Yesterday we arrived to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport from Istanbul Ataturk Airport with a flight lasting 1 hour and 20 minutes. We received a taxi coupon from the airport and took a taxi that will take us to our hotel located in the second region. Belgrade is divided into regions and each region has a determined taxi wage. It’s a pretty nice system that protects tourists. The taxis are quite old. And we couldn’t have a chance to chat with the taxi driver, because he spoke on the phone during the entire ride. I felt like traveling from Istanbul to Ankara in Turkey. The roads are similar to those in Turkey. There are huge, gray buildings located around. They are all apartments, stacked like boxes. Perhaps, there is a scene from the films belongs to the former Yugoslavia in your mind, or when mention about structures of that period, a picture may come into your view. So, that architecture still exists and apartments are the same in this way.
A gentle receptionist welcomed us, when we arrived at the hotel. He marked every place on the map that we must see. Unlike my previous abroad experiences, I needed someone to show and mark the places on the map, because almost all of the signs were written in their own alphabets. Only the name of the main roads and tourist attractions are written below the signs with the Latin alphabet.
First night, we visited the Skadarlija Street, which called as Bohemian quarter of Belgrade. Its decoration like the Cezayir Street and functionality is similar to the Nevizade Street in Istanbul. Firstly, we strolled through the street, then we sat in a restaurant called Šešir Moj. Our waiter (later, I learned that his name is Bani) knows English. The menus are written in both two languages. I have to warn you that the portion sizes here are too big, insomuch as, shortly after while walking around, I saw a Japanese restaurant advertising as “Japanese taste, Serbian portions”. That is, the Serbian portion has a recognized equivalent by everyone. Anyway, just as our dinner and drinks served, the musicians of the place started to play songs while walking around. I guess, that is the point that it differs from Nevizade street, the repertoire and musical instruments of musicians. The musicians have every kind of instrument, accordion, contrabass and violin, etc., so you will enjoy listening. The Balkan music is very nice, even though we didn’t understand, we listened all night long without getting bored. Another nice thing is, same group can change the genre suddenly, and start to sing known songs of other cultures. Another issue is the tip. We asked to Bani that how much tip we should give to the musicians. Bani replied “We, Serbians, just play for the music. Whether you tip, the musicians still play, it doesn’t matter.” Really, I saw that the musicians playing 3-4 songs on a table and passing to next one with a greeting after everyone has enjoyed the music. None of the musician is doing weird things (like playing the instrument just near your ear) to take a tip. (This may be the fault of the clarinetist, I’m not sure!)
Then, a matron with glittering clothes showed up, entranced listeners with her stories –those who understand the language, and sang with the musicians while telling about shiny life, love and passion (it’s my guess).
We ended the night early because of the fatigue of the first day. I want to tell about check: dinner for two, salad, appetizer and a few drinks all about cost $30. ($15 per person, I think it’s quite fair for those I counted.)
Then, we did a short walk to the city square. There is also another thing that I have to mention, people are dancing in the cafes on the square with live music. Even if you don’t want to sit and order something in these places, you can join in the fun from outside either on foot or you can sit to the bar chairs placed outside. This attracted my attention as a pleasant culture.
So, the summary of the first day is this. See you on the second day.