Trips around Europe: Belgrade, Budapest, Sarajevo and Mostar / by Michael Pung

Sarajevo seen from the Yellow Fortress

I like travelling alone.  I don't always do it, but whenever I get the opportunity, I look forward to the freedom of doing what I like and enjoy the immersion of exploring a new city.  A couple of months back, I embarked on a two week trip around some countries in Eastern Europe. I wasn't too sure what to expect, but what I experienced was sublime.  I'll break my trip down into the cities I visited.

Belgrade

I arrived in Belgrade on a Saturday evening and instantly felt that this trip would be an eye opening experience.  I ended up catching the bus from Nikola Tesla Airport into the main city centre and made my way to my hostel in Skadarlija which is considered to be the bohemian quarter in the city.  

 Warriors

Warriors

I was told by a local that Belgrade means "White City" and it was the first destination for my trip.  It's a fun little city to explore and I stayed around its bohemian quarter meandering around the cafes and listening to performers out in the streets.  

Enjoying the view from Belgrade Fortress

St Mark's Church

Fairy floss during Easter outside St Mark's Church

Belgrade is also known as a party capital in Europe and it's pretty easy to see why.  People both locals and travelers revel in the night life here where there are restaurants and clubs galore open to the wee hours.  Drinks can be had on the cheap here and Rakia (a fruit brandy which is commonly brewed in homes... it's also high in alcohol!) can be had at full flow here.

Budapest

City view from St Stephen's Basilica

After spending a few days in Belgrade, I decided to make a brief trip to Budapest.  When I got there, I found a pretty city with many breathtaking monuments.  Since I was only there for such a short amount of time, I decided to just take to the streets and capture much of the architectural beauty that was around for show.

I started by grabbing a delicious goulash with bread at a cafe near where I was staying, and made my way towards St Stephen's Basilica.  The interior of this place was such a sight to behold and a must-visit place!  Other highlights include the parliament and the beautiful view of the town via the Citadella.

City view from St Stephen's Basilica

St Stephen's Basilica

View of Pest from the Citadella

Captured at Citadella

Overall, I think Budapest is well worth a visit and definitely worth spending more than the two days I ended up staying there for.  There is so much to see and do in this town and I think I've only just scratched the surface during my short stay here. 

 

Mostar

Stari Most

During my stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I also paid a short day trip to the city of Mostar.  I was traveling with a friend who I met from a hostel in Sarajevo and was greeted with a glorious day.  We soaked up the sun and did plenty of sight seeing around the main city centre and in Blagaj.

We took the train from Sarajevo to Mostar and encountered some breathtaking views of the countryside:

Admiring the view

When we got to the city centre, we strolled through the cobbled streets, walked across the Old Bridge (Stari Most) and visited the Kajtaz House- Thought to be built sometime between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Old scripts from within the Kajtaz House

Taken from within Kajtaz

Soon after visiting the Kajtaz house, we made the short trip to Blagaj to see the Vrelo Bune spring and later on watched over the valley from Stjepan Grad:


SARAJEVO

Through a recommendation from the owner of the hostel I stayed at in Belgrade, my trip took an unexpected turn as I headed towards Sarajevo.  Despite their recent history, the people from both countries share a deep love for each other.  

There were a plethora of things to see and do in this town and I started off by heading to the old Olympic Bobsled Track with a couple of friends I made from the hostel.  I was amazed with how snowy it was up in the mountains and I even made my first snow angel ever!

Busting a snowball


Simply epic

Snow-capped blossoms

I also spent much of my time here learning about the history here which can be described as quite poignant.  The free walking tour I participated here gave me a lot of insight about how the locals lived and survived the Bosnian War, but also showed how grateful the Bosnians about being able to rebuild considering their painful history.  The evidence of the war is still around for those to see and serves as a reminder of what has happened in recent past.  Among these reminders are the Sarajevo Roses, mortar holes filled with red resin.  These mark the mortar shells that had caused one or more deaths after exploding.  They are found all around the town.

A Sarajevo Rose

During the time I was here I spent much of my time trying the local food around here. Cevapcici and Borek can be had for very low prices, the former being delicious combination of bread and meat which with only one serving, can keep you full for the entire day.  

Cevapcici

Sunset at Sarajevo

Climbing up to the Yellow fortress revealed a breathtaking view of the city skyline and I felt that it was a fitting end to my time in Eastern Europe.  For anyone who is considering on travelling to these parts, you should definitely make the trip.  It's was such a spectacular experience that included meeting some brilliant like-minded travelers, friendly locals and some rich, beautiful locales.

Sarajevo skyline