Niš, Serbia

It was May 2019, two monts after my hardest half a year of my life so far! After having an challenging internship in the Headquater of BMW in Munich, writing my Master thesis in the evenings after work and one-month  constant night-learning for my state exam took me enermous amount of energy and also the social life. It was definitely the best half a year for my personal development and I´m very grateful for that now, however, I was empty inside and extremely exhausted (both phisically and mentally), so I had to have some rest, clear my mind. And at least for me, travelling helps me a lot to re-charge my battery and to forget troubles and issues for some time.

My and my travel buddy (Lukáš) came up with and idea to go to Balkan. We had roughly a week off for the trip. We checked our expectations and the flights and the result was following. Two and a half day in Nis (South Serbia). Then with a bus to Pristina (the capital of Kosovo), where we stayed two days and our trip ended with three-and-half day-stay in Skopje (capital of North Macedonia).

I was looking forward to visiting Skopje the most, because I was going to meet my friend Miho, who I met during taking part in my first European Youth Project (held by EU) in Iasi, Romania.

Anyway, we started our trip from Vienna airport, ready for Niš. It´s quite small but cosy place for two-day stay. It´s not the capital, but it´s the third biggest city of Serbia, so still many things to see and explore. However, the airport looks like a bigger shop :D

We were staying in the apartment right in the city center (via airbnb). What suprised us was the key-hand over. No personal meeting, all done through trust!

That´s how the key was handed-over. The world is still OK here!

You might be asking why we chose Niš and not Belgrade. Well, firstly, it´s located in the south of the country, so the transportation down to Kosovo was much easier, the flight tickets were cheap and, as mentioned, it´s not the capital, so we could explore real Serbian local and every-day life, non-touristic places etc.
And that was perceivable on every corner. Life seemed to be simplier there (in a good way), we could not see stressful people, rushing into work, bying expensive and unnecessary things. Just classic life on the streets with signs of communism (mainly architecture). Some things made us laugh and some things made us sad. Like everywhere. You know, sometimes it´s really helpfull to visit some of these countries to realize and appreciate the life we have in our countries. People tend to forget, or simply put, they get used to some level of standard and take it for granted as if it were forever.
Anyhow, we did not have anything specific on our list, that we want to try or see. Just simply discover a new city in a new country, its life, people, bit of history, talk to the locals, buy local stuff etc.
How much we miss the popcorn machine from our childhood!

The weather was already very good as it was May so we could stay outside all day long. We went firstly to the most vising place in Nis - fortification of the city- that was able to be seen from our window. It used to protect the city and the fortress is still in good condition. The entrance is for free, the park with banches is inside, so it´s really nice place to see and also meet the locals. After the fortress we came across the local market. Local people were selling their self-grown fruits, vegetables and another goods (fishes, clothes, bakery). Last time I could see a similar place was in Ukraine and in Asia countries. I was glad I could be here "again". The place had its specific smell, its specific rules. One could bargain the price. Well, it was hard for us as it was quite obvious we are not the locals. Anyway, we tried. And we failed :D We bought some stuff for a dinner and breakfast and went on.

Nis fortification

After the local market and fortification we found out that there was a concentration camp build in Nis and operated by the German Gestapo and used to hold captured Serbs, Jews and Romanis during the Second World War.. Not that big as in Germany or Poland, but still around 10.000 people were killed here. We bought a toure-guide to find out more info about this camp as we were not aware of the existence of this camp.Well, as expected, the tour was not pleasant. However, worth visiting. We could see the cells that the captured people were held in, rooms for Gestapo officers. I guess one thing will be stuck in my memory for long time. It was the scratches from fingernails on the walls and also the beds made of badbed wires. 

It was around 2pm. so the right time to get something local to eat. Serbian traditional meals are: pljeskavica - ground beef/pork patty, Gibanica (pie), ćevapi (grilled ground meat), čvarci (similar to pork rinds) and burek. I dont know why but we did not take pics of food that time. I found only one picture of traditional pljeskavica and pork meet, home-made bread and beans.


After we got the energy we went on exploring the city. We had not specific point or place. Just walking down the streets, asking people what to see... We came across some really nice church with nice park around. Old people were playing chess like in the movies. 
As there was no tower or observation spot in the city, we simply found the highest building and tried to get inside, take an elevator and see the city from above. There were some high building, but there was either no entrance for us (locked) or the elevator took us only to the floor inside the building, so the view was able to get only from the flats inside. However, there was finally one high building with an open entrance and also the view on the city! 

That´s the building!

On the way back to the city center we came across some kind of museum. It´s actually Skull Tower and if you dont like those things like scull or human bones, do not visit it. It´s pretty scary. This "Toweris a stone structure embedded with human bones and skulls. There are 952 skulls and it was build by Ottoman after the First Serbian Uprising.

After that? Just walking down the streets, taking pics of the architecture and the things that we found interesting. 

Old Škoda!

Elevator with only even-numbered levels

Our next stop: Pristina!

Meeting some locals!

Our next country in this trip was PRISTINA, the capital KOSOVO.