Sep 27

TOP THREE CITIES TO BEGIN YOUR TOUR IN THE BALKANS WITH

Tourism in Eastern Europe is going through an era of development, which is great, because this region that has been long ignored it is not less important and has a lot of great things to offer to its visitors: from amazing architecture, to great food, fascinating history and a wonderful scenery. We shall begin our travel today with a top three of some of the most beautiful cities in the Balkans region, chosen randomly. And because there is a lot more to see, we promise to cover as many regions, countries and cities as possible.

Kotor in Montenegro

Montenegro is often sadly ignored by backpackers in Europe. But with such spectacular vistas in Europe’s deepest fjord, Kotor is not easily forgotten! The friendly people and cheap local wine, mean you really can’t go far wrong here so take a leap of faith and trust us on this one! The idyllic Bay of Kotor and its impressive ancient port town is Montenegro at its best. With its strong Venetian influences (the Republic conquered this area long ago) and unique river canyon from the Adriatic, it’s little wonder that Kotor has been named a cultural and natural World Heritage Centre. The summer carnival always proves to be a big draw, with thousands partying on the streets every year.

Zarad in Croatia

The city’s historic old town is the big draw with glowing white flagstones and the Riva – a picturesque waterfront promenade. In the evening, people gather at the promontory to watch the sunset – which Hitchcock famously claimed to be the most beautiful in the world. To add to the magic, Nikola Basic’s Sea Organ (click to listen!) provides a soundtrack to the setting of the sun. The art installation is operated by the tides which flow in and out of a series of tunnels underfoot to create an eclectic and poetic drone. You will catch people crouching with their ear to the ground in awe of the music.

Cocktails are best enjoyed at the Bedouin-style Garden Grow bar, opened by UB40 drummer James Brown. Once you’ve tasted the city’s heady nightlife, Zadar itself doesn’t need more than a few days. When you’ve had your fill, check out the popular Soundwave Festival or explore the northern Zadar archipelago for a spot of island hopping in Croatia to Pag, Ugljan or Dugi for idyllic beaches.

Belgrade in Serbia

his city is something of an up-and-coming destination, which today means you need to look beyond the city’s rather ugly housing blocks and cast your eyes to the heart of Belgrade – to the leafy squares and ancient churches – to see its true beauty. They are a reminder of this region’s diverse culture and religious history. There is, in fact, something of Paris’s Montmartre in Belgrade’s pretty Skadarska area too.

The real draw of Belgrade, however, is its hedonistic nightlife. During the summer, clubs open up along the Danube River on barges and some 3-storey boats. The city comes alive with the blast of techno rhythms and ravers waving glow sticks at open-air events, although most music tastes are catered for in some club or other, if that’s not your thing.

Photo source:

Picture 1: thetimes.co.uk; Picture 2: tripadvisor.com; Picture 3: zadar.hr; Picture 4: viator.com; Picture 5: resonate.io; Picture 6: bradtguides.com
Aug 17

BELGRADE – THE UNKNOWN FACES OF THE SERBIAN CAPITAL (BEOGRAD)

Belgrade is one of the most full of personality European capitals. While still recovering after its turbulent recent history, marked by was, its spirit is stubbornly making its way through the present and future, in a continuous process of transformation and rebirth. One of the most hectic and vivid cities, Belgrade has a lot to offer to its visitors. It is not yet among the top-list touristic spots – which is a pity, because it can easily compete with any other capital in Europe -, but it seems that the grape vine is very efficient and the news run fast: Belgrade is worth being known in detail and an increasing number of tourist are taking this piece of information for granted. Here are a few other suggestions for you to take into consideration when you come and visit this great city:

Take a stroll through Kalen Market

There’s no better place where you can come into contact with the real lifestyle of the locals than Kalen Market, where Serbs buys vegetables and fruit directly from producers. You expect to see here the usual seasonal merchandise, cold meats and cheeses, but you can also buy traditional delicacies such as Sir (cheese) and Kajmak (an unripened cheese, similar to a thick cream). Vendors are offering you their products to taste and are proud to show you the highest quality merchandise. In the market you can find bakeries, pastry shops, restaurants and small shops and a flea market which is held daily, where you can buy any imaginable souvenirs.

Explore the Savamala District

Savamala has undergone radical changes since the 19th century, when it was the commercial center of the city, thanks to its proximity to the Sava River and the central station. During the Second World War, most of its historic buildings, including those raised under the Ottoman Empire, were destroyed by airstrikes, and what remained untouched, has been neglected in favor of developing the new Belgrade, on the far shore . Only in recent years, Belgraders have realized the potential of this area as a center of creativity. The new cultural initiatives, such as the “House” House, an artistic location and exhibition space, where every year in June, there is a festival taking place, or KC Grad, where they organize debates and workshops; these two spots have gained an increasing importance by bringing cultural value of the area.

