The White City

Trip Start Aug 15, 2013
Trip End Aug 31, 2013

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Friday, August 16, 2013

We were in Belgrade for twelve days so this will be a loooong entry. To help you out in case you don't have the time or desire to read it all in one sitting, I have broken it down into days. 

One thing to note: In Serbia, the city is known as Beograd, which means White City. Hence, the title of this entry. 

Another thing to note: Belgrade has a rich history. However, this is a travel blog so I will not be giving a history lesson on each part of the city or the landmarks we saw. If you are interested in learning more about a particular thing, click on the links. They will take you to pages with more information.

 Unofficial Day One (Friday, August 16)
 We crossed the Drina River and entered Serbia somewhere around 7:00 PM and estimated that we still had about 2-1/2 hours until we got to Belgrade.   The thing is that we got there a day early. Our friends were not expecting us until the next afternoon, and we didn't want to show up unexpectedly. So, we decided to spend the night on the road. We were open to looking for a campground since the night before hadn't been horrible, but everyone we had asked along the way said there were no campgrounds on the way to Belgrade. We figured maybe they just weren't campers and didn't know so we kept a lookout for signs anyway. 

Just as we thought, we saw a sign advertising a hotel with a camping area attached about an hour out of Belgrade so we took the exit and went looking for it. We ended up in the parking lot of a dimly lit, almost deserted hotel with one lonely receptionist who said there were camping spaces out back. But, by this time, it was pitch dark, about only every third light in the parking lot worked, and we couldn't see any camping spaces or even any other cars indicating there were more guests for that matter. We looked at each other with trepidation, and at just about the same time silently agreed to leave the Bates Motel and be on our way. With a sense of having escaped with our lives, we got back on the highway and resumed our trip. 

Once we were back on the road, we decided that it was probably a good thing that the camping hadn't worked out. This way we'd be able to find a decent hotel, get a room, and have a leisurely morning of getting presentable. We didn't want to show up grungy first thing in the morning when they weren't expecting us until later in the day. As usual, we had no plan and knew absolutely nothing about Belgrade so we made the most logical decision that we could. We decided that we'd stay at the third place we saw. Right after that, we saw a sign with four hotels listed on it. The third one was the Hotel Oasis. That was our place. 

We had no problem finding it because there were signs everywhere. The thing that made us laugh was that they all said the hotel was 3km away from wherever we were. 3km from the exit, 3km from the first intersection, 3km from the third intersection, and 3km when we were looking at it across the street. It looked like a plain, functional kind of place, nothing fancy, but certainly acceptable.  So we were pleasantly surprised when walked in and saw how modern the reception area and stairs leading up the the rooms looked.  What clinched it was the shoe shine machine at the top of the stairs! Well, not really, but it was a nice touch. At any rate, I inquired about the price and found that a room would be 50 euros (about $65.00) and included breakfast. We happily checked in and made our way to our room. Quite a difference from the night before.  I should have taken a picture of the room before we slept in it, but honestly, all I could think about at that point was a shower and sleep. 

The next morning, we went down to breakfast expecting some meager continental type fare, but instead, this is what we greeted us.  Of course, now looking at the picture, I realize I should have taken it from the other angle because that's where all the hot food was. Just trust me. It was an amazing spread for a free breakfast. We agreed that we would definitely stay there again if we were ever in need of a hotel in Belgrade. 

Official Day One (Saturday, August 17)
We hung around the hotel until about noon so that we wouldn't crash in on our friends, Zoran and Dunja, too early, and it still surprised them when we called. They really were expecting us late in the afternoon. No matter. We met up with Zoran right after we crossed the bridge from New Belgrade (where the Hotel Oasis is) into Old Belgrade (where Zoran and Dunja live) and followed him to their apartment building. Zoran and Dunja and their two sons and families conveniently all live in the same building. One of their sons, Branko, and his wife, Emma, and child, Iskra, were out of town - in Milna, actually - and they were kind enough to offer their place to us so we stayed in their apartment. The balcony in the middle belongs to it.

