Belgrade Neighborhoods and Rosenberg Trio Gypsy Jazz Band

Savamala Neighborhood – getyourguide.dk

Belgrade has been a wonderful surprise. I’m happy and enjoying the experience! I moved from a studio apartment in Dorćol neighborhood to a loft in more central Palilua. It’s sunny, comfortable, and close to everything. The old renovated building has high ceilings and a fascinating antique open-cage elevator!

Belgrade has festivals almost every week and many museums and galleries to explore. I’m slowly making my way through attractions of interest. The friendly apartment owner provides valuable information on special activities and performances.

Typical Belgrade Kafana – BTURN

After traveling since October, my brain is on overload. I’m taking downtime to explore Belgrade – no rushing. Have had simple, memorable experiences interacting with locals. There’s so much to learn and see. Serbia’s turbulent history is complicated. Stories of its royal dynasties – Kardjordjević and Obrenović – are fascinating.

Zemun Neighborhood – StefanRTW

This post has brief descriptions of Belgrade’s neighborhoods. I’ve visited most of these and explore new areas every day. When you look beneath the surface, every building and street has its own history and a deeper meaning.

Skadarlija Bohemian Borough Belgrade – Serbia Incoming™ DMC

Belgrade’s unique atmosphere and way of life is a refreshing change from anything familiar. It’s good for the heart and soul to experience new places and cultures, but takes considerable effort and energy. I’m due for a rest :o)…

Nebojša Tower Kalemegdan Park – Belgrade my way

Dorćol

Dorćol is a laid-back neighborhood known for its cafés, restaurants, and pubs. The name means “crossroads” in Turkish. The area is near the Sava and Danube Rivers and was “a busy trading point during Ottoman occupation”.

Dedinje Mansion – Mentor Real Estate

Belgrade’s Bohemian district – Skadarlija – is in Dorćol. It’s best known for reasonably priced Serbian kafana restaurants with attentive waiters. I have a few favorites but am always trying new places. Traditional food is delicious and reasonably priced. I’ve gotten used to roving musicians playing gypsy music while you dine.

Typical Kafana Restaurant Belgrade – Restoran Beograd

Kalemegdan Park – The Happy Hermit

Dorćol represents Belgrade’s multicultural history. In addition to Orthodox churches it’s home to the only surviving mosque – Bajrakli Mosque – and the former center of Belgrade’s Jewish community. Each Orthodox church has a unique story!

Mural Savamala  Neighborhood – Wikipedia

Dorćol has Belgrade’s largest park – Kalemegdan – near the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. The park includes Belgrade Fortress, a two-thousand-year-old Roman Well, and Nebojša Tower.

Roman Well Entrance Kalemegdan – tipotravel.com

They say if you haven’t visited Kalemegdan you can’t claim you’ve been to Belgrade. I’ve walked through the large park – it was raining that day – and will return. The views are magnificent. The mystery of Roman Well fascinated Alfred Hitchcock.

Savamala Neighborhood – mreast.dk

New Belgrade – Novi Beograd 

New Belgrade has “massive expanses of towering concrete building blocks in a world within itself”. It’s one of the “most populous parts of the city”. Established at the end of the 1940s, Novi Beograd “satiated Josip Broz Tito’s desire for a huge capital city”.

Beograđanka Skyscraper – The Skyscraper Center

As in Sarajevo, the blocks with ugly but functional communist-style concrete buildings – also known as Brutalist Architecture – are slightly overwhelming. Genex Tower is a prominent Novi Beograd landmark. In spite of the architecture, some describe Novi Beograd as one of the “most exciting parts of Belgrade”.

Brutalism – Soviet Architecture New Belgrade – ArchDaily

New Belgrade Neighborhood – Flickr

Vračar

Vračar is Belgrade’s smallest municipality. It’s considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods. The iconic Church of St. Sava, National Library of Serbia (once a brothel), and Beograđanka Skyscraper are in Vračar.

Bajrakli Mosque  Belgrade – Todayonline.

