Serbia is one of those countries on our journey that it is impossible to enter without some reservation. It was not only blacklisted in recent memory by the West but also heavily bombed as a Western enemy. Any fears of this sort fade quite quickly though. Serbia is a lovely country with wonderful people. Of course we made sure not to mention that we might visit Kosovo later in our travels.
From the short few days that we visited Serbia, it was difficult to find anything out of place at all with the country. Belgrade is a modern, comfortable, and beautiful city with a European feel like any other capital city in Western Europe. We hit a mid-trip crash from travel weariness and vegged for a couple days, enjoying short walks and a lot of kid parks. We also had the pleasure of heading to the north of the country around Novi Sad and Fruska Gora National Park. The pleasant rolling hills made excellent day hikes and we wished we had time to camp like the rest of the locals were doing on the long (International Workerƒ??s day) weekend.
Any images I had filed away in my mind of Serbia (largely from the news while I was in high school of ethnic cleansing, the exodus of Ethic Albanians from Kosovo and the NATO bombing campaign which followed) had to be set aside as I met the country in real life for the first time last week. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't the modern, energetic and bustling place we encountered.
We were welcomed by gracious and friendly host country. And it was very, very beautiful with its large walking malls in Belgrade hemmed in by stunning architecture, rolling hills and verdant farmland and the lovely Danube in all its glory.