Belgrade for a day
Trip Start Feb 04, 2011
54Trip End Nov 04, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
The journey from Sarajevo and through the Bosnian countryside was truly breathtaking
I made sure to book a hotel directly opposite the station in Belgrade so I wouldn't need to succumb to dodgy taxi drivers who hang around stations. There was also a really good restaurant right next to the hotel and after a whole day on a train without food and water, I was happy to eat and drink anything on the menu. The grilled meat and local beer (Jelen) went down a treat and I retired for the night. The next morning it was time to explore Belgrade.
Belgrade is not a very attractive city and its people, I'm sorry to say, are not as attractive as in neighbouring Zagreb or Sarajevo. Guys in tracks suits and shaved heads look like they're going to come up and ask for money for a heroin fix but they're just ordinary locals. The weather wasn't helping either
It wasn't possible to get a private compartment but I was told to perhaps pay the conductor for an upgrade - or a bribe if we're going to use the correct terminology. When I finally found the train at the platform (one day someone in the Balkans is going to come up with the brilliant idea of putting up signs to show where the trains are) I tried to persuade the conductor. As it turned out, I didn't need to bribe anyone and he showed me to my compartment. Only one problem. The woman at the ticket counter printed "Sofia" on my ticket instead of "Skopje". Wrong destination and wrong train. A minor mistake. So with only five minutes remaining until the train departed, I ran back to the ticket counter and asked her to change it. There were no apologies as she probably assumed I'd just changed my mind about where I wanted to go.
All my concerns about having to share a compartment with five other snoring passengers were unnecessary and the conductor assured me I'd have the whole compartment all to myself - all the way to Skopje
Belgrade is definitely a "one day city" and once you've seen the world's largest Orthodox church, the main shopping area and the old fortress, that's about it. This is the sort of place where you need to know people, go out for a few drinks and enjoy the nightlife. There's something to be said about cities that pride themselves as having "good nightlife" instead of brilliant scenery, beautiful architecture or interesting history. Spending a night in Belgrade might have been a better alternative than spending a day and who knows - maybe men with shaved heads in track suits don't come out at night. Or do they?