Belgrade’s hearts

Belgrade has a lot of heart, but it doesn’t have a heart, per se. There’s nothing that counts as the ‘centre’ of town, as far as I could tell. It’s one of those cities, a bit like Sydney, that has many centres, many points of reference, many hearts.

I found three of these hearts on my latest trip to Serbia’s capital. I was there for the WordPress Europe conference – known as WordCamp Europe. Side note: The last time we went to WordCamp it was in Sofia, and we also passed through Belgrade. This time, I had an extra day at the end of the event to go exploring. I was, ahem, a little worse for wear. The WordCamp after party was pretty damn good, and I didn’t get home until 3am. So I started my day of exploration a little late…

The first place I visited was the main farmers market. It’s an excellent market, bustling with locals and offering everything from old TV remotes (who buys those??) to second hand clothes to paintings to honey to meat and fish to fresh fruit and vegetables and plants and flowers. Because I was just a little vague (that’s a nice way to put it), I found I couldn’t really engage with the market. There were no cafes to duck into and watch the world pass by. I imagine if I lived nearby I would be a regular, though.

The day was getting on when I found myself in Tasmajdan Park. This is the sort of space I just love – loads of greenery, people walking about enjoying themselves, a little fun park for little humans, and not one, not two, but three outdoor bars to choose from. I chose one called ‘Summer Library’ where I had a most enjoyable pivo while the sun dappled through the leaves and bored grandmothers watched strange children do odd things.

(As far as I’m concerned, all children are strange and do odd things.)

Just a little on from this park, I found a piazza all decked out with Serbian flags and other paraphernalia. I had, quite by accident, found a square where they were showing the Serbia v Costa Rica game in the World Cup! Naturally, I grabbed another pivo and watched the game. It was something else when Serbia scored – shirts came off, cups of beer went flying into the air, cheers and whistling all around. I was so very lucky to have stumbled on it and I had a great time.

At the end of my day of exploration, I’m still not sure I found the centre of Belgrade, but I did find three of its hearts – food, beer and football – all quite by accident.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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