Sometimes the best destinations are the ones you reach after a couple of hours driving in the car. This is particularly true when you have small children. We drove over to Belgrade, Serbia for the weekend (several, several, several weekends ago) and were charmed out of our socks. It's a great European city, without any fuss, and it's pocket-book and kid friendly. See for yourself...
I'll start with a little Serbian/former-Yugoslavian geography / history lesson. I know what excites you!
Our neighbors to the south share a somewhat tense relationship with Hungary. Google "official cause of World War I" or "the shot heard round the world" for some historical details. To this day, Hungary is still a bit hostile, as evidenced by the three hour wait time to get back into Hungary at the Serbian border. It took longer to cross the border into Hungary then it took to drive from Budapest to Belgrade.
Serbia itself was part of the former country/republic/former-kingdom of Yugoslavia, along with several other countries (including Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Vojvovina). After WWII, Yugoslavia became a communist state led by Josip Broz Tito (I'm still very much fascinated by Tito), whose pan-Slavic influence worked like glue to hold these diverse countries together for several decades until his death in 1980. After his death, great conflict, bloody wars and widespread ethnic cleansings resulted in the countries splintering apart. Serbia is now a stand alone country, not yet a part of the EU, but full of charm and beauty, just waiting to be explored!
Now, if you are still reading, on to the pictures...
|We started by exploring the Kalemegdan Fortress and gardens, located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. It's a perfect spot to let kids run wild and a good spot to take in some nice views of the river.|
|There were countless tanks, canons and missile launchers on display. A not-so-subtle reminder that Serbia's path to independence was hard fought.|
|Paddy was delighted with the weaponry!|
The fortress is positioned where the Danube and Sava Rivers converge. The Ottoman and Habsburg empires fought over Belgrade, for it's strategically advantageous location, countless times, resulting in the city being completely razed countless times.
|We chose to stick to the more fluffy and friendly fauna. Albino peacock? Yes, please!|
|The fortress grounds also had a great playground. We spent a good part of an afternoon playing there and visiting with several friendly locals.|
|Fellow Louisianans, you'll like this. There is a an ice cream shop, Moritz Eis, that was selling Tabasco flavoured ice cream. Russell tried it. Said it was nice n spicay.|
|We even managed to get in some museum time at the Josep Tito Museum.|
|Smooches from Belgrade!|