Hotel Moskva, my hotel in Belgrade, is pretty central in the Old Town, so I took the day to explore some of the more renowned sites in Belgrade. I don't really know if there are any "renowned" sites in this city, except maybe the cathedral (which I see on every postcard or online entry about Belgrade). The cathedral was my first stop, but it's pretty remote from all the other places I wanted to go. So I made a morning of walking to the cathedral and back to the hotel.
Since this is my last day in Eastern Europe, I took advantage of the price differences. If you've been following my blog, you know how cheap the past couple of weeks have been - not that I haven't tried to do all kinds of things. It's just that prices are so much lower here compared to France, Italy, or England. The first thing I did this morning, though, was free - the hotel breakfast buffet. As far as the variety goes, it puts every other breakfast I've had on this trip to shame. I've had individual items for breakfast on this trip that were better than most anything I had
this morning, but the continuously good quality of the food here has been outstanding. Probably my favorite here was the smoked gouda cheese that made me wish that time would stand still. I'm going to have to get up super early in the morning to enjoy it again - my train leaves at 7:17 AM, and the breakfast begins at 6:30, so there's hope. I would also like to point out that as soon as I walked into the hotel restaurant this morning, their radio started playing a cover of "Georgia On My Mind," so I knew I was in the right place. I got to sit outside at the restaurant, since it was cool and very quiet out there. It was Sunday morning, I guess. I also dropped off my laundry before I went to eat, and they had it ready before noon, no extra charge. With that, I shouldn't have to wash clothes again unless something drastic happens.
My trip to the Cathedral was uneventful, though long. I didn't get to go inside because it was Sunday morning, and they also looked like they were having some kind of celebration out in front of it. So I
had to content myself with a few exterior photos. On the way back, I got to swing by the government quarter and see their fancy buildings that look a lot like what I've seen in Washington, DC. I've also noticed that many of the "important" buildings around here have green tops - perhaps some of this is copper corrosion, but I think it's intentional in a lot of them. I also got to see a bunny running around the street, but it was alone and looked like it really didn't want to be here.
It was getting to be lunch time, so I found a nice restaurant with outdoor seating under tents, across the street from my hotel. It looked like it might rain, but I wanted to eat outside. After I ordered my drink, the clouds opened up. It was fantastic. Some people started running, others were prepared with umbrellas; I was under a tent and ready to eat. The restaurant employees dashed around to try and get the cushions out of the rain, since water was running down the sides of the tent. I enjoyed the spectacle. I ordered the Rosemary Fillet, which was marinated and grilled
pork with rosemary and Parmesan sauce. Oh, dear God. It was a good choice. It also came with roasted new potatoes with onions and peppers on top - nice for the flavor. I savored every bite of that. I also got them to bring me a Malibu and Coke, which was pretty well made - most people put too much of one or the other, but this was just right. After I finished eating, an elderly lady at the next table started talking to me, in English, and asked where I was from. Her husband had worked in Boston 20 years ago, and she had gone over for a few months at a time. When I finished with that, I walked back to my hotel and took a nap. It's a rough life.
This afternoon, I headed out in the opposite direction - towards the rivers. I saw the fortress, but I couldn't stay too long there. The pathways around and within the fortress were fine, but at all the places you wanted to actually get to, the pavement was so messed up that it hurt my knee several times when I misstepped. It's hard enough trying to figure
out where to go, much less when you're also having to look down all the time to make sure you're not gonna step in some hole. The views of the rivers and the other side of town were nice. And there were plenty of people strolling about the park around the fortress. I found my coin-and-memorabilia man again, and I acquired a couple of old banknotes - 1920s Germany and early 20th century Russian Empire - as well as a Nazi 2-reichsmark
coin with Hindenburg's face on it from 1939. May not get another chance, and it made that guy's day to show me all that stuff. I was intrigued, but I did not have an unlimited supply of money.
After parting ways, I went to the Patriarch's Church - the head of the Orthodox Church in Serbia. Another green-topped building, but with gold flecks and other images on the building. I strolled around a little more and found a new gelato flavor that I want to find more of - jafa
(I've seen it spelled both ways), which is chocolate-orange mix. Oh, man. We need a word for that flavor, America. And then I got a
bottle of Coke for the trip tomorrow - not sure what kind of service they'll have on the train, and it's an 11-hour journey. Lastly, I went to McDonald's for some fries - I'm almost to the end of my Serbian money (which is a good thing, since I'm not sure if I'll be able to change any of it back), but I need to keep some for the cab ride to the train station tomorrow, therefore cheap was the way to go tonight.
Lastly, I've done the filial thing today and called mom. This is actually the 3rd time in the last 4 years when I've been out of the country on Mother's Day. I was starting to think it was going to be a tradition, but I never made it to Europe in 2014, so that tradition ended at 2. Anyway, now that I've done that, I'll probably hit the bed pretty soon. There's not a lot of good TV on here in Serbia, but I don't really watch much of it to begin with. I'm hoping to get a good 8 hours of sleep tonight. I had some really good quality sleep last night, but my
body was still in the previous time zone, so I woke up around 6:45 this morning for no reason. No alarm at all. I've set one for tomorrow, but I'm hopeful that the quality of sleep will be just as good as last night. I am still on vacation, after all (and I've got absolutely no further academic responsibilities!), so it's time to make it fun AND relaxing.
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