"Belgrade [...] is not a city - it is a metaphor, a way of life, an angle of looking at things." - Momo Kapor
There is a point in every world trip where things start getting a little bit strange. Belgrade was that point for This Is My City. Tim and I left the familiar behind and said hello to the unfamiliar. Upon arrival in Belgrade we got a 45-minute Serbian history lesson from 600BC to the present, courtesy of host Marko and his 'original Belgrade taxi-driver' friend. A weekend of Eastern European chaos ensued.
Our host Marko works a music producer and is the lead singer of a local band called Inopartners. He was enthusiastic, eccentric and truly hospitable. We stayed with him, his mum and their cat in downtown Belgrade.
Marko suggested that we should have a bodyguard for our time in Belgrade even though it probably wasn't necessary. It sounded kind of interesting to us so we didn't argue. Our bodyguard was a cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking, leather-jacket-wearing legend with a heart of gold. Meet Drakula:
Belgrade really opened its arms to us and we experienced hospitality on a whole new level. Our time there was a whirlwind of river boat bars, underground clubs, meat cooked in a variety of different ways and endless walking tours of the city. On the first night I ended up on a chat show on national television with one of Marko's bandmates Dusko. It was midnight and I really didn't understand what was going on.
Belgrade is a city that has been conquered by 40 armies and raised from the ashes 38 times. It also has political upheaval and violence in its recent past. This was a kind of shadow that was never far from the minds of those we spent time with. It informed our time in Belgrade and also shaped the episode.
Belgrade sits on the confluence of the river Sava and the Danube. If there's one place you should definitely seek out in Belgrade, it is Gypsy Island. This is a man made park and lake on the outskirts of the town where you can swim, cycle and admire the river boat houses and old Balkan water towers.
Marko said to us at one point that it was hard to put your finger on what it is you like about Belgrade but you really do end up liking it and having strong feelings about it. We agree. Belgrade made a real impression on us through its many characters and powerful spirit. We hope you enjoy the episode: