The is the first post in a series where I will describe our 2015 summer holiday across the Balkans. First impressions are a weird mix of communist hangovers and modern western, capitalist influences.
Luton - Belgrade
We flew to Serbia using the Hungarian airline Wizz Air. Their staff could use some lessons in diplomacy both in the air and on the ground. I will probably avoid these guys if I can in future! Our flight time was 2hrs 30mins but due to some thunderstorms in the vicinity of the airport, we took off over 2 hours late. After sitting in the spacious, luxurious surroundings of our A320's budget carrier configured seating for some 5 hours the plane broke out into spontaneous applause upon landing. By this point it was 2am local time.
We collected our luggage from the carousel and made our way to the foyer of the airport. A taxi info stand was there and they handed out pre-printed slips with various RSD (Serbian Dinar) amounts. From Belgrade Nikola-Tesla airport to our destination Hotel Moskva in the heart of Belgrade was 1800RSD (about £10). The taxi ride took a little over 20 minutes and the driver spoke not a word of English! We pulled up outside the oldest hotel in Belgrade (or so the receptionist said), Hotel Moskva built in 1906. What a glorious place. By now, it was nearly 3am so we both collapsed into bed alarms set so we didn't miss breakfast which finished at 10am.
Belgrade itself. Lovely and yet hardly a tourist in sight. We allowed only 1 day here as it was just an enabler for the scenic train ride to Montenegro but I left wishing we'd have had another day or two more.
We had view of the Serbian parliament and a busy street out of the hotel room. The architecture was a mix of ageing concrete and older, more grandiose structures which almost always seemed to be government buildings.
Well done us. We made it Belgrade. Now, let the real fun commence!