Categories
Mountains Travel

A getaway near Belgrade, Serbia

Here in Serbia, everyone value their summer vacation. Whether it be on the beach, in spas (banja), in mountains like Zlatibor and Kopaonik, or in the village with visiting the elders of the family, we make sure that we make use of the days off from work. But aside from the long vacations, sometimes we get the privilege of having 2 or 3 days free from work and we need to go to a place where we don’t need too much time traveling to. One place where the Serbs go for a quick getaway is in Strmosten. It is strategically located in Central Serbia and only a 150 kilometer drive from Belgrade.

Veliki Buk Waterfall
Vodopad Veliki Buk

Strmosten is the home of the famous waterfall Veliki Buk or Lisine. And though I’m not sure how tourists started to flock to the area, it is obvious that the restaurants around the area were once homes of families who decided to share the waterfall and their yards to us. During the summer, you will feel the difference the moment you enter the waterfall complex. Thanks to the surrounding trees and the coolness of the flowing water, we can finally get a break from the scorching heat.

In the past few years, the business owners around the area still continue to improve their business, now adding more rooms to accommodate more guests. I have always wanted to spend a few days in the area but the lack of wi-fi and poor mobile reception does not permit me to do so at the moment. But, fingers crossed, maybe soon. Anyway, every time I go to Lisine I always make sure to eat lunch beside the stream of water. For me, nothing beats having lunch in nature. The fresh cold air, the view, the birds, the sound of water flowing, good food and good service. As perfect as it sounds, it really is.

spring in strmosten

There are already a number of restaurants in the area which serve Serbian food like grilled meat or fish, salads, and other delicacies like cheese and kajmak. There is also an area where there are tables for picnics and is located on the source of the waterfall.

Restaurant in Lisine

My personal favorite is the restaurant “Vodopad Lisine”. Perhaps because they have a wider area and is closer to the water. They also offer accommodation with breakfast for an affordable price.

Whether you decide to go just for a day, a weekend or a few days, one thing is for sure… Waterfall Veliki Buk is definitely a must visit site when in Central Serbia.

Summary:

  • Distance from Belgrade: 150 kms
  • Travel time from Belgrade: around 2 hours
  • Best type of transportatiom: Car
  • Things to do: Walking, Picnic, Try domestic food, Spend a few days in Nature
  • Cellular Phone reception: Weak
  • Internet: None
Categories
Spas Travel

The quiet Niška Banja (The spa of Niš)

To start, this blog is already way overdue. I’m also a frequent visitor of the city of Niš which is the third largest city in Serbia. And whenever I am in the city, I never miss the chance to visit Niška Banja or the Spa of Niš which is only 10 kilometers away. Therapeutic spas are all over Serbia, each of them being famous for treating a specific condition. The spa of Niš is well-known for helping people with rheumatic disorders through it’s thermal radio-active water containing radon. People soak their feet under the warm water for relaxation and healing. 

The spa of Niš

However, the tranquility in the spa resort is meant for the healthy ones as well. As most places in Serbia, the locals are the main visitors in the spa. Mostly senior citizens sitting on benches, chatting with each other, playing instruments and people watching. During the summer vacation, then the kids start coming, practicing with their bicycles, running around and playing with each other.

the greenery surrounding the spa
the spa at night
souvenir shop

Accommodation

So one weekend, I decided to spend a night at Niška banja. The accommodation was really affordable and you can get a decent room for around 25 euros. So I found this Hostel Zone for around that price. The room was clean and the staff was very helpful.

the room
small kitchen with mini stove
the staircase
the view from the room

Food

Among all the cities in Serbia that I visited, Niš probably has the most affordable prices when it comes to food. Here are some of my food finds in Niška banja.

