Serbia has been a very interesting stop off on Podstel’s Road to Berlin. We’d done a quick Google search into things to do and places to see beforehand but you can never truly understand a country and all its eccentricities until you’re really there, breathing its air.
Our love affair with Serbia began within the first five minutes of arriving, when the happiest border control officer ever bantered with us over our passport pictures. Since then, we’ve fallen deeper and deeper in love with the people, the culture and the absolutely amazing nature.
Here’s a few delights which added to our Serbian romance.
Serbs are incredibly hospitable
What do we like most about Serbia? The Serbs.
Of course, there are great people everywhere and if our years spent travelling the world have taught us anything, it’s that no country has a higher concentration of good or bad people than any other. That said, the warmth and hospitality of the Serbs really does stand out, and you just can’t help falling in love with them.
Perhaps because Serbia has been missed out of the tourist trails, the locals are excited to see foreigners in their country and welcome you with open arms. Since arriving three weeks ago, we’ve been amazed time and time again by the friendliness of the people. From being invited into a stranger’s home for wine and nachos in Cerevic to being presented with a bottle of home-made rakija while sleeping for free in a nature reserve in Zasavica, the human kindness this country exudes so effortlessly has continued to astound us each and every day.
The people are tall
Basketball is the national sport of Serbia for a reason and that reason is this: the people are so tall!
When Dusan Gvozdic first pulled over to give us a hitch, we thought “wow, he’s a tall fella!” and we weren’t too surprised to find out that he was the coach of the Serbian National Youth Basketball team, en route to Belgrade to give a games’ commentary. But apparently, he’s not much taller than most Serbs and explained to us that basketball was Sebia’s national sport due to the height of the people.
We still remained a little sceptical that Serbs were particularly tall, since we Brits like to consider ourselves quite tall in comparison to other nations. But after looking up to everyone we spoke to from our low vantage points and rather feeling like we were shooting a scene from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, we’ve realised that it’s true. Serbs generally are pretty tall and also beautiful, both inside and out.
Nature is beautiful
With more than 30% of the country still covered in dense, rich forests, Serbia’s natural beauty is truly magnificent. Having explored Fruska Gora National Park with the help of Travel Time Collection and iBikeBelgrade, we can honestly say that these areas of untouched natural beauty are something pretty spectacular.
The Danube, which runs very close to Fruska Gora National Park is another must-see of Serbia. The rivers’ murky dinginess in the big smoke soon transforms into a deep sapphire glow, as the mighty Danube winds its way through the valleys of the luscious countryside, breathing life into loads of cute little villages which it passes by.
And the colours in the countryside…!
The sun shining down at the dawn of spring undoubtedly accentuated the full array of vibrant color and we saw so many hues of green, purple, white, blue, red, yellow and orange, to name but a few!
Three weeks is not nearly long enough to explore the whole of the country, and Team Podstel will be back for sure to explore even more of the natural wonders which Serbia has to offer, including waterfalls, canyons, caves, gorges, lakes and mountains.
There’s so much wildlife
There is a surprising amount of wildlife in Serbia. In addition to all the usual suspects like birds, rodents and squirrels, this country is also home to a whole host of other creatures such as snakes (most of which are not poisonous), lynx, wolves, beavers, wild cats, and bears! Did you know that bears roam wild in Europe? We didn’t. In the rural southern Serbian mountains, as well as in other neighbouring countries, you can find brown grizzly bears! Something to keep in mind if you’re going to be camping in the wild, but in saying that, it’s extremely unlikely they’d come anywhere near you for a selfie.
Serbs love meat
Serbia is definitely a meat lover’s paradise and a meal is not a meal a hefty helping of it, and maybe a cheeky rakija on the side! But whatever your palette, we guarantee you won’t go hungry in Serbia!
Serbia offers a vast array of dishes on every street corner including grilled chicken, pork, burgers and ćevapčići (Balkan sausage sandwiches). Not only are these dishes delicious, but they’re also quite healthy compared with the usual fare on offer in traditional fast food joints, as all the ingredients are fresh and grilled right there in front of you.
Other traditional Serbian dishes can be found at restaurants or in the homes of locals, the names of which are tongue-twistingly difficult to pronounce and are even more difficult to translate into English. The best option maybe is to let the locals guide the way.
So there we have it! We hope you enjoyed these bits and bobs we’ve collected whilst visiting Serbia with Travel Time Collection. But of course the best way to discover more is to experience them for yourself.