Kosančićev Venac 

West of central Belgrade, Kosančićev Venac was “built on the site of an ancient Roman necropolis”. The area was “damaged heavily during World War II”. It’s Belgrade’s oldest neighborhood where cobblestone streets, a “charming mix of architecture and tree-lined paths, and palaces make it one of the city’s most appealing spots”.

Orthodox Church of St. Sava Vračar Neighborhood – Mondo

Savamala

I’ve ventured into Savamala. It’s near the Sava River waterfront. Once considered Belgrade’s “cultural powerhouse” At one time Savamala was known as the “shabbiest part of the city” inhabited by drug dealers and pimps. Live music, popular bars, and art galleries have turned Savamala into a nightlife and cultural centre.

Dorćol  Neighborhood – CityExpert

Dedinje

Magnificent villas and mansions are characteristic of Dedinje, Belgrade’s wealthiest neighborhood. It’s said that “strolling through Dedinje opens one’s eyes to the riches of diplomats and businessmen involved in questionable actions during the 1990s”.

Kosančićev Venac Neighborhood – Wikimedia

Zemun

Practically the “dictionary definition of a town within a town” Zemun hugs the banks of the Danube River. People from Zemun are “fiercely independent” and don’t consider themselves part of Belgrade. The neighborhood is known for its restaurants – especially for fish lovers – and lively bars, pubs, and nightclubs.

Dedinje Neighborhood – Nekretnine

Zvezdara

Zvezdara neighborhood is Belgrade’s forest haven. Its “mass of greenery” is home to interesting fauna, including owls and hedgehogs. This is the neighborhood for hiking, walking, and enjoying nature.

Dedinje Neighborhood Wikipedia

Palilula

My neighborhood Palilula “occupies some of Belgrade’s prime real estate”. It’s close to the city centre but without the traffic and intensity. The neighborhood developed during the Habsburg occupation of Belgrade. It’s an active desirable location with interesting landmarks, markets, restaurants, and shops.

Belgrade Genex Tower – The Bohemian Blog

Rosenberg Trio Gypsy Jazz Swing Band

Rosenberg Trio is a famous Gypsy Jazz Swing Band from the Netherlands. They’ve performed throughout Europe, at Carnegie Hall, and several times at Belgrade’s Jubilee Guitar Art Festival.

Inspired by French jazz guitarist Django Rinehart and considered the “essence of Gypsy Jazz Swing Music” the group has performed together for over 25 years. It’s a family affair and the concert features two brothers and an uncle.

Beograd Fortress – Wikipedia

Last night I saw them perform at Belgrade’s Kombank Hall as part of Belgrade’s Guitar Festival. The group consisted of founder and virtuoso Štochelo (Štoke) Rozenberg main guitar, Mozes Rozenberg rhythm guitar, and Noni Rozenberg bass guitar.

Rosenberg Trio

Štoke is considered one of the best guitarists of all time. He started playing guitar at age 10 and won Guitarist Magazine’s prestigious Golden Guitar Award.

The performance was sold out and the audience went wild for the trio. They did two encores and ended with a toe-tapping Serbian / Hungarian piece that had the audience squealing with delight. They’re a lovely group with a wonderful vibe and have recorded 26 studio and concert albums. It was a memorable evening.

Kombank Hall Belgrade – SEEbtm

Next week there’s an International Piano Competition and luckily, I got a ticket! I’m taking some walking tours and have tickets for March ballet and opera performances at the National Theatre.

Interior Subotica Synagogue – szecesszio.szegedvaros.hu

Maputo Mozambique

Skyline Maputo Capital of Mozambique

During my 2017-2018 travels, I’ve made a point of experiencing new places, trying not to only frequent favorite, familiar haunts like Cape Town. After a seaside respite in Amanzimtoti near Durban, I leave South Africa next week for a month exploring Mozambique, beginning with Maputo. Mozambique has long fascinated me. I passed through the country on safari a few years ago, but didn’t spend meaningful time there. It’s my first visit to Maputo.

