Saturday, June 27, 2009

Belgrade "Nikola Tesla" Airport - Surprisingly small

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Belgrade "Nikola Tesla" Airport is located some 20 km from Belgrade. Since Belgrade is a city of two million inhabitants, you would expect a much larger airport, but even this one seems to be big enough. It has only one runway, so delays of all sorts are not unexpected, but surprisingly rare. It is consisted of two buildings which are simply called Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. There is not much to see in Terminal 1, as the building is old and not so well preserved, but the good news is that you probably won't have to use it at all - since Terminal 2 was built few years ago, all passenger traffic was moved to the new terminal. The only thing you can look in terminal two is one kiosk which is very hard to find, because it's almost hidden, but worth a try (IF you have time to spend) considering the fact that prices are normal - unlike in all other shops in the airport. So, if you need something, it is better not to buy it in the airport, or else you'll have to pay even double or triple price (except for cigarettes and magazines).

Arrivals are in the underground floor of Terminal 2 and that gives a very ugly first impression. Glass doors and walls are white, so you cannot see if someone's waiting for you until you pass Custom and Passport check points and step outside in the "lobby". The "lobby", or should I rather call it "waiting room" is something like a narrow corridor, with little space, so it creates a problem if you want to meet someone. You can go outside using the exit doors on the ground floor, but if you want to grab a taxi, it is better to use the stairs and go to the ground floor of the terminal. The ground floor and first floor are much better looking, spacious with lot of natural light during day. It is quite clean. There are modern check in desks, cafes and shops (but don't say I didn't warn you about prices), banks and exchange offices. Smoking is still allowed within cafes. During seasons' holidays terminal is nicely decorated so it has the holiday atmosphere. Exchange offices on the ground floor (I haven't checked those in underground floor) are OK, there is no significant difference in exchange rate from ones in the city, so you can freely exchange your money here. Duty free shop has some special offers, and they're OK, but all other prices are similar (sometimes even higher) as prices in the city.

Departures are on the 1st floor, where you also have bank, post offices and cafes. The waiting area is spacious enough, but there is not enough seats, which forces you to sit in cafe. If your flight is delayed, I would recommend you not go inside as the prices in cafes behind Passport Control check point are even higher.

If you need special bags for carrying liquids, you can find them all over the airport, or you can as personnel at the check-point desk to provide it to you. Unfortunately, that is not the case with pushcarts at the departure.


If you don't have prearranged transfer (the option which I recommend warmly) you'll have to exchange your money at the airport, as the only acceptable currency is Dinar.

Transportation from the airport is questionable, since you don't have much choice. There are taxis, which should be around 10-15 Euros for ride and some additional money for your luggage (per piece) that is where problems can occur, so be sure that taxi driver tells you price for the luggage BEFORE you enter the vehicle. Not to mention that the taximeter should be turned on - do not except any bargains.

The other possibility is the bus of the JAT Airways, but it's timetable is depending on its carrier's flight schedule, so check if there is some flight near your time of arrival. The bus goes through New Belgrade to Slavija Square (pronounced as "Slaviya"), which is in wider territory of city center. The ticket is about 2 Euros and some additional Euros for each piece of luggage.

The third possibility is the worst one, and that is public transportation. You can buy the bus ticket in newsstands at the airport, or you can buy it in the bus (it costs less than 1 Euro, no additional charges for the luggage, as far as I know). The bus goes every 30 minutes, but during afternoon rush-hour (between 3 and 5 P.M.) it might be late up to 1 1/2 hours. It goes in the very center of the city, but has a strange route, which is 3 times longer than normal, so it takes at least 45 minutes to reach the center (during rush hour it takes a lot more than 1 hour).

I took all photos during winter Holiday season 2008 (with mobile phone).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to see when you're in Belgrade? EVENTS Summer 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If you are already in Belgrade, you still have a chance to see Bluestock, the International Rythm and Blues Festival, held in the open air, in Košutnjak, the largest park in Belgrade. It is an annual festival, so don't worry, if you miss it this year, there's always next year. Bluestock time is always scheduled on the last Saturday of June.

