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Serbia 07–14 March 2011Back

At the beginning of March 2011, Anne and I visited Thorsten and Sanja in Niš (Ниш), Serbia. In about 7 days (Monday till Monday), we explored Niš and the surroundings as well as, on the weekend, Belgrade. Weather-wise, the timing was perfect: While we still had some snow on the arrival day, skies were mainly a clear blue during the following days, and the temperatures rose from about -2° C during the first days to around 18° C in Belgrade on Sunday. Unfortunately, in Serbia, the tourist season does not start until April, so some attractions (in particular the Roman ruins in Niš and Zaječar) were still closed.

Monday: Arrival day 07 March 2011

We were already close to the runway at about 11:35 in Frankfurt when the plane went back to a parking position due to technichal problems. Fortunately, Lufthansa had a replacement plane at hand and the staff did their best to keep us informed and happy, and we arrived in Belgrade with just about one hour delay. After interesting negotiations with the airport's infamous taxi drivers, we were brought to the bus station downtown and took a bus to Niš, where Thorsten and Sanja fetched us from the station.

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Tuesday: Niš 08 March 2011

Went spent Tuesday discovering Niš and the surroundings, first by foot and, in the afternoon, by car together with Thorsten and Sanja. We had genuine Serbian cuisine (which is quite heavy on meat) for dinner in a beautifully-located restaurant on Kamenički hill. Later in the evening, we went out for a coffee with two of Sanja's friends who couldn't wait to meet the guests from Germany in person...

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Wednesday: Đavolja Varoš 09 March 2011

With the car that Thorsten generously lent to us, we used Wednesday to go via Prokuplje and Kuršumlija to the "devil's town" Đavolja Varoš. But the journey was also part of the reward, with a wonderful landscape and rather interesting towns and villages.

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Thursday: To Zaječar by train 10 March 2011

While Anne and Sanja enjoyed themselves in the spa town of Niška Banja on Thursday, I took the train to Zaječar—a formerly Swedish Y1 railcar—to experience what is called Serbia's most beautiful (regular) railway. If everything goes according to the timetable, the trains cover the slightly more than 100 km between Niš and Zaječar in about three hours, thus providing ample time to admire the truly impressing landscape (think tunnel-bridge-tunnel-bridge-... between Svrljig and Knjaževac) and to somehow answer the interested questions of the friendly but almost exclusively Serbian-speaking fellow travellers. After an almost on-time arrival and 1.5 hours exploring Zaječar, the train back to Niš started with a delay of 20 minutes and arrived with a delay of about 50 minutes—nothing out of the extraordinary, as I was told.

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Friday: Niš 11 March 2011

The plan for Friday was to have a late breakfast, walk to downtown Niš, meet Thorsten for a snack during his lunch break, and then have a look at the Roman archeological site of Mediana or, should that be inaccessible, go swimming. At about 3 PM, we would then start to Belgrade by car with Thorsten and Sanja. While we were having breakfast, our hotel's reception found out that Mediana was closed for visitors until April, and since Anne no longer liked the idea of going swimming, we just had a look at Niš's concentration camp and waited for Thorsten to finish work by having a coffee at the fortress. We then went to Belgrade by car as planned.

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Saturday: Belgrade 12 March 2011

On Saturday, we explored central Belgrade on foot, including the Tesla museum, the botanical garden, the pedestrian area around Kneza Mihaila and Kalemegdan, the fortress.

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Sunday: Belgrade 13 March 2011

Sunday was dedicated to those sights that were located outside of central Belgrade: The Museum of Yugoslav History, the Museum of Aviation at the airport, Ušće shopping centre in Novi Beograd and the left bank of the Sava. The late afternoon was also time to say goodbye when Thorsten and Sanja left us to go back to Niš.

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Monday: Back home 14 March 2011

After a late breakfast and a stroll through the park between my hotel and the parliament building, it was time to take a taxi to the airport to fly back home. This flight was free of problems, and we even managed to get the earliest possible train back to Saarbrücken, which left just 30 minutes after landing.

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