This croissant is from a bakery chain in Niš. I bought this the night before for breakfast.

croissant made of corn flour for around 25 RSD**price may not be updated

Another thing that I found for breakfast the next day is Mekike or fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar and some strawberry syrup. It only costs 50 Serbian Dinars.

mekike-fried dough for 50 RSD**price may not be updated

For a 100 or 110 dinars, you can get this delicious cup of hot chocolate while soaking in the beauty of nature.

a cup of hot chocolate from one of the coffee shops
Categories
Travel

Ethno village Stolovo – a quick stop along the highway

During the summer, a lot of tourists pass by Serbia on their way to the beaches of Greece and nearby countries. Most of the time, they get their rest in their cars parked in gasoline stations along the way and very few of them really stop by to visit some of the tourist attractions in Serbia. Since people rarely go out of the highway, it seemed like a good idea to build something interesting for tourists without them having to go out of any highway exit. On the way from to Belgrade to Niš, an ethno village was built. Ethno villages are like small towns designed and built to represent the way of living in old Serbian villages. They mostly have a few rooms/wooden cottages for accommodation and a restaurant serving authentic Serbian food. A few of them also have man-made lakes, a few farm animals, old cooking pots on display, wooden carvings, etc. They are recently popping up everywhere in Serbia and they are boosting tourism in small towns instead of just visiting the country’s capital.

the entrance from Paraćin

part of the restaurant

Will I go back? Maybe.

Will I recommend it to tourists? Definitely. You deserve to stretch your legs in between long trips.

Categories
Coffee shops & Restaurants Mountains Travel

A new hotel in Rtanj – Ramonda Hotel

On the way to Mt. Rtanj

There’s no doubt that I am a fan of Mt. Rtanj. I can still remember the first time I went there and seeing the mountain from afar. I can literally say that I was enchanted by it’s beauty. It is on the eastern part of the country and not very far from Belgrade. It has this perfect pyramid shape which draws attention from tourists from time to time. I honestly have no idea how many people have heard about it. I will write more about the mountain and the stories that comes with it in a separate post.

Anyway, for years I’ve been visiting Rtanj regularly and it has always been quiet there. A few locals from nearby towns having a picnic during the weekends, but that’s mostly it. When you get to the center of the village or the town proper, there are a few hotels which seems to be not in operation for quite sometime already. There are a few B&Bs and apartments for rent within the area for tourists and mountain climbers. But if you are looking for something a bit upscale, I’m afraid the town is still not ready for you.

road to the left: main road to town center; road to the right: road to ramonda hotel

So… a few months ago, in one of my visits to the mountain, I saw a signage that a new hotel was in construction. Back then, the road to the hotel was still closed and there was no way to see the object from the main road. Nevertheless, I was so delighted to see that someone finally decided to invest in the area. Rtanj is place where there is so much potential that it’s almost a shame not to share it to the world. And now, fast forward to the 1st of July this year, the hotel opened it’s doors to the public.***

I wasn’t able to come to the opening day thinking that there will be a big crowd and that I will not be able to enjoy the beauty of the place. So finally, the time arrived to visit the newly opened Ramonda Hotel Rtanj.

the restaurant

Ramonda Hotel is a luxury hotel in the middle of nature. I haven’t seen the rooms in person yet but hopefully I can share that experience soon. For now, let me tell you our experience with the hotel’s restaurant. The restaurant has a well-designed modern industrial interior, with a spacious terrace where you can dine with a view. Unfortunately, the view isn’t facing the mountain but on the opposite side. On the other hand, the fresh air isn’t affected on where the hotel is facing so it offsets the lack of view of the mountain. From the restaurant, you can see the pool, which according to one of the staff is a naturally treated pool with some special kind of algae and not with chemicals. The staff were very warm and friendly. We ordered coffee and the staff recommended their signature Rtanj iced tea. There is a variety of plant that people say grow only in the mountain and a famous herbal tea here in Serbia. Their menu is also offering a few authentic dishes like deer meat and pork knuckles but there are also pizza and pasta for the less adventurous ones. For lunch, we ordered a grilled meat platter for two (2) people, shopska salad and a basket of bread. As one would expect, the prices are above average but not ridiculously high. For the view, service and peace and solace, you sure are getting much than what you paid for.

*** This is not a sponsored post. I am just writing an honest experience and again please don’t think that this is sponsored.

