My first visit to Serbia is now over. Well, almost. I fly home from Belgrade next week so I’ll have an overnight stay there, but in a hotel near the airport.

Skadarlija - Belgrade's bohemian quarter

I’ve had 4 nights in the capital, and 1 in Niš – about 250 km to the south. I’ve driven all the way from Belgrade to the southern border with Macedonia.

I got off the beaten track, and visited the Manasija monastery near Despotovac. I even had coffee in Keti’s father’s summer house nearby – the non-drivers had home made šljivovica (plum flavoured firewater) which made me jealous! A glimpse of village life.


I like the people. Warm and friendly, with a sense of humour. They don’t like the Brits much (NATO bombings a decade ago) but are too polite to say so.

The food – lots of meat. Salads taste great. The beer – Jelen mostly. Well it’s not Germany or Belgium, but it’s cold, wet and refreshing.

Rita, Katherine & Yelena put on a show for Maciej

The countryside can be spectacular. The roads can be scary, but I made it. I was only ripped off 2 or 3 times. Aah… taxi drivers can give any country a bad name.

They arrested Ratko Mladic (alleged war criminal from the Bosnian conflict) the day after we left (no, he wasn’t hiding under my bed). That could a big step forward politically. But Kosovo is still an issue.

I had a very informative meeting at the British Embassy which could be the first step towards more visits…

Bitola, 27-5-11

© iain taylor 2011


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