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Belgrade: from our correspondent
Away from the drab Socialist concrete, you’ll be charmed by the graceful Austro-Hungarian style buildings and pretty cobbled streets of Belgrade – those that weren´t blown up in the war of course.
If you climb to the top of Kalemegdan fortress, yes sure you´ll get a great view of the city and all that jazz, but you´ll also realize what made the city so vulnerable to invasions throughout its history – and anyone who is anyone has invaded this town.
Yes, you’ll still see the odd burst of nationalist graffiti, but this is a city determined to move on – and it’s successfully doing so.
On the way back down from the fortress, you’ll pass the famous Hotel Moscow, which was Ernest Hemingway’s favourite. Then head left on to Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra to enjoy the domed parliament building, which protesters stormed in October 2000 to bring down Slobodan Milosevic. Cross the road from the parliament, walk through Pionirski Park and on to Kneza Milosa. After gazing at the bombed buildings on Kneza Milosa, take an immediate left onto Nemanjina.
Then, following Hemingway’s lead hit the bars for cocktail hour, a drop of rakia - the local brandy and specialty of Serbia. It’s strong stuff, so watch out. Many of the most popular places are on Strahinjica Bana – nicknamed “Silicone Valley” and you’ll soon see why – dark sunglasses recommended. The best bars here are Pastis and Insomnia, though it’s well worth bar-hopping between the rest.
The Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival at the end of March, or the International Dance Festival in April (not to mention the Beer Festival later in the year)are well worth checking out.