Maybe it is because i have close friends in Belgrade, or maybe it was the fact that I am on vocation instead of being in the office, or maybe it is just in the air, but I was 100%, totally dazzled with Belgrade! The food, the green parks, the people, the vintage atmosphere….all that makes me wanna go back, and keep going back to the country where people appreciate good food!
We were blessed with the best local guides anyone could ever want – the local friends. They took us to Kalemegdan Park, Wonder Land, Zemun Pier, Old Belgrade, New Belgrade, Ada Ciganlija, Koshtunjak Park, Hippodrome, some flea market, Skadarska street, Knez Mihajlova street, and many restaurants, kafanas, cafes and green parks. While we were walking around, I couldn’t help but thinking how clean the streets were, how well were all buildings and neighborhoods maintained, how positive people are and how spacious is the city. I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe how great they have recovered from the bombing in 1999. Some of the buildings were left damaged and ruined to remind them about the tragic event. And in my opinion, they should remember, in order to be grateful and happy for all the things they have achieved since then. I am not talking only about the city infrastructure, I am talking about all the sport athletes, who reached worlds number one place over the years – Novak Djokovic, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, and many more who grabbed the silver and bronze medals in different sport categories. There are numerous sports fields and playgrounds all over the city, which suggests that Serbians invest in their sports development and culture. I really want to say Bravo!
And this will be all with the mixed feelings…. from now till the end of this post I will share only my positive experience with Belgrade (to be honest, there was no negative).
We checked in Posco Arena – a small hotel, located in the area of Belgrade Hippodrome, very close to the beach – Ada Ciganlija (Yes, they have beach in the middle of the city, as you know Belgrade is not located on a seaside…, but I will tell more about later).
So, we stayed in the junior apartment, which is an one bedroom place, decorated in lovely colors and inspiring artistic mood. In the morning, the nice young staff of the hotel would arrange a shiny breakfast, usually delivered by one of the best bakeries in Belgrade. I had one of the best bagels there, and…I can say that I’ve tried a lot of bagels during my stay in US.
After we were happy and completely satisfied with our hotel, we decided to spent some time at the commercial, tourist places in old Belgrade, before we move to the local and more fun stuff…. – Kalemegdan Park, Skadarska street, Knez Mihajlova street and etc. These are places, promoted by most of the tourist websites and guides, so we had to see what they were talking about. I admit that Kalemegdan Park is a great place for summer walks, looking at the stars, romantic hang out or just chilling, drinking beer like a teenager on a bench. I am not gonna bore you with all of the historical details about Kalemegdan, cause you can all Google it and read more about. I just want to mention the Belgrade zoo, located on the east side of Kalemegdan Park. I am happy to say that this was one the most pleasant walks I have had in a long time…. the zoo area was very well maintained, there were shades in almost every part of it (which is very important, when it is 32 C outside), nice relax areas where you can stop for an ice-cream or coffee, and last but not least the great variety of animals. I was most happy with the white lions and tigers…. cause they are rare and not everywhere to see, and of course the baby lions, which were so cute!
After the Kalemegdan Park, we moved to Skadarska Street for lunch. The street is located in downtown, famous for its bohemian history and friendly ambiance. It is full of traditional Serbian restaurants which offer the most delicious local food, good wine and live Serbian music. I can’t say it is the best of all, cause it is already a tourist attraction, but if you don’t have a guide, or a local friend, then this is a must see place.
Knez Mihajlova street is the “5th Avenue” of Belgrade, if you know what I mean. It is full of nice shops, restaurants, coffee places and hundreds of people. It is definitely not my favorite place, but if you are going on a shopping tourism, then you must have a nice walk down the street.
