Gateway To Black Sea


Day 07 - Monday, October 14, 2013 - Lecture on Yugoslavia; Belgrade Half Day Tour; Visit Kalemegdan Fortress; Optional Tour to Tito’s Memorial and Royal Palace

We woke up at the Port of Belgrade on the River Sava, a tributary of the Danube. The temperature was 60° and the humidity was 97% - my skin is loving this humid climate. We have heard that it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter with this river effect.

Our guide Evica and the driver Milovan took us on a bus tour of the 2,500-year-old capital city of Serbia, also known as the White City. The traffic on this Monday morning was heavy. There were city buses, trolleys, but no subways. Many people walk, but just as many drive cute little cars and park them every where they can find a space. There are even cars parked on the sidewalks!

Evica gave us a running commentary and extended explanation of Belgrade’s story. In those 2,500 years it has been conquered and destroyed over 40 times and each time it was rebuilt. The last time was the NATO bombing of 1999 and they are just now starting to restore the many buildings and homes that were ruined.

Signs in the city are in both the Latin alphabet and the Cyrillic as it was so long under the Soviet influence. Surprisingly many of the restaurants in the city are Turkish – traditions from invaders are hard to break.

We drove through the wealthy residential district – villas that were once on the outskirts of the city. These villas are now housing embassies from all over the world. We passed the American Embassy – no photos allowed, but one cannot see much with the high fences, solid gates, and the 6 stories below ground structure.

At the Square of the Republic we got off of the bus and walked to the Majestic Hotel for a soft drink and coffee and to use the rest rooms. We had about 30 minutes to walk around and see this former Communist country that is just now emerging on its own.

Our next stop was at the Kalemegdan Fortress. We walked around this massive fort, now a public park overlooking the Sava and Danube Rivers. The fall colors were beautiful and even though there were many reminders of war, this was an impressive stop.

We were back on the ship at 12:30 for lunch. We had a salad and shared a burger up on the top deck as it was so nice. Vic went out to take a few more photos and Gennie worked on the final grades for her class.

At 2:00 many people took the shuttle bus into town for a little shopping but we went with the Optional Tour to Tito’s Memorial and the Royal Palace. Ljiljana, our guide, gave us more of the history of the area and fun stories about the time during Tito’s reign.

The people in this country loved Tito as he held the area together under the dictatorship of Yugoslavia. After he died in 1980 there was nothing to bind the regions and the wars for independence, power, and money began.

His Memorial Museum and Tomb were closed because it was Monday - almost all museums in Europe are closed on Mondays. We did get to drive to the grounds and walk in the gardens and take photographs of the giant tribute to this former dictator.

Our next stop was just a short distance away. We arrived at the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Karađorđević Royal Family. Just our luck, the HRH Crown Prince Alexander II and Crown Princess Katherine were home today! Our guide worked with the palace security to arrange for us to meet them both, have our photos taken, and then have the tour of the palace as scheduled.

Vic hit it right off with the official palace photographer as they both shared a love of Cannon cameras and discussed the 5-D he was using. He took a group photo of all of us with the Prince and Princess and then anyone who wanted could have a photo taken individually.

The photographer, Miroslav Djuric, took a photo of us with the Royal couple and then Vic was invited to take a few more photos of them after the others in our group had left the room. When we talked with them they were certainly very down to earth as they both work in the resistance of Slobodan Milošević in the 1990’s.

They asked us where we were from and we told them Colorado and the Prince said he loved skiing in Vail. We should have asked them to stop by the next time they were in the state! Vic said I should have told him it was my birthday and they might have asked us to stay for dinner!

We thanked them all and went back to the bus, all happy we had gone on this optional; life brings interesting adventures! It was 5:00 by the time we got back to the boat, just enough time to check our mail and get ready for dinner.

The Captain’s Club is such a wonderful quiet place to have dinner; we went there again this evening. Vic had arranged with our Tour Director Bogdan and Elena and Josef the wait staff to have a cake made for my birthday.

After dinner they brought a cake, complete with a sparkler, and we shared the cake with the 25 others who were eating upstairs. Gennie had a delightful birthday, meeting the Serbian Royalty and having a birthday cake on the Danube!

When we went back to the room, we found a bottle of champagne and a gift from the crew as well as an elephant made of towels that our cabin steward, Krisztina had made. What a special day!

We clear customs at 10:30 and start our sail south at 12:30 am. Neither of us will be awake to wave goodbye to Belgrade. It has been another full day on our river cruise.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner ms River Splendor

Arrive Belgrade, Serbia 6:30 am

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  Comments

Oh no, I missed your birthday! Happy belated and sounds like it was excellent. Love, Dee

Dee   October 15, 2013 - 9:10pm

What a fantastic trip for your Birthday, my friend!!! You have no idea how lucky you both are to hae your health and can still travel to these amazing places AND to carry me along with you. LOL Y'all continue to send pics and stories.

Pat Heald   October 15, 2013 - 8:05am

A Birthday to remember! And a perfect time to celebrate. Happy Birthday!

Norma   October 14, 2013 - 6:46pm

Happy birthday, Gennie. What a way to celebrate - meeting with royals. A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY from all the girls.

Jesper   October 14, 2013 - 2:28pm
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Ravages of War

Ravages of War

Kalemegdan Fortress

Kalemegdan Fortress

Confluence of Sava & Danube Rivers

Confluence of Sava & Danube Rivers

Beograd Trolleys

Beograd Trolleys

The Royal Couple of Serbia

The Royal Couple of Serbia

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