“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”
Berlin and Serbia marked my final travel adventure before heading back to California for the summer. This was a very special trip because I spent 3 nights in Berlin by myself and it was my first time as a free-bird/solo traveler. It was definitely a different experience and I did miss having a travel buddy to share moments with, but it was also refreshing to roam free and re-connect with myself. I also loved how rewarding it felt to arrive at the correct place and figure out the travel puzzles by myself. You realize that everything works out, even if it’s in a different way than you originally expected and there are always people on your path who are willing to point you in the right direction.
Berlin is a beautiful city, rich in history, but now I get the feeling that it is a hipster place. It is quite a large and spread out city and I definitely didn’t get to experience everything so hopefully I can return one day again. I went on a walking tour in the city and also did a boat tour, but besides that I preferred hanging out in the Mitte neighborhood, just north of the main center, where I spent 2 nights. There were gorgeous parks where people would sunbathe and relax, rows of cozy cafe’s, and pastel-colored buildings with flowers hanging from the balconies. Being in Germany made me feel very close to my Oma. Even though I was traveling by myself, it felt like she was there with me, witnessing everything along with me. I highly recommend going on a solo trip, even if its just for a night or two. You learn so much about yourself and the absence of a companion can be very insightful.
After Berlin, I flew to Belgrade for 4 nights and met up with Jetso, my friend/former college teammate who is from Serbia. This was probably the most surprising and jaw-dropping trip I have been on. I didn’t really have an idea of what this country would be like, but going into it I was stoked to explore a place off the beaten path. When I arrived at the airport, I felt like I was in a different world—the language, people, and atmosphere was unlike any place I’ve visited in my lifetime. We went out to eat after she picked me up at the airport and I was astounded at how delicious and cheap the food was. We ate a variety of different meats, salad, and THE BREAD, more fresh than anything I’ve tasted in places like France or Italy. 11/10 for food there.
Belgrade is known for their nightlife and even though I don’t like to drink or go clubbing, I went because I wanted to see it. The club was on the river, where there was a row of different nightclubs, and it was open so that you could see the river, castle, and moon. I loved the setting, but I left early because it just wasn’t for me. Earlier that day we walked to the park and just past the park is a castle/fortress. We spent the afternoon lounging at this Tarzan- looking jungle cafe with couches and swinging chairs and it was absolutely divine. There are so many adorable spots to eat/drink and just pass the time with your friends. Along the castle, we watched the sunset on two occasions over the city and adjoining rivers.
Belgrade has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world at night time. Everything is well lit and the mix of architectural styles is marvelous to admire as you walk about the lively streets. We had a nice moment walking through the park to the largest Greek Orthodox church in the Balkan area. One of my favorite moments in Belgrade was having a traditional Serbian dinner with Jetso and her friends where they play live music and surround your table and sing and play guitar to you. Before driving to Novi Sad, we stopped by the Nikola Tesla museum and were in awe of this man and all that he created with electricity and engineering. I had no idea that he was Serbian and I left the museum so inspired. The drive to Novi Sad, a more calm city just an hour north of Belgrade, reminded me of the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. So much green and lush nature! We visited two monasteries in Novi Sad and this sacred water fountain that is supposed to have healing powers. It was so peaceful and serene to experience and a nice break from the craziness of Belgrade.
This country truly is a hidden gem. One thing I will say is watch out for the mosquitoes and drivers in Belgrade, they don’t have an ounce of patience. They were hot and sweaty days, but this was one of my favorite trips so far…a collection of moments that will stay with me forever and inspired sparkles of transcendence in my being. A HUGE hvala (thank you) to Jetso and the people I met who made me feel at home in their country. Until next time Serbia!
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.