Our road trip to Serbia was nothing short of unforgettable. Romani people aka gypsies are considered to travel the world, perhaps in a caravan, with not much more than their musical talents and artistic nature. Romani are the third largest ethnic group in Serbia and on our way there, we felt like ones ourselves. We hit a new record for number of countries we’ve driven through in a day: 5! And we did it within 15 hours no less. We returned from Belgrade a little tired but happy. Travelling via car allows us to see more and notice how diverse Europe really is. During the drive to Serbia… Switzerland was full of mountains, Italy full of traffic, Slovenia lush and green, Croatia a little bit of everything, and Serbia crops and by the far the most underdeveloped infrastructure.
We knew we’d reached Serbia as we had a harder time deciphering the signs along the highway! With nothing in mind other than a few recommendations we didn’t have much of an agenda. Skadarlija is one of the most popular bohemian streets to wander down. The cobblestone made us slow our pace, forcing us to look around even more than we do already. Belgrade is a very cool city with endless spots to grab a bite and drink. Overall it had a youthful vibe and fun, bustling atmosphere. Youthful in vibe but aged to the eye as the majority of the buildings seemed like they’d been standing for some time, sans face lift.
We used the car and warm weather to our advantage (easier to pack a bit heavier than when flying EasyJet) and brought along our running gear to put to use while there. We obviously didn’t know what to expect in the city and quickly realized there wasn’t going to be a great street/sidewalk for us to be running on. Entering Belgrade wasn’t the least stressful scenario! Cars were going the wrong direction down one ways, speeding through intersections, doing whatever they needed to do to get through the busy streets in a hurry. We think just a one-off scenario though due to political rallies ahead of presidential elections coming up. Safe to say we left the car in the garage until we had to leave!
Serbia’s history is a tumultuous one. Belgrade alone has seen 115 wars and been entirely rebuilt 44 times. There are areas in the heart of the city that have been untouched since the most recent bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. They remain unbuilt as a reminder of what the city and its people have gone through. The protests that were ongoing during our stay were related to the current president and his opposition. Every Saturday since December protesters have marched opposing him among other things. The president responded to the demonstrations by holding a rally the Friday we were there. Thousands of people met in front of the parliament building to show their support for the president.
On a lighter note, the foods of Serbia are unique. Red meat is the primary food group and we certainly weren’t complaining about it as we’re accustomed to chicken and salmon in Switzerland. If you want to travel somewhere that you can dine like royalty on a dime go to the Balkans! Some specialties that we tried are cevapcici (grilled ground meats), kajmak (tangy unripe cheese), and ajvar (spicy sweet relish). We really enjoyed everything we tried. It was fun to have some new flavors on our palates! One thing we noticed is they haven’t gotten around to banning smoking in the majority of restaurants so that took some getting used to. Overall, Belgrade is definitely worth a visit and is one of the more unique cities we’ve seen!
Our next big trip is Norway in May and… We. Are. Pumped. You’d think we have a fear of flying by how often we take road trips but hey, our spontaneous sides enjoy the freedom to roam!