We arrived in Belgrade the evening of May 21 and spent May 22nd there.
We only had a short time in Belgrade as it mainly served as a launching point into Montenegro – our main destination! So in Belgrade we chose an accommodation near the train station since we arrived late in the evening and were to leave early 2 days later for Montenegro. We stayed at Friendz Hostel, which is located almost directly across from the train station. If you arrive without booking a place, there are plenty of hostels and cheap hotels near the station. Also, you will certainly run into touts trying to push their hostel on you.
Friendz Hostel has a good location close to the citadel and the Stari Grad, but starts to go downhill from there. But before I nit pick the place I must first say that the staff at Friendz Hostel was excellent! They were very friendly and took time to answer any questions and tried to help in any way they could. If you are a smoker then you will like this place as some of the staff smoke and they like to hang out and chat. However, the common area where their PS3 is located (as well as the kitchen) is full of smoke and that smoke easily finds its way into the bedrooms as well … a real bummer for us non-smokers! We would NOT recommend Friendz Hostel to non-smokers who are sensitive to smoke. We had a private room that was tiny and unfortunately the smoke smell was in the room at all times. Also, even though it is cold weather, there are many mosquitoes in the hostel. Mostly in the bathrooms and showers, but also a few in our room. We think this might be caused by some stagnant water that is behind the building. Someone living upstairs from the hostel decided to wash their floor and the water just flooded down the floors through the stairwell until it reached the bottom floor, which is actually open to a field in the back! Very strange, but then again, this is Serbia ;). I asked one of the hostel employees about this and they said those people upstairs are stupid and do this every so often. So don’t be too surprised if you arrive at the hostel only to see water flooding down the staircase!
As mentioned above the location of Friendz Hostel is good and from there we were able to walk to all the attractions.
We had lunch at “?” Restaurant. I had Serbian beans and sausage and Heidi ordered grilled chicken. This place comes highly recommended by the staff at Friendz Hostel so we had to eat here! This is a very old establishment that is known for their open wood fired grill and Rackja – hard liquor made from plums, apricots, or pears. The liquor is considered an aperitif – to be drank before the meal so we drank up and had a buzz before our lunch arrived. My meal was much tastier than Heidi’s, which was just two slices of grilled chicken and a side of raw onions. It’s a good thing that she also ordered a Serbian salad, which had a type of cheese that seemed like feta, but also creamy, with onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. Very tasty! We spent about $15 between the 2 of us. Not bad for some hard liquor with your meal ;).
As we paid our bill it started to thunder and rain very hard and all the guest who were sitting outside in the garden, where we were sitting made a quick dash for cover. Luckily we were done and we stood under the awning for a couple of minutes and the rain stopped. Then we were off to explore the citadel.
Next we headed in the opposite direction towards the Sava Cathedral and it started to rain again. We walked down the trendy streets for shopping and restaurants including the Bohemian “old town” street, but weren’t able to really enjoy much of it due to the intermittent rain. Finally we circled back to the pedestrian mall street and we could now see the giant Cathedral in the distance. From the mall we continued down the street, across town to the Sava. An hour and 15 minutes later we finally reached the Cathedral.
For dinner we ate at the restaurant right next door to Friendz Hostel. While we don’t recall the name of the place there are many similar establishments throughout Belgrade and I’m sure just as cheap! Yes, food here is very cheap :). Luckily there was an employee who spoke English and was able to explain some of the dishes. We opted for the chicken (it was called “pileci file” in Serbian) but didn’t really know what to expect. We chose some toppings so I realized that it was going to be something similar to kebab, which is really big in eastern Europe. When he brought us our meals we couldn’t believe the size of them! They were about twice the size of a normal kebab and weighed a ton! Okay, not a ton but at least a pound. I had to use 2 hands just to pick it up. Each sandwich came with two grilled chicken breasts, as well as a large helping of toppings. There was no way that either of us were going to finish our meals either! It was very tasty and the chicken was very tender! Total price for the 2 Chicken fillets with sodas was about $8 USD. Funny thing is the cost of the soda (330 ml) was about 1/2 the cost of the chicken fillet.
The next morning it would be time to say bye-bye Belgrade, and head to Montenegro!