Belgrade is choked with traffic, and almost all of it very old cars with bad engines. About half of the cars are old Yugos, which pollute the air like the Trabants of East Berlin, leaving a pall of smog over the city, slowly choking its inhabitants to death. It's as bad as smoking 20-30 cigarettes a day, and the Serbs smoke lots of those too. With the pollution, the cigarettes and the incredibly fatty food, it's a miracle the Serbs don't all die before they are 40.
The locals don't seem to like the Rroma, and will tell you that they are thieves. A large Rroma encampment was pointed out to me as we approached Belgrade, and it really looked a mess, but the Serb with me also pointed out that they all had satellite dishes and cars, more than many in Belgrade had. When I left the city I saw the camp again, and I was amazed to see an old woman sweeping the mud street in front of her house, surrounded as it was by huge piles of trash.
I don't know how much truth there is to the idea that Rroma are thieves. You certainly hear a lot about them stealing, but I wonder how many times people are robbed by scruffy looking people and immediately assume they are gypsies because of their own prejudices. From an idealistic point of view I like to keep an open mind, and assume that people are innocent before being proven guilty. From a practical perspective, I keep in mind the possibility that these people have a reputation that is genuinely deserved. When a couple of Rroma kids passed me on the street, I swung my hips to give their waving hands a wide berth. I felt bad, but not as bad as I would have felt if they'd swiped my cash.
In truth I saw only a few Rroma in Belgrade, and all of them were engaged in productive, if low paid, work. Old Rroma women sold sprigs outside the Orthodox church, young boys sold newspapers at interchanges, while their sisters scrubbed clean the pollution smeared windscreens of passing Yugos. I saw a couple of boys playing the accordion in the street, and another group of men playing in a band at a restaurant. I didn't see any Rroma begging, and I didn't see any hanging in gangs waiting to pounce on unwary tourists.
Belgrade is rated a medium risk by the US State Department, putting it on a par with most big cities in the world, safer than Warsaw and edgier than Oslo.
Belgrade felt relaxed and safe. I felt very comfortable walking around at all times of the day and night. The worst problem seemed to be the traffic, which at some points was the most dangerous I'd experienced since my last trip to Asia. The kerbs were built the highest I'd seen in Europe too, and maybe this reflects on the state of Belgradian driving. The worst street seemed to be right outside the station, which provided a rude introduction to Serbian pedestrianism. I'd quickly learned in Zagreb that the best policy for crossing roads was just to push out and pray they stopped, and this was mirrored here also, but this road was the most insane yet, with traffic coming from five or six different directions, across three lanes, without a single traffic light to help the walking human. This negotiated, the center of the city was not so bad.
Only use taxis from a trusted company (like the Beogradski tax) and stay far away from taxis without a meter! Some taxis have a rigged meter and you'll end up paying much more for the ride than you should.
Ask the hotel, restaurant etc. to call a taxi for you. Official taxis in Belgrade are quite cheap.
Alpha Bank Currency Exchange or Not!!!
I was unable to buy any Dinars at Heathrow Airport's terminal 4 - so I decided to exchange some Russian Roubles at Belgrade airport for Serbian Dinars. The bank details are:
Aerodrom Nikola Tesla
11 180 Belgrade
Sadly they were unable to change my roubles - they had a list of accepted currency and i was really surprised that Roubles were not on that list!!!
We went by 3 taxi's to the first dinner evening may 23th.
We took it at trg Republike as it was raining and paid between 1600 en 2100.
I understood it had to be more something like 400.
The meter of the taxi went wild like in a few seconds went up 100.
So write down taxi number and or licenseplate if you get scammed you can try to contact the company ( if they are at a company)
Dog Poo and falling rubble
Well apparently there are no poo police in Belgrade and owners rarely clean up after their pets so watch your step. Stray dogs though not a bother otherwise add thier contribution.
And if you are walking in the old town beware of pieces falling from the buildings waitng for repair.
Otherwise it is a fairly safe city but do try to avoid the taxi sharks! But it was very difficult when you first arrive as we did on the train and as fast as you are asking "how much" he has your bags loaded. I even had cards with words in Serbian...but the driver was too good for us.
taxi rip offs
One night a bunch of us jumped in 3 taxis at Trg Republik because it was raining. A 20 minute walk, but even so.
Well, fares ranged fro 3.5k to 1.7k dinar. Should have been about 500 dinar tops.
Best to phone a cab from a reputable company, or better still, get your hotel or restaurant to do it and try to find out in advance how much it ought to be.
