The only person I know who is as obsessed with travelling to new places as I am is my older brother Adam. We’ve been discussing our travel plans together for years over pints at the pub. At some point one of us must have expressed a desire to visit a total of 50 different countries and suddenly a little competition was born. This would mean visiting increasingly obscure countries in Europe to get that tally up (they’re close, they’re cheap to get to, they’re plentiful… and most importantly, generally fascinating places to visit). This interest in random countries got us thinking about some of the Balkans. Adam booked some flights to Belgrade, Serbia. After thinking about it for a couple of months, I decided to join him.

We spent 5 nights on our trip and even managed to get ourselves over the border to Sarajevo for one of them. For some reason, Adam had decided to visit during December so we did our sightseeing while shivering through temperatures below freezing. But we had a good time – as you might expect, Belgrade and Sarajevo are hardly the most picturesque of places, but they have fascinating (recent) histories, cheap beer and some impressive architecture. Like my last post, I’m mostly going to tell the story of our trip through photos, because I don’t remember all the details!

Belgrade, Serbia
The view from Belgrade Fortress, looking down upon the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers
Much to Adam’s delight, the fortress was decorated with various machines of war. The war museum was closeby (although I didn’t visit)
Tanks in Belgrade Fortress
Also seen in the fortress grounds – a park full of animatronic dinosaurs, complete with prehistoric roars that would burst out of tinny speakers every now and then.
Republic Square, one of the best meeting places in the city. Unfortunately for us, the whole place was being renovated. Also pictured – the National Museum of Belgrade
One of the paintings on display inside the National Museum (David looking very pretty indeed)
The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. Difficult to get a good picture of it due to it being right on a really busy road.
We visited the Tesla museum (Nikola Tesla was born in what is now Serbia… or what was once Serbia. I can’t remember) where we saw a working Tesla coil, various contraptions he invented plus his earthly remains!
Wonky sunglasses in Belgrade with Adam!
As we were visiting in December, there were festive lights on display!
In a tunnel of lights (the colours of the Serbian flag)
We visited this impressive cathedral, which – you guessed it – was under renovation, so we were only able to visit the basement.
The incredibly opulent basement of the cathedral
Might be the largest chandelier I’ve ever seen..
The lovely neighbourhood was historically significant for some reason but now that reason escapes me!
The city seems to be putting a lot of investment into sprucing up its dilapidated waterfront, which was clearly once very industrial
Wandered across the River Sava to get a closer look at the Sajmište Camp monument which marks the site of a Nazi Concentration camp.
Views across the River Sava, with the curious abandoned floating bars/clubs rotting in the foreground
I visited the zoo (which I think cost less than £2.50) to visit the very sad looking animals – it was like 3°C that day
The last thing we saw before heading to the airport was the aerodrome, this unbelievably not-abandoned building full of old fighter jets and helicopters. It was super cool, but there was one glaring oversight – there were no lights in there. So once the sun started to set, we couldn’t see anything and had to leave.
Post-apocalyptic vibes in Belgrade

Next up, some photos from our quick trip to the less than photogenic city of Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina, which until very recently was a literal war zone. It was so shocking and humbling to learn what went on in Bosnia in the last 20 years… it goes to show that the atrocities committed during WWII were not the last of their kind. Our journey to Sarajevo was less than comfortable. We basically got a lift in a minivan with a load of strange Bosnian/Serbian characters. The drive took… maybe like 8 hours? I can’t remember exactly. But a long time.

The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, at one end of which Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, kicking off the sequence of events that led to WWI
The grandest building in the whole city; Sarajevo City Hall
The city had a small town feel and was very shabby. What was interesting was the abundance of minarets as well as churches.
We climbed to the top of a hill overlooking the city to check out the White Fortress which wasn’t as well looked after as some castles I’ve seen
Looking away from the city from the Fortress, you got this pretty impressive view of the surrounding landscape
Looking down on the city of Sarajevo. Not sure if that cloud is fog, or smog. But I’m sure you can agree it looks pretty bleak.
Looking for some grub in Sarajevo
About as picturesque as Sarajevo ever got.

I didn’t take many good photos of what we saw in the Crimes Against Humanity museum, mostly because it was so shocking and graphic it didn’t feel right… but it was absolutely mindblowing to learn what went on here. There was literally a genocide of ethnic Bosnians in the 90s by Bosnian-Serbs. It was happening in my lifetime, just a few hundred miles from where I was living! The museum pulled no punches. What Adam and I could not understand was how there was any peace at all in Bosnia now. The people who suffered in that genocide are now living side by side with the perpetrators! How can that work???

Our visit to Serbia and Bosnia had been fascinating and fun, if a little chilly. It may have been wiser to visit in summer but who knows. I’m glad I made the effort to check these obscure little places out though.

2 Comments

    1. Hi Kurt, thanks for commenting! How are you doing? Yes I would love to explore some of the countries in the middle east. I was going to say that the flights are quite a lot more expensive than ones to Europe, but now that I’m looking into it, they’re not! Perhaps a trip to Israel in January could work… 😀

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