Maputo Railway Station

I’ve read mixed reviews of the city – good, bad, and downright scary. One solo woman blogger labeled Maputo as her “least favorite city in the world”. I try to keep an open mind when reading negative articles and don’t let them deter my travels. Mozambique is a popular destination for South Africans, and everyone I’ve talked to praises it as a vibrant, exciting city.

Geography and History

Maputo is known as the City of Acacias and Southern Africa’s “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. Population in the city proper is a little over one million. There are appealing written descriptions of Maputo portraying its streets lined with the “yellow, red, and purple canopies of Acacia, Flame, and Jacaranda trees”.

Mozambican Flame Tree

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“Founded as a port town by the Portuguese, the influence of travelers and traders from Africa, Asia, and Europe made Maputo a diverse and lively metropolis.”

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Dhow Maputo Bay

Maputo is 50 miles from South Africa’s border, with the Maputo River separating the two countries. Mozambique’s southern border is on the northern bank of the Esturio do Esprito Santo leading to Maputo Bay. Maputo is on one end of the Bay with rustic, laid back Catembe on the opposite edge. Maputo Bay is 56 miles long and 20 miles wide. In the 1500s, it was called Catembe Bay – “an exchange place for Arab and African merchants”. In an economy based on the Ivory trade, sadly elephant tusks were the primary product.

Mozambican Panorama Estevão Mucavele

The new Maputo-Catembe Bridge replaces the current ferry and road systems between Maputo and Catembe. The two-mile bridge cuts transport time to South Africa significantly and boosts trade and tourism. When completed, it will become Africa’s longest suspension bridge.

Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach Mozambique. Da Gama landed in the Muslim island town of Moçambique in 1498. Portuguese explorer Antonio de Campos followed Da Gama and discovered Maputo Bay. He was followed in the late 1500s by navigator Lourenço Marques. Maputo Bay was once known as Delagoa Bay and the city of Maputo as Lourenço Marques.

In 1876, the Portuguese government sent a commission to develop the area and build a hospital and church. Maputo became a city in 1887 and the capital of Mozambique in 1898. With its busy port and railroad serving South Africa’s gold fields, the city grew.

Independence and Civil War

Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975 was followed by years of intense civil conflict that concluded in 1992. The civil war was violent with transformation into a socialist one-party-state, crackdown on dissidents, and widespread nationalization of Portuguese-owned enterprises. White Portuguese Mozambicans fled the country “creating economic collapse and chaos”.

Maputo River Basin

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Civil war left Mozambique in disrepair with visible “signs of the violent 16-year conflict, like bullet holes on the walls of many buildings”.

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In 1962, the nationalist independence movement – Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) – became a prominent political force in Mozambique. The party has ruled the country since its independence in 1975. Frelimo struggled through civil war against an anti-Communist faction known as Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO).

Niassa Reserve Northern Mozambique

RENAMO insurgents “received support from the then white-minority governments of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa”. In 1990, Frelimo approved a new constitution and established a multi-party system. The RENAMO opposition party “never fully integrated into Mozambican politics”. Since democratic elections began in 1994, Frelimo continues to be the solid elected majority party in parliament.

Statue of Samora Machel Maputo Independence Square

Economy and Culture
Mozambique is one of the least developed countries in the world. Although promising, the country’s abundant assets are mostly unexplored. There’s great potential, including a 2,000-mile coastline, three major shipping ports – MaputoBeira, and Nacala – and rich mineral, coal, natural gas, hydropower, and offshore oil resources. Mozambique has many challenges. Priorities include healthcare, education, poverty reduction, food security, and job creation.

Mozambican Peri-Peri Prawns

Maputo’s economy centers around its busy port, a gateway to South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Chief exports include cotton, sugar, chromite, sisal, copra, and hardwood. In addition to trade, there are robust manufacturing and service sectors. Maputo has several universities, including the oldest in the country – Eduardo Mondlane University.”

In 2016, Mozambique’s economy “entered into a crisis after the discovery of $2 billion in questionable government-backed loans to three state-owned companies. Donors responded by freezing over $250 million in direct budget support,” and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cancelled Mozambique’s financial program. Since then, the Government has tried to restore donor and investor confidence – unsuccessfully.