That night, we went on our first tour of Belgrade. We went over one of the bridges back into New Belgrade (Novi Beograd) and took a walk along the Sava River. From there, I was able to take a few pictures of Old Belgrade (Stari Beograd). They were taken at night with a phone camera, so they are not of the best quality.  Zoran told us an interesting story about a time that this place in the river was full of Soviet warships threatening to strike because Yugoslavia's leader, Tito, refused to join the Soviet bloc. Zoran talked about the tension in the city and the uncertainty of what was going to happen. Tito did not back down, and eventually the ships left and the Soviet Union decided to leave Yugoslavia as a Communist ally outside of the Eastern bloc. 

Actually, on the way to the bridge, Zoran and Dunja pointed out a number of interesting sights so I was able to also get some shots from the car. It was dark, and we were moving, so again the quality is not great, but here are some of the things we saw before crossing the bridge.(There were more, but I could not put everything in this narrative. It is long enough as it is. You can see the other pictures at the end of this entry if you want.)   This church is an Orthodox cathedral called Sveti Sava (Saint Sava). You cannot tell from the picture, but it is huge. It is the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans and one of the largest in the world, taking up what looks to be a city block and holding 10,000 worshipers and 800 choir members at one time. 

The building with the columns is one of the buildings attached to the university. This one houses the technical school for subjects such as architecture and building construction.  

Cyrillic is the official written language of Serbia, so many of the signs and storefronts are written in it. For people like Bill and me who do not read Cyrillic, this could have presented a big problem. Fortunately, most of the time, we were with Zoran and Dunja so it didn't matter. However, there was one time that we really had difficulty. We were driving around on our own one day with a map to help us find our way, which is usually no problem because both of us are old enough to have learned how to read a map. But this time, the map wasn't much help at all because the streets on the map were labeled in the Roman alphabet that we're used to BUT the street signs were all written in Cyrillic! We had absolutely no idea what they said, and needless to say, we got all turned around. This is where the largeness of Saint Sava Cathedral came in handy. It was easliy visible, and we used it as a landmark to find our way back home. 

Back to the original subject - New Belgrade. After we left the river with it's breathtaking view, which unfortunately you cannot truly appreciate due to the terrible pictures I got, we moved on to Zemun. Belgrade is where the Sava River and the Danube meet and merge into one. Zemun is on the Danube. Of course, it was too dark to get a photo. No matter. I have plenty of Danube pictures on other days. One thing I did get pictures of, however, was the Sibinjanin Janko Tower, now known as the Millennium Tower. I knew the photos would be blurry but took them anyway because the tower was so beautiful lit up.   

Another tower found in New Belgrade is the Usce Tower, which is the tallest building in Serbia. In the days of the former Yugoslavia, it was used to house the Communist Central Committee. By the time of the war in the '90s, the top three floors were being used for three different television stations. During the NATO bombing, Tomahawk missiles targeted those three floors to disrupt communication but left the rest of the building intact. As you can see, it has been rebuilt.  

That ended our first day. We drove back over the river and to the apartment house and made a plan for what we would do the next day. 

Well, actually, that ended Zoran's, Dunja's and my day. Bill went out with Zoran's son, Ante, and some of his friends to a cafe named Voulez Vous and spent a couple of hours getting to know them. This was a good thing because Bill got introduced to not only Voulez Vous but de Lamartine's as well, which were two really nice cafes within walking distance of our apartment. We get up earlier than Zoran and Dunja as a rule, and the first morning we were there, they got up early to be sure we had coffee and breakfast. There is only so much one should ask of a host, and getting up earlier than you want to to cook a breakfast you don't normally eat is above and beyond the call of host duty. So after the first morning, Bill and I got up and walked to one or the other of the cafes for coffee and breakfast. 


Day Two (Sunday, August 18)
On this day, we went to visit a friend of Zoran and Dunja's who had spent his career working in the American Embassy. And as an avocation, he was a jazz musician. Zoran did a really good job of picking friends that he knew had common interests with us. Bill and I both love music so he introduced us to a musician who also happened to have a vast knowledge of America and the American way of life. As a matter of fact, he holds an American passport in addition to his Serbian one. At any rate, we spent a very pleasant afternoon at his house being entertained with stories of his life and listening to our own personal concert of his music. I did not take any pictures of him or his house because somehow it seemed as if that would be intrusive. 

