Belgrade, our first time in Serbia

Saturday, 25th August 2018

We awoke in Belgrade for breakfast and left the boat at 08:00 as it needed to leave the dock to refuel. The majority of passengers went on a guided tour whilst we went on our own to look around this capital city. First we had to cross the border controls [we have a stamp in our passports to prove it].

The boat was moored very close to the old town on the River Sava.  Matilda wondered why the tour needed a coach for such a short distance but having climbed six flights up to the town she felt she would have appreciated a lift just that far. 

Our walk led us past a statue . . .

through the old square . . .

. . . .past the Serbian National Parliament . . .

. . . and the St Sava Cathedral. This is the largest orthodox cathedral in the Balkans. Designed in the 19th century, work started in 1935 but had to be suspended during WWII. Construction of the dome was completed in 1989 and the cathedral was consecrated in 2004.

This is the Serbian equivalent of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familias as work is still underway. The exterior and the crypt are finished and if the photos of the model of the mosaic which will adorn the dome are anything to go by, it will be very beautiful once finished. We will have to return to see this. 

We also passed the Belgrade City Parliament which previously housed the old court . . .

. . . . and of course Robert admired the local transport infrastructure . . .

. . . on our way up to the Kalemegdan Fortress. . .

. . .  for views across River Sava to where it joins the Danube.

Robert has been getting a little bored by the bland Meteor lager onboard, even though it is covered by the all inclusive price, and wanted to sample the local offering on the way back to the boat. A dark lager proved to be a very acceptable aperitif before lunch back on board.

After lunch the Travelling Herd split into two parties.  

There are only ten native English speakers on the boat and the six who have already been on some tours had told us that the ratio of six to one tour guide makes for an enjoyable excursion without too much dawdling.  Ruth and Matilda decided to join the tour to Novi Sad whilst Jaime and Robert opted to stay on board to enjoy the comparative peace of the sun deck. 

However, the weather changed dramatically today and both halves of the Herd experienced torrential rain from about 14:30. Robert was determined to wear his waterproofs and experience the precipitation as he hates to take an item of clothing on holiday and not wear it.

The crew feared for his sanity.

Matilda and Ruth arrived at the monastery and there was some discussion about whether the party would brave the weather and get off the coach but is seemed a shame not to, having travelled there.

From here, the tour continued on to Sremski Karlovci, a small town of about 2,000 inhabitants which is home to the most prestigious grammar school in Serbia with a library which is recognised by UNESCO as a cultural treasure. The school has been here for over 250 years but the striking terracotta and yellow building is more recent. Those who attend are meant to have their choice of career.

And on to the town Novi Sad which is now on Matilda’s list of places for a return visit. Novi Sad is a charming city and Matilda was particularly taken by the Town Hall in Liberty Square [Trg Slobode]. Built in 1895 it also housed the police and fire brigade. The bell in the tower is named Matilda, after the benefactress who donated it to the volunteer fire fighters:  it was used to summon their help and the number of chimes indicated where in the city the fire had broken out.

From Liberty Square, our guide directed us to the best gelato in the city. Highly recommended but if you go, be aware they do not accept Euros.

So today’s video of the day [below] is the weather…

Back on board in Novi Sad there were views of the rainbow bridge and the Petrovaradin Fortress, with its drunken clock, and another fine sunset to end the day.

We have really enjoyed Serbia – it is not at all what Robert expected. Belgrade is very western, modern, clean and tidy.

Miles walked today: 10.1

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