A city is a living, breathing organism.
Personality shaped by history, experience and the seasons. By the people who live and work there. And in turn the city shapes those who call it home.
In London, I used to enjoy walking the streets of the city on a Sunday, when people and traffic were largely absent. Soaking up the feeling, the vibration, all that history, feeling the stories the streets would tell had they a voice.
Today, is a public holiday in Belgrade, to mark Labour Day. Tomorrow is also a public holiday. This coming weekend, the long heralded election will bring people out of their homes to make a small mark on a piece of paper that will shape their destiny as the country moves toward integration with the European Union.
Today the streets in Savski Venac and Vračar are quiet, still. An occasional car clatters by, the trams, fewer in number today, rumble and groan along their tracks. The parks are quiet too. A solitary figure reads a book on a bench, a couple stroll by.
The streets are sizzling in the Spring sunshine, temperature hovers around 30c.
A fact that has surprised me since I arrived in Belgrade is how green this city is. Parks dot the city, small squares open up unexpectedly on street corners and many streets, including that beneath the balcony on which I type these words, are lined with trees now crowned with leaves of every shape and shade.
Njegoševa is such a treelined street.
A street in the heart of Vračar, my walk in search of images to share took me from the park on Beogradska, empty and quiet today, to the green market, Kalenić pijaca.
Njegoseva is a treat on a day like today. A cacophony of architectural styles makes me want to learn more about the subject. The old and the new, the modernist and the ornate sit next to each other, respecting their differences, somehow the sum of the whole really does add up to more than the individual buildings.
And the details on the buildings, a constant source of fascination and wonder.
Numerous stylish cafes line the street, today their visitors few in number and there are tables to spare.
Restaurants to visit some day are sprinkled along the street, tables laid out to take advantage of the sunshine.
Flowers bloom and colour the street.
Stylish shops, many selling wines and rakija, closed today clamouring for attention some other day.
I also notice, perhaps for the first time, signs that recycling is increasing on belgradestreets.
In addition to the familiar open waste bins that blight many street corners I notice newly installed recycling points, their waste kept out of sight underground.
And, this is the most imaginative recycling point I have yet to come across.
An engaging talking bird which cheerfully swallows aluminium cans.
Belgrade is not yet on the tourist trail.
That adds to its charm and its unique character.
I hope that as Belgrade’s popularity increases, as surely it must and will, that it retains the things that make it great.
That the price of integration does not sweep away the sometimes crazy style that make belgradestreets what they are.
What do you think?