The Balkans Trip Recap- Day 1: Belgrade, Serbia

balkansThis post is about our first full day in Belgrade during our trip to the Balkans. We actually arrived the evening before after a long day of traveling. It took us three flights to get here from New York but it wasn’t too bad.

After wandering around Belgrade the evening before, we actually had an idea of where some of the things that we planned to see  were. The only annoying thing was that being here on a Monday meant some of the sites we wanted to see were closed. Regardless of this we still had a very nice day.

Here are some of the things we did:

  • Kalmegdan-Belgrade Fortress: now a huge, public park
  • Wandering around Knez Mihailova Street
  • Cathedral of Saint Sava- The largest Orthodox church in the world
  • Lucas had fun playing in a park
  • Dinner on Skadarlija Street

IMG_4397We started off the day with a visit to Kalmegdan Fortress. To get to the fortress, you first walk through a nice park which was busy with people enjoying the day and lots of vendors selling snacks and souvenirs. Getting inside the fort included some uphill walking on stone floors and wood ramps. This isn’t exactly easy or fun while pushing a stroller.

Once we got to the main area, the fort was a big park with a couple of old buildings and some sculptures spread out. Lucas was excited to see some odd-looking watermelon benches and we all enjoyed the great views of the river below.

Within the fortress there are also a couple of churches and a cafe. We didn’t visit any of these.

IMG_4341We spent the most time in Belgrade enjoying the vehicle-free, pedestrian only street of Knez Mihailova. The street is very wide (and also intersects with many other streets) and lined with buildings with very impressive architecture. Along the street are shops of all kinds- big name brands to smaller shops. There are also lots of busy cafes and restaurants.

We found Knez Mihailova to be  busy at all times of the day. One of the most interesting things to see was a huge fountain with water coming out from 5-6 sides. People constantly came by for a drink, to fill water bottles or even to rinse off their hands. Lucas really enjoyed the fountain and wanted to go back many times to put his hands under the running water!

IMG_4445When I read that the Cathedral of Saint Sava was the largest Orthodox church in the world, I had to see it for myself. Saint Sava is a nice 20-30 minute walk from the city center. While making our way there, you can see the church from pretty far away.

Once we arrived we were impressed by the size of the church. Saint Sava is made of white marble and granite and has a huge, green dome. We stopped inside for a quick visit and were a bit surprised. The church was either never finished or being renovated. Various sections of the walls were covered in a plastic wrap and parts of the floor were being dug up. This definitely was not what we expected to see when stepping inside but pretty cool none the less.

IMG_4477Now it was time for some fun for Lucas. We saw a small park near the church and figured it would be great to let Lucas play. He had fun wandering around and saying hi to other kids at first but then we helped him onto a swing and with some other things. The best part of the park was that it had a ride that we rarely see at home anymore- a see-saw! Lucas had a blast and kept wanting to go back for more. This was well worth the stop !

photo (2)Skadarlija Street is known as Belgrade’s bohemian/ artsy area. It is a cobblestone street (again, torture to push a stroller here) lined with restaurants which have musicians playing traditional music inside.

We ate here the night we arrived and at the end of our first full day in Serbia. The first night we walked around and randomly chose to eat at a well known restaurant- Tri Sesira (Three Hats).  The restaurant was lively with a band (accordion, stand-up bass, guitar) playing traditional music which was a lot of fun. The food was reasonably priced and tasted pretty good but wasn’t too memorable. We had some different grilled meats but the best part of the meal was the fresh bread served with it. We also ate at an Italian place that was supposed to have the best pizza in Belgrade – Guli. The pizza was decent but compared to average Brooklyn pizza, it was nothing to write home about.

Well that’s all for Day 1 of our trip to the Balkans. Keep checking back for more about our trip in future posts!

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