Categories
Mountains Travel

Summer in Zlatibor

Sure our beloved country don’t have any sea to swim in but it sure is full of beautiful mountains that nature has to offer. There is Mt. Rtanj which is my most favorite of all, Kopaonik which is a well-known ski destination all over the world and of course Zlatibor which is probably every Serb’s summer getaway. There are a few ski tracks in Zlatibor but it is more famous for it’s “Golden” summer color. People flock to Zlatibor to get away from the city’s heat and of course to feast on the beautiful scenery of this place.

Aside from the view, there are lots of activities and side trips to choose from.  With just a bit more than 200 kms from Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, this trip is surely worthwhile. We visited Stopića Cave and The Sirogojno open-air museum and I must say that I will regret it if I didn’t visited these two places. Besides  the cave and the museum, there are still a few places to visit the next time I come to Mt. Zlatibor. The Gostilje waterfall and Ribničko Lake.

We dropped by this floating restaurant on the way to Zlatibor.

The VIEW and ACCOMMODATION:

The view in Zlatibor is certainly breathtaking. There are a lot of hotels and apartments to choose from. Most of them you can actually book in AirBnb and Booking.com from $10 to $100 per person. We found an apartment which is absolutely beautiful and affordable and I can’t be any happier with our choice. The place is not perfect, but I forget about everything the moment I stare at the window.

The million dollar view from our room

The FOOD:

In the center of this tourist destination, there are a lot of restaurants and fast food stands to choose from. I’m a big fan of traditional Serbian cuisine (sarma, prebranac, goulash, mučkalica etc.) and unfortunately I didn’t came across too much restaurants serving these kinds of food but there are a lot of grilled meat and other serbian delicacies. The most recommended restaurant in tripadvisor is the Restaurant Perun located in Hotel Mona so we had to try it. And true to the reviews, the restaurant was excellent. The Interior design is very elegant and the food is very good. The prices are just a bit above average but definitely worth it. Nobody can’t go to Zlatibor without trying the infamous Komplet Lepinja. It’s bread with kajmak and some fat drippings from roasted pig (kindly correct me if I’m wrong). I bought my lepinja from one of the small huts on the street, but you can also order “the sandwich” from restaurants. 😉 There are also Belgian waffles and some Palačinke (Serbian pancakes) being sold on the streets if you’re looking for a quick fix. One thing is for sure in Zlatibor, you will never go hungry.

One of the many sellers of Komplet Lepinja

ACTIVITIES:

If you’re looking for adventure, there is an adventure park right in the center of Zlatibor, near the local market. If you go right from the market, you will find the trains which travels in two routes. One, I believe is just going around the center of Zlatibor and the other one will take you to Ribnicko lake. There are also bus rides available going to the nearby Mokra Gora and Drvengrad. Beside the lake, you can find the usual activities like zorb balls and pedal boats for rent. 7 kms from the center is the Ski center Tornik which is now open during the summer too. Also, out of the center is the awesome Stopica cave, Sirogojno museum and Gostilje waterfall. Hey, nobody can say they got bored in Zlatibor.

Our trip took 4 days and 3 nights which is definitely not enough to see the whole place but we will surely be coming back and back and back to Zlatibor.

Categories
Travel

My Balkan Bucket List

While I love to travel around Serbia and embrace the beauty of this country, there is no denying that our neighboring countries are stunning as well. And though travelling in Europe and visiting the famous tourist spots is easier and already more affordable these days (thanks a lot to shared economy), there will always be places or things to do that will be in our bucket list waiting to be ticked. So without further ado, here is my Balkan bucket list.


• Plovdiv, Bulgaria – I first saw Plovdiv as one of Trip advisor’s top things to do in Bulgaria. Upon reading further, I was charmed by this culture-rich city. The ancient ruins and historic sites are something this city is famous for. In fact, it was chosen as the European Capital of Culture 2019.

• Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina – As much as I love the city, whenever I go somewhere I prefer not to be surrounded by tourists. I came across an article about the watermills of Jajce in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and I can already imagine the relaxing sound of the watermills. I’ve read reviews that not too many tourists flock this area which is oh so perfect for me, sitting down in a serene environment and taking a trip back in time.

