After spending five days in Serbia I can truly say I wish it had been longer! When people asked me where am I going, their immediate reaction was “right…okay, random!” Well I suppose in a way it was, it definitely isn’t on the tourist trail.
However, I believe this may be all about to change for the country. Having applied to be a member of the European Union in 2009, Serbia has come a long way to stamp out corruption and encourage foreign investment. Although it may not feature the same grand avenues as Paris or the worldly appeal of London, Belgrade sure has a lot going for it.
Usually when I fly in Europe I go with British Airways, unfortunately they don’t fly to Belgrade so I had to choose Air Serbia. My initial thoughts were that they were a bit expensive; also I hadn’t heard amazing things about the airline. However, when I took my seat, these thoughts evaporated into thin air as I was treated to a complementary pillow, menu advising me of my meal choices and real cutlery. In an era of low-cost flying and airlines reducing the services they offer, this was a real surprise. I can’t think of any other European airline that offers this service in economy class.
So, where in the country did I visit? Well usually I would take public transport, as I can’t drive, thankfully I was travelling with a friend who could so we hired a car. All I can say is that it was fantastic value for money! Usually I thoroughly research a country before visiting, unfortunately I didn’t get chance to do this for Serbia but I’d heard great things about the Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš.
Thankfully all were true. Belgrade is a true hidden gem, yes it has problems like any other city, but it’s affordable and is the renowned party capital of Europe; which lives up to its name. Having visited many other European countries, sometimes the locals can be a little frosty towards the English due to our reputation. However, I received nothing but warm welcomes and smiles.
Driving through the country was an interesting experience. A journey by car from Belgrade to Novi Sad should take just over one hour but it took us four! This was due to our stupid sat nav deciding to send us down a dead-end road. Having navigated our way to the city, Novi Sad was incredibly beautiful but relatively quiet and free of tourists. The main tourist draw has to be the fortress at Petrovaradin, this requires you to cross over the Danube.
Niš is quite a long drive from Belgrade, after paying toll roads and spending approximately 3 hours 30 minutes driving I was maybe expecting something more and left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Once again the city features its own fortress but more impressively on the edge of the city is Skull Tower, a tower composed largely of human skulls built-in 1809 during the Ottoman Period.
Serbian cuisine isn’t very well-known, mostly because they simply just have a love of meat, grilled, fried – any way! Food is relatively cheap compared to UK standards; I came across a wonderful restaurant called Cynepmapket Deli. I visited here twice as I loved the food so much; it’s also worth noting that Serbia produces lovely wine at reasonable prices.
What more could a traveller ask for!
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