Belgrade is not an aesthetically beautiful city, but there is beauty everywhere. As we crossed the bridge into the city we received many welcomes and statements to “enjoy Belgrade”. We certainly did. People smile, speak to each other and offer help, constantly.
We rode immediately to KC Grade Sava Mala, for the opening of the inaugral Belgrade bike festival which we had discovered was on 2 days previously. The bamboo bikes were a curiosity from the second we rolled up. Unlike other cycle communities I have encountered there were no cliques and everyone was welcome, communicating and enjoying the atmosphere. The bikes are frequently an icebreaker however this was different. In other cities people, tap, scratch and sniff, lift the bikes, lick?….and usually move on. We were accepted with open arms for 3 days with or without the bikes.
The Bike Festival had a political agenda, unfortunately day one was pro dominantly in Serbian so we just enjoyed meeting people, sitting in the sun and soaking up the atmosphere. Belgrade bike festival
Day 2 we had been invited to give a presentation. This terrified us both however this journey is about pushing our own boundaries and this was the perfect opportunity. Between too much fun, beer and a technical hitch we were unable to set up a PowerPoint presentation so just winged it. Oh my god….we had had to use a microphone!
Anyway thanks to the easy going people, it’s was actually fun and if the amount of questions that followed, maybe moderately interesting for the participants as well.
It’s worth having a look at the bike festival site as they are doing some great things and it is worth looking at what a cycle community can do while in their infancy to improve cycling and safety. Oh….and also a huge thank you, particularly the women volunteers….you work damn hard, are passionate about your goals, and are amazing!
Martin and Dunja invited us into their home for the 3 nights in Belgrade….invited us to stay longer but with a heavy heart we had to….must move on. We had the joy of a Serbian education, laughter, and a wee kitten, rabbit and beautiful boxer, a home, not merely accommodation for our stay in a beautiful city.
Belgrade, Serbia , is overflowing with half built, half falling down, half renovated building and life is everywhere. The shops open, cafes, the people out, the river, despite slight flooding, is in use, plank walkways to the clubs and bars on the river edge, all thriving and full of life. Trees, flowers, shrubs and city parks amidst decay and growth…..very slow, slow growth and more decay. The architecture is beautiful and it is horrible, but mostly it is beautiful and encased in greenery. The national museum is enshrouded in scaffolding, apparently enshrouded for 10+ years, Picasso and Monet hidden somewhere in its bowels. I love this city, maybe more than its inhabitants! There is a lot of work to do, including for bicycle infrastructure, safety, but with this maybe Belgrade will become just like any other European city? ……and maybe not…..because of the people.


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