• Skopje, Macedonia – Skopje is the capital of Macedonia and this city offers a lot of historical sites and museums that will for sure enrich someone’s ties with past. There are a lot of things to see in this city like the famous Lake Matka, The Stone Bridge, Macedonia Square, Millenium Cross, etc…

• Cetinje, Montenegro – Budva maybe the most popular travel destination in Montenegro but this nation offers a lot more than it’s scenic seaside views and warm beaches. The city of Cetinje is one of the main cities in Montenegro because of a number of national institutions and historic attractions. Not to mention the good reviews about the adventure that awaits in one of the largest cave monuments in Montenegro, the Lipa cave. I have heard of lot of good experiences about the beauty of Lipa cave, so this tour is definitely a must for me.

My list is a rather unusual list of Balkan tourist destinations but I’m sure all of them will be an interesting experience.

Categories
Blog Cities Travel

Lost in Šabac, Serbia

So we had to go to the city of Šabac on a 7°, rainy Wednesday… where are you Mr. Sun? It’s still raining and freezing cold until now. Anyway, it was for work so I didn’t managed to take pictures of the city center or the big Sava river, or that beautiful fields of yellow flowers along the road. I read that there’s also a fortress near the riverbank of Sava. Too bad that my watch and weather was not on my side since I would like to explore this city more. Maybe next time, I can show you more of Šabac.

It is more than an hour drive from Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, and is situated along the Sava river. This city is not a famous tourist destination, but they do have a fair share of attractions and festivals to celebrate so I wouldn’t mind going back in the furture.

Meanwhile, I managed to take a picture of Hotel Sloboda Šabac which was our main destination. As I said, it was a very gloomy weather so please excuse my dark shots (excuses, excuses, excuses…. haha I just really don’t have creativity in me).

This hotel was renovated a few years ago and it is now considered a luxury hotel. The ground floor is surrounded by coffee shops in almost all sides (all-operated by the hotel of course) and is just connected to each other. The prices are above average, but still justifiable when you look at the fancy ambiance of this hotel.

Here is what it looks like inside:

Hotel Sloboda
Hotel Sloboda, 2nd Floor

And here is the view from the 2nd floor:

sabac

The weather may not be on my side, but one interesting happened when we’re already heading home. Somehow we were once again a victim of confusing and missing road signs that we couldn’t figure out how to go back to the highway. We had to stop a bit to figure out how to get out of the city when another car pulled over and then a man got out of his car to ask what’s bothering us. I’m telling you people, I don’t see that often in here. So we asked him for directions to the highway and tadaaaa… he went to his car and said he will turn around and guide us to the highway. I was in a complete state of shock, because once again, I don’t see that often in here. We do live in a world where people just like to rush and don’t have anytime to spare, I can’t help but be moved. This man and that woman seating in the passenger seat went out of their way to help complete strangers. And just that is reason enough for me to go back to the city of Šabac.

Categories
Churches and Monasteries Travel

One Sunday in Ravanica Monastery

Due to it’s very strategic location, we often frequent Ravanica Monastery (Manastir Ravanica). It’s in the center of Serbia, Ćuprija to be precise, and is roughly 10 km away when you exit the highway to Ćuprija. It is not only accessible but it is also surrounded by trees and a quick getaway for a day of peace and quiet.

Ravanica is a 640-year old monastery that fascinates even people like me who doesn’t have even a bit of fondness with history. Surrounding the church are walls preserved from the watchtowers which were destroyed from the attacks many years ago. The remains of Serbian Prince Lazar is also buried here and can be found inside the church.

Upon entering the gates of the monastery, you will see the church and then on the left side is where you can buy candles. On the right side of the church is where you can light candles and beside it is a small souvenir shop which sells different stuff from ref magnets, some hand-made goods, home-made jams, etc… We bought a small bottle of honey for 300 rsd or around $3. And of course I have to take a photo of this embroidered cloth on top my sweet sweet honey.

A visit to Ravanica Monastery is highly recommended for a glimpse of Serbia’s rich history and a breath of fresh air from surrounding nature.