If you are like us and fancy getting about in Europe from your base in Bulgaria then Serbia should certainly be on your list of places to go. In our first 3 months in Bulgaria we went to Serbia twice even though we are quite far east of the boarder.
Our first trip was to Subotica in the north of Serbia which is truly stunning and pleasant. Unfortunately as I am currently in Belgrade, all I can think about is Belgrade so that’s what I’ll tell you about.
The journey here from Ruse is easy enough by car but you need to have a green card to cross the boarder(see insurance article HERE) so this time I though it might be fun to go via public transport. The first part of the leg is a 6 hour bus ride from Ruse to Sofia. The long distance buses are very reasonable and comfy and you usually get to watch an English movie with Bulgaria subtitles which makes the time pass a lot quicker. This time it was “the Taking of Pelham 123” then “Angles and Demons”. The bus drivers are considerate and stop every few hours for pit stops but remember to have some change on you as lots of the toilets charge a small fee and sometimes you don’t want to have to queue at the shop for change if things are urgent!
Bus/coach leaving times are pretty accurate if you are near the start of the route but the arrival times may change so it’s a good idea not to cut it to fine.
Sofia bus station and train station are right next to each other and its worth looking at their pictures on google images or something like that as they are instantly recognisable from a distance if you know what you’re looking for. I know that some people make the mistake of jumping in a cab and get a very expensive sightseeing tour of Sofia in the process…. As with most European cities, its worth walking away from the station/airport before you get in a cab.
The train from Sofia to Beograd took about 8 or 9 hours. If you get in at a stupidly early time as I did (5 am) you will want to bring warm clothes and a book as nothing except the bakeries seems to open before 8 am and don’t be confused but the likely music coming from a building next to the station… It’s not a music hall or club it’s the Postal Sorting Office trying to keep the staff awake playing loud music!
Belgrade is a beautiful city with a lot of history. If the weather is nice and you like architecture it’s worth spending 2-3 hours walking around and getting a feel for the place. Quite near the train station is the row of embassies which has some stunning grand buildings in a whole range of styles as you might expect from the international row. It’s hard to pick a favourite as they are all pretty amazing but the American embassy has its windows bricked up which makes it perhaps a little less pretty than some of the others.
Prices in Belgrade are a bit higher than Sofia but still lower than most parts of Western Europe although the hotels are still quite steep. There is a definite café culture feel to the whole of the city and large piazzas to be enjoyed such as the Republic Square which is (as you might imagine) over looked by some rather imposing buildings. Belgrade is on the cross roads of the Danube and the Sava rivers. The river banks are lined with floating café’s, restaurants and night clubs and really come alive when the sun comes out although as any Belgrade resident will tell you, the weather will not stop the parties!
Belgrade has an amazing nightlife and nightclub culture. When Serbians party they take no prisoners and I have found that a lot of people I have met on trains travelling through Europe say the Belgrade is their favourite city for its nightlife alone. The fact that Belgrade is well policed and extremely safe probably helps people really cut loose and enjoy themselves without and there really aren’t any dark undertones that you sometimes get in big cities and particularly in bars/clubs after dark.
Belgrade is certainly worth a look and if you are already in Sofia you can get a return train for abut 80 BGN (€40) including a bed if its an overnight train. Enjoy.
I also have to add that on the bus back from Sofia to Ruse this trip the bus driver decided to put “Speed” on as the movie… You have to admire the humour of a bus driver who puts a film about a bus being hijacked on for his passengers to enjoy.
|Last Updated on Monday, 02 November 2009 18:49|