My Serbia & Bosnia and Herzegovina Review
Alright, so those Greek posts took quite a detour in time, but were back on track and in 2014 now. So after spending about a week and a half in the Greek Islands, I caught at flight from Athens to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. There, I was meeting up with my best friend Liz, to spend about two weeks with her and her family in Serbia and Bosnia. This is why I chose to combine these two countries into one post (as well, I didn’t do enough to have enough content for more than one post).
So we started things off in Belgrade, which is a very beautiful city. We had our first meal together at the Kafana Question Mark restaurant, one of the city’s oldest establishments. We had a very typical Balkan meal, fully loaded with meat and more meat. In Belgrade, we did a free walking tour of the city and its main sights, as well as heading up to the Kalemegdan Fortress. We also visited the nearby town of Zemun, which is a municipality of Belgrade. There, we climbed to the top of a tower, which gave us a great view of the town.
After Belgrade, we headed out to Novi Sad, where we were joined by one of Liz’s (many) cousins, Micho (that’s his nickname – I’m not certain of the spelling of his birth name). We also met up with two of Liz’s other cousins, Kristina and Bojan, who gave us a wonderful tour of the city. Novi Sad was very beautiful and reminded me a lot of Vienna, because of its architecture. After Novi Sad, we were picked up by Jelena (another one of Liz’s cousins and also Micho’s older sister) who took us to the city of Kikinda, where she and her husband live. We spent an evening with them and their friends, which was fun and showed them how to play beer pong (even though we lost).
After our time in Kikinda, we headed off to Subotica, where one of Liz’s cousins was getting married and celebrating the baptism of her child. This was the first wedding I had ever attended and was a very interesting cultural experience. At the party, we ate non-stop for hours and did a lot of dancing. After the wedding, I headed off with Liz’s immediate family (her parents and sister) to Bosnia, more specifically to the town of Jakes, where her father’s parents lived. We spent a day there with them and other cousins (some of whom also lived in Montreal) and then decided to head off to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I really liked Sarajevo, as it was full of rich history and culture. Being occupied by the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, as well as the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, you could see how the city now reflected both cultures; the East and the West. You could also see how the city had been affected and damaged during the Bosnian War of the 90s, following its independence from Yugoslavia. In many of the streets where acts of war had taken place, you can now find red roses as a reminder of the war. Sarajevo is also the site of another major event, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which sparked World War I. However, there aren’t just sad things in Sarajevo! We also met up with Liz’s family friend Berina, with whom we enjoyed some traditional shisha and mint tea at one of the many local spots (I didn’t enjoy the shisha, I just choked).
After Sarajevo, Liz and I ended up spending a few days in Split, Croatia, but I’ll keep that for my country review and recommendations on Croatia 🙂
My Serbia & Bosnia and Herzegovina Recommendations
5. Latin Bridge (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
If you ever go to Sarajevo, the Latin Bridge is a must. As they like to put it on their advertisement, this is “the street corner that started the 20th century” – yep, you guessed it. Franz Ferdinand was assassinated just by the bridge. There’s also a museum there, for those who want more information on WW1.
4. Belgrade walking tour (Serbia)
The first thing we did in Belgrade was a free walking tour; in my opinion, this is the best way to start off in a city, as it allows you to see all the highlights. Many of these I didn’t remember, but thanks to Liz’s descriptions of her photos, I can now identify some of the sights we saw, like: Prince Mihailo’s monument and the National Museum, Belgrade’s first brewery and the oldest house in Belgrade. We also ventured out to the Kalemegdan Fortress (on our own) which sits on the Danube River (yep, that same Danube which separates the city of Budapest).
3. Zemun (Serbia)
While we were in Belgrade, we went to the nearby municipality of Zemun, which was very beautiful and well preserved. If you are in Belgrade, take the time to visit, it’s worth it. The streets and squares are lovely and the view from the Gardos Tower is definitely worth it.
2. Novi Sad walking tour (Serbia)
As mentioned, Liz’s cousins Bojan and Kristina gave us an excellent tour of the city of Novi Sad, starting things off in the beautiful main square with its very European-like buildings and then all the way to the Petrovaradin Fortress (home to the EDM Exit Festival). The fortress sits atop a hill and is also right by the Danube.
1. Wander between the East and the West in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Sarajevo was my favorite Balkan city, as I loved the marriage between East and West. I have traveled a lot and have never seen any other city which is quite like Sarajevo. At one point, you’re walking in the streets and it feels like you’re in Europe, maybe in Austria and the next thing you know, you’ve crossed into Istanbul (okay, I’ve never been to Istanbul, but you get my point). Everyone seems to live in harmony, although there are a few different religions followed within the city and plenty of mosques, churches and cathedrals.
As a last word, I’d like to give a big shout out to the Jovic and Zahirovic families, who took the time to help me discover and better understand the beautiful countries of Serbia & Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thank you 🙂 And special thanks to my bff Lizzie, for her captions of photos from our trip that I was able to use to write this post (and identify the things we saw), for her touring expertise, her wonderful company and her role as my translator and teacher of the Serbian/Bosnian language ❤
UP NEXT: my review and recommendations for Croatia!
*All photos are my own or Liz’s (without Liz, there would be no pictures of me)