While Serbia has been bathed in baking sun, with temperatures hitting the mid thirties plus as a matter of course, people have been seeking out new ways to escape the unrelenting heat. Cities can be horrid in such oppressive temperatures and Belgrade is no exception. But while some people are visibly folding under the stifling heat, this fine start to the summer has led to more enjoying the shade of the parks and the packed terraces of the city’s coolest riverside cafes and bars. Others are also rediscovering the childhood pleasure of striking out on two wheels and are enjoying the refreshing cycle paths along Belgrade’s sweeping waterways.
Cycling is a pleasurable pursuit that can be beneficial to mind, body and soul. Clearly, it is good exercise, but it is also a lot of fun. It clears the head of life’s usual worries. A bike is not only practical and saves on petrol or taxi costs, it also opens up areas of the countryside that might otherwise remain undiscovered. For decades, people have enjoyed the restorative effects of cycling, getting out into the countryside to enjoy open nature.
Travel enhances life, broadens perspectives and extends horizons. The benefits should be the same, whether on a visit to an undiscovered region in your own country or a long haul trip to an exotic far-flung destination. Travel heightens life. While it is good to discover exciting new places, learn about different people and cultures, there is also great comfort in returning to places and people that have left a lasting impression. That feeling can be like coming home. For me, Belgrade is such a place.
Belgrade is a cityenjoyed by those who live there and by the increasing visitors who are discovering its many qualities. Be it just hours, a few days or even some years, time spent in Belgrade can be rewarding, largely down to the people who keep this city alive. Vibrant, openhearted and slightly enigmatic, Belgradians are made of the same infectious stuff that beats through the city itself.
Travel is a wonderful way to broaden the mind, develop a fresh perspective and understand cultures that otherwise might remain alien to us. I guess most people will agree that seeing things first hand far outweighs anything that can be read in books or learned online. Travel has given me so many vivid memories and such a greater appreciation of other lifestyles that it has been integral to my education.
I have been lucky to travel extensively, visiting countries far flung and near. From the Caribbean, Asia and the Americas to the more familiar Europe and Australia, I have seen, heard and eaten things that I could only read about in my youth. I have just returned from three weeks in Peru. Travel has become more reasonable and countries have become more accessible, enabling us to satisfy our hunger for new adventures, and giving me chance to visit pandas in China, see gorillas in the Congo and hold koalas in Australia.
While travelling in Peru this month, my thoughts were drawn back across the other side of the world, to make comparisons with things I have seen and experienced. One constant I have noticed during my month of travel in Peru is the cleanliness of the streets and the care that is taken to keep towns tidy. While the outskirts of cities can be steaming refuse tips, litter is virtually absent in the main areas and armies of uniformed street cleaners work around the clock to keep towns spick and span. I even saw a man with a broom and bucket of detergent mopping gutters in a busy city square. Brushing gutters and picking up rubbish that has blown into parks and pavements, these workers take pride in the role they play in their maintaining their town. They would seem to realise that clean streets are not only attractive and provide a good impression for visitors, they make better places to live for the people who call these towns home.