Part 3: Belgrade and the way back to home.

An entrance sentence is the most important part of an article. The sense that first few words give, are important reasons to attract the reader for more. I had my notes / draft for the third post of my Balkan trip, but I didn’t had a good entrance sentence which will shape the whole post properly.

While I was thinking about this, I was reading the book called Hamam Balkania written by Vladislav Bajac which I bought from a bookstore in Knez Mihailova street in Belgrade. After a while, following sentences, gave me strong feeling.  ‘ The writers problem, one of countless others, is that they often confuse reality and imagination. That is the source of the famous loss of boundary between what happened and what was experienced’. {P 23, Hamam Balkania}

This was the sentence that I was looking for. What a saying ! A lot of things can be written about this. The quote above is the primary feeling of this post. Because, Belgrade is such a city which can make you feel imaginary and reality at the same time. Secondly, I agree with Bajac 100% about the confusion, because the sentences in this post is going to include both the experience and what happened at the same time. In this post, I will describe the last part of the trip, you will find my story about Belgrade, the way back to home and conclusions about the trip in general at a mixed taste of reality and imagination.

In a quite warmer day for a winter season, I walked towards the old Belgrade fortress from my hostel, which is also known as Kalemegdan. The structure is situated at the meeting point of Sava and Danube river. Kalemegdan offers you stunning scenery to enjoy in a sunny day like mine. The opposite side of the river which is now called as Novi Belgrade and Zemun was part of the empire which run by Habsburg Dynasty also known as Austria-Hungarian Empire.

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Sahat Tower and entrance to Kalemegdan from Stamboli gate.
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View of Danube and Sava river from Kalemegdan. 
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Another view from a different angle 🙂  
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Another entrance with the fountain of Mehmet Pasha Sokolovic. 
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Inside Kalemegdan. 

After that, I continue to my walk towards Knez Mihailova street. Of course, Ottoman rule of almost 500 years has an obvious influence over the city in terms of culture, but mostly food. Kafana’s are the biggest example of that. When coffee arrived to Belgrade in 16th Century during the times of Suleiman Magnificent, kafana’s opened in the city. The word kafana is coming from kahvehane in Turkish which means coffee-house. However, kafana’s of today does not only serve coffee but every kind of meal and drinks including alcohol. Plus, there is music! It is like taverna’s of Greece and Meyhane’s of Turkey and Cyprus with a background of coffee. A visitor in Belgrade must pay a visit to kafana, eat a delicious dinner and enjoy a coffee or rakija. I visited the ‘kafana ?’ near Kalemegdan but you can find plenty of kafana’s at the bohemian quarter of the city.

In few minutes from Kalemegdan, I found myself in the famous Knez Mihailova street which has a lot of shops, bookstores, restaurants, café’s, street musicians, vendors and artists. It reminded me Istiklal Street in İstanbul with its atmosphere. Also, there are exchange offices in every corner which you can convert your money to Serbian Dinara. 1 euro is around 120 Serbian Dinara, which gives you around 2950 Dinara for a 25 euro. The city is relatively cheap. You can eat a pizza or a delicious burek for 120 Dinara which is amazing for a budget traveler. It is also funny, because the numbers are big, you carry a lot of cash at your pocket which buy very few.

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Knez Mihailova Steet in the early morning.
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A cute popcorn stand from the street. 

In one bookstore at the Knez Mihailova, I found lots of nice books in English from Serbian writers. I bought the one called Hamam Balkania from Vladislav Bajac, which was interesting. The book is telling the story of Mehmet Pasha Sokolovic, a famous Ottoman official who I know from school but I never read it from Serbian writer. I was excited to face with a different perspective about same man. I bought it without any doubt. After that, a more famous book about Mehmet Pasha Sokolovic, The Bridge on the Drina from Ivo Andric is on my list to read. I never heard about those writers and books before going there, I was happy to meet with another world.

Nikola Tesla Museum is another highlight of my trip in Belgrade. He is an inventor and smart mind of 19th Century. It was a nice and small museum, in 20 minutes of walking distance from my hostel. I attended to a guided tour in the museum, which I found the opportunity to listen Tesla’s story in detail. In fact, you need that guided tour to understand the museum better. Therefore, keep in mind that if you ever find yourself at Nikola Tesla Museum, wait for the guide which starts at the beginning of every hour. Of course, not only inventions are unusual about him, but also habits. According to our guide, he was never handshaking and had a habit of turning around a building three times before entering. But that’s also not enough, because he wanted his steps to be divided to three during this small exercise. It was funny to hear it, but I am not surprised. As you can understand from his inventions, he was not a normal man.

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St.Sava Cathedral ( A must visit place too) 

 

In short time, Belgrade drive me to a lot of feelings. There are two reasons for this. The first one is, city itself has a lot to offer which I enjoyed a lot. The second is, Belgrade was the last stop at my first solo trip, which made me to look back to what happened and conclude my trip.

I chose the chaotic evening times of Knez Mihailova Street to think about the trip before leaving Belgrade with a midnight bus. A solo trip made me to be more aware of my strengths and weaknesses in a clear way, it refreshed my mind fully, enlarged my vision and teached me new things. I also had the opportunity to look and observe Cyprus from distance. Like Gustave Flaubert says “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Additionally, the feeling of mission accomplished was priceless at the end of the whole adventure.

On the way back home, I stopped in Skopje to meet with my sister for two days. She wanted to join me at Belgrade, but because of the logistical reasons Skopje was most suitable. I took her around in the city and had a reflective weekend with her.

On 5th of February, we took the bus to Istanbul: An overnight journey back to Turkey. I was going to have two days in Istanbul, before going back to Cyprus. The first day, I had a lazy time at my auntie’s house. However, second day I went to eat a delicious Kurufasulye  at Süleymaniye with my friends from Famagusta who came for a vacation to Istanbul. It always feels good to be in Istanbul.

I returned back to Cyprus in the same day with the flight at 22.00. I was ready to begin spring semester at my university which is the last one before graduation after this quite interesting adventure. I have a favourite saying from Şems-I Tebrizi to conclude this final post of my Balkan-trip series.

Rule 9

 

East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond. -Şems 

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