Don’t believe what the critics say, Belgrade is worth a visit. It may even be worth a lengthy stay. It’s the kind of gritty city that exudes character and embraces those visitors willing to look past all the cigarette butts and solemn faces. Don’t be surprised if, late at night, you find yourself imbibing Rakia with new friends in a dark bar.
And if there’s one neighborhood where this magic is most likely to happen, it’s Savamala. A neighborhood that reminds me of living in Providence, RI. The buildings could use a facelift and the streets are still littered with remnants of a former war, but the drinks (both coffee and alcohol) flow in unlikely spaces inhabited by long-time residents, hipsters, and immigrants.
This is also the place to find vibrant street murals and hidden graffiti on buildings that sag under the weight of the city’s modern history.
There’s plenty of social commentary to be found, too. In a place where meat dominates menus, I found quite a bit of vegan street art.
I’m not a vegetarian, but typically only eat meat once or twice a week. By this point in my trip, the heavy diet of sausages and beef common in Eastern Europe was too much, and I sought out vegetarian options. Visiting in late summer meant a bounty of vegetables, which I happily paired with eggs and bread.
And plenty of places, from shop windows to hidden alleys, that are visual delights in a city that is otherwise gray.
Fancy a new hat or a cocktail? This is the neighborhood.
If you look closely, even mailboxes become pieces of street art.