On the way over to his house, we rode around to see more of Belgrade. Again, I took pictures from the car. Some of them such as Hyde Park are self-explanatory. (Belgrade is full of parks. That is one of the most charming things about it, in my opinion.) The others will take some elaboration.  The arch below is the entrance to a dwelling that, during WWI, was occupied by a visiting King. Zoran didn't know which one so, consequently, neither do I. And we could not go in so the entranceway was all I got. It's a nice entranceway, though, don't you think? The long unadorned building to the left is the museum dedicated to Yugoslavia's president, Josip Broz Tito, Not only is this a museum, it is also a mausoleum. Tito's remains rest here. I did get one other set of pictures, but I had to delete them. We passed by the American embassy, and I was blithely shooting pictures of the entranceway and building when two guards started yelling at me to stop. Apparently pictures are not allowed. There really isn't much else to tell about this day even though it was a very interesting one. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Zoran's friend. We had hoped to see him again, but alas, that did not work out. 

Day Three (Monday, August 19)
This day took us to a number of places, some as sightseers and one as guests. We began the day seeing more of Belgrade.  The statue is of Vuk Karadzic, a language scholar of the 18th century who created a simple and logical spelling system to reform the Cyrillic language for Serbian use. The building with the columns is the same technical faculty building that we saw the night before. This is what it looks like in the day time. I think the captions on the capitol building and Usce shopping center speak for themselves. Behind the shopping center is the Usce Tower that we saw the night before as well. 

We then drove to Mount Avala, a small mountain overlooking Belgrade. (For those of you familiar with Greenville, it is akin to Paris Mountain.) First we visited the Monument to the Unknown Hero from WWI, which is an impressive creation of the famous sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. (One interesting fact about Ivan Mestrovic is that he was the first living person to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.) The design of the monument is unique in that it has eight caryatids (columns in the shape of women) in representative dress from the eight historical regions that made up Yugoslavia.  Pictured here are two of the caryatids. If you'd like to see the other six, look for them in the group of pictures at the end of this Belgrade blog entry. 

Also at Mount Avala, we saw the Avala Tower. The Avala Tower is a telecommunications tower that was erected in the mid-1960s. The original tower also included a restaurant and observation deck from which one could see a panoramic view of Belgrade, making it one of Belgrade's biggest tourist attractions. The tower was destroyed during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 but has since been rebuilt, albeit without the restaurant. The new tower became operational in April, 2010, and is currently the tallest tower in Serbia.

After leaving Mount Avala, we drove to Kosmaj Gora (another small mountain near Belgrade) to visit Zoran and Dunja's friends, Vlada and Vera. On the way, we stopped to pick up some BBQ.  This was not like picking up BBQ at home. This BBQ was made of freshly cooked pigs that were slow-cooked in these barrels. The meat was cut from the pigs to our specifications as we bought it. Although there are tables for people who want to eat there, we took the BBQ to go. 

We then spent a lovely afternoon and evening visiting with Vlada and Vera discussing everything from family to travels to relationships to music to politics. We left right near sundown and drove back to Belgrade. Again, we would have loved to spend more time with them, but that will have to wait until our next trip to Belgrade as well. 

On the way back to Belgrade, we stopped to view an Orthodox monastery whose name unfortunately none of us know. We did learn that the original monastery was built in 700AD but fell into ruin and was rebuilt in 2009. We got there right before the monks were called to prayer so we were able to stay only a little while, but I was able to get some pictures to illustrate how elaborate the architecture was. 



Day Four (Tuesday, August 20)
Our day began with a visit to downtown Old Belgrade and the fort located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. On the way, I shot pictures of something that I think is very interesting about Belgrade, the variety of types of architecture right next to each other. There are ornate buildings from previous centuries, utilitarian Communist era buildings, and modern buildings with glass and an angular look. Unfortunately, there are also buildings that still have damage from the NATO bombing that ended in 1999. Even if you know nothing at all about Belgrade, you can get an idea of its history through its architecture.  

