Since I knew I was going to Romania, I had always planned to take advantage of my time on the continent by travelling to the cities within striking distance of Timisoara. This weekend I did just that, and went to Belgrade for 2 nights. It’s a really cool city, and it feels really different to Timisoara, surprisingly so given it’s only 3 hours in the car between the 2 cities.
The first thing that struck me about Belgrade was how much more “Eastern European” it felt. It was exactly how I pictured a big Eastern city to look, the mix of Soviet-era shoe-boxes and Orthodox Cathedrals, the street signs written in Cyrillic, the trams which still function despite seeming impossibly old. Even the weather played along, the sky being the same colour as the concrete of the apartment blocks for the majority of the weekend. And it was busy, very busy. The streets were full of people at all hours, and the honeycomb of tunnels and back alleys in the center of town was really cool.
Basically, I felt like I could have been in a Cold War thriller for most of the time.
We spent most of Saturday doing the main tourist sights, going to the park/citadel in the middle of town, seeing the main square and the cathedrals and so on. We stopped to buy some souvenirs in the main shopping street in the city, and found a gem of a t-shirt with Serbia’s favourite son on it. Novak.
Unfortunately, it was only in kid’s sizes. I’ll need to find my Dad something else for his Christmas.
After walking all day, we finally made it to a disused factory slightly out of the middle of town. We had been told that there was a jazz bar on the top floor, but walking towards it it really didn’t seem like the sort of place where you’d find such a thing. When we got to the front door we asked the elderly Serbian man at the door about a bar, and after a few minutes of confusion he told us that yes it does exist, and it was at the top of 7 flights of stairs.
Simply, it’s the coolest bar I’ve ever been in. It had a terrace with a view over the city, the sun was just setting, and the beer was great. Made me really glad I was in Belgrade, and glad I was on Erasmus. I mean, I never could have expected that I’d ever do such a thing. That I’d be at rooftop jazz bar in an abandoned soviet factory in Belgrade. It was really cool.
We were a bit unlucky with our nights out, on Friday we went on a pub crawl with the hostel and it wasn’t at all a pub crawl. We went to one pub.
Saturday night we went out with some Bosnian guys who got smashed and dicked around for ages. So much so that by the time we got anywhere the clubs weren’t letting anyone else in.
Despite that, I came away with quite a good impression of Belgrade. Nice city, cool people, and I’m sure there’s a good nightclub somewhere.
Hopefully we can get away for another weekend soon, I’ve got a weekend in Barcelona planned in a month or so.