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Belgrade, Serbia

Monument of a rider and horse in front of a cloudy sunset
Prince Mihailo Monument, Republic Square, Belgrade, Serbia

It is Sunday morning here in Belgrade, Serbia, and the street below our apartment in the center of the city is quiet. It’s a stark contrast to the sound of yesterday evening’s life reverberating in the narrow street below.

In other words, it’s a perfect morning to relax with a fresh cup of coffee, enjoying the rays of sun, bathing the cats in warmth for their morning naps and illuminating the golden hardwood abundantly used in the apartment.

Just two weeks ago, Corie and I had no idea we’d be in Serbia, but here we are in our home for the next six weeks.

Living abroad full time can sometimes mean juggling visas and sorting through the more extensive travel laws that a short-term traveler would have to deal with, which is how we ended up in Belgrade. Since it would take a boring paragraph or two to explain the regulation that brought us here, I’ll just say I’m not complaining. I like it when Corie and I get to experience a new place thanks to life’s little twists.

It's only a three-hour drive from Timisoara, Romania to Belgrade. We hired a driver named Florin to drive us, along with the two cats, two camera bags, and two carry-on bags. While it can be a little more expensive to hire a driver compared with renting a car, I would recommend doing so. While the drivers aren’t tour guides, many are usually locals who enjoy talking about their country and culture.

a red bus in front of an ornate theater facade
National Theatre, Republic Square, Belgrade, Serbia

Our conversation turned to food, and I asked Florin what his favorite Romanian dish is. He didn’t hesitate to tell me it’s a type of schnitzel, a bit different than its German or Austrian counterparts. In mouth-watering detail, he described how it’s prepared then gave us the bad news. The best schnitzel in Romania, I’m afraid, isn’t in any restaurant. It’s at his mother-in-law’s house.

We passed through lush green farmland, punctuated by small towns hidden in stands of oversized trees as the distant hills in Serbia started coming into view.

Corie and I had been concerned about the complications of traveling with our two cats. Our furry family members require more paperwork than their human caretakers, and we found out at the first border station we arrived at that not all border crossings have the ability to allow animals through. We had to drive to another crossing, adding an extra hour of seeing the sights of eastern Romania from a seldom-used two-lane highway.

At the second crossing, we found our fears of crossing the border with Sassy and Gremlin were unfounded. The border agents enjoyed meeting our little girls, and both received gentle government-sponsored head rubs to welcome them to Serbia. 

We arrived in Belgrade an hour and a half later, checked into our apartment and began our first day exploring the city. Fortunately, our apartment is a short walk from the town’s Republic Square. Like many countries in this area, Serbia has a complex past having been under Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Soviet rule.

Now in the center of town, Republic Square was once the edge of the eighteenth-century Ottoman Belgrade. Where there is now an open space populated with crowds of people enjoying the cool evening breeze, a formidable and well-guarded fortification gate into the city dominated the space. The Istanbul Gate, as it became known, opened to a road that led travelers through Serbia to the Ottoman sultan’s court nearly 500 miles away.

Just inside the gate was an execution ground, a place where Serbians who were accused of defying the Ottoman order were beheaded.

A modern-day stroll around the square is a much more peaceful endeavor. Corie and I stopped for dinner at a sidewalk café and watched people from all nationalities wander past. For a brief while, a small brass marching band pierced the evening air. The lively music slowly became louder as the buskers moved closer to us then gradually faded back into the evening.

Now as I’m finishing this newsletter, the city’s center is slowly waking up. Voices from the street drift up to the apartment, an invitation for us to discover more of what Belgrade has to offer.

a public square with blurred people
Republic Square, Belgrade, Serbia

1 comment

1 Comment

Jun 28

As always, a magnificent story with pictures that make the story come alive. Best wishes from Andrew Israel.

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