From 1st to 12th July 2009, Belgrade will be the host of 25th Universiade. There's no need to present the Universiade, as it is world-wide known sports event. Around 9000 students-athletes, from 140 countries will compete in 15 sports and 208 disciplines.

And in the end: you can visit the exhibition Dinosaurs of Argentina - Giants of Patagonia, which will be in Belgrade until 15th January 2010. This exhibition was brought to Belgrade as a result of cooperation between GGPCLA Grupo Cultural from Argentina and Belgrade Natural History Museum. The exhibition has 40 exhibits and 15 different complete and partial skeletons of various dinosaurs, including over 17 meters long Rebbachisaurus tessonei and one of the oldest dinosaurs that ever lived - Herrerasaurus.

Although over 2 million people all over the world have already seen this exhibition, Belgrade will be the host of one premiere - new skeleton of one of the biggest carnivore dinosaurs (forgot the name, LOL).

The exhibition is located in Impulse Hall, near hotel Continental. Exhibition is opened every day from 10.00 h - 21.00 h. Tickets are available at the Impulse Hall and Natural HistoryMuseum. There are special group and family discounts.

Vox - Rhythm Blues club

Vox is located in Banovo Brdo, a district of Belgrade between two very popular attractions - Ada Ciganlija and Košutnjak. It's very accessible, as there are more than 10 busses connecting this place with different parts of the city.

Vox was founded in 1995 and started as a small pub with music played for Rhythm & Blues and Rock fans, but very soon it has grown into The Rhythm & Blues and Rock Fans Society. The Society enforces development of the Serbian blues scene and helps both famous and unknown musicians in many ways, from selling their CDs to organizing the International Blues Festival Voxstock. Vox is one of very few clubs in Belgrade with this kind of music. It's a membership club with an open-minded policy: everyone can become a member for a symbolic fee of 6 Euros per year. Honorary members of the club are blues and rock music celebrities like Van Morrison, Michael Hill and Ana Popović.

If you are not a member you can still go to Vox, but on nights with live performances you'll have to pay an admittance fee of less than 1.5 Euros. Drinks are sold for very reasonable prices. During the winter period, live performances are on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and during the summer period, performances of acoustic music are mostly on weekends, but there is no particular schedule, and performances are announced two weeks in advance.

Vox is my favorite club because it's so different in many ways from all other places you can hang out in Belgrade. Everything about Vox has a very special story, starting with the wooden interior, which was hand-made by the club owner Budimir Vuletić - Buda, with a little help from his friends. Most of the decoration - paintings, posters, old instruments, and other music accessories, like the old microphone from the 30's, which is the symbol of a Society - was given by guests so they also took part in shaping up the look of the club. That is what I cherish the most about this club: the really friendly atmosphere that makes you fall in love with this place from the first time you step in it. And not only with the place - 36 wedding ceremonies were held here, between couples who met in Vox and fell in love (and we're expecting the No. 37 soon).

Regular guests are from all horizons: they are professors, workers, musicians, students, people from their early twenties to over 55, parents with children, and they all fit together very well and give warm welcome to new guests. Vox has a nice open terrace, which is open from March to October. The atmosphere in the club is so relaxed that it is not unusual to find a guest on the other side of the bar, helping the bartender on busy days. This is the only place where our teenage daughter still wants to go with her parents (otherwise hanging out with parents is so "un-cool"), since she is a "veteran" in the club, being a "regular" since she was a three-years-old.

Live performances are held at night, but since many bands are rehearsing in the club, you might run into unexpected music performance during day. Live performances are very interactive and it's not unusual that some guests (many of them are professional musicians) "pop in" during performance, or even switch with the band members for a few songs. Even though, performances are very good and professional, leaving no one indifferent.