I really enjoy old European cities like Belgrade, which has this amazing vintage atmosphere. Some of the restaurants or places are intentionally not renovated, and we could feel and touch the history, behind them. When we were the first time in Belgrade, our friends took us to one of the oldest kafanas in the city. Probably I should explain the meaning of the word kafana, before I continue…Kafana is a typical word for a local restaurants or bistros with live Serbian music (mostly local bands), where are served alcoholic beverages, coffee and food. So, we went to Wonder Land Kafana. And literally, we were in wonder land… Every peace of the kafana was different than the rest, old, vintage, used, with unknown history….. every chair, table and lamp makes you wonder where it came from, and you may just imagine and make your own story, cause you will never know the real story. The light is scarce, the floors are old, wooden and squeak and creak when walked on. If you ever have a chance to go to Wonder Land, make sure you taste the local alcoholic drink “Medovacha”, which is made out of honey – super delicious.
If I forgot to mention yet, Belgrade is all about the restaurants, food, kafanas, live music and cafes – a bohemian city, where you can smoke almost everywhere. There are not many museums or galleries to see, but there are hundreds of amazing kafanas and many many different dishes to try. No, scratch the last thing, many many meat dishes to try. Serbians just eat a lot of meat. So if you are a vegetarian, you may loose a couple of pounds during your stay in Belgrade. If you order a salad, it will be not more than 150 grams, served in a small bowl, without any imagination. If you want to order a small peace of meat – you can’t! The smallest will be 300 grams…
Serbians just know good food! On one of our lunch breaks at “Klopka” restaurant, located on Kralja Aleksandra blvd. (absolutely recommend by the way), we ordered home-made bread, but we did not expect that the waiter will bring a whole 11 inch round, just baked bread. It was absolutely delicious, served with awesome “kaymak”, but there was no chance we could finish it.
And I have to say, that most of the places we went, we were all the time shocked by the quantity and the quality of the food – it’s a lot, it’s delicious, it’s amazing. Like the pork ribs (“rebarca” in Serbian) we had in Stara Hercegovina restaurant (36 Tsarigradska street) – they were absolutely delicious, one of the best pork ribs, I have ever tried (even those I prepare at home) but the portion was like 500-600 grams (18-20 oz). I am just wondering how Serbians look so good, although they eat a lot (in quantity)….may be that is why there are so many sport playgrounds all over the city.
So meat is good, it is great actually, bread is delicious, beer and “medovacha” are awesome, but I did not travel all the way to Belgrade without trying at least one dessert….Probably you figured that I am a huge sweet-holic person, and you are right – I can’t live without sweets. So, on the second, or third afternoon we stop by at a cafe in Kalemegdan Park for an emergency coffee break. This was the time I accidentally came across the most delicious dessert in a glass, which could be prepared for not more than 6 minutes – the Plazma Shake. The name of the dessert comes from the brand of biscuits, which are used for the preparation of the shake – Plazma biscuits. This is a local serbian brand, owned by Bambi Banat - one of the biggest food manufacturing companies in Serbia. Anyway, the biscuits taste like biscotti or lady fingers…. but in my opinion all kinds of biscuits could be used for the preparation of the dessert. So, the dessert consists of a couple of different layers: one layer of plazma biscuits crumbs, biscuit crumbs mixed with milk, shredded chocolate or chocolate chips, chocolate and caramel syrup, crushed pieces of biscuits, vanilla ice-cream and whipped cream on top of all this. So easy! If you want to be creative, you can easily add your favorite sweet additions like sprinkles, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes and etc. I bought a couple of boxes of Plazma biscuits, so I could prepare this delicious treat at home. You can see the full recipe and directions here.
I do not want to bore you with too much information, so I am going to finish this post with a couple of words for Ada Ciganlija Island (as I promised in the beginning) – the beach.
Ada Ciganlija is an island, located only 4km from the city center. It is covered by thick deciduous forest with a 7 km. long beach on one of the sides. Actually Ada is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches on artificial lakes in Europe. The lake water is warmer and cleaner than the river water, which is why most people prefer it for beach activities.
There are many things you can do at Ada, including jet skiing, swimming, getting tanned, have lunch, coffee, drinks or dinner, and all of the cafes turn into night clubs with live bands during the evening. Most of them have nice, comfortable couches, where you can just relax, get tanned, and drink some cocktails, just like on the seaside, only that this one is located in the heart of Belgrade. I highly recommend to stop by whenever you are in the area. You will not regret it.
And some more pictures….