ever there was any of this war. "NATO launched 2,300 missiles at 990 targets and dropped 14,000 bombs ... Over 2,000 civilians were killed, including 88 children ..." What havoc we can wreak! I hope you find Serbia much more at peace during your visit.

Crash Eddy said...

This site is even more interesting: http://trekfortruth.com/NATOTRAIL.pdf

john said...

Ed, We experienced a peaceful Serbia. It's a complex mix of cultures and religions that live together.