It was time to add a new country to the list, but what is the easiest way to venture across Eastern Bosnia to the Serbian border? The friendly staff at our Bed & Breakfast in Sarajevo helped us hire a shared but private van ride we’d take with 4 additional passengers.
Getting to Belgrade
Our options for arrival to Belgrade from Sarajevo were a 10 hour train ride, an expensive flight, or a 6 hour bus ride which may or may not have air conditioning. We opted for the private van ride for comfort, speed, and easy border crossing. Little did I know the van’s driver and Bosnia’s curvy roads would test my stomach. I’ve only been sea sick once, but car sick, never. It took all of my effort to avoid a disaster in the front seat of the van. My only saving grace was when the driver stopped half way through our 4 hour trek for a pit stop.
The small restaurant where we stopped sat along the beautiful rolling hills of Eastern Bosnia – a restaurant that time forgot. The scene was very peaceful. A small garden behind the restaurant with well-placed park benches made our stop relaxing. Next thing we knew, we reached the border.
Arrival in Belgrade
Our Airbnb was located within walking distance to the center of town, in a concrete high-rise building that was left behind from the 1970’s former communist era. The outside was nothing pretty going along with the concept of equality that no matter what social class you are, you live in the same ugly building as everyone else. A good way to stifle creativity.
Despite the outward appearances the neighbors were friendly and the inside of our Airb&b told another story. It had been stylishly redone. The host was extremely helpful, providing us with a plethora of information about Belgrade, including a local cell phone we could use to call her in the event we got lost.
More Than Meets The Eye
Life-size Transformers created by architectural artists dotted the central squares of Belgrade. It was a bit eerie to stand back and look up at one. Did that arm just move!? Transformers aren’t the only inhabitants of Serbia but tourists, too. Shops, restaurants, and bars make for a variety of fun places to explore here. A nice long promenade street leads to the Belgrade Fortress and Danube River.
Belgrade Fortress (Kalemegdan Citadel)
The largest and most beautiful park in the city, Kalmegdan Citadel is a cherished spot for many Belgradians. The park is situated on a cliff and encompasses the Belgrade Fortress. The fortress was used as Belgrades, primary defensive structure. The relaxing tree lined park offers great views of the Fortress. The grounds surrounding the fortress include other attractions such as a military museum, zoo and playground for children.
Ružica (Rose) Church
This Rose Church is enclosed within the Kalmegdan Fortress. The current building housed a gunpowder shop in the 18th century, but was then converted in to a military church some time between 1867 and 1869. After being badly damaged in WWI, the church was renovated in 1925.
St. Petka Church
This contemporary church was built in 1937, above a miraculous spring. In middle ages, this was the site of a church where the holy remains of St. Petka’s (Paraskevi) were placed until 1521. The small but spectacular Chapel features an exciting sight of glittering mosaic work. The church still guards the saint’s hand, and the ill come to wash their face at the spring.
Temple of Saint Sava (Serbian Orthodox Cathedral)
The largest Orthodox temple in the Balkans with Saint Sava as the founder, is built on the spot where Saint Sava’s remains are thought to have been burned in 1595 by the Turks. Construction for temple began in 1936 and lasted a lot longer than planed because of wars, poverty and partly because of communist rule. In fact the inside is still under construction! Once completed it will be able to seat 10,000.
Nicola Tesla Museum
High on our list of items to do in Belgrade was visiting the Nikola Tesla museum. This museum was founded in 1952. It preserves the personal inheritance of the Serbian-American inventor, scientist, electro- and mechanical- engineer Nikola Tesla. A trip to Belgrade is incomplete without an interactive visit to this excellent Museum!
In the Museum there are working models of various Tesla inventions: the induction motor, the tesla coil, and a model of the polyphase alternative current (AC) system. The history of electricity from ancient times to the present day is presented in the Museum.
The tour guides put on an excellent show. They will hand visitors florescent light tubes, then turn on the monstrous 500 kilo-Volt Tesla coil! In the process of powering up the coil, a loud discharge can be heard. At that point the lights in your hand will glow with power. A fun experiment! Many others are included along with a fascinating shot biography film of Tesla’s life.
Belgrade is fun!
We were unsure what to expect from Belgrade, but had a great time. Overlooked by many European travelers, we valued our time in Belgrade. The city is more than fine food and fascinating art. With the variety of parks, museums, and nightlife there is sure to be something here you will love. We felt as if we only scratched the surface of this intriguing metropolis. Thank you Belgrade!