Sometimes after the official program, musicians who came from other places where they have finished their performance as guests, leaded by a club owner (also a musician), give you a special treat: late night jam session that everyone who's present can join. Many bands from Serbian Rhythm & Blues scene have started their careers in Vox, like Ana Popović. Among musicians who had live performance in club Vox are Pera Joe, Point Blank, Raw Hide, Blue Family and Ana Popović (all from Serbia), Michael Hill (USA), Jazz Pistols (Germany) and Dr. Agrinovski (Russia).

Whenever I have guests from abroad I take them to Vox and it's never a mistake. They're all delighted, not only with the music, but also with the place, people and atmosphere.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Restaurant Peking, Belgrade

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I wonder why they have four stars


Restaurant Peking (Beijing in Serbian) is the first and the oldest Chinese restaurant in Belgrade. When I was adding this Restaurant to trivago, I was surprised to find that it has 4 stars. As long as I remember (and I remember it since it was opened), the food wasn't that good, even when it was the only Chinese restaurant in Belgrade, not to mention what happened when other Chinese restaurant opened in Belgrade, beating it with quality, taste and price. OK, I thought, maybe things have changed in past 15 years - after all, I haven't been there since 1995. But I was wrong...


Few days ago, I was invited to lunch, which was a farewell to one lady leaving Serbia. I couldn't wait to see the changes that happened in Peking restaurant, since all those awards and four stars categorization made me think that the restaurant improved since I've been there many years ago, especially since nowadays Belgrade has so many good quality and fair priced Chinese restaurants, along with many other Asian food restaurants.


First impression? Now, THAT was quite an impression! Or better to say, it was quite a shock to me. Peking restaurant is located next to Knez Mihailova Street (in fact, it is behind the corner, just some 10 meters away from it), which is the busiest pedestrian zone in Belgrade, and majority of tourists pass it for at least two times. That means that all connecting and neighboring streets are also "dressed up" to be nice and attractive. Street did look nice, but the entrance to the restaurant looks like it belongs to a long-time-ago-abandoned restaurant. For a moment, I even thought that this was maybe delivery entrance and that we should find another entrance for guests - but there was no other entrance.


The interior was disappointment as well. It is not ugly looking, but all furniture, decoration and lightings haven't been changed (and when it comes to ceiling lamps, I have to add, even cleaned) for years - and I even dare to say that I think that everything is the same since they've opened the place, which was in late 70's or early 80's. That is a real pity, because I can see that the furniture is of very good quality, but heavily worn down, and one simple reparation, actually, few coats of lacquer, would make them shine again. There are also some very nice pieces of vases and porcelain statues, which are pushed away in corners, without being displayed properly as they deserve. In fact, the most obvious things, when you enter the dining hall on the first floor, are those awfully dirty and ugly plastic bouquets placed on each table. Not only that they are totally unnecessary, but those dirty things can even spoil your appetite if you look at them while eating. We had to ask waiter to remove it from our table, because the leaves were touching our food.


About the food... what can I say? Not bad, but nothing special, although they have a celebrity guest Chef from China. What was really bad is the rice! It was unacceptable, and I have to emphasize that I was there with a group of people who are Asians, which means that they eat rice every day, so they can tell the difference. When the Chef came to ask us if we have enjoyed our lunch, we simply couldn't tell him that, because it was too embarrassing. How is it possible that he does not know that? On top of that, it was completely impossible to eat that rice with chopsticks. Comparing to other Chinese restaurants in Belgrade, portions are too small and prices are too high.


Staff is friendly and polite, but sometimes it was hard to find them - they simply vanish and they're nowhere to find.


I wouldn't recommend this restaurant to anyone - there are so many other nicer restaurants in Belgrade that there is no need to come here at all. I strongly stand behind my opinion that major changes should be done in it in order to make it competitive and pleasant.

There are no photos here, because there wasn't anything nice to photograph.