What to truly expect when traveling Serbia
What we loved…
The Danube River is the heart of the country, as it is in many neighboring countries. What makes the Danube different in Serbia is how they’ve chosen to use to utilize it. Yes, it is used for transportation of goods, but the Danube is also used for all sorts of recreation. Traveling Serbia is basically synonymous with have fun in or on the Danube. From houseboats turned into restaurants and dance clubs to swimming holes and water sports all up and down the river, the Danube plays an integral part in the lives of Serbians. It’s fun, it’s gorgeous, and it’s easy.
Cheap Beyond Belief
Of course Eastern Europe is cheap in comparison to Western Europe, but Serbia is extra cheap. Eating out, drinking, accommodation, it’s all very affordable. We went out with some Serbian friends of ours for a feast of local delicacies. 4 of us, every meat you can think of, and more drinks than we needed set us back the equivalent of less than US $30. It’s easy to imbibe on local delicacies and have a great time when there’s such little investment required.
Belgrade has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Economically and politically it’s not currently in one of its ups, but culturally and artistically it is having an upswing. As seen in the street art, the youth of Belgrade are doing their best to create their own interpretation of their ancient yet newborn country. Once the hub of the all powerful Yugoslavia, Serbia is trying to figure out where they fit in the world and what they’re all about now that Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Slovenia have broken away and become their own independent countries. I find the street art to be a beautiful and colorful way for the youth to be seen and heard, and for them to turn their often rundown and grey soviet city into something more unique. Who doesn’t love having surprises around every bend?
What we didn’t love…
OK, I would probably have a bad attitude too if my government was making asshole decisions for me…oh wait, that’s happening in America right now and it’s giving a lot of us some serious ‘tudes. So, I don’t blame Serbians for having a bad attitudes. They are at the mercy of their corrupt government. Unemployment rates are sky high. Their money is of little value. It’s hard for them to get visas to find work outside of their country. There’s basically no opportunity for upcoming generations. But, that doesn’t mean dealing with a whole country of grumpiness while traveling Serbia is pleasant. It’s actually super depressing!
It’s interesting, everywhere else we went in the Balkans, we felt remarkably safe. But not Serbia. The cops harassed us, we were told by our local friends that petty theft is a part of everyday life, and men clearly think women are inferior and an object they can treat however they see fit. Did anything happen to us, no. But, did we feel a little uncomfortable, absolutely. From a woman’s point of view, it is not just nasty to have to deal with machismo men while traveling Serbia. It’s depressing to witness what all the women in the country deal with on the daily, and how it actually changes how these women act.
I know I just said that playing on the Danube is one of the best parts of Serbia. But, I didn’t mean the houseboat clubs that line the river in every Danube-side city, especially Belgrade. I actually think that’s pretty rad and definitely unique. Given the right clientele, I would houseboat hop all night long. It’s what this party scene has done to the culture. It’s encouraged the already bad objectification of women in Serbia. Like the Vegas strip, it almost begs women to dress like prostitutes in order to get guys to invite them to their table service. Then there’s the always miserable to be around British “stag parties” that have invaded the Belgrade party scene, caring about no one but themselves- ugh!