Contiki continued: Budapest – BelgradeNovember 11 2007
DAY 10: BUDAPEST – BELGRADE
Travelling south we make our way along the flat plains towards the border town of Szeged. Into Serbia, we pass the city of Novi Sad, famous for the July Exit Music Festival, before arriving at one of the oldest capitals in Europe – Belgrade. Wander through the fortress and take some time to enjoy the busy pedestrian streets.
After accessing our tent the next morning at 7am after spending the night under the stars we packed up our campsite and once again boarded our contiki bus, hitting the road, driving this time towards Belgrade, Serbia. Our group was only the second that were completing this particular tour, and so in many ways we were pioneers. (On a side note, we were all actually quite excited because our tour guide had been taking photos on the company camera to include in next years brochure, so I may just turn up on a random page in a random European city!!!) As such, because we were making great time, and could spare a few hours, our tour guide and driver decided to add in a detour, not on our itinerary, and make a short stop in Slovakia, allowing us to wander around Brataslavia for an hour or so and explore the city!
This not only added another Eastern European country under our belt, but also allowed us to personally expel the myth and stereotype about the city created by ‘Euro-trip’! (For those now lost, Eurotrip is an American movie, in the same genre as the American pie films, which has been released in the past 2 years and casts Brataslavia in a very bad light.) Well people I am here to tell you that Brataslavia could not be more opposite from its depiction in the movie, it was absolutely gorgeous! A very small city, with a mixture of narrow, cobbled roads and pedestrian streets; even in the rain the pastel coloured buildings gave the town a happy, upbeat edge to it.
While quite small, the city had character, and as I made my way up to the castle to take in some pretty amazing birds eye views of Slovakia (getting very lost along the way I may add), I noted lots of small, crazy things which just made you laugh and added an eccentric kind of charm, for instance as we walked into the centre of town we passed a statue on the side walk of a man leaning out of a drain! While I was loving travelling around Eastern Europe and experiencing the different cultures, the one thing was was getting quite anoying was how each country had their own currency and had’nt converted to Euros! By the end of the whole tour I was left with a cup full of spare, losse, random coins, which all together probably would have amounted to a small fortune, but were too small individually to change!!
After spending an hour or so in Brataslava (which was so incredibly cheap by the way!!) we carried on towards Serbia. When we reached Belgrade we were given a driving tour in the bus, before being dropped off in the city centre and left to explore for the afternoon. Belgrade has a long history of war, being in the centre of WWI, and so I spent the majority of my afternoon exploring the Kalemegdan fortress, which for a long time held the entire population of Belgrade, and as such shares much of the same history.
The fortress is huge, and these days is split into four main areas, including a lower town, an upper town, a military museum and an expansive park. Before entering the park it’s interesting to walk around the outside walls, which are lined with war memorabilia, tanks, vehicles and armoury used in WWI. The park itself is a major attraction for both locals and tourists because of it’s numerous winding walking paths, shady benches, picturesque fountains, random statues, mammoth historical architecture and incredible river views, and I found it great to just relax, sprawl out on the ground and enjoy my book! Before leaving the city and heading towards our campsite I also managed to take a stroll down the major pedestrian streets, lined with big-brand shops, home-made stalls and everything in between!
Read about 10 things to do in Bratislava.