I start this new series of blog posts dedicated to a big component of every city around the world: its people. I will share photos and small descriptions of strangers I met or observed in their daily life during my travels. I am starting from the Balkans, where people are known to be some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world. Here are some photos from the land of Rakja, Cevapi and Burek!
The Party Pair in Belgrade, Serbia
I was in Serbia during the Serbia Orthodox New Year two years in a row. I did enjoy the atmosphere and the party. This picture was taken in front of Sava Temple in Belgrade as people gathered there to watch the fireworks display at midnight. As I was walking by, I see this couple particularly more excited than the rest. I asked them if I could take a picture so they made sure they appear this way! Cheers!
Greetings from Tirana, Albania
This man was most likely responsible of taking care of Et’hem Bey Mosque in Tirana‘s city centre. He greeted me with a smile and was very welcoming. He told me how Muslims should live in peace. Then, he tried to be nice and speak my language so he says “Salam” (which means Hello and Peace in Arabic). He also reminded me that “Islam is not a religion of violence”.
A tour with a local in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I met Aldin through CouchSurfing. He was in Sarajevo during the same time as me so he offered to show me the city. Not only he did show me the city but he also told me so many stories about Bosnia. I was in the country for 48 hours only but the stories he told me made me feel like I spent weeks there. This proves how simple experiences with locals can positively and considerably change the tone of the trip!
The Floating Hostel staff in Belgrade, Serbia
I stayed at Arkabarka, a floating hostel in Belgrade, for one night. It was in January so it was an off-season. Only few guests stayed at the hostel during this time so the staff was rather free most of the time to talk with guests. I was lucky to hang out with Maria as she can talk about pretty much everything, from music to politics and from travel to drug reform policies! We covered all topics and it was very interesting to hear a young Serbian voice.
Father and Son in Podgorica, Montenegro
I was walking around Podgorica when suddenly I found a very beautiful spot to take pictures of the Millennium Bridge. It felt like I was completely outside the city! Suddenly I notice two men paddling on kayaks, so I took a picture from distance, trying to be discreet. They spotted me and called me to get closer. I thought they would tell me to the delete the picture but they rather asked me to take more. It was a father and his son, with the latter being slightly embarrassed by his father’s request! They posed like the picture above and they kindly asked if I could send it over by email, so I gave my contact details. They reached out later to ask for it so I gladly sent it over!
Sara, the sweet girl from Sremski Karlovci, Serbia
During my visit of Novi Sad, I’ve been told to visit Sremski Karlovci because it was one of the most beautiful and historical villages in the region of Vojvodina. Novi Sad Tourist Board kindly arranged a meeting with a local girl to show me around the village. I was very happy to be with a young local who could speak perfectly English and explain the history of the village from centuries before until now. I had a fabulous experience as you can see on the video below!
Sara also invited me to join her friends for celebrations of the Serbian New Year later that night. The story doesn’t end yet. A Filipino tourist who read my blog post about Sremski Karlovci sent me an email telling me that he wanted to meet Sara as he was visiting Serbia. I gladly made them into contact and she did kindly accept to show him around Sremski Karlovci as well! I was very happy this happened through my blog! He seemed to be very happy about the experience!
The Paddling Man in Novi Sad, Serbia
Dunavski Rafting invited me for a paddling session in the river close to what is known in summer as Novi Sad Beach. I was greeted by a group of locals who seem to be just hanging around the HQ (by HQ, I mean a floating boat) of Dunavski Rafting, which is a floating structure on the water. The group was very welcoming and quickly after my arrival offered me a shot of Rakja, the traditional spirit in the Balkans. They did not speak any English but they were fun to hang out with! They did speak with signs, took pictures of me, pictures with me, pictures of them… it was really fun, as you can see on the video below!