Ivan and I didn’t get much sleep last night. I kept coughing and couldn’t sleep. I woke up Ivan since I was tapping away on the laptop. We woke up at 9:45 am on July 20, 2012.
Ivan and I left our backpacks with the hostel while we went on a tour.
We went to the Republic Square for the meeting point for the free Belgrade Walking Tour. Our tour guide was a Serbian named Mari.
The tour stopped at Skadanilja which is the Bohemian Quarter. Here, Serbians will drink one drink normally, the second on the table and then the third under the table. Mari said the waiters will still serve you under the table. I bet the sixth drink you take while you’re on the floor about to pass out. The guide talked about the local brandy rakija. She got four volunteers and they got to take shots. I didn’t think it was fair since there wasn’t enough to go around. But, the guide said it’s because they are non-profit and don’t have much money. I think the shot would have helped me wake up.
There’s writing in Belgrade that’s written in Cyrillic or Latin. People get to choose if they write in Cyrillic or Latin, so this is why the street signs are in both languages.
We stopped at Silicone Valley – a street where people go to show off. You’ll see girls with fake boobs, guys in expensive cars and people spending foreign currency. Back in the 1990’s, Serbia had really bad inflation. You had to spend your money right away, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth much. Money would be valued high at the start of the day and keep decreasing as the day went along. It was hard times with many bombings happening.
We walked near the zoo. There was a famous monkey named Sammie who lived there. He escaped the zoo six times. Mari reckons the last time he was trying to get to a party. I think he just wanted some fresh air and to find more bananas. Lil Dave thinks he shouldn’t have been confined in a zoo and he just wanted to explore the city AND find better quality bananas. Another famous animal is Moya the alligator. This alligator is the oldest in the world – even surviving from being bombed in the war.
Our guide has a monotone voice that could have put me to sleep. Plus, most of the places weren’t that exciting really.
We stopped at the Belgrade Fortress for a short break.
We headed to the Upper City. Our guide told us about the blue bridge which was called the Party Bridge. In the 90’s, NATO wanted to bomb the bridges in Belgrade. Serbians went to the bridge to have a party with drinking and music. Serbians didn’t get depressed, they just took things how they came and went with it. The bombings were just another excuse for a party for them!
The group stopped at ? which is the oldest cafona in Belgrade. It had a few names before like Serbia. The church didn’t like the last name of Es Condidos (probably spelling it wrong)… so, the restaurant put up ? as a temporary solution that has lasted 1000 years. I guess it’s stuck with the name. Everybody calls it Question Mark.
Our guide told us about a great freebie at the bank museum.
Freebie Tip! – Stop by the Bank Museum to get a free copy of your face on a Serbian bill!! You even get a free chocolate. One of the best freebies ever!!
Ivan, Lil Dave and I really wanted a bank note with our faces on it. So, we went straight there. We thought more people from the tour would take advantage of this freebie. But, we only saw 3 German guys from the tour in the museum. We each got our pictures taken and got a free chocolate after. So cool!
The tour was good. I prefer English speaking guides because they’re usually more informative and funny. Mari was trying to be funny, but it wasn’t really funny. She wasn’t natural – it seemed like she was reading from a script.
We were all starving. Ivan found a place along the main tourist street. We sat down at Via Del Gusto. This place has free internet – just look for Hot Spot and there’s no password. Ivan started off with a tomato soup. Lil Dave got a banana penne and a banana shake. I got a Spaghetti di Mare (seafood, basil and tomato sauce) while Ivan got trout. Ivan’s plate of trout was huge!! This place has good food and the prices are very reasonable.
Ivan called the couchsurfer we were staying with for the next 2 days. Nenad said he’d meet us at Republic Square.
Ivan popped back to the hostel to grab all of our backpacks, while I continued my meal. Luckily he is big and strong so is able to carry all of our luggage himself. (editors note: He is VERY big and strong and let that never be forgotten!!!)
We walked to Republic Square and waited a few minutes. The Serbian couchsurfer Nenad said hello to us. He took my small backpack and we were off to the bus stop.
We had to take two buses to get to his apartment which is 25 minutes from the square.
We met his lovely girlfriend Tanja. We chatted awhile about traveling, Las Vegas, our honeymoon and our couchsurfing experiences. They’re sooo friendly and laid-back. They’re a cool couple and we knew we were going to have a great time with them.
Tanja made a delicious satarnsk dish for dinner which consists of paprika, eggs, tomatoes and onions. It’s quite simple and very tasty.
Nenad left for work while Tanja went to the city centre to pick up two Polish couchsurfers who also would be staying. This is an example of how kind they are – instead of just telling couchsurfers what buses to get or to get a taxi (which would only cost about 6 US dollars), they always get the two buses to the centre to meet the couchsurfers and then bring them back to their house. Very kind of them!
Ivan I washed up the dishes and used the internet while Tanya was out. We also looked through their possessions and helped ourselves to any alcohol we could find (joke!!).
Tanja came back with the two Polish couchsurfers. It was a guy and a girl who weren’t dating (yeah right) who recently met…which we thought was strange. I took a shower.
We talked about traveling. Later, Ivan started talking about hypnosis. Ivan is a trained hypnotist. Tanja has done hypnosis for therapy before, so Ivan thought she should try hypnosis. The Polish weren’t interested – I think the guy was too scared to try it. It’s nothing scary at all!
Ivan hypnotized Tanja. She didn’t remember her name thinking it was EIEIO. Ivan told her that she would laugh at anything he said. He talked about the shooting in Colorado and she was laughing. At one point, she didn’t remember anybody in the room. Ivan said it’s alright we’re friends of your boyfriend. Ivan gave her a glass of water and told her it was apple juice, then strawberry juice. He then said he made her a great gin and tonic. The first time she tried it, she said no. Ivan thought she was going to say it was water, but she said this is still strawberry juice. He made ‘another’ gin and tonic. This time she said it tasted good. Ivan brought her out of hypnosis. She said she could still taste the gin and tonic in her mouth.. saying it was bitter….which just goes to show really how strong hypnosis can be!
Everyone was very tired by this point, so we all headed off to bed. Nenad and Tanja were kind enough to let us have the bed in the bedroom while they slept on the sofa bed and the Polish couple slept on the floor.