kneza mihaila

man!

…my first experience of walking along kneza mihaila was a (very) cold and wet one due to my inappropriate footwear…when I first arrived in Belgrade, in February 2011, it was snowing, very very cold…and quite dark…only days before I had been walking in shorts, t shirt and sandals along the glittering waterfront by the Sydney Opera House in temperatures around 30C…

…so there I was, in my leather soled RM Williams boots…shaking with cold, watching icicles falling off buildings, not knowing that the ropes (in some cases just string) attached to chairs in the street were designed to warn the unwary to avoid the danger of being impaled by falling ice, and yes, I do remember the awful sound of a huge icicle crashing to the floor and narrowly missing a mother and child as they wound their way home…

so, perhaps not the best way to be introduced to one of Belgrade’s showcase streets…although I do remember that the very second that the temperature eased above freezing the tables and chairs and gas heaters were defiantly deployed for those brave enough to sit there…I remember well being impressed by the spirit of a people who have suffered much defying the elements, the odds…

…and I recall well being told…”wait until summer..”, and of course at that time I must confess I was not completely convinced…my frame of mind only hardened by the freezing cold wind that occasionally blasted along the street to ensure that any trace of warmth was obliterated…

…and yet, and yet… we have had what seems to have been an endless summer, often around 30C, too many times nudging 40C….and even today, the last day of September it has been a glorious summer’s day…one on which kneza mihaila can show it’s true glory…as can the people of Belgrade, who unworried by tourists (yet…) proudly walk the streets day and night and throng the pavement cafes and bars…

…the street is full of bookshops, cafes, restaurants, bars, graffiti, bars, life…so many of the things so sadly missing in many of the world’s cities…

…it has been said to me that you can find anything you want in the shops of Belgrade, you just need to know where to look, and it seems to be right, so many little shops, so many small businesses…so, when I see the proud posters from Gap proclaiming “hello belgrade”…I can’t help but wonder, with a tinge of sadness, how long it will be before kneza mihaila becomes like all the other faceless streets in so many cities…

…for now though, this main street is full of surprises, full of character, full of life and beauty…I hope that I have done it justice…

…the only way for you to know…is to visit, and soon…sit in a bar…and watch the people…and think…

more soon…

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