From the header image, you probably think this is going to be my Belgrade food post, but it’s not. Belgrade is a fabulous European city with many fantastic restaurants. You can get anything from Sushi to Tex-Mex, Latin fusion to Vietnamese food, and even fine dining, which I enjoyed over an early birthday dinner with friends. Plus there are many restaurants serving Serbian specialties, like cevapi, a type of minced meat, skinless sausage. It’s usually served as a sandwich or a platter. As with most sausage type foods, Howard likes it more than me. Our Airbnb was right in the heart of old Belgrade and we could have chosen a different restaurant every night for the full 90 days we were there, but we didn’t. We actually ate at home most of the time, saving money and avoiding going out in the winter weather. So, that’s all I really have for a food post, also I just like making food collages…
Ninety days was a long time to stay in one place. There was still plenty to do in Belgrade, but the longer we were there, the less motivated we were to go out. Our work motivation dwindled too. Of course we always get work for our clients done right away, but as for our games, we haven’t been so disciplined. We have several games half written, our released games need updates, and we have work to do on other ventures we are experimenting with. We need to have money coming in after all but we can sometimes get lazy.
Whenever we are preparing to move to a new place we get a new wave of motivation and list out all the things we want to accomplish before we go, and right away once we are in the new city. The last week in a place is usually really busy with work and we tend to forfeit going out for saving money to spend in our new location. There were a couple museums we really wanted to do, but we decided we’ll just have to come back to Belgrade some day.
Howard has had really bad insomnia all his life, but he usually sleeps well for a while when we are first in a new place. He got to the point where he wasn’t sleeping at all towards the end of our stay in Belgrade. I got tired of cooking the same few meals that were easy to get ingredients for. We were ready to move on to a new place.
Everyone we encountered in Serbia was nice, but for the most part people aren’t very outwardly friendly there. We were only able to strike up a conversation in a bar a couple times. We didn’t make any friends while we were there, unlike Lisbon and Hiraklion where I have several people from each city I talk to occasionally online and would definitely look up if we’re ever in the same city again. It doesn’t bother Howard too much, but I need more social interaction than that.
Our Airbnb host in Belgrade was very helpful and when I said we would be leaving by train, he suggested we take a Minibus to our next stop, Zagreb, Croatia. The train doesn’t go directly from Belgrade to Zagreb and it would have been an 8 hour trip, not counting getting to and from the train station. The Minibus goes straight to Zagreb, which is only a 4 hour drive. The Minibus worked out great, but it still took about seven hours. We were picked up right at our apartment at 5:30 am and by the time the Minibus had gathered everyone for the trip, it was 7:00 am. We were the only foreigners on the bus, in fact it seemed many of the people had used this service before. We stopped every 30 minutes or so, so everyone could get off the bus and smoke a cigarette or five. It was annoying but at least we got to stretch our legs.
We made a point to spend the last of our Serbian dinar before we left, since the bus company confirmation email said to “pay with card on the bus”. That ended up being a bad translation though and they meant to say, “buy your ticket on the bus” and of course, it’s cash only. Luckily there was an ATM at one of the stops so we were able to get out cash for the tickets. The Minibus is about $4 cheaper than the train tickets would have been too. This was definitely the best way to travel!
The Minibus took us right to our new place in Zagreb. We are in a nice little residential neighborhood with small houses and town homes, about 4 km (2.5 miles) to the city center. There’s a shared yard with us and the apartment owner who lives upstairs. In the distance you can see towering block house apartment buildings. The weather here is beautiful! it’s been in the 20s and low 30s (70s & 80s F). All the leaves have come out and flowers are in bloom. It feels like it’s been spring here for months, but they really have the same weather as Belgrade.
Just a couple blocks away is a main tram line that ends at a post office, a grocery & housewares store, several kiosks offering various goods or services, and a few small cafes. It’s really convenient, except for today. I just took a break from writing this post to run up to the grocery store for some drinks to go with the BBQ take out we are ordering for dinner. There is a fabulous BBQ restaurant right near us, R&B Foods. We had dinner there right after we arrived in Zagreb, but were a bit too tired to really appreciate it. Anyways, up by the grocery store was a ghost town. Everything is closed on Sunday.
I was about to walk home when tram pulled up & I noticed all the people getting off had bags from grocery and other stores. I pulled up Google Maps on my phone and found a store that was open until 1500 (3pm). it was 14:40. I wasn’t sure I could walk there in time but luckily I had my tram pass. We got our passes the second day we were here and even though we tend to walk everywhere, it’s nice to be able to jump on a tram too. Four stops up & I was at the open grocery store. I scrambled around with other desperate shoppers as the store employees waxed the floor & proceeded to close. I walked out of the store and right on to a waiting tram. I was back home within 30 minutes of when I left. Convenience at it’s finest!
We have settled in here just fine. It also turns out Zagreb is a fabulous city. There is a lot of history here along with many museums. There are walking streets in the city center with tons of restaurants and bars. We met a couple from South Carolina yesterday who were visiting Zagreb and then heading down the coast, but they liked Zagreb so much they decided just to stay here. Obviously we like it here too!
There is a more broad mix of people and styles here and it feels much more touristy. In Belgrade all the women had long straight hair, they were tall and any of them could have been the next big super model. They would either dress up like they were going out to the club, or wear work out clothing. Even then, their sneakers looked brand new and their work out clothing was clean and pressed. The guys wore track suits, just like the Hollywood stereotype. Here in Zagreb I’m seeing different hair styles and fashion choices, but the people are still tall and good looking. There were tourists in Belgrade, but they didn’t seem to be from very far away. Here there are large groups of Asian tourists, families from India, and we even met two other Americans.
When we booked our stay here we didn’t realize Croatia is in the EU, and with EU membership comes EU prices. It’s not super cheap here, it’s still cheap by US standards, but we’re paying more for food & drink than we did in Belgrade. Luckily Croatia is not part of Schengen yet, although they will be at the end of the year. The 90 days we spend in Serbia reset our 90 day Schengen visa and we have to use it sparingly as there are so many countries we want to visit this summer. Croatia also still uses it’s own currency and has not switched to the Euro yet. That doesn’t really matter, but the conversion from Croatian Kuna to USD is 6 to 1. I’ve been rather slow doing the conversion in my head, but it’s starting to make sense. It doesn’t really matter, but I do like to do the conversion to know if something is a bargain or not.
We are really happy that we chose Zagreb as our next home. Looking forward to all the things we are going to do here and also realizing it will be fun to go some place new again soon!