Once we arrived downtown, we parked in a parking garage and basically just walked through the downtown area to get to the fort. I took a few pictures along the way, but we didn't stop at any shops or cafes.  

 There were a couple of interesting sculptures. One was a statue of Nikola Tesla that was being used as a fundraiser for the Tesla Museum that is opening in New York. The other is a pyramid with the four directions. Zoran says this is a new sculpture and it is a mystery to be solved because no one seems to know what it means or why it is significant. I suppose someone does. They really should enlighten everyone else. 


In front of the fort lies Kalemegdan Park. (Remember I said Belgrade has a lot of parks.) As we walked through, we saw fountains, statues, ruins of an out building, and panoramic views of the Sava River and New Belgrade. 

The original fort was built by the Romans in the 2nd century AD, but because Belgrade is in such a strategic location, it has been fought over many times throughout the years, and the fort has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over.  The fort as it is seen today was built in the 18th century, but even so, there are parts of it that remain from earlier years making the stonework varied in nature.   

Overlooking the fort is the statue of Victory, which symbolizes the city's ability to rise victorious no matter what kind of destruction it has endured.

Today, the fort is also a museum, which is why there are tanks and other types of armaments on display that would have not been found when the fort was operational.

Later that afternoon, Bill met Comi, a friend whom we had met in Milna last summer, and they went to the Tesla Museum. (More about the Tesla Museum later.) Zoran, Dunja, and I went home for a rest. After the museum visit, Comi and Bill picked up Comi's son and me, and we all went to a park near de Lamartine's and Voulez Vous. Something I found interesting in Belgrade is that all of the parks we visited had these cool swings that would hold children safely while they enjoyed swinging without fear of falling from the swing onto the ground.   

I was also able to capture a perfect illustration of something that amuses me about where we live in Croatia as well as in Belgrade and that is people's propensity to just make their own parking spaces. Not one of these cars is parked legally in any kind of space. They are all just willy-nilly in the street.  




Day Five (Wednesday, August 21)
Our day started with a trip to the Krusedol Monastery at Fruska Gora where we met Zoran and Dunja's friends, Branka, Misa, and Tanja. The Krusedol Monastery is an Orthodox monastery, which was built between 1509-1515. The monastery church is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Holy Virgin and is built in the Morava architectural style. We were allowed to go in to the church but were not allowed to take pictures. That is unfortunate because I don't think I have ever seen a more ornately decorated church.


After that, we drove to Novi Sad. Our first stop in Novi Sad was The Gallery of Matica Srbska where Branka had been head of the gallery for twenty years. We did not actually tour the gallery. Rather, we were treated to coffee and brandy in one of the salons just as if we were visiting dignitaries while Branka told us about the history of the gallery and its collections. The collections sounded quite interesting, and the next time we go to Novi Sad, Bill and I plan to spend time there. 

At one point while at the gallery, I had a somewhat disconcerting experience. I had to use the restroom and was greeted with this once I found it.  See my dilemma? I just stood there for a long time and finally decided to just open a door and hope it was the right one, or at least that nobody was in it if it wasn't. Fortunately, Dunja came along while I was still staring at the doors trying to make a decision so I was able to follow her into the correct room and not make a fool of myself or embarrass someone else. (By the way, the one on the right is the Women's room.)

When we left the gallery, we took a short walk down Dunavska Street where we saw Liberty Square, the central square in Novi Sad. We also saw the Church of St. Nicholas. Built in 1730, St. Nicholas is the oldest Orthodox church in Novi Sad and is built in the Baroque style. We passed by the Bishop's Palace, and The Name of Mary Catholic Church, which was built in 1895 in the Neogothic tradition. Although this church is relatively new (in European terms), the church was built on the same site as an older 13th century church that had been damaged during the Revolution of 1848.  


This sculpture is a monument standing at the site of the former Jewish Quarter, which was destroyed during the reconstruction of the city after WWII. This monument was placed to memorialize this important part of the city's past.  

As we were walking back to the car, we passed the building that houses the Executive Council of Vojvodina Province. Designed by the famous architect Dragisa Brasnova and built in 1939, this building has an interesting story. During WWII, the Germans liked this building so much that they made a plan to dismantle it piece by piece, move it to Germany, and then reassemble it. Fortunately, they were unable to accomplish this task. Just as with the Saint Sava Cathedral, you cannot tell from the picture how large the building really is. It wraps around a courtyard, and the backside is just as long as what you see in the picture. Today, it is protected by UNESCO as an important historic site.  
Leaving Novi Sad, we saw the Petrovaradin Fortress as we were crossing the bridge over the Danube River. This is a truly terrible picture because I was reduced to shooting it out of the back window of a moving car. We visited there just long enough to view Novi Sad on the other side of the river.



At the fortress, we also saw another of the main landmarks of Novi Sad, the clock tower. The clock tower was very important to the boatmen on the Danube and the military guards who had to change at specified times. Built in the late 1700s, the clock tower is still operational today, although it was showing the wrong time. It was not late afternoon; it was lunch time.  Notice the hands on the face. They are unique in that the long hand designates the hour, and the short hand designates the minutes. The time showing was actually 5:40, not 7:25 as you would normally think. 

By then, it was time for lunch. Misa treated us to an experience that Bill and I never would have had if we had wandered over to Novi Sad on our own. There are a number of fish restaurants along the Danube that serve fish caught fresh out of the river, but as you can see, if you don't know where they are, you would have a difficult time finding them. This one was way off the beaten path.   

We entered the restaurant and walked straight through to be seated by the river. We then spent a lovely couple of hours eating two different kinds of fish soup, a platter with a variety of fish, and a fruit desert tart. We all ate until we were stuffed.   

After lunch, we went to a small town named Sremski Karlovaci where we saw the oldest elementary (grammar) school in Serbia, the town hall, and the Orthodox cathedral dedicated to St. Nicholas, in which we were allowed to take photos. I only took one just to illustrate how elaborately decorated the inside of an Orthodox church is. We also saw the Karlovaci Theological School. Established in 1794, it is the oldest theological seminary in Serbia. The building is not that old, however. The current building was built in 1902.


After a brief tour of the city, we all went to Misa and Tanja's house to relax and visit. While there, I discovered Misa is a fan of the blues, my favorite music. He has an amazing sound system, and when he realized that I loved the blues, he had me sit in the chair that is in the best place for the sound and played a blues CD. I was in heaven. As it got to be twilight, we took our leave, and as we were leaving, Misa gave Bill and me CDs to take with us.He then drove with us back to the road out of town and showed us a building (the one on the right) he wants to buy to turn into a jazz and blues club. It is in a great location, right outside of town across from the Danube. We left just as the sun was setting over the river and town.  

It had been another delightful day.

Day Six (Thursday, August 22)
Bill and I spent the morning on our own because Zoran and Dunja had an obligation that was going to take a while. I told Bill that I would like to go to the Tesla Museum if he didn't mind going again. He said he'd actually enjoy seeing it a second time because it wasn't just a museum to tour through; there was an actual presentation and demonstration of Tesla's discoveries and inventions. So, off we went with our map that we couldn't really read. (Remember the map written in Roman letters that didn't correspond to the Cyrillic street signs?) We drove around and around looking for anything that looked even remotely like what we saw pictured on the map and finally came to a round-about (traffic circle) that we could locate. We then took what we thought was the street that would go right past the museum, but alas, it was the wrong street, and we drove around some more getting farther and farther away from our destination. We finally pulled over and asked a pedestrian where we were in relation to where we wanted to be by showing him the map and having him point it out to us. We discovered that we were about six blocks away so we decided to just give up driving and park and walk. Walking wasn't a bad thing because we saw things we most likely would not have otherwise such as this contrast of apartment buildings. This is not all that unusual. As I illustrated in a previous day's entry, Belgrade has an interesting mix of architecture.

I cannot adequately describe all that we learned in the short space I have in this blog so here is a link for you to read about Nikola Tesla and his inventions. And here are some pictures from inside the museum.    


