I got extra work so I needed to work harder than expected today. I actually got started early and so I was able to break at 10:30 to go to the bus station. It’s only about 1KM away, but the walk there, even with a map and GPS, is very difficult since pedestrians get routed through alleys and parks. The route by car is almost three times as long! It’s actually brilliant that Google takes pedestrians off road on the shortest path, but dang am I glad I gave up and took a taxi when I arrived or I’d still be lost! It would have also sucked to go up all those stairs with my suitcase. The walk there will be easier.
En route, I encountered a group of Syrian refugees in a park, all young men in their prime, another generation lost to hatred and ignorance. You can go to my Facebook if you want to read more.
I stopped at a cafe for a coffee on the way back. This is a luxury that, really, I don’t want to afford on a regular basis back in Canada and the US as an espresso can be as much as $4 and a cappuccino can be $5 or more. In Bulgaria and Serbia, you can get an espresso to go for less than 1CAD and it’s about 1.50 to 2CAD in a cafe with a token tip. I like my own coffee very much, but the experience of sitting in a square to people watch while sipping an espresso is a quintessentially European experience, even luxury, that I really love.
It was almost noon as I got home and I was hungry, so I went around back to Caribic Pizza for a slice to go. There’s another pizza place almost right next door, but their slices look terrible. Caribic, a chain I’ve seen all over the parts of Belgrade I’ve explored, has some original toppings and a really good crust. For lunch, I had a choice of a slice with ham, cheese, and mushrooms or their “Mexico” slice, which had seasoned ground beef, sweet bell peppers, jalapeños, and cheese. You can imagine which one I picked. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed jalapeños! Pizza by the slice is another way that the Balkans have spoiled me. Even the worst pizza by the slice I’ve had here has been better than the best I’ve had in North America outside of New York City.
After lunch, I touched base with my host here to let him know when I’m leaving and with my host in Sarajevo to let him know when I’m arriving. I’m so glad to be going to another apartment. I will very likely be stopping over in expensive Dubrovnik, Croatia, for a couple of nights and they will have to be in hostels.
Here are some shots of the view outside my fourth floor Belgrade apartment.
Looking to Dečanska (where the red car is on the crosswalk). Dečanska becomes Braće Jugovića across Makedonska (my street, behind me) and has a couple of fast food places, including pizza, as well as a tiny convenience store with a very nice couple running it. Skadarlija Street terminates in Braće Jugovića.
Looking kind of east down Makedonska.
Looking kind of west down Makedonska towards Republic Square. You can see a building in the background that is not parallel to the one in the foreground. It sits in Republic Square. I was that close!
The apartment was noisy, especially when the garbage trucks go by (which they do several times a day!), but the noise was usually a dull roar I could ignore. It didn’t keep me up at night, wake me up in the morning, or cause me trouble hearing my audio.
After my afternoon work, I started to think about dinner. I wasn’t in the mood for sushi (no, I’m not ill) and have figured out that Italian is a safe bet in the Balkans. A quick Google search later and I was at Ottimo, just off Studenski Trg (kitty corner from the ethnographic museum), on a very quiet side street. I was so happy to be comfortable sitting on a terrace at the end of September in just a tee shirt. The weather continues to be a blessing!
I ordered a glass of wine that seemed rather stingy in its portion (especially compared to last night) and perused the menu. The specials of the day were in Serbian only (thank you, Google Translate), but the menu had Italian, Serbian, and English. I was really surprised that I felt like lasagna. It’s just not something I order when I eat out and, in fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I had lasagna at a restaurant was at Gertie’s in Dawson City some six years ago! As it turned out, lasagna was a special of the day, 50% off, so I guess that was a sign from the universe!
The portion was insane (I ate about two thirds of it), with lots of meat and a decent amount of cheese, plus homemade noodles, Béchamel sauce, and a hearty tomato sauce. It was really good, but would have been excellent if the temperature had been consistent. Some bits were tepid at best and others way too hot. With the tip, dinner was just 800RSD (9.84CAD)! Wow! But, remember, that was a special of the day. I just got lucky. 🙂
I really should start on my packing tonight, but I can’t seem to face my suitcase. I will have plenty of time in the morning. I’ll breakfast here, pack, then go out to get a food and drinks for the bus ride before coming back for my bags (most shops are tiny and you don’t want to bring luggage in them if you don’t have to!). My final stop will be an exchange place to get some Euros.
Thus ends my urban Serbian idyll. It was very good! 😀