Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Belgrade Bar Crawl


Today we took a bus from Niš to Belgrade. We had originally planned to take a train, but after several locals suggested the bus would be better, we decided to give it a try. It worked out quite nicely. It wasn’t full, so we didn’t have to stand in the aisles (like we did on the way to Niš), and there was plenty of room for our bags.

[We had some börek for breakfast. They had a few flavors but we chose the ham and cheese kind. It was alright. A bit on the chewy side.]

[This ice cream vendor was working the bus stop. There are little ice cream vendors on every street corner which is cute but I'd rather there be air conditioning in any building in the whole country.]

[We stopped at a gas station part way so both the driver and the bus could have a smoke.]

[The bilingual signs whipping by served as Cyrillic flashcards.]

When we arrived in Belgrade, we decided to skip the cabs and hike across town to our hotel. Along the way we passed a lot of ugly buildings. Unfortunately, the communist government thought it was a good idea to build lots of tall apartment buildings with little to no character. What’s even more unfortunate is that they are all still standing. Closer to our hotel we passed a nice looking church. St. Mark’s in Tašmajdan Park is a Serbian Orthodox church. I liked its red facade and understated domes.

We stayed at the Metropol Palace Hotel. It was pretty fancy. In fact, according to their website, celebrities such as Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, and Alfred Hitchcock stayed there back in the day. Our room was nice, but I was a little disappointed we didn’t get an upgrade like we did in Sofia. We had to live like commoners.

That evening we had dinner at a restaurant known as Little Bay. Inside the restaurant the tables are designed to resemble opera boxes. And, as you’d expect, there’s an in-house opera singer putting on a show. Unfortunately the air conditioner wasn’t working (surprise, surprise) so we had to eat outside, and watch/listen to the show through the window. Fortunately, the food was good and also pretty cheap. Just the way I like it.

After dinner we moseyed over to the Republic Square to meet up with a Pub Crawl group. I read in our book, and have seen elsewhere, that Belgrade is the party capital of the Balkans, so we figured a Pub Crawl was probably a good idea.

After taking a group shot of Rakija on the square, we headed to our first bar. This first bar had a very unique decor. The bar tables were old sewing tables, and yes the sewing machines were still attached. John’s favorite was the table made out of an old-fashioned carriage. I thought the coolest part was the zoo animals painted on the walls. They had 3D heads made out of paper-maché. Anyway, while sipping our drinks, we talked with a girl from Sweden. She’s traveling for a few months until she moves to Australia to study psychology. Sweden is paying for her to study in Australia. Lucky, lucky girl.

The next stop was a Serbian pub. A live band came in and played folksy-Serbian music for us. Afterwards, we wound our way down to the metro system. I was surprised when we stopped at a bar right down in the metro. It was someplace we definitely wouldn’t have tried on our own.

[I felt bad for the poor crawl leader girl. She was taking everyone's drink orders by show of hands before each bar.]

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