'WHITE CITY' BELGRADE, Nazlı Tezcan | 30.06.2016

Even though Belgrade is known as "White City", it is actually an evergreen city founded in the region where the Danube and Sava rivers meet.

We reach Belgrade—which is frequented by Turks in the last few years as it doesn't require a visa and is very close—on a hot August day. It is possible to reach the city center in 30-40 minutes from the airport. You can use the very cheap trolleybuses to get around the city or if you prefer, just walk through the city like we did as it is quite easy to reach many of its destinations.

Our hotel is very close to the Terazije Square, which is one of the most beautiful squares in the city. We venture out into this lively city immediately after we get settled in our rooms. Our plan is to go to the Republica Square, which serves as the city’s meeting point. The statue on horseback in the square is of Prince Mihailo Obrenovic.

Knez Mihailova, which is the most lively avenue in the city can be said to be the starting point. You can suddenly find yourself feeling as though you are in Istanbul on this avenue. This is because this avenue is very much like İstiklal Avenue. One of the avenue’s best features is that it has lots of musicians. We hear nice tunes as we walk. The place is alive and kicking thanks to the very nice weather.

The end of this entertaining avenue leads to Kalemegdan, which is perhaps the most important attraction in the city. This place hosts the Belgrade Castle and a park, which offers an amazing view. The name, Kalemegdan, was given during the reign of the Ottoman Empire and has stood the test of time. We take a breather to enjoy the great view of the Danube and Sava rivers and then continue our walk.

Our next stop is Skardalija, which is deemed to be the bohemian neighborhood of Belgrade. This district, which has cafés and restaurants left and right, is likened by some to Paris’ Montmartre. If you have time, it is well worth a visit. We sit at a café we like to have a drink and take a look at the Belgrade magazine we bought at the airport. We learn that there is a festival that night in which Manga are performing, which surprises and pleases us, and immediately we change our plans and decide to go to the festival.

One of the places we want to see before the festival is the Tasmajdan Park. This park, which houses St. Mark's Church, is one of the most beautiful parks in the city. We sit on the green grass and have something to eat. After dinner, we go back to our hotel to rest as we are sleep deprived.

The festival is in Usce Park in a district of the city called New Belgrade. The park, which is situated across Kalemegdan, has a beautiful view of the city. The festival grounds are huge. Entrance to this area, which contains a fun fair, is free. Yes, we were surprised too. This festival, which lasts between four and five days, is free of charge.

We elbow our way across to the front of the stage before Manga hit the stage. Serbian girls begin to scream once Manga come out onto the stage. We are surrounded by girls yelling "Fermaaan" (Ferman is the band’s vocalist)... It is so gratifying to see a Turkish rock group loved this much in Serbia. After this lovely night we return to our hotel exhausted.

In the morning we head out to the Zemun district, which we have previously heard good things about.  We decide to walk there as we haven’t had the chance to really see the New Belgrade side of the city. The journey takes a little longer than we anticipated and we reach Zemun after getting very tired. Zemun, which feels like a small coast town, is a lovely place next to the river and is definitely worth seeing.

We are going toward the Gardos Tower, which we think will have a view of the city from up high. Once we realize that there is a place with a garden where we can take a breather with an amazing view, we feel very happy. We have some cold drinks while we watch the heartwarming blue of the Danube River.

We go for a walk along the river after resting for a while. We leave behind this district but not without thoroughly enjoying it as we walk, taking many pictures, and watching the rowers in the river on this road, which is lined with restaurants and cafés. Thinking that it isn't too logical to walk the same way back we return to Belgrade city center by bus.

Actually, our intention was to see the Nikola Tesla Museum after we had returned. This inventor's name, who has a very special place in Serbian people's hearts, was used to name many places, including the airport. But we need to make it in time for the train leaving for Podgorica in the evening and we don't have enough time to spare for the museum.

We collect our belongings from the hotel and head toward the train station and we leave this city with great memories.

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Beyhan Ünal