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Published: September 30th 2018
Today we are going to the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Things I know about Belgrade; (1) it was the capital of Yugoslavia, (2) Tito is buried here – you can visit his mausoleum at the Museum of Yugoslavia and (3) you can visit Nikola Tesla’s remains in a gold casket in the Tesla Museum.
First, breakfast. In Serbia, everyone smokes. All the time. Breakfast is no exception; it’s like being stuck in the 1980s. I half expect Michael J Fox to turn up in a DeLorean. We are offered the hotel’s signature breakfast - the waitress says it’s a bit of everything. She means meat. Lots and lots of meat – sausage, bacon, salami, 2 types of ham.
Filled to the top with pig products, and smelling of a combination of stale cigarettes and strawberry shower gel, we set off for Belgrade.
30 miles outside town, we pass a landfill where they are burning the rubbish. The smoke is horrendous. We drive for mile after mile in a thick smog which stinks or burnt plastic. Finally the smog lifts as we reach the city.
Our first stop is the Museum of Yugoslavia. It seems very quiet when we
arrive. That’s because the main museum is shut. They’re happy to charge the full entrance fee to visit the House of Flowers (Tito’s Mausoleum) and the Old Museum (storage area full of random tat).
We visit the House of Flowers with Tito’s mausoleum, a who’s who guide to his funeral attendees (Prince Phillip sat next to Margaret Thatcher), a model of Tito’s Blue Train, plus batons from his birthday celebration relays.
The old museum contains all sorts of stuff in no chronological or any other logical order; mementos from Tito’s life, gifts given to Tito, more relay batons….
We attempt to drive on to our hotel. It’s absolute chaos; we have arrived in the middle of the Belgrade Marathon. A combination of multiple road closures and a hideous one way system mean we are unable to reach our hotel, despite trying for an hour. We get close a couple of times, but just can’t quite manage it.
We give up and instead go to Kalemegdan Citadel; a fortress on a hillside overlooking the city and the Danube.
Cultural interlude complete, we have another bash. After almost another hour on working our way through every permutation
of the one way system not blocked by the marathon, we finally reach the hotel. I ask where we can park, and get directed to the garage entrance, which is round the corner, ironically in a road we have driven down 3 times trying to reach the hotel.
The LifeDesign hotel is a strange place; think boutique hotel that someone lost interest in half way through construction. Some of it’s very nice but there are broken plugs, the shower has half fallen out of the wall and the bathroom door doesn’t shut.
We head out one more time for a walk to get some fresh air, calm our nerves, have some dinner and maybe a beer or two…
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