Belgrade. One of the two cities I was most excited about on this entire trip.
When the minibus from Bosnia made its way into the city limits, the first words out of my mouth were “Wow, Belgrade feels REALLY different from Sarajevo.”
“Of course,” the driver replied. “Belgrade is a city.”
I guess I somehow hadn’t realized that the capital of Bosnia was quite so small – only 250,000 people, as compared to Belgrade’s 3 million. In fact, I scarcely even noticed that I hadn’t been in any truly big cities since Budapest.
Here, there were no crumbling buildings with bullet holes, no rolling hills populated by as many trees as houses, and no little old ladies selling fruits and vegetables from small wooden stalls along the roadside. There were multilane freeways, ten-story shopping malls, 24hr supermarkets and giant multi-unit apartment complexes. I was back in a major metropolis.
And you know what?
I liked it 🙂
Because of the rain in Sarajevo I’d been wondering if I’d made the right decision to hurry off to Belgrade, or if I should’ve hung around one more night for another shot at seeing the city. But because Sarajevo had never been part of my original itinerary anyway, and it seemed to be fairly sparse on the attractions, and I was so interested in Belgrade, I decided I might as well press on. I knew as soon as I entered the big city that it was the right decision.
I guess I’ll always be a city boy. I love exploring every type of place the world has to offer, from Asian megacities remote rainforests – but after spending enough time off the beaten path, returning to a proper city just feels…right.
Before checking out of my hostel in Sarajevo, I’d spent an hour or so reading up on Belgrade’s countless hostel offerings. Infamous for its nightlife rather than its scenery, I wanted to make sure I got a bed in the most fun, social environment possible. Luckily the options were plentiful: nearly every place I researched had exceptional reviews, boasting “fantastic helpful staff, a great vibe, and a fun location.”
I decided to go with Manga Hostel. The minibus dropped me off right at the door and I checked in.
The place was almost entirely empty: six guests in total, including myself.
I asked the staff what was the deal. “It’s because of the weather, of course. Normally this time of year every bed is taken, but people don’t come to Belgrade when it’s raining because it’s so much less fun. Just last week it was 30 degrees and sunny, so all our beds were full. It’s supposed to clear up next week though; hopefully you can stay?”
F this weather, seriously. With each passing day I more seriously consider skipping my return ticket in July and revisiting all these places, as the horrible weather is pretty much ruining half of what I wanted to do. Nearly everywhere I go it’s been the same story: “It’s never like this in May…usually it’s so warm and sunny!”
After chatting for an hour or so with the girl at the reception – the only person awake in the building – I decided to turn in early.