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Published: October 8th 2009
After some ticketing hassles in Vienna, we made it through to Belgrade and had 6 hrs to kill. Of course we decided to make a short visit to the city. Negotiations started as soon as we stepped out of the arrivals lounge, with the first taxi offer being about ten times what was suggested by the trusty Lonely Planet. We opted for the 500 Dina option of the airport bus. Nothing to see on the trip into town through the aroma suggested the urgent need for innovations in personal hygiene. The bus dropped us in a dingy part of town where all expressions were severe but perhaps 2 km away was the lovely Kalemegdan citadel. The buildings we passed on the walk were austere and pretty ugly. Some had once been beautiful but were crumbling now. At the citadel Belgradians obviously relax and court and enjoy. For centuries that key piece of land has been fought over more than 115 times. A pleasant stroll amongst parks and battlements overlooking the Danube. This led naturally to the Knez Michailova street mall which as in Bulgaria was a bustling place with trendy shops and many street cafes. People were saying that because winter
was coming late, everyone is enjoying the opportunity to enjoy the last chance. While having a snack we were briefly visited by a small band of street kids begging and pinching but our reactions were fast. The walk back to the airport train took us back through commuter crowds and past throngs of young people enjoying a doner kebab snack - definitely the alternative to Maccas but unfortunately with more mayonnaise and more chips.
We got slightly geo-confused on the way but people helped us willingly sort out the cyrillic text. Missed the airport bus by some minutes and of course the nice taxi man was happy to oblige. Later that evening we boarded the JAT ATR72 for Sarajevo. Even though these are Italian planes they have a soviet look and their capacity to reverse out of the bay under their own power added to the exotic.
Off to Sarajevo: a place that between 92 & 95 none of us would have thought of visiting.
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