The demonstrations were about Tesla's inventions that generated and passed electricity without the use of wires such as this machine. Once the electricity started passing from the top of the machine to the ball, the tubes that the boys are holding lit up. The docent turned the machine off too fast for me to capture a picture of the lit tubes. Just trust me when I say they did light up.

This machine illustrated electric power that could be touched without the person touching it being shocked. It also demonstrated how electricity can pass through one person to another to light a tube. Again, I didn't capture the lit tube, but it did indeed light up.   

Just as in Tito's museum, Tesla's is both a museum and a mausoleum. His ashes are kept in a separate room for patrons to view. Well, for patrons to view the urn, not the actual ashes. That would just be creepy.  

As we left the museum, I recognized the house that Zoran and Dunja had pointed out as the house Dunja grew up in across the street.  


At that point, we figured Zoran and Dunja might be home so we walked all the way back to our car and retraced our route home, getting lost only once. The four of us didn't do too much during the day. We were all really tired from the activity of the previous days so we basically just ate lunch, took an afternoon siesta, and rested until evening when we went out to the Skardalija area of town. In the late 19th/early 20th centuries, Skardalija was the Bohemian section of Belgrade. In the time after WWI, it was a street of jazz and dancing. Today, it is lined with cafes and restaurants each offering its own flavor of live small group, mostly acoustical music. We walked the length of the street listening to the music in each place for a few minutes as we walked by. As we started back down the street, we decided to stop for coffee and got to hear music live and up close. The group was playing in a corner of the room right next to us but would venture away to play for a particular table if requested.  



Day Seven (Friday, August 23)
Bill and Zoran had a plan for the morning that did not include Dunja and me. They were going to Kurtak, the cafe that Zoran frequents, which is somewhat of a boys' club. Bill was going to meet Zoran's cafe friends. So, even though Bill and I were up before Zoran, we did not have our usual time to go to Voulez Vous or de Lamartine's, but I needed coffee, too, so we went right around the corner to a small Turkish cafe. I can tell you this - usually I have two cups of coffee in the mornings. This day, I only needed one. It was strong!!  

When we got back to the apartment house, Bill and Zoran went off to Kurtak, and I stayed home and did laundry and read. It was a very relaxing morning. 

When Bill came home, he told me two things: (1) that Zoran's cafe hang out was right next to where we had parked to go to the Tesla Museum, and (2) it was basically about four blocks up the hill from where we were staying. We had driven all over the place just to end up almost right where we had started from and then driven all over the place back home. Yes, that's right. We actually could have just walked to the museum rather than having all that confusion with driving. 
That afternoon, Bill and I met our friends Comi and Katarina to spend time with them. We had met them last summer in Milna when Zoran and Dunja's son, Branko, and daughter-in-law, Emma, came to stay in Zoran and Dunja's apartment while they went and spent a month back in Belgrade, and Branko and Emma had invited Comi and Katarina to come with them. We were actually staying in Branko and Emma's apartment on this trip because they were back in Milna again while Zoran and Dunja were in Belgrade. We were sorry that we weren't getting to see them, but we did appreciate the use of their apartment. At any rate, Comi picked us up and took us to the Last Chance Cafe in Tasmajdan Park where we waited while he went to get Katarina and their two children, Vuk and Ada.  While we were waiting, I noticed these rather unusual birds. Bill told me that they are called Hooded Crows.

Tasmajdan Park is a park for everyone. For adults, there is the cafe as well as a chess area. Yes, there is a designated area for chess players. It is even covered so that the rain does not have to stop the games.  

There is sculpture to enjoy. That is, if you enjoy headless Don Quixote. Bill said it creeped him out. For teens, there is an area for skateboards as well as gym-type equipment. For children, there is playground equipment. The children's areas are broken up into toddlers' area and older elementary school-age kids' area. I did not get a picture of both the kids' areas and only took the ones I did at a distance. I didn't want to make any parents feel odd.  