To be fair, I got a cab from my hotel to a meeting and the price was fair - but I did get the hotel security guy to hail it.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
The city of Belgrade's divided into 3 zones, meaning that parking's allowed for 1 (the 1st zone), 2 (the 2nd zone) or 3hours (the 3rd zone)!
So, to avoid any problems (e.g.your car being taken away), watch out for the signs or, even better, find a car-park!
If you travel by car be careful with police officers. In many cases they stop you and traying to find any reason to punish you. It is trick and after some drama pause they expect some money from you to let you go. Prise vary from time to time but it is about 10, 20, 50 euro. Corruption is big problem here. If you in some lokals and bars you can expexted this situation: http://www.pressonline.rs/sr/vesti/hronika/story/124487/Policija+pretukla+goste+kladionice+%28VIDEO%29.html. Some american sitizens find them self at wrong time in wrong place. So if you looking for trouble you are in right place.
- Road Trip
Dont cheek out luxury cars
Some of Belgrade people are how to say sons and doughters of politicians or just rich ``Bussismen``. They love to park in front of bars to show off their expensive cars. Because money used to buy those are not made by legal way they are paranoid. This is what happened to me. As Belgrade native I was with american lady. I was showing her around and all. At one point she was cheeking out Lincoln navigator car that was parked. 2 guys dressed like hitman were ``teleported`` in front of her telling her to step away from the car. Allthou she tried to explain that she has the exact same car and that was why she was cheeking it guys said again step away from the car. Something like do you know who is the owner stuff. Those cars are easy to spot. Most of our cars have 6 digits on licence plates. Those car have 4. eg like chief of police bg-07-01.
07 is james bond thing and 01 is who is main guy in police.
WARNING: Avoid Autosaobracaj Company (I&V)
If you see the sign of Autosaobracaj Kragujevac, try to avoid that bus. There are chances to travel normally, but you can hear a proposal from bus-driver to stand for 10 hours as there are no place to seat down, and the fact that you have reservation for the seat, payed two days in advance, may not help, as they have sold the same reservations to the others. But they care to protect their customers from kittens, so your kitten will not be allowed to enter Autosaobracaj bus.
So, if you want to be sure to have seat in the bus or if you travel with pet, no matter how small it is – avoid Autosaobracaj Kragujevac.
You can read at the Autosaobracaj web presentation: "In our business philosophy, the word 'friend' dominates – it refers to all employees, to all business partners and to all our passengers… Therefore, our motto is JOURNEY WITH THE FRIEND!" – what a hypocrisy!
- Family Travel
- Travel with Pets
Rush-hours in Belgrade (I&V)
Belgrade is one of the largest and most populated cities in Europe without metro. That, combined with common Serbians' perception of a car as status symbol No. 1, is the cause of enormous number of cars on the streets of the city. It is not exaggerated to say that rush-hours in Belgrade are between 7 am and 9 pm. With its highs and lows, of course.
The only advice to those who are about to use car in Belgrade is to prepare for psycho-torture. But, it gets easier with time.
- Road Trip
Parking & Parking Zones in Belgrade (I&V)
Explanation of Zone parking system in Belgrade on the web page of Belgrade Parking servis begins with the following sentence: "Lack of parking places and traffic congestion are traditionally annoying problem of all metropolises." Indeed. But the lack of the parking spaces in Belgrade is very hard to compare with the lack of parking space in other metropolises. Belgrade is one of the largest and most populated cities in Europe without metro. That, combined with common Serbians' perception of a car as status symbol No. 1, is the cause of enormous number of cars on the streets of Belgrade and almost constant rush-hours. In such mass it is not easy to find parking spot, although Belgrade has quite a lot public garages and car parks.
Here is the short copy-pasted explanation of parking system in the center of Belgrade: "Parking places in the city center are divided into three zones by priority: red, yellow and green. […] Parking time in the red zone is limited to one, in the yellow to two and in the green to three hours. This means you can park your car for the limited period of time […] Payment can be made through five different methods – parking tickets, 'parkomats', SMS messages, electronic tickets (from parking attendants) and chip cards. […] The tickets for all the zones can be bought at the kiosks."
For more information check very useful Parking servis web page.
- Road Trip
Although Kalemegdan is generally very safe, there are some unprotected places from which a fall could be lethal. Such – a fatal accident occurred in summer of 2007, and opened numerous discussions and polemics on safety…
Most of dangerous spots in Kalemegdan are very unaccessible, such as tops of the fortress walls, others are not on the main tourist paths, all are marked with signs, and not a single one reasonable person would approach without being aware of a danger, no matter how slight it could be. But some extra care is needed, especially for those with small children, and those whose perception is disturbed by something previously consumed.
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