Our wonderful Serbian Podventure started in the country’s exuberant and outspoken capital, Belgrade. After spending almost two weeks in this city, Belgrade has shocked and delighted us in equal measures and has got us wondering whether this hidden gem is unfairly overlooked by travelers traversing the well-worn backpacker trails?
Touching down in the capital after an immense 6 hour hitchhike and 21 km walk from Romania, the vibrancy was tangible and we knew for sure that in Serbia, there is definitely more than meets the eye.
The hospitality and welcoming nature of the Serbs cannot be overstated and from the moment we arrived, we were on the receiving end. Whilst on the hunt for local cuisine and hungrily failing to comprehend the menus written completely in Serbian, we were unceremoniously rescued by a legendary local who took it upon himself to translate the different meat dishes on offer. Luckily for us (and for our stomachs), our good fortune continued and every time we struggled to tell our ćevapčići from our ražnjići, warm-hearted people flocked to our assistance.
Perhaps what we loved most about Belgrade was the people we had the pleasure of meeting there. We have been absolutely blown away by the welcome and support we received from Trip & Sleep Hostel and Travel Time Collection, who do a brilliant job promoting the delights of Belgrade to visitors from afar. Everyone we come across has been kind, eager share their stories and immensely curious to discover more about us. We’ve discovered that the wounds and scars inflicted by a decade of war only scratches the surface in this country, where the warmth and optimism of its people goes right to the beating heart.
Belgrade is certainly not your obvious choice destination and without a Colusseum or Eiffel Tower equivalent to flock to, you don’t come here to tick off any major landmark. Belgrade certainly isn’t aesthetically astounding in the traditional sense, but it goes beyond what can be gleaned from landmarks and attractions by grabbing your hand tight and taking you on an experience. And what Belgrade may lack in “conventional” beauty, it more than makes up for by offering the unique, the undiscovered and the underrated.
With an underground scene driven by its young, quirky and creative population, Belgrade’s delicious contrasts tell a tale of two halves. In gazing up in wonder at the multitude of imposing, Soviet style architecture blasted with rebelliously colourful urban art work, you really get a taste of the underrated subversive, which makes Belgrade an absolutely fascinating place to delve into.
Belgrade is, still, relatively undiscovered. But perhaps the fact that Serbia is still off the radar, for now, is a good thing and means that it keeps its abundant treasures well and truly hidden, revealing them only to those who are open minded-enough to seek them out.
So if you’re looking for that unique travel experience infused with a feisty mix of the alternative, you’d better add Belgrade to your bucket list.
By Marius Nazare, on behalf of Podstel.