The one really nice thing about Republic Square is that it was right by my hotel. The night that I arrived at my hotel, they were holding nightly concerts in the main square that I could hear from my hotel room. I didn’t attend because I was too tired and in a food coma from all those pancakes. But apparently they had a week long thing of night concerts there and I had arrived on the last night. Well today, when I got to the square, the stage was gone and they only had vendor tents and holiday decorations up.
One thing that I kept forgetting was that I was over in Europe during the holidays so I kept being surprised by the amount of holiday decorations around the cities that I was visiting. Belgrade was no exception. They had set up little white tents all over the main square and down many of the shopping streets where you could grab food and mulled wine. Then they had various holiday themed decorations around like giant sparkly presents, a Christmas tree and bows everywhere. It was so festive and honestly, probably the best way to keep everyone in a good mood. Even though I felt like I was about to lose a limb from the cold, I was in a great mood because everything was sparkly and so festive.
I found myself wandering through the shopping streets and checking out the walking streets around the main city center. It was pretty cool because I got to see some really interesting and unexpected architecture around the city that didn’t really seem to fit but given the history, seemed to make sense. At one point, I stumbled upon a row of pastel colored buildings that I wasn’t sure what to think of. It felt like I had suddenly stepped into Paris, even though I’m not sure the French really had an influence on the city but it’s cool. It could have just been influence from Austria or elsewhere. Regardless, it was beautiful to see the pastel French architecture in the midst of all the gray, square buildings against the gray sky.
Along with that, I stumbled upon a walking street that was covered in red umbrellas. I’m not entirely sure what was the point of the umbrellas are but I think it’s just to signify the restaurant that is in that alley way, Manufaktura. I’ve tried looking up the umbrellas after my visit to Belgrade and I haven’t found anything that provides any details on the specific significance of the umbrellas but they seem to be a permanent display in that alleyway. In the gray sky, the umbrellas were wonderful to see and absolutely beautiful. If you find yourself over there, I highly recommend checking it out. It was actually recommended to me to check out the restaurant but it was after I had headed in for the night so I didn’t get a chance to eat there.
After I was done walking the city and had completed my third or fourth loop of the city center, it was starting to get dark and the cold was really getting to me. I had actually forgotten gloves so I was quickly loosing feeling in my fingers and wearing two jackets, a scarf, a beanie, two long sleeves, leggings under my jeans and wool socks – the cold had found a way to penetrate all my layers and I was over it.
So I went to go get myself some food. Originally I thought that I could survive by going and sitting in a coffee shop to warm up and then I could find myself wandering around the city some more but I went into two separate coffee shops and found that you could actually smoke in them. Then I realized that of all the restaurants and coffee shops I had passed, all of them allowed smoking indoors. I was not interested in sitting in a giant smoke box, especially when I still had two weeks left of my trip and didn’t want all my clothes to smell like smoke. Plus, smoke irritates my lungs and gives me headaches so I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to eat inside of a restaurant.
Luckily, those street vendors at Republic Square were still around so I went and purchased a hot dog from a street vendor then saw that there was a trdelnik stand across the square. I don’t know if you’ve read my previous post regarding how much I love trdelnik but it is basically the most amazing thing in the entire world. It is a dessert that is basically crunch bread on the outside, gooey bread on the inside and then they put some sort of flavoring around it. Usually covered in cinnamon sugar. The last time I had this dessert was in Prague where they put nutella on the inside. So when I saw that they had it, I knew that I had to get it. So in addition to my hot dog, I got myself a dessert. I wanted to see if they would put chocolate on it like what I had in Prague. The answer is no. When you ask for a chocolate version, it means that they coat the entire thing in cocoa powder.
After my purchases, I made my way to my room and started eating my food. The hot dog was delicious, not my favorite European hot dog but I still enjoyed it. The trdelnik was difficult to eat because of all the cocoa powder because if I breathed in while eating, I would start to choke on the powder. So in the end, it was a good thing I didn’t end up eating that in a restaurant or in public.
When I was done eating, it was time to repack my life and get ready for my next flight to Zagreb, Croatia.