Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Hello Serbia!

Blimey, it has been two weeks since our last blog update and we have travelled through three countries, clocked up 1,100 kilometres but now sat in the beautiful bay of Kotor, or Boka Kotorska, in Montenegro! But I am getting ahead of myself as when we last blogged we were in Lake Bled, and were rather sad to leave, when we did leave Lake Bled and our new friends, Adam and Sophie (you can find their blog at www.europebycamper.com , we headed to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Now this really wasn’t as exciting as it could/should have been as we were only using Zagreb as a stopover and were actually camped on a campsite which you had to drive through the petrol station to get to and was directly behind the motorway, so don’t judge Zagreb on this blog as we really didn’t ‘do’ it. We left early the next day after a particularly warm night and started heading to the Croatian border into Serbia.
Major traffic at Serbian Border

We had been warned about entering Serbia as it can be a bit hit-and-miss so we were prepared and had our friendliest faces on and after a rather long queue to the border control we had our passports stamped and were promptly on our way, another easy and uneventful border crossing is what we like! The plan with Serbia was to meet up with my stepdad and younger brother, Sacha and Nicky, who go on holiday to Sachas family farm in Pančevo every year, which is about forty minutes from Belgrade (the capital of Serbia). In order for us to meet up with Sacha and Nicky we agreed to meet at the Pančevo swimming pool, which we had directions to and so weren’t worried. So we end up at this swimming pool which was exactly where it was supposed to be (turn right at the second traffic light, follow signs for sports centre and its on your left, type thing), so we parked and text Sacha to let him know we were here, to which they replied that they would be half an hour. This was fine, and we had our lunch and had a bit of a sunbathe, when the phone rang; Sacha and Nicky were here already but couldn’t spot us. Couldn’t spot us?! Have you seen Bert?? Pretty hard to miss! After a lot of chatting and tensions running high we said that we were obviously on the other side of the swimming pool to them and Steven would cycle over and let them know where we were. We didn’t have enough credit to call them anymore so I just waited by Bert the Merc while Steve went for a cycle to find them. He went all the way round and had no luck and so we decided to go into the pool and find out if maybe there was more than one pool in Pančevo that we could go to… after finding an English speaking doctor on poolside we found out that no- there is only one pool in Pančevo but we weren’t actually in Pančevo…. We were still in Belgrade. Brilliant.
Serbian Dinar
Worse thing is, is that we were kind of wondering why our satnav still said that our journey had twenty minutes left…. It took us precisely 20 minutes to get to the right swimming pool and it was never spoke of again. Ever.
At the farm, which was down a little dirt track, we were given a bit of a feast- three courses of yummy food cooked by Our Serbian Nan and Aunt and just chilled around Pančevo which offers loads of cafes and restaurants, all of which have free wifi! The next day we went to the police station as with Serbia, all tourists are supposed to register their stay with their local police station as soon as possible. Luckily for us we had our own Serbian translator (Sacha) so when the policemen in the station explained that you need to go across the street to buy the form (equivalent to 50p) to then fill out and submit to the police reception, we knew what to do, as even though most young people speak English it is not always a given with the older Serbian’s. This was all pretty straight forward and didn’t take very long so after this we went to some lovely cafes and shops (you will see a theme here of lots of cafes and restaurants as its obviously one of Pančevo’s biggest industries!) and then to a market which was really interesting and similar to those we have been to before but in this market you could get anything from a wedding dress to a new boiler!
Here are some of our favourites:

One of many lovely cafes
The inside of Boz- a converted
train carriage!
Bohemian street

At the market

We also went to Belgrade a couple of times which was great! We went to the Zoo which is really nice and is currently having work done to improve and expand some of the enclosures, but it is a great trip but a bit bizarre to see pigeons and dogs as part of the zoo! We also got the chance to see the panthers being fed (look away if you are squeamish!), and I got to touch the elephant!

 Overlooking the zoo is a very lovely restaurant called Kalemegdanska Terasa…. Surprisingly it’s the only restaurant that overlooks the zoo! When entering the restaurant there is some amazing ruins that you walk past which are of the castle of Belgrade and are actually part of the zoo walls too! Here are some photos of the ruins as no description would do the sight justice! 
Belgrade Ruins
Belgrade Ruins

Belgrade Ruins

Belgrade Ruins

Ems meal at Kalemegdanska
At Kalemegdanska
Meal at Kalemegdanska

Belgrade is also a lovely city to go shopping and to relax with a beverage, it has some beautiful architecture and is always buzzing. The big shopping centre to go to is USCE which is like Westfield in London and even has a Marks and Spencer! Bohemian Street is a pretty and cobbled street which is full of restaurants and quirky art on the buildings.
For those who like a bit of adventure like us you there is also a huge recreational lake which has a wakeboard and waterskiing centre, as well as the opportunity to swim in the lake.

Bohemian Street
One of the beautiful parks in Serbia

Bohemian Street, Belgrade
Steven Wake Boarding

Steven celebrated his 23rd birthday in Serbia so we all went out for drinks and birthday ice-cream cake! As a present to himself and me we got some new chairs!!! Wahoooo! And they are beautiful and comfy and of average height! We love them!

The Birthday Boy!

Serbia is a beautiful and very friendly country, we really enjoyed our stay here but it is a different culture and lifestyle compared to home! From cats in the police station to their ambulance car choices! Their driving attitude is also very different and yet many motorcyclists choose to wear hard hats, if anything while driving down the motorway! 
Serbian Ambulance!
Yes, thats a cat...asleep...
in a police station.
One of our friends in the loo.

After about ten days in Serbia and having a lovely catch up with some of the family and seeing some parts of Serbia that we never would have if it weren’t for the family we have out there, we made our way to Montenegro but had a stopover in Čačak, Serbia. This campsite was found after a very long drive and due to our lack of information regarding campsites in Serbia, we stopped at the first one we found once we were sick of driving! This lead us to a small but friendly campsite which was pretty dated in the facilities department but it was only £6. It was nice enough and had enough quirks to keep us occupied and entertained for the one evening we were there, such as a very old and wobbly wooden bridge we found!  But we promptly left in the morning, crossing our fingers and toes that the next campsite would be a bit better, and that we would reach Montenegro!
Health and Safety gone mad?

The Rickety Bridge

Safe on the other side

Our next blog will be our adventures in Montenegro! 

Much love and Happy Camping!


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