Spend an afternoon in historic Kalemegdan Park

Before having been transformed into a tranquil oasis of greenery, Kalemegdan Fortress was part of Belgrade – a battlefield where they killed millions of people in an attempt to defend the city from enemies. The park began to take shape after Serbia’s release from the Ottoman reign; trees have been planted, paths cleaned and monuments have been raised, including the statue of Victor ( ‘Pobednik’) and the French Thanksgiving Monument. Nowadays, the locals come here to relax and sail along the Sava River. Nearby you will find the Belgrade Zoo, famous for its rare species of albino lions and tigers, kangaroos and the famous Muja alligator, where he has been living since 1936, and managed to survive both World War II and the NATO bombing.

Admire the architecture of old town Zemun

Former town on the outskirts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Zemun became officially part of Serbia’s territory, ending the First World War in 1918. The tower fence, built by Hungarians on the site containing the ruins of a medieval fortress, is the most famous symbol of the Old Town, and from here you cana dmire the panoramic view of the whole city. Zemun boasts the best preserved architecture in the whole Belgrade and it is a delight to explore these places by foot. Zemun quay connects Zemun and New Belgrade, where you will encounter the famous splavovi – traditional floating clubs and restaurants, which offer the ideal setting for a romantic dinner and an unforgettable evening on the Danube.

Take a tram ride

Tourists usually choose double-decker buses to admire the city’s attractions without consuming too much energy. But Belgrade has two alternative means of transport for those looking for a more authentic experience. “A Streetcar Named Belgrade” is the name of a city tour organized twice a week (on Fridays starting at 20.00 and Saturday at 18.00) with a guide on board telling the story of the city while the tram passes across tourist attractions. An original concept is the “Yugotour” which takes the passengers on a journey theme, in a red vintage Yugo car, and which presents the tourists – in exchange of 45 euros – the past of Belgrade during the communist period.

All these and many more are awaiting for you to enjoy in this amazing city that is slowly but surely coming back to life.

Photo source:

Picture 1: myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk; Picture 2: en.wikipedia.org; Picture 3: agropress.org.rs; Picture 4: datourinfo.eu; Picture 5: wikimapia.org; Picture 6: skyapartmani.com; Picture 7: mojabanjaluka.info
Jul 25

SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SIGHTS IN BELGRADE (BEOGRAD)

Serbia’s past, as a nation that has been severely tested by conflicts throughout history, is well known: from the Austro-Hungarian invasion that triggered the First World War and ending with the collapse of the former Yugoslavia after 10 years of civil war. The image of the capital, Belgrade, as a tourist destination has suffered greatly in the postwar period, but now the city begins to recover, reaching out to tourism agencies and tourists alike. Here’s what you can do and see here, for starters:

A visit to the museum Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest scientists, inventors and engineers of all time, came from a family of Serbian origin, and asked in his will that all assets have been transferred after death in Belgrade. The museum, located in a beautiful villa built in 1929, is the only place where you can see Tesla’s personal legacy, one containing the original plans and drawings of his inventions that have revolutionized the production and distribution of electricity. The urn containing his ashes – subject of dispute between the museum and the Orthodox Church – is kept in a golden globe in the museum. Tesla’s archive is included in the “Memory of the World” Heritage by UNESCO as a sign of recognition of the value of this collection, until today.

Take a trip along the Danube and Sava rivers, aboard a cruise

Some shipping companies have exploited Belgrade’s waterways, turning them into tourist attractions, and the competition is fierce in the summer months. Kej Yacht Club is by far the most sought after hosting aboard four vessels of its more than 150 000 tourists each year. Apart from free afternoon cruises, which carries tourists a panoramic tour of the most notable attractions of the city, the company also organizes private parties or various events and live music evenings. Tourists can choose to serve dinner in the restaurant on the ship, or the can stay in the floating hostel throughout the entire time, where the owners guarantees a quiet night away from the bustle of the city center.

Explore the underground city hidden beneath the surface as we all know it

Over 700 years of history of Belgrade, locals have come and gone; they have been invaded and chased away by enemies. As a result, there are countless ruins buried here, many of them remain undiscovered for centuries. Since the foundation of the main gate of a Roman fort dating from the early millennium, until the secret passages dug during the conflict between Tito and Stalin in the mid-20th century, Belgrade’s past is unique regarding the availability offered to the public that knows about it. For those eager to learn more, there are several surcharge guided tours, which are organized during the week, and help participants to better fit the city’s underground attractions in the historical context.

Enjoy a sunny afternoon in Ada Ciganlija

Better known as Beograda (Belgrade Sea), Ada Ciganlija is the tourist resort town on the banks of Sava River. Here numerous investments have been made and have transformed an area little explored in an extremely crowded place for recreation during summer. Apart from a 7 km long beach, here you can find basketball courts, soccer fields, a bungee jumping platform and a dry slope skiing, to name just some of the facilities offered to those willing to have fun. Late at night, in the summer months, you can admire the spectacle offered by the luminous fountain in the middle of the lake, with the design inspired the famous Jet d’Eau in Geneva.

