Our last stop in Serbia was the capital city of Belgrade. This is one of my favourite European cities and I was so excited to see it again. I love Belgrade because it’s modern yet old, the parks are beautiful and clean, the people are lovely, the shopping is good and the food is exceptional. Since we did most of the tourist stuff last time, this visit we got to see a few places we hadn’t been before. We only really had one full day, but I would have loved to stay longer.
Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has been known by main names. It was called Belgrade meaning the white city, by the Slavs. This is because the cities fortress looked white from the river. It is also known as the city that never sleeps due to its vibrant nightlife. It is also a very walkable city that is bursting with culture and history.
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While we’re still staying Aleksinac had the opportunity to visit the spa town, Sokobanja. This is one of Serbia’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s located in the southeast of the country, between the Ozren and Rtanj mountains and is 400 m above sea-level.
Sokobanja has been famous for the therapeutic qualities of its thermal springs since Ancient Roman times. People travel to bath in the thermal mineral springs (28-45.5°C) and inhalation the fresh air, which has a high concentration of oxygen, ozone and negative ions and no pollution. There are even specialised hospitals that treat a variety of conditions, such as bronchial asthma and chronic hepatitis.
Sokobanja is such a beautiful and tranquil place. I found this amazing video which illustrates what a truly special place it is: Sokobanja Green Heart of Serbia (produced by Dusan Stojancevic).
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While we were in the south of Serbia we visited the city of Niš a couple of times. It is the closest big city to Aleksinac (Marco’s hometown) and his place of birth. It is also the third largest city in Serbia, one of the oldest Balkan city and was considered a doorway to the west and eat in ancient times. Despite its ancient roots, this city has a youthful vibe. With bustling alleyways, live music, pop up markets and plenty of places to get good food and drinks, it definitely the place where you can have some fun.
We drove to Niš from Aleksinac, which only took 30 minutes, so we didn’t need to book a hotel. We visited a couple of times but unfortunately both times we didn’t have that long so we didn’t get to do all the sites. We did do a bit of shopping, visit the Fortress and Holy Trinity Cathedral and have a couple of great traditional Serbian meals.
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So last time I left you with my European trip we were in Italy. Next, we made our way to Serbia to visit Marco’s family. We spent a week in their hometown of Aleksinac and did some day trips to Niš and Sokobanja and a couple of days in Belgrade.
This is the second time I’ve been to Serbia and visited Aleksinac. The best part of this trip was seeing Marco’s family and introducing Octavia to her little cousins. Since I don’t speak Serbian I didn’t have many people to talk to. Luckily one of Marco’s aunts was an English professor. Octavia understands Serbian and she didn’t let it stop her having fun with everyone.
So you may be wonder where is Aleksinac? It is a town and municipality, which is in the Nišava District of the southern Serbia. It is believed that people have inhabited this area since the Neolithic age and most of the settlements are of the Vinča cultural group. Like much of Serbia, Aleksinac has been under the rule of the Romans, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. There are many archaeological sites in the area and nearby, which have largely been left untouched. So if you enjoy hiking this region has many mountains and old castles to discover.
To get to Aleksinac we first had to fly Belgrade, where we were greeted Marco’s father. From there it took a couple of hours to drive to the small town of Aleksinac. On the way back we took a bus, which took a little longer but was easy enough.
Aleksinac town centre isn’t really a tourist hot spot. I think there is only one hotel on the edge of town. However, there are nice places to stay at spa towns like Sokobanja or Ribarska banja or in the larger city of Niš. I did enjoy visiting Aleksinac to get a feel for every day of small town living. However, it does get boring in the centre of town. I found myself just wanting to get out of town to see some of the natural beauty of nearby sites and villages.
Continue reading “Aleksinac: Our Serbian hometown”