[Remote Year] Welcome to Belgrade!
Here we are: month 7 of Remote Year (officially over the hump!), our 3rd of 4 European countries.
- Travel Day
We left Prague early last Saturday morning, meeting outside the apartments at 5:15 am. Partway through our bus ride, we stopped in Bratislava for a three-hour rest and lunch break, during which I enjoyed some lovely views, supportive conversations, and a delicious hipster brunch.
We continued crossing borders (unlike the refugees we saw camped out in the stretch of land between Hungary and Serbia) until we reached Belgrade around 11 pm. Vans awaited to take us to our scattered apartments around the city, and my roommate and I settled in around midnight.
I lucked out this month! (And I do think it mostly is luck of the draw.)
Our apartment is clean and light and spacious. The kitchen has the essentials needed to easily cook, and we have a huge comfy couch. We have an air conditioner in the living area, so with my door open + fan on, my bedroom is relatively cool in the hot summer weather.
We hosted a pizza party the other night, which I sadly missed because I was in my room for a 2.5 hour work call until 10:30 pm. The less visible downsides of that digital nomad life! But I’m thrilled our apartment was able to facilitate a get-together.
My bed is comfortable (and an actual full bed, not two twins with an annoying wooden separator between!). I have a closet and some shelves so most of my belongings are unpacked and organized. We each have our own bathroom + shower. And there’s no terribly loud construction starting at 6 am!
I could happily live in this apartment for a while.
It’s hard to follow Prague’s K10 Coworking space — a villa with a huge garden backyard, daily homemade lunch, a nice espresso machine, snack options, call rooms. I really enjoyed spending many hours there working, teaching yoga classes in the grass, and relaxing outside during lunch.
Naturally, Belgrade’s workspace pales a bit in comparison, but it’s not too bad, though some have had internet issues. I’ve gone in to the workspace two days this week, otherwise visiting cafes and taking advantage of my pleasant living situation.
I really like the city — it fits what I like when it comes to living abroad: it’s decidedly foreign (to me) with an unusual alphabet and unfamiliar language, there’s a distinct local culture, not everything feels like a watered down version of America imported, and it’s affordable. Yet it’s also developed enough with good enough infrastructure that there is internet, the food and water don’t make me sick, I can walk around town safely alone at night, etc.
I explored old town on Sunday with my roommate — ate a delicious Japanese lunch near our apartment, wandered through the fort, stopped for a “iced coffee” (espresso with ice cream) in an air conditioned cafe (thank goodness, it was so hot out), watched adorable stray kittens play, scoped out Mikser House and KC Grad, had frozen cocktails at a waterfront bar, and met a friend for dinner and drinks.
Belgrade reminds me, unsurprisingly, of Sofia, Bulgaria — where I lived for a year from 2010–2011 while teaching at the American College of Sofia. As a result, it feels familiar to me to be here — attempting to read Cyrillic again, hearing the Slavic tongue, eating “sir” their version of “cyrene” (white Mediterranean cheese, like feta but wetter?), seeing the Eastern European fashions (which don’t fit me at all).
I love puzzles and words, so I really enjoy the constant game of “translating” the Cyrillic Serbian words into phonetic sounds.
I joke that if you learned Calculus or did Greek Life in college, you’ll recognize more than you expect as Cyrillic features many Greek letters: D is delta, R is rho, G is gamma, L is lambda, K is kappa, etc.
It feels like an exciting achievement even if it’s just realizing the word is just the Cyrillic spelling of an English/English-ish word (like museum/музеј, American/Американац, etc).
Obviously, it’s really thrilling when my Bulgarian memory serves me well and I can actually translate something — like bread/хлеб, milk/млеко, street/улица, teacher/учитељ, etc.
I only have 11 more days, really, left in Belgrade — I’m heading to Lisbon for 8 days to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday :0 with a friend. While I am sad to miss a chunk of this month and city, I’m sure I’ll manage it.
I’m hoping to make it to a few museums, I’ll be volunteering a couple times with the refugee aid organization here that we met, and tonight we’re having our welcome party at one of the boat-clubs on the river.
Let me know if you have other suggestions for must-do Belgrade activities or foods! And, as always, happy to answer question in the comments :)
Katherine is a digital nomad, working remotely while she travels the world — on the road since June 2014. She’s a member of Remote Year 2 Battuta, living around the world with 75 other digital nomads from February 2016 to January 2017.
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