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Published: July 13th 2004
Taken on the Castle walls, over looking Novograd (the new city)
Hurray! I'm back on the road again. Sara (my girlfriend) and I had hoped to go to Central America for the summer. But alas due to some bad planning, some bad luck, and changes in the university year dates, we couldn't get reasonably priced tickets. So we decided to go to Bulgaria for a month. Trains from Budapest to Sophia, the capital of Bulgaria, run twice a day and go one of two routes, via Romania, or via Serbia. The Serbian route was cheaper ($90 US return) and quicker acording to the internet (Hungarian Railways
) so we took that route. After a long slow journey from Budapest to Belgrade, overnight in the sitting carriage we arrived in Belgrade. Our timetable had also indicated that arriving in the morning would give us a 2 hour stopover and then an 8.40am train would leave direct for Bulgaria... nope. The train didn't leave to 11.20pm - so an unexpected visit to Belgrade.
Much of my preconceptions about Belgrade were formed from the news of the war in the 90's, wars, war crime and bombed out buildings. Well either Belgrade avoided the war - which I think was the case, far from the fronts in
The Danube and Sava
Where the rivers meet from the Castle.
Bosnia and Croatia - or there has been a hell of a lot of work rebuilding in the last 5 years. I think a bit of both is the case.
Belgrade has an amazing location, the Danube flows down from the North and the Sarva (will correct later) from the west. The majority of the city sits in a bend at this point. At the farthest north point the remains of a 15th century Castle, built by Hungarians to defend against the Ottomon expansion sits. (Nandor Feher Var - Nandor's White Castle) Much has been destroyed thoughout the centuries but it must have been enormous at it's most impressive, the ruins stretch over at least a kilometer square. The park around the castle houses a zoo, a miltary museum (complete with parts of an American Stealth Bomber) and a few cafes.
We spent a rainy morning exploring the castle, a sunny mid part of the day wandering the town - drinking lots of great coffee and eating cakes, and watched a spectacular sunset from the castle walls in the evening. The Serbs that we met, were friendly and proud of their city, justifiably. We've been invited to have
St. Sava Temple
Originally I thought that the whole thing is being renovated or rebuilt, and that it was Belgrade Cathederal - nope it's still being built.
coffee on our return by a friendly family who asked us to take their photo on the castle walls.
I was surprised by how nice a city Belgrade is overall, not sure how long I would want to spend there, but I'm sure we only scratched the surface of what is on offer. Good coffee, great views, great cakes, and inexpensive prices. We have another 12 hours on our return in a month.
And on to Sophia.
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