Comi got back with Katarina and the children, and we proceeded to catch up a year's worth of news of our lives and watch Vuk play. He is really good at entertaining himself for a child of two-and-a-half.   

While we were still in the cafe', Comi told us some of the history of the park. Originally the area was a Roman quarry. Later, part of it was a cemetery, and when the city government decided to build the park there, they moved the graves. Except moving every body buried under the area proved impossible and some were left behind. This is why there is a tombstone monument right in the middle of the park. I suppose that might even be creepier than the headless Don Quixote. Really, it's a wonder the kids who play there don't have nightmares. But, seriously, it is a beautiful park with something for everyone right in the heart of Old Belgrade. 

After a while, Vuk wanted to go to the playground so we headed over that way. We got side-tracked, however, when he saw some of his friends. We stopped while he played with them for  a while.  

Eventually, it was time to take the children home to feed them and put them to bed so we parted ways and told Comi and Katarina that we hoped to see them in Milna next year. 

Day Eight (Saturday, August 24)
At some point during the week, one of Branko's friends named Mladin had come to visit and meet Bill. Mladin is an avid motorcyclist, as is Bill. While they were visiting, Mladin invited Bill for a day of off-road motorcycle riding, which he didn't hesitate to accept, and Saturday (this day) was the day they had decided to go. So, Mladin came to pick Bill up at 9:00, and off they went. 

That left Zoran, Dunja, and me to tour more of Belgrade. We started out in the oldest part of Belgrade called Kosahcicev Venac. This is the part of town where the whole rest of the city grew from. At the present time, this area has become a haven for artists.    



From there, we made our way to a variety of sights. First, we stopped to see Princess Ljubica's residence.Constructed in the 1800s as her private residence, it is currently a museum featuring a permanent exhibit on 19th century Belgrade home interiors. 

Next, we saw the Cathedral Church of Michael the Archangel. Often just called The Cathedral by residents of the city, it is the most important place of worship in all of Serbia.  We could not go in because this cathedral is quite formal and we were wearing shorts, which were considered inappropriate. No doubt even if we had been able to get in, I would not have been allowed to take pictures. 

Right across the street is the residence of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, the highest official of the Orthodox church. The Library and Museum of the Orthodox Church are also located in this building.   


On our walk, we also passed King Alexander Elementary School. Built in 1905/6, it was built to from the plans of Jelisaveta Nabic, the first woman architect in Serbia.
the Question Mark Cafe, which got its name because the owners could not figure out what to call it

and the French embassy, which was built by the Serbian government as a thank you for their invaluable help during WWI. And practically right next door to the French embassy is the Austrian embassy.  

As we were walking, we passed this hotel. When you drive around Old Belgrade, you get the idea there are no hotels in this part of the city because they are not what you typically expect to see, but they are there. They just blend in like this one.  

Once we left the the area, we went to a hamburger place for lunch. On the way, we got stopped by a traffic light right next to the zoo. The wall separating the zoo from the street is full of colorful mosaics of animals. I'm not usually a zoo person, but next time we're in Belgrade, I think I might go. Belgrade's zoo is unique in that the animals are white.

Anyway, I arrived at the hamburger place ravenously hungry, but I did not count on the hamburgers being the size of flying saucers. OK, that's an exaggeration, but they were huge! I could not eat all of mine, which made me sad because it was delicious. Hamburger meat over here is different from home in that it is a mixture of beef and pork, which gives it a unique flavor. The meat is a beef/pork mixture where we live in Milna as well, but unlike what you might think, it makes no grease. NO grease. But, yet, the hamburgers are juicy and mouth-watering. But I digress. Just know that I enjoyed my lunch and took the leftover part home to enjoy later.   

After we ate, we went home to rest. Bill came home later and told all about his adventures, and adventures they were. Suffice it to say I am glad he got home in one piece, but he had a marvelous time and would do it again in a heartbeat. We stayed home for the rest of the evening and the four of us enjoyed talking with each other. 

