Zupa Harvest

‘’Traveler, when you come to Zupa, weather you come from north or south, or any other direction, know that you are a welcomed guest in this blessed land.’’

These is the welcome message for the event called ‘’Zupska berba’’ or in English – Zupa Harvest – a festival that celebrates the end of grape harvest. It takes place every year in Aleksandrovac, a small town located in the southern part of central Serbia. It’s one of Serbian vine counties, given its good landscape, climate and most importantly, a long tradition of family based vine making.

Zupa Harvest officially started in 1963, although the custom of celebrating the end of the grape harvest dates back several centuries.
It had humble roots, but the festival grew each year, and now, it’s became an event for all ages. It last 3 days and has incorporated poet nights, art exhibitions, music concerts, miniature agricultural fairs, children and folk shows and many more diverse happenings.
Of course, throughout the festival, around 30 best vine makers and grapes producers exhibit their products in the Vine Street, where everybody can try out any of their products. The main stage and the center of all activities is the square with its unique vine fountain.

I have never been to Zupa Harvest, but similar vine festivals in my region are all worthwhile and fun. Zupa Harvest took place this year in the period of 20-23 September, so I’ll have to wait for the next one. If you ever find yourself nearby Aleksandrovac in the early autumn, visit the festival – if you like vine, I bet you’ll like Zupa Harvest.

Regions in Serbia

Although Serbia isn’t a big country, it has a very diverse cultural, geographical and economical landscape.

That’s in part because of the massive historical shifts that have changed the Balkans in the last 150 years - most importantly the First and the Second World Wars, and the later civil wars of 1990’s. Many regions that are currently inside Serbian national borders were parts of different neighboring countries just a few generations ago.

The other reason for this diversity was, and still continues to be a relatively accessible and widespread migration; very similar regional languages and other favorable factors attributed to the periodical mass movements of, more or less, every group of people that lived here.

Today, we can name 4 distinctly different regions that make up the modern Serbian state. Those are:

North – called Vojvodina

Center – like Vojvodina, it consists of several smaller regions, but is generally known as “central Serbia”.

South – although the region lies more to the south-east, it’s called “southern Serbia” or just “south”

Kosovo and Metohija – located on the southern tip, it's also called Kosmet, but you probably know it only as “Kosovo”

Find out more about each one on “Experience Serbia” blog very soon.

Belgrade, Part Two - History

Belgrade was built somewhere around in 3rd century BC by the local Celts tribes.

It resides near the stone-age site of Vinca, inhabited by one of the first culturally developed societies in mainland Europe, some 6000 years ago. The consequent merger of Vinca tribes with the Celts makes Belgrade on of the oldest continuously populated cities on the continent.

The Celts where replaced for a short time by the Greeks, and then, in the first century AC, the frontier of Roman empire swallowed up the whole region, including Belgrade.

Romans built the first mayor infrastructural project such as pawed road, aqueducts and city walls. Although much of it was destroyed hundreds of years ago, the Roman period was fundamental for the establishment of Belgrade as a growing regional center.

After the division of the Roman Empire, Belgrade was conquered and run by a variety on nations. Among them are, most prominently: Avars, Huns, Franks, Arabs, Turks, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Germans, and finally the Serbs.

All those cultures left their mark on the city and its people. As a result of 2000 years of constant influences from every corner of central Europe, Mediterranean and the Middle East, Belgrade has developed a unique, vibrant and ever-changing cultural identity.

Belgrade, Part One - Z capital

Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia.

There is a lot to say about Belgrade. First of all, it's big. Not as big as, let say London or Moscow, but in Serbia, it is by far the biggest city, and it's estimated that some were around 2.5 million people live in its wider area. That's something like 7 times bigger then the second biggest city in the county, and one third of the complete Serbian population.

There isn't a single thing that defines Belgrade. I live in a city some 80 km away, and the first association I have is - overcrowded. A lot of people from the south and central regions come here to live and find prosperity, even more in the last 15 to 20 years of economic stagnation. That is still the case.

You probably wouldn't think of it as pretty place in a architectural sense, because you can see almost everywhere a mixture of buildings from the late 19th and early 20 century, communist era stile (lot of concrete and square shapes) and those built in modern trends, bundled up together with no grater plan in mind. Also, road infrastructure newer planed for this kind of population level, and daily gridlocks are common.

But simultaneously, having so many people in the same place gives Belgrade a metropolitan fell. It, unlike every other city in the country, has a really rich cultural and artistic life. Business there is booming, and by getting some international attention in the last 5 years, it's become the unrivaled money center in the country, and possibly in the region, not counting EU member states.

Nightlife is certainly diverse and vibrant, fueled primarily by a big student population.
In short, with all of its shortcomings, Belgrade is currently the place to be in Serbia.

More about it - soon on Experience Serbia blog.

So, like, where is Serbia, like, exactly?

If you never heard of Serbia, don't despair.

You're not stupid or ignorant, just a little uniformed about southeast Europe. Because, yes, that is where Serbia is roughly located. More precisely, it lies on the Balkan Peninsula, alongside Greece, Bulgaria and Albania to name a few. I won't bore you with the geographic info (find everything relevant in this wikipedia article), and instead, give you some traveling references.

The flight from London to Belgrade (Serbia capital) should last around 2 to 3 hour; Frankfurt-Belgrade should be a little shorter. You will have to travel at least 24 hours by bus from any northern European capital (Paris, Brussels, Berlin) to get to Serbia; train should get you here a little faster. Car is by far the best ground-based option, but journey time depends on your driving skill and the traffic. Let's just say that it's possible to get from Belgrade to Vienna in 7 hours, but you have to be rally driving material.

Welcome to Experience Serbia blog!

Ever heard about country named Serbia?

Ever thought about visiting it?

If the answer is yes, stick around and find out more information about it, directly from local sources, and without the usual tourist agency BS. I'll try to tell it as I see it - so ask questions, give comments and your personal experiences, because every opinion is welcomed.

The Good and the Bad about Serbia - only on ''Experience Serbia'' blog.