Maputo Central Market

Maputo is a melting pot of ethnic cultures dominated by the Bantu and Portuguese, but also influenced by Arab, Indian, and Chinese immigrants from cities like Goa and Macao.

Architecture, Food, and Clothing

Maputo is known for its “distinct, eclectic architecture”. Portuguese colonial, Neoclassical, and Manueline buildings stand alongside Art Deco, Bauhaus, and less-appealing Brutalist construction. Some of the more modern buildings were designed by Portuguese architect Pancho Guedes.

Maputo Bay

Mozambican cuisine is “deeply influenced” by the Portuguese, who “introduced new crops, flavorings, and cooking methods”. Mozambicans serve food with sauces made from vegetables, meat, beans, and fish. Typical ingredients include cashew nuts, onions, bay leaves, garlic, coriander, paprika, red pepper, millet, sorghum, and potatoes.

Batalha Monastery – Portuguese Manueline Architecture

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Maputo is famous for its Mozambican prawns in peri-peri sauce, a spicy concoction made from an especially hot African chili pepper.

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Cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao

Mozambique is a city of striking, bright colors. Women proudly wear capulanas with contrasting patterns. They’re sarongs “primarily worn in Mozambique but also in other areas of south-eastern and western Africa”. Capulanas are “rectangular cloths featuring African motifs, forms, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic abstract and geometric patterns, and figurative variables that illustrate culture, traditions, rituals, ideas, emotions, revolts, and passion”.

Provinces and Districts

There are ten provinces in Mozambique and one capital city with provincial status. The provinces have a total of 128 districts.

  1. Cabo Delgado
  2. Gaza
  3. Inhambane
  4. Manica
  5. Maputo City
  6. Maputo
  7. Nampula
  8. Niassa
  9. Sofala
  10. Tete
  11. Zambezia

Samora Machel Mozambique’s First President 1975 – 1986

Mozambique and Maputo Attractions

After its long civil war, Maputo is slowly recapturing its former glory as a tourist destination. Maputo is a lively city and there are many attractions there and throughout Mozambique, including stunning beaches and nature reserves.

Maputo National Museum of Art – houses works by Mozambican artists like poet and painter Malangatana Ngwenya and sculptor Alberto Chissano.

Jardim Tunduru Botanical Gardens

Maputo Central Market – fragrant, colorful open market housed in a beautiful Victorian building. Vendors offer fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, handicrafts, basketware, carvings, and more.

Cheetahs Under a Mozambican Acacia Tree

Cathedral Nossa Senhora da Conceicao (Our Lady of Conception) – well-known landmark in Praça da Independencia (Independence Square). The cathedral has a tall single spire.

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In Mozambique, “Capulanas are the female voice of silence.”
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Iglesia de San Antonio de la Polana (Saint Antonio Catholic Church) – built in the shape of an inverted flower.

Statue of Samora Machel – Samora Machel was Mozambique’s first President from 1975 to 1986. He died in an air crash in South Africa under suspicious circumstances. His statue is a prominent feature in Praça da Independência.

Dugong Quirimbas Islands

Louis Trichardt Memorial – created in memory of Voortrekker Louis Trichardt’s trek to find a route to the sea through Mozambique. Many in his expedition died of malaria.

Malangatana Ngwenya Painter and Poet

Jardim Tunduru Botanical Gardens – designed in 1885 by British gardener Thomas Honney who created landscapes for the Sultan of Turkey and King of Greece.

Museu da Moeda (Money Museum) – also known as Casa Amarela or Yellow House is the oldest standing building still in use in Maputo. Damaged during the civil war, the “simple structure was beautifully restored”.

Area Map

Praca dos Trabalhadores (Workers Square) – a statue commemorating Mozambican soldiers who fell in World War I.

Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) – Maputo Railway Station is a popular major landmark in a beautiful Victorian building.

