I started my day by sleeping in and with a breakfast at my hotel which left much to be desired. Back to my room for a little rest then I grabbed my camera and hit the streets with nowhere in particular to go.
I started by walking through an open air market and down the hill to the river then onto a bridge overlooking the rail yard and the river. As I stood there about halfway across looking along the river looking down at all the old barges tied up along the bank I decided I should head down and take some photos.
I backtracked along the bridge until I found the stairs leading down and made my way to the river. As I crossed the train tracks I heard my inner child calling to me to stop and look at the trains so I stop along the tracks and started snapping away, after all who doesn’t like trains.
After a few minutes with the train yard I started down to the river to take some photos. My instincts were right and there was no shortage of things to take pictures of so I spent a while strolling leisurely along the river taking photos.
By now I had seen the steeple of some church off in the distance and decided I would go that way. I paused for a moment to get my bearings and tried to pick out some landmarks from around where I thought my hotel might be then started backup the hill looking for more adventure.
Food is coming in a minute I promise.
On my way up the hill I came across some fantastic street art and found myself spending time snapping pictures once again. While I was snapping photos I thought back to my old idea of doing a series on street art from around the world and decided I would put a little more work into that and see if I could get something uploaded, so keep an eye out for that on http://erikbjers.com.
Now for the food.
As I continued up the hill I lost sight of my landmark and realized I was starting to get hungry, this may have something to do with the fact that I was on a street full of little cafe making me think of food. I decided it was time to stop and eat. The first place I saw was a Mexican restaurant, and while I was in the mood for some local food I marked the location in my mind for a future visit as I love Mexican food. The next place looked like a little Serbian Cafe named Mina Bistro and Gallery but I kept on walking up the street to see what else there was. After a few minutes looking at the other places I decided to head on back to Mina and see what they had to offer.
I stepped into Mina Bistro and Wine Gallery (www.minabistrogallery.com) and took a look around. There were 5 tables on the ground floor with a small bar/ service area at the back and a narrow stair case leading up to my left with another stair case under it leading down into what I am guessing is the kitchen. I picked a table down stairs and sat down to look at the menu, which was in Serbian and totally unreadable to me. The waiter spoke English and told me there was no English menu and me asked what I would like. I asked him what was good and, like any waiter in a good restaurant, said “everything” which did not help me out so I asked what he would recommend. He asked me what I was looking for and I said maybe some thing not to big with maybe chicken or pork and he suggested a chicken dish with vegetables and potato. I figured you can’t go wrong with chicken, veggies, and potatoes so I said sounds good and ordered a local beer, Jelen, to go with it.
Sat back and relaxed a bit while I waited for my food, sipping on my beer and reading my book.
The dish was a simple dish that you might expect to find sitting on a farm-house table out in the European country side but it was packed full of flavor. The chicken breasts were pan cooked to perfection and well seasoned with lots of juice and a nice golden color on the outside. Over top of the chicken was a heaping pile of roasted vegetables which tasted like they had been roasted in the same pan as the chicken so I am guessing the chicken was first browned on the stove and then moved into an oven with the vegetables surrounding it. The result was a mouth-watering combination of melt in your mouth tender juicy chicken and succulent flavorful vegetables. Off to the side was a nice helping of oven roasted potato wedges well seasoned with salt, crispy on the outside but not dry on the inside. I am so glad I could not read the menu and had to rely on the waiter to pick out a good meal for me, something that does not always work out all that great.
Now as I was sitting there enjoying my chicken I could not help but notice the desert case across the restaurant with its chocolate and meringue topped tarts just begging me to eat them, I swear I heard this voice calling out “eat me, eat me” so I had to obey. I walked over to the case and picked out a nice looking chocolate covered tart, which turned out to be an apple and chocolate tart. Now this is a combination I had never thought of trying before but it really worked well. Ignoring the chocolate for a moment, I know how can I ignore chocolate but I will just have to try for now, the tart was filled with apples mixed with sugar cinnamon, nutmeg, and other goodies (basic apple pie filling). Now this would have been great on its own but then you add the semi sweet semi bitter dark chocolate shavings on top and you have a desert worth loosen your belt for (and I had to after this meal). My only complaint is that it was reheated in the microwave and some of the chocolate burnt a little, this would have been much better if the tart was heated on its own and the chocolate was added after.
Now that lunch was over and my belly was nicely full I paid the bill (about $15 all together), gathered my things, thanked the waiter, and headed out the door to continue my wondering.
As I continued up the hill I came across a walking street with lots of shopping, restaurants, cafe, and bars (I could not eat again so next time) and I noticed a crowd gathering around the center of the walking street so I decided to see what was up. After all crowds often hide interesting things and this time was no different.
In the middle of the crowd there was a young Serbian man, I am guessing early 20’s, making spray paint art. Now this is something I had seen in the past on the streets but I had never seen it made, so I joined the crowed and started watching. The process is actually rather simple; he started with a blank sheet of poster board and either laid down a base layering multiple colors over the whole paper or he used lids from various cookie tins to mark out patterns. He then used tools such as; knives, brushes, newspaper, large putty knifes, and other assorted objects to etch out and paint a design layer by layer. Then to finish it all off and dry the paint he took a can of clear and started spraying it over the painting lighting the spray and using the fire to dry the paint.
After watching him create and sell a few pieces I started walking along the walking street, still looking for that church steeple (which I never found). Instead of my church steeple I found the Belgrade Fort and walked around the gardens for a bit deciding to leave the actual fort for Sunday. As I was wandering I smelled something that snapped me back to my youth in Germany and fond memories of wandering through the woods in winter and sitting by the fire in the evening, but what could the smell be. I followed my nose and turned down a side path to discover, much to my delight, a man selling roast chestnuts. I purchased a small cone (cone was made of rolled paper) and continued on my way starting to head back towards my hotel (which is practically on the walking street as it turns out) for a late afternoon nap, taking note of Choco Cafe as an option for ice cream later in the evening.
After resting for a bit in my hotel room I was not really hungry for dinner but I wanted that ice cream I had seen at Choco Cafe, so I grabbed my book, threw my jacket on, and headed out the door. Got back to Choco Cafe and found there was only out-door seating available but they had blankets at every seat and kerosene heaters to keep you warm (the one next to my table seemed to be broken). I perused the menu, which looked more like a department store catalog than a menu, and settled on what I thought would be hot chocolate and a chocolate sundae.
After a short wait my hot chocolate, which turned out to be warm chocolate pudding and not what I was looking for, arrived along with my sundae. I took a few tastes of the pudding and decided it was not for me and dug into the sundae which was made of layers of chocolate and vanilla ice cream topped off with whipped cream, cookie crumbs, and a cookie. I was thinking this would be the perfect ending to a good day of exploring the city and eating some good food, but alas it was not to be and the sundae turned out to be a disappointment. But oh well I guess you can’t win them all and lunch was winner enough for one day.
This ends my Saturday in Belgrade, Serbia and I came away with; one excellent lunch, a throwback to a childhood memory, and a disappointing sundae so I will count the day as a good day.