The Balkans are quite an interesting place – it is united by the Balkan peninsula but torn apart by many wars. While I as a Bulgarian have to write about Serbia, it is a little difficult. We are the typical neighbors: we fight but we can’t go without the other, we throw our garbage in the neighbors yard, we gossip, we fight, but sometimes we sit on the same table, drink together and laugh. We are brothers, we have common dishes, we share one alphabet, our languages are very similar and even have common sayings. And now that I write about Serbia, I also, in a way, write about Bulgaria… 🙂
The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the east of Serbia to the Black Sea at the east of Bulgaria. The name Balkan is believed to be brought to the region in the 7th century by the Bulgars who applied it to the area, as a part of their First Bulgarian Empire. In Bulgarian language the word balkan (балкан) means “mountain”. At this time the name Balkan may have derived to Bulgarian from the Persian bālkāneh or bālākhāna, meaning “high, above, or proud house.” The name is still preserved in Central Asia with the Balkan Daglary (Balkan Mountains) and the Balkan Province of Turkmenistan.
Nowadays, the Balkans comprise the following territories: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, and Turkey.
I love this city! It’s located on the confluence of two rivers: Sava and one of the biggest rivers in Europe – the Danube, it’s hilly and on the south is surrounded by mountains. The architecture of the city is very diverse and forms an unique outlook: it has an old town with the little streets, you can also find the big communist buildings, some of the neoclassical and romanticism influence and nowadays all is mixed with the modern architecture.
It has a lot of restaurants, bars, kafanas, parks, an old castle, churches, museums, gardens. It’s a very nice city to walk around or to ride a bicycle. It’s not an expensive city:
- you can eat in a restaurant – the main course is around 700 rsd (7 eur) or cheaper. A lunch/dinner per person with a drink costs around 10-12 eur;
- if you are really on a budget you can buy food from the supermarket or pick fast food – you have a lot of options: srbska skara which is bbq meat (love it!), doner kebab (the famous Turkish/Arab fast food);
- the beer is very good and cheap – 120 rsd (max 2 eur) for a pint in a kafana, double the price in a bar. The two most popular beers are: the lager Jelen (a deer) and the light pivo Zajcarsko;
- a drink in a club is around 8 eur;
- you can find good quality hotels very cheap here:
If you have one day in Belgrade I would suggest the following itinerary: coffee and breakfast in Novi Belgrade in Kota70 which is on the river, next explore the area of the castle, have a lunch in Sokache restaurant near the castle, wander the streets of the old city where you can have your afternoon coffee and a dessert, then go to Ada Ciganlija to relax on the beach, then have a nice dinner with red wine enjoying the sunset and prepare to party all night long in a club 🙂 🙂 🙂 Sounds like a plan, huh? 🙂 🙂 🙂
On the way back to Pirot we wanted to taste the local wine and we decided to visit a winery. It was very difficult to choose which one to go to because there are 9 wine routes. Here is the official pdf document describing all of the wine routes in Serbia (вински пут). We decided to go the village of Potrkanje near Knjazevac town in the winery of Sasa Jovic.
SASA JOVIC WINERY
The winery of Jovic family has been their business for 7 generations. They grow their own grapes and produce Vranac, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Hamburg, Chardonnay, Rheinriesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose wines. Sasa also makes really good smoked salami which goes just perfect with the red wine.
A must-see is the the old cellar where they keep specimens of earlier vintages. Sasa will open some of the barrels and let you smell what’s inside and if you are kind enough ( 😉 or a blonde Bulgarian girl) he will give you try the special 30-years old cognac. This cognac (brandy) is absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
BABIN ZUB AND MIDZOR
Midžor with its 2,169 metres (7,116 ft) is the highest peak of Serbia outside Kosovo. It’s situated on the border between Serbia and Bulgaria. The view there is amazing. There is a brand new ski resort called Babin zub or Stara planina where you can go skiing. The price of the lift card is not so high and you can find cheap accommodation there.
We stayed in the lodge (Babin zub tourist house) where we met new friends from Kladovo. Kladovo is another picturesque area in Eastern Serbia where on 10th July 2015 is held an annual ethno festival of Eastern Serbia.
Jively, friends. Hope I meet you again in Kladovo sooner than later 🙂
And this is only a small part of this interesting country… Serbia has beautiful nature, delicious food, high quality wine, friendly people and is a good neighbor of Bulgaria 🙂 I miss you, Serbia!