Day Nine (Sunday, August 25)
Today we went to Ada Lake. Ada Lake was created by the damming of the northern and southern tips of an island in the Sava River. With its beach-like atmosphere, it is a popular place for the city residents of Belgrade to relax and enjoy the water and sun. There are playgrounds for the children, bars for night time enjoyments, food vendors, and a number of cafes that serve liquid refreshments both in the traditional way in the cafe or out on the beach.
We spent a relaxing couple of hours sitting by the lake and then went and enjoyed each other's company at home.  

Day Ten (Monday, August 26)
Bill and I had time to ramble around again because Zoran and Dunja had another obligation that would keep them busy until late afternoon. We decided to go back over to New Belgrade and revisit Zemun during the day. As we drove over the bridge, we saw the place we had been the first night when I was able to take pictures of Old Belgrade across the river. I wanted that scene during the day, too. Of course, we had missed the turn but figured we'd catch it on the way back.   

We found Zemun's river walk, a place to park, and took off to see what was there in the daylight. I have no pictures because I had forgotten to charge my camera's battery and also forgot that I had a phone camera with me. Sometimes I can be a total ditz. But, really, it was about like every other river walk - lots of restaurants/cafes/bars and kiosks with crafts and souvenirs. And, of course, the river. If you've ever been on one, you can picture it. 

It was lunch time so we decided to find a seat in one of the many riverside restaurants and have a meal. I honestly do not remember what Bill ordered because I ordered a steak from a home grown Serbian cow, and it was carnivore heaven. Juicy and tender and cooked over an open fire. I savored every bite. And about that time I remembered that I had a phone camera so I took a picture of the Danube just to record the moment for posterity. Lunch by the Danube. Never really thought I'd say that, and this was the second one because the fish camp was on the Danube, too.

On the way back, we did find our way to the view of Old Belgrade across the Sava, and I got the photos I wanted.  

We had such a great day touring around on our own, not getting lost, enjoying the beautful weather, food, and scenery until.....the car broke down. What can I say? It's a ten-year-old Russian-made car. It's very sturdy and will go off-road like it's nothing, but it's a Lada. Anyone who knows Lada will understand. All I can say about that is thank goodness it waited until we were about half a block from the apartment house to overheat and start spewing water all over the place. At least we didn't have to tow it. Bill was hoping it was something simple like a blown hose.  This picture was not taken in Belgrade. It is an old one because I didn't think to take a picture of the broken car. However, I thought it might be good to remind you what it looks like. 
Day Eleven (Tuesday, August 27)
During the day, Bill and Zoran spent the entire day getting our car fixed. It was not something sim;e like a blown hose. It was the temperature gauge that tells the car when to start the fan to cool it down. It wasn't expensive, and it really wasn't all that complicated, but it did take all day to track down the part. It seems that finding parts for a Russian-made car is not easy. Go figure. But it got fixed so we would be able to stick to our schedule and leave the next day. 

That afternoon/evening, we all went out to eat at a restaurant that Zoran and Dunja suggested. We wanted to take them out as a goodbye thank-you and asked them to pick where they wanted to go. Zoran told me the name of the restaurant, but I could not figure out how to spell it so I've just called it Restaurant in the pictures. No matter. It was a great choice because the food was fantastic, and it was a place Bill and I never would have found, and even if we had, would never have gone. Not that it didn't look like a nice place. It did. It's just that we couldn't have ordered anything.   Maybe others are more food adventurous than me, but I am really averse to pointing at something on a menu and saying "That" not knowing what I will get.  We have decided that before we visit Belgrade again, we really will have to learn to read Cyrillic. 

We had a great time laughing and eating.  Dunja and Zoran ordered for all of us, and I honestly still don't know everything we ate because some of it was unique to me, but it was all good. It was a great way to end our time together. 

On the way back to the car, Zoran saw some of his friends at his cafe' so we stopped to have a drink, and I got to meet some of the people Bill met the other morning. They were all very nice. I wouldn't have expected anything less.

So ended our vacation in Belgrade. We spent the rest of the night packing and generally getting ready to leave in the morning. 

Day Twelve (Wednesday, August 28)
We bid Dunja and Zoran good-bye (for a few days until they returned to Milna) and left Belgrade to head out to Mokra Gora. 

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