National Money Museum

The Maputo Special Reserve – 60 miles southeast of Maputo, the Reserve has marshes and rivers and includes elephants, birds, zebra, antelope, crocodiles, hippo, small bucks, bushpigs, baboons, fish, and unique plant life.

Mozambique Textiles

Gorongosa National Park – considered “Africa’s greatest wildlife restoration story” Gorongosa is home to lions, elephants, buffalo, zebras, bucks, hippos, crocodiles, and over 400 species of birds. Tourist dollars support the Park’s conservation programs to help farmers and provide educational programs and health care for local communities.

Mozambique Textile – African Motifs

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Niassa Reserve is a large protected area of spectacular untouched natural scenery. It’s twice the size of South Africa’s Kruger Park. Poachers have reduced the Reserve’s elephant population by an alarming 70 percent.

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Vamizi Island Quirimbas Archipelago Mozambique

Niassa Reservehome to the endangered African wild dog, elephant, sable antelope, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, and many exotic birds.

Mecula Mountain – in isolated northern Mozambique, Mount Mecula is part of Niassa Reserve, threatened bird species inhabit this little-known montane forest ecosystem.

Jacaranda Trees Maputo

Lugenda Wildlife Reserve – an untouched 16,000 sq mile expanse of wilderness in northern Niassa province. Lugenda Wilderness Camp on the banks of the Lugenda River in the Ngalongue Mountains is part of the Reserve.

Bairro Mafalala Walking Tour – two-hour tour through the Mafalala bairro, Maputo’s oldest township, including the late Samora Machel’s house, a visit with a local curandeiro (healer), and a traditional dance performance.

Fortaleza – a restored Portuguese fort with major historical significance at the fishing port and one of Maputo’s oldest buildings.

Iglesia de San Antonio de la Polana

Fere de Populare Neighborhoodinfamous area of bars and discos where Mozambicans dance to “seductive Latino beats”.

Inhaca Island – popular tourist spot accessed by ferry from Maputo’s fishing harbour. Visitors enjoy the island’s restaurants, hotels, maritime museum, and historic lighthouse.

Diver Inhaca Island

Maputo Elephant Reserve – a 190 sq-mile “mosaic of lakes, floodplains, mangrove swamps, woodlands, and forested dunes sweeping down to unspoilt beaches” north of Ponta Malongane. Once a sanctuary for elephants, white rhino, and other game, poaching during the civil war severely reduced animal numbers.

Quirimbas Archipelago – off Mozambique’s northern coast, the archipelago’s islands are part of Quirimbas National Park. They’re popular for diving and known for coral reefs and waters inhabited by dolphins, whales, and endangered dugongs (sea cows).

There is so much to see in Mozambique! It will be hot, and unfortunately malaria medication is required before, during, and after a visit. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required at entry. Despite of all this, I don’t think the environment will be more challenging than Seychelles.

The sites explored will depend on budget and stamina – extreme heat (high 90s) zaps my energy. I would love to visit Lugenda Wilderness Camp, but it’s pricey – rightly so, as it’s important to restrict the number of tourists allowed to visit endangered areas.

Dhow Quirimbas Islands

The first hurdle will be obtaining a visa, and I’m hoping there are no snags. Last year Mozambique began issuing tourist visas upon arrival at the airport – or at least the embassy said they would do this. Before that, visitors from the US were required to go through red tape to get tourist visas PRIOR to entering the county or be turned away. I didn’t get an advance visa – no embassy nearby. I tried contacting the Mozambican Embassy online and by calling and emailing, but never got through.

Port Cidade de Nacala Mozambique

My nightmare is arriving and being rejected. Hope that doesn’t happen, but in Africa one never knows, and complacency is dangerous. I’ve gathered documentation to prove a limited, 30-day stay and am trying not to over think it. When you’re traveling solo it’s especially important to be prepared. Haven’t booked a departure flight yet, because I want to leave options open until I’ve experienced Maputo. Border crossings and immigration entry points have never been my favorite part of traveling.

Looking forward to a great experience in Mozambique! More later….