Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to Београд

I arrived in Belgrade today, exhausted but without hiccup in the travel. I will be in the region (Serbia and Kosovo) for a month for dissertation research. The flights were totally fine and my luggage made it through the connection in Rome without a hitch. Interestingly, the woman sitting next to me on the flight to Rome (after person originally sitting next to me was kicked off the plane for having a medical condition and no doctor's note), was a young woman (probably my age-ish), who works for USAID and was heading to the region for work. Not actually a useful contact, but one that made for a lovey chat with someone interested in international affairs.

I had read in the guide book that you should ask inside the arrival gate (baggage claim area) for help getting a cab, rather than going out to the curb where the drivers will way over charge you. This was definitely good advice not only because of the price (which was fixed before the trip at a reasonable rate), but because the guy from the inside official taxi stand escorts you through customs and the chaotic mobs when you emerge from there, straight to your waiting cab. Breathe sigh of relief. The taxi driver didn't speak much English but was super excited to be carrying an American tourist. It was kind of cute. The place I'm staying this first week is no shining star. The rooms are kind of dingy and small, but its my own and it seems to be clean, so that'll do. There isn't good wireless access in this place, which I knew, and which is not good given my need to be contacting people for work, but I expect it'll be better after this first week, and I'm making do.

After arriving, and going next door to exchange Euros for Serbian Dinars (100 DIN = 1 Euro), I took a nap but made sure to set an alarm because despite not having slept last night (over night flight), I was determined to stay up until a reasonable hour so that I can get myself onto local time quickly. So, after the nap I went exploring the immediate neighborhood where I'm in, and grabbed a quick bite (a slice of pizza verde for 90 DIN; I wasn't super hungry, mostly just tired). There is a big open air pedestrian mall the winds around nearby, and the plethora of sidewalk seating for cafes is really amazing (even McDonald's has a cute out-door seating area that matches the rest of the local style). They were all empty because its drizzly out, but I imagine that when the sun comes out it'll be quite the scene. I also discovered that these stairs leading underground were not a subway that the guidebook neglected to metion, but rather pedestrian under-passes under the busy street, that are lined inside with cheap shops (the shops on street level are trendy unlike these). Today I didn't bring the camera, but I'll have to take pictures even though it will surely make me stand out as a tourist.

No comments: