I spent my last day in Serbia walking around Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade alone in the snow. On the way there, I slipped and almost fell. An older gentleman saw me, and as we both continued on our way, he kept looking back at me with concern, motioning to the ground and saying something in Serbian. I apologized that I only spoke English. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. We kept walking in the same direction, and he heard me slip again. I was still standing, but this time he stopped and signaled me to take his arm. I hesitated at first, but decided he looked harmless and linked arms with him. He noticed I didn’t have gloves on and exclaimed in Serbian, obviously distressed that my hands must be cold. I showed him I had gloves in my purse which seemed to ease his mind about the matter. He continued to talk to me, and I think he asked where I was going. So I said, “Kalemegdon.” I asked him where he was going, and he smiled and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, wherever you need me. We continued to the end of Knez Mihailova where he pointed in the direction of the fortress ahead of us. He kissed my hand and said good-bye, and I beamed inside as I waved farewell to this chivalrous soul.
I was sad to leave Serbia. So many good conversations and good people. Those at Hostel Dali, where I stayed in Belgrade, were like family, easy-going and friendly, always ready to help and share stories. I met fellow travelers who I enjoyed talking to and wandering the city with. My first destination each morning was the Square of the Republic Christmas market where I would buy a bag of sour-sugar gummy worms to share and snack on throughout the day. Serbia was ridiculously affordable for all the things I enjoyed. I treated myself to a sugar scrub, chocolate massage, manicure, and pedicure for what only one of these treatments would have cost in the states. And every night I ate mouth-watering meals in an atmospheric setting I would usually only indulge in for a special occasion a couple of times a year. Despite the poverty here, Serbians make the best with what they have and are incredibly generous. It is my favorite country I have visited thus far, and I am not sure how it has remained hidden from tourists when it is such a gem. I felt a certain amount of pride knowing that I got to experience this beautiful country when so few people have.