expat blogger

living in Serbia

Friday, June 25, 2010

Belgrad Jan 20

Dear Friends and Family,

On Tuesday, the day many of you were probably working or glued to you Televisions or computers watching the inauguration, I was touring about the city of Belgrade. I know it sounds cool, but I did really want to see the big U.S. and some would say international event. Here is a little bit about my trip to the big city and some pictures too. Enjoy!

Belgrade -- January 20

Milan and I went for a day trip to Belgrade to see the sights. I have only been there once before, the day we arrived in Serbia. I was exhausted from the long trip and it was raining. We didn’t see much that day and it wasn’t so pretty on that rainy day.

We visited a ton of cool stuff. It was so good to be in a city again. Knjazevac is a nice town. But there isn’t much here to see or do. Going to Belgrade was a spectacular break from the norm.

We found parking near where Milan had gone to school there and walked around his part of the city. I went inside of an old Catholic church and it had 3 of the most beautiful Christmas trees inside. Next to the church was a large outdoor market, like the Piatsa we have in Knjazevac. People where milling around buying and selling.

Next we walked up a steep hill to an old look out for the Austro-Hungarian empire that looks across to the Kalmegdon fort. That fort, was built by the Serbs was once a stronghold, overtaken by the Turks. I was looking at stuff that bored me to death in my history classes and now was just a part of my day in Belgrade.

The architecture was different on this side of the city as a result of the Austro-Hungarian influence. Not all the houses, but many of them were much more western looking. Not a great deal different than the houses on the other side, but there were actually some wood houses. There are no wood houses in Knjazevac. All the buildings are made of bricks and cement.

The streets are old and fun to walk along. There are many cobble stone streets. It’s beautiful! Our walk took us down to the Danube, and let me tell you, it’s not Blue here. It is cloudy gray brown. Maybe in the summer it will be blue.

We walked along the river awhile and then took a bus to the other side of the city. On the bus Milan pointed out many interesting sights and Museums. Then he told me that we were crossing through the center of town and that no to far away was a concentration camp where many Jews were killed during Hitler’s reign. I was shocked. I didn’t know he had concentration camps this far from Germany. I knew about the ones in Poland and that there were others strewn about. But, wow. Even here in Serbia. Sad.

When we got off the bus, we walked on the main street in town. Knaz Mihajlo. It is a street set up for strolling, no cars. Vendors line the walkway and stores beckon with signs of sales. We hurried on our way, we had lots to see. Next our tour took us to the Great Kalmegdon Fort. This fort, a museum in it’s own right, encompasses a military museum, a few basket ball courts for the nations teams, and a big zoo.

By now, although I really love seeing all this history, I am starting to feel like I did when I was a child. We went to Gettysburg a few too may times, and the cannons lost their allure. Seeing all the cannons in the military Museum took me back to that Gettysburg feel. The fort itself is a great work of art, but my real passion was the ZOO!

The Belgrade zoo is home to some really cool animals. And here we go back to school…
Belgrade (Bela is white in Serbian and Grad is city) means white city. In honor of their white city, they are collecting as many white animals as possible. There are white deer, bison, and even white lions and tigers. I saw the Lions, but the tigers wouldn’t venture out into the cold. Bummer!

When we left we walked again through the city and I found a McDonalds to use the bathroom in. Plus I wanted to get some pictures of this Super-sized Micky D’s with one side for the usual food and another side that looked like a Starbucks with some really cool specialty coffees and deserts. I saw this in London, but it wasn’t this extravagant. I started to take some pictures and a lady came up to me saying, “Nema slike.” That means no pictures. So, camera in hand, I exited.

We took a walk to meet up with his friends and it was getting late so ended up crashing on their couch. In the morning over breakfast we checked out the local newspaper and the headlind read, "O'bama, the hope of the world". I am really excited about him and it makes me happy to see this positive response globally.

We headed home shortly after breakfast.

The rain cleared up on the way and we stopped in a little tourist town and took a walk to see some ancient Turkish baths. Soko banja, is known for it’s Turkish baths and warm springs. It was cold so we didn’t stay long. We did stop there for coffee in “Koala cafĂ©” They have rooms upstairs for $10 a person. The rooms are really cute and very clean. I hope we go back when the weather is better for a little holiday. It is a lovely town.

Coming home was the best part. “Home Sweet Home” even here in Serbia.

I will be continuing my stories next week, I still haven’t finished writing about Bulgaria. I loved it so much!

Have a great weekend!
The Catholic Church with Christmas trees
Austro-Hungarian lookout
Knaz Mihajlo

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