Arriving in Smederevo
We had an OK breakfast. There was a bit of confusion about this, as the girl at reception last night went on about it a little bit. This morning some sliced Devon and processed cheese turned up. Not what we were expecting. Getting a translator we found we could get a warm breakfast, so I got the bacon and eggs, and Anna an omelette. When it came out, we both got fried eggs. I got cold bacon and Anna got the same Devon as before! I did get the better eggs though. Then up for a cold shower before we left. It is nowhere near as good as the place before, but it is also a lot cheaper.
Going to the bus station we tried to get a ticket to Smederevo. A town 20km down the road. I was surprised when this went complicated. The lady did not speak English, which is no problem, but when we were told that the bus was at 9 am and the only bus, we tried to get tickets to Belgrade. Then it went a bit weird. She refused to sell us tickets and disappeared. Coming back a couple of times to tell us to wait, we were wondering what was going on, and if the Serbian hospitality and friendliness had evaporated. It hadn’t. She had gone to get someone that spoke English. He asked where we wanted to go, and we explained the situation to him. He agreed that we could not get to Smederevo by bus, but as it happens, there is this thing called a “train.” Now, if we still wanted to go to Smederevo we could go to a “Train Station” where “trains” come and go. This “train station” is only a few hundred metres from here, and if we wanted to, we could walk there and get a “train” to Smederevo. This was great.
Wandering over there, we were in luck and there was a train in half an hour. We just couldn’t get a ticket. There was no one there to sell us one. Someone did turn up and we got our tickets. Trains are cheap here, it was only 208 Dinar for the both of us. Getting on the single old carriage we set out.
The train was not that bad. Old, but not that uncomfortable. The 20km only took us an hour or so to arrive in Smederevo. We had come here for a specific reason. There is a fortress. It is in the shape of a triangle. Weird, right?
The train pulled up and a nice guy helped us out with out bags, then disappeared before we could say thank you. Turning around, you get a fantastic view of the castle walls. We just needed to stash our bags somewhere. Finding the bus station, there was a nice person here at the information desk that was willing to keep them, and we could go for a walk around. We were close to the centre of town, so we checked out the church dedicated to St George. A very nice building, with some beautiful paintings inside, then back to the fortress.
There is not much left here. The outer walls and parts of the towers, with nothing inside. There is a good reason for this. It was one of the better preserved fortresses in Serbia, but during WWII they had a slight accident. There was a lot of ammunition and explosives stored in the fortress. Somehow it went BOOM. In a very big way. It flattened most of the city and killed over 2500 people! That is why the walls are on a bit of an angle.
At the confluence of the Danube and the Jezava river is the main keep. It was built with the intention of making it the country’s capital and the permanent residence of Despot Đurađ Branković, to replace Belgrade which, after the death of Despot Stefan in 1427 had been returned to the Hungarians. Great effort was invested in its construction and it represents the last great achievement of Serbian military architecture. The Ottomans captured it later and did a lot of construction work during the 1480’s.
When it was built, they used any bit of material laying about, including old tombstones. Therefor some of the local people believed the castle to be cursed. Walking around you can sometimes see stones with inscriptions in the walls.
At the moment there is a stage and chairs there, with the best reconstructed towers, but other than this, there is not much left, although you get good views out over the river and park that was the greater fortress.
A bit of a break sitting on the banks of the Danube before heading back and getting our bus to Belgrade. The price was a bit of a shock, as it is less than 50km away and still cost us 1000 dinar and another 100 for our bags. It was a comfy bus, and the trip was pretty good.
On arrival in Belgrade, we started looking for a hostel, and there are plenty around the bus station, we found one that has a double room, then went for a quick look around town. The town itself is stunning, with fantastic old buildings and a lively atmosphere, so we should have some fun here for a few days.