Photo source:

Picture 1: traveltoserbia.net; Picture 2: timetravelturtle.com; Picture 3: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 4: traveloutthere.com; Picture 5: flickr.com; Picture 6: skyapartmani.com; Picture 7: pinterest.com
Apr 12

BELGRADE – THE CAPITAL OF WHITE NIGHTS

Here we are, back to the Balkans, in the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade. Why Belgrade? Because rumor has it that this it the IT place of nightlife in all Europe, at the moment. Seems more like a piece of info pour les connaisseurs, as most folks still prefer to enroach upon the more “certificated”spots on the west side of the Old Continent, such as Paris, Barcelona, Milan or Berlin.

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http://www.teamsdesign.com/

Most of us cannot forget the painful yesterdays of Belgrade and former Yugoslavia, but things are settling down little by little. Probably as a revenge for all the anguish of the last decade of the previous century, Belgrade is trying to move on and switch to a different demeanor that would remind us of the famous “seize the day” adage.

Little is known of this corner of the world, still, but it seems that the impetuous temperament of the locals is beginning to reverberate and catch the eye of the inquisitive adventurers.

Before you decide to pay a visit , you must get an idea about the cultural background of Belgrade and the entire country – a tremendously vast mosaic of influences, which merged into the original shape and singularity that Serbia is today.

A Slavic nation with a strong sense of identity, the Serbs have dealt with centuries of political and cultural influences coming from the Ottomans, the Byzantine Empire, Russia, the Vatican, contemporary Western powers and so on, but not only they haven’t lost their essence, on the contrary, they have enriched it and solidified it into a new status worthy of recognition.

belgrade5

http://belgradecat.com/

Since the 19th century, the Serbs have known a continuous age of cultural evolvement, generated by the Habsburg Dinasty that established several superior educational centers, such as faculties and colleges, yielded throughout time mainly by religious figures who have imposed a strict demeanor on society. Speaking of which, do not miss the church of Saint Peter near Novi Pazar, the oldest in Serbia; it is very well-preserved and offers a vivid lesson of historic endurance.

The educational boost has proven great achievements in fields such as philosophy, science, economy, arts, literature and architecture. On the background of a flourishing culture, the scholars agreed on the necessity of creating a typical alphabet, known as Serbian Cyrillic, used only in this particular part of the Slavic world, which distinguishes itself from the classic one, as we now it to be in Russia, Bulgaria etc.

Nevertheless, this cultural complexity thoroughly reflects on people’s attitude and way of life, that blend the colourful spirit of the Balkans with the chic of aristocracy.

Belg2

http://www.modernwearing.com/

One of the four European capitals placed on the Danube River, Belgrade is also crossed by another river, Sava, and it seems that this very placement amplifies the potential of the the fun you can have. If, so far, the underground or the hights of the sky scrapers were the highlight of worldwide entertainment, Belgrade gives you the chance to float, not only on it’s waters, but on modern beats coming from the splavovi, the emblematic rafts that host insane parties and all sorts of notorious social events. But if you are not accustomed to the splavovi, do not imagine we’re talking about a bunch of logs held together, but right-down floating clubs, all frolicking and glitzing, which might somewhat remind you of them ancient Roman feasts (in the good way, but don’t say you haven’t been warned!). That goes on specifically during summertime, but there are a few reserved for the cold season, as well; and if water-in-winter is too mainstream, you can always relax on the sky slopes nearby Belgrade, that are in great condition and very biding.

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www.beogradnocu.com

Now, if you’re not so much on the wild side and you prefer a more settled, cozy or intellectual atmosphere, there are plenty to choose from, as every month is dedicated to a series of events.

For instance, in May we have the Night of Museums (Noć Muzeja), when over 60 cultural institutions are ready to have you as their guest. August is all about festivals and I would name only a couple: B.E.L.E.F. – Belgrade Summer Festival, where you can enjoy the newest music, dance, theatre, visual arts production that deliver performances around the streets of the Old Town – , and the Beer Festival, where you can see live shows of some of the most prestigious rock groups in Europe and the rest of the world and, of course, drink bear. Loads of beer.

belgrade4

www.tob.rs

Whether it’s experimental music or a Jazz concert, a film screening or an avant-garde artistic exhibition, a fine meal accompanied by out-of-a-Kusturica-movie Gypsy tunes that you can enjoy in a bohemian and classy place in the quarter of Skadarlija – the Serbian Montmartre – , Belgrade offers you all.   

September hosts events like the Belgrade International Theatre Festival and the International Film Festival in Belgrade so, even if you are exhausted after a full summer – a good play and an exciting movie will definitely put you back on track.

The translation of Belgrade is ”the White City” and we can conclude that, among the many sides of this metaphor, one can reflect the flamboyant and energetic night life of the Serbian capital city.

Don’t miss its vibe!