Last week I stumbled upon an article that rendered me speechless for a few moments as I processed the startlingly simple first line, stating bluntly something that I’ve been struggling to communicate for several months: “No city makes you feel more like a New Yorker than Belgrade.”
While this stunning introduction has little to do with the rest of the piece, a travel guide of sorts, it is my single favorite thing I have read about the city if only because it lends words to what I’ve been feeling since I moved here.
To say the least, the Belgrade lifestyle has been an enormous adjustment. As the aforementioned article states, “in Belgrade, people don’t walk, they amble; lunch spans the course of 3 or 4 hours; and drinks are sipped, never knocked back,” a sharp pivot from the undercurrent of urgency that runs beneath nearly everything one does in New York City.
Even walking is different: unless I’m paying attention I walk everywhere as though I’m schlepping across town late for a meeting, though I never noticed this difference in Boston (admittedly this might have something to do with my barrage of tall, long legged friends who manage to keep up with me effortlessly). In Belgrade, though, the average height seems to be at least 6’0 and yet I’m constantly stopping short to avoid running into backs on the sidewalk. Serbs like to amble, savoring everything around them- a trait that echoes through everything they do.
I’ve become used to it as my time here has stretched on and even begun savoring walks through the city myself; Belgrade is by no means a conventional form of beautiful, but has its charms nonetheless and a sense of character that I will miss dearly.
The countdown to the end of my time here begins as I sit down to write this post; I will be returning to New York for the summer before heading to London for a few months- a transition sure to be much smoother than this one.
Excited as I am to be moving on to the next chapter I can't help but be sad that Belgrade will soon become a place I feel a deep nostalgia for- much like Paris- instead of a place I get to visit often.
Despite my reluctance to leave I am ecstatic to be returning to New York; the city never fails to exude an intoxicating spirit. With so much to do, to see, it is exhilarating.
So, as I ready myself for what is sure to be an hours long fest of Serbian cuisine (photos to come) I can’t help but look forward to returning to the very city that has defined the person I have become- even if it has made me forget how to slow down every once in a while.