Discovering Serbia – the making of a travel writer
Maybe it was the excitement of the underground clubs and floating restaurants, learning the national dance, meeting the Crown Prince or gazing out from the ‘wall of the in-loves’ to where the Danube and Sava Rivers meet, but whatever it was about the Balkan state, it truly captured my heart and was to mark an exciting new chapter in my life – not least my new career as a travel writer.
I was offered a press trip to Serbia while working as real life editor for a UK women’s magazine and couldn’t really figure out why no one else really wanted to go. I knew little about press trips, never mind the former Yugoslavia, but I took on the travel writing project with gusto – and a little naivety.
As soon as I mentioned my imminent trip to co-workers and friends, I was met with odd expressions and comments along the lines of “is it safe to travel there?” So I did a little digging and it seemed that while the capital, Belgrade, had changed, its warzone reputation hadn’t.
Still, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of Serbia when I finally touched down at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.
Belgrade was one of the most breathtaking cities I’d ever visited – with its decadent architecture and eclectic mix of old versus modern. Modern shopping malls and giant billboards didn’t seem to loo
k out of place among its historical buildings and tree-lined avenues and parks.
It was anything but backwards and war torn. It was beautiful – not to mention streets ahead of even the most modern and cosmopolitan cities in Scotland.
I fell in love with it instantly and couldn’t find one thing I didn’t like.
From the covert World Traveller’s Club and the vibrant club scene, to live Serbian folk music over candlelit dinners and sampling everything pickled – I loved it all.
I took the House of Flowers tour; drank Turkish coffee; embraced the national dance; frequented the uber-trendy bars, and was photographed at all the major landmarks.
I even met with the Crown Prince at the Royal Compound.
If the truth be told, I didn’t ever want to leave Belgrade and I still can’t praise the Serbs enough for their overriding strength of character and hospitality. I have never admired a nation quite so much.
After also visiting Novi Sad and Subotica, I could go on forever about Serbia’s appeal: its diversity, great pistes, rich culture, gastronomic wonders, fascinating religion, great hotels… the list is endless.
But the country really struck a chord with me and, perhaps for the first time in about ten years, I knew where my career was headed.
Spurred on to discover more amazing cities I knew relatively nothing about, my Serbian press trip became the first of many.
And now that I’ve travelled a fair bit in the name of research, I’m proud to say that it’s still my favourite.
Article by Lynda Hamilton
Travel to Serbia
what to see in Serbia