The previous part read here.
3.1. PRICELESS GESTURE
When I ask people what are Serbians like, the first thing they say is always – friendly. True. We arrived in Belgrade around lunch time. Starving, all we wanted was to do is sit and eat. While trying to park the car, we ran into some issues. Again. Parking was on payment everywhere, which was fine. All we had to do is to send registration plates info to some number. After a lot of trying, It was impossible. The problem is that you can do it only from a Serbian number. Ours are Italian. Not knowing what can happen if we do not pay, I stopped a girl in the street and asked her does she knows what to do. She said she has no idea and paid 3 hours of parking for us. We offered her cash, she refused. I was stunned.
Later on, we got a parking fine. Some time afterward, I found a policeman in a bakery. I stopped him and asked him what to do. We are staying in Belgrade for 2 days and I cannot pay for the parking. He started laughing and I will quote:
„You can go to the police station and pay the fine. Or you can go over there and complain about a lack of possibility to pay. They will contact the parking service. If the parking service will be in a good mood they will forgive you. If they will be in a bad mood, they will say they do not give a shit because it is not their problem you do not have a Serbian phone number.”
Not understanding clearly what is he trying to tell me, I asked him for a suggestion. Should I pay or not? And what about the remaining two days? He answered:
„Look, do not waste time and money on it. Nobody gives a shit. By the time it gets registered in the system, you will be back in Italy.”
Relieved, I asked what about if I come back at some point in the future. Is it going to increase due to state interest or avoiding to pay? He continued:
„Hahahaha, it is a fairytale for foreigners. The price stays the same. By the time you get back, the case will be out of the date and nobody will ever look at it again.”
Well, thank you, officer. It has been a pleasure talking to you. Indeed!
3.2. CHURCH MADE OF GOLD
Once again, we reached for Couchsurfing. This time, we were hosted by Simona. A Serbian girl who lives in Germany. She was really sweet and helpful. It was hard to find a host in Belgrade. There is a lot of people on the website but none of them were serious. One guy said we can stay at his place only if we will give him a ride to Guča to see some trumpet festival. Guča is 3 hours ride from Belgrade. Of course, we disagreed. He got rude and said he cannot host us because was busy anyway. Weird. Keep reading, seems like this festival is a big thing there, we learned that the hard way.
Before the evening and getting to Simona`s apartment, we spent some time in the city. We took a walk along the river and came across the waterpolo game. We stayed for 30 minutes only. It was exciting for the players and supporting family members in the audience. So we went out to find something more turistic.
We found Saint Sava church. An interesting thing about it is that the process of building started in 1935., following the project made by big architects. Construction is still ongoing due to political management and all the wars that were happening in the Balkans all the time. The basement is finished and the walls are completely covered in gold. Yes, real gold. Entering the upper part was not possible because of construction work. When finished, it will be one of the biggest Orthodox churches in the world. The first word that comes to my mind to describe it, is beautiful. I am sure that the upper part will be even better.
3.3. SO MANY WARS
The next day we took a walk around the city and visited Kalemegdan. It is a Belgrade fortress first mentioned before Christ. Due to historical events, it was conquered by different nations, gotten destroyed and rebuilt many times. Today, it is a wonderful heritage, a great attraction and a lovely place to visit. Walk in the park is relaxing and view from the top very nice. You can enjoy the exhibition of different weapons on the walls of the fortress.
It was a hot day and we wanted to get off the street. What seemed to be interesting was a War museum. Luca knows all about the history and I know nothing so we went in for educational reasons. The exposition was great and it followed the timeline. Balkan has been in the war since the history has been recorded. I guess we fought against everything and everyone.
The most brutal thing inside was a wall full of skulls. It was a part of Skull tower in Niš, Serbia. Ottomans conquered rebels, cut off their heads and installed them into the walls of the tower to spread fear among the enemies. Can it get more brutal? Yes. There are also some pictures showing torturing methods used in the 18th century such as impalement, hanging people on the hooks, leaving them to die in a period of days, vertically cutting in half using a saw… Which is not a long time ago.
Walking and following the events, Luca disagreed with some of the information that was presented. It was interesting for me to see that because it proves the fact that every war has more sides. The highlight of the museum was the fact they skipped the war with Croatia which was on from 1991. to 1995., yet they mentioned events from 1999. Being Croatian, I did not want to ask why. Some people are still sensitive to the topic.
We spent a lot of time with our host Simona and Luca`s friend Slobodan. We even went to have a dinner at Slobodan`s friends’ apartment. We ate fish which they fished earlier that day. Such a nice gesture. One more prove that Serbians are really friendly as described by everyone.
A general impression of the city was nice because we really had a good company. But the city itself is made of concrete. Later, when we were looking at all the photos we took, all we could see was concrete. There was no breathtaking background or mesmerizing sight. I will blame it on lack of time. I definitely think we managed to skip a lot and we need to spend there more time. After all, Splavovi is the party center of the Balkan and we did not party at all. Therefore, we have to go back and explore the depth of the surface we scratched.
3.5. F…ING DISGUSTING USED UNDERWEAR
The second night, we had to rent a place to stay. Concerning the fact we just needed a bed and a shower, we decided to rent something simple in the suburbs. We had a car and we were leaving early in the morning so it was not a problem. We found a guest house with great reviews referring to friendly owners. Good, we thought.
It was hard to arrive there because the street was uphill and narrow. House was well maintained from outside. We even had a parking spot in the backyard. Owners greeted us nicely and we went to our room. Do you remember Russians and kid with a broken guitar? The room was made for them.
The dirt in the room and bathroom was disgusting. Black stains in the bathtub, smelly drain, soap stains around the sink, hair around the washing machine, I did not dare to sit on the toilet. Room was full of dust and dirty crumbles. I was afraid someone already used sheets on our bed but after a detailed examination, I concluded that it was clean. Room was not big so I wanted to put my backpack in the wardrobe. I opened the wardrobe doors and there were dirty female panties. After that, even breathing air in that room was hard.
We told Slobodan about it. He was laughing hard while explaining that it is the place where people rent rooms for one night stands or cheating on their spouses. I am still disgusted.
To be continued…
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