Tara National Park: My Favorite Place in Serbia



We spent four glorious days in the Tara National Park. The park is in the Dinaric Alps, a limestone mountainous area with deep ravines, rocky outcrops, turquoise rivers, and thousands of tall pines. It is only a three-hour drive from Belgrade and we rented an apartment in Kaluđerske Bare (Monk Pond), a small town inside the park. The peaks get up to around 5,000 feet and the park is located on the border with Bosnia i Herzegovina.

The kids had a wonderful time and each day we went hiking. The views are spectacular and the kids just love running in the meadows and picking up sticks and rocks under the towering pine and beech trees. I love the mix of farmland and wilderness of the park. The distinctive haystacks and Serbian traditional wooden farmhouses with green meadows of rolling hills, make for a idyllic, bucolic setting. I am also impressed with the amount of old growth trees all over the park. Big trees are one of the few things I feel spiritual about, and the mountain air, the quietness, and green, really refreshes my psyche.

I am trying to instill in my children a love for wilderness and an interest in natural history and ecological field studies. We identified many flowers, insects, birds, and trees and descriptions of these can be found on my Serbian Nature web site.

This was the first time we spent significant time inside the park. In previous visits, we stayed outside the park in the town of Mokra Gora. We will definitely go back.

Friendship Park – Prijateljtsva Park

While waiting for my wife to come out of the movie at the Ušče Mall earlier this week, I explored the Friendship Park. This park in New Belgrade was established in 1961 to commemorate a big meeting of the Non-Aligned Nations Movement. Through the years, when foreign statesman visit Serbia, a tree is planted in the park in their honor. I walked around and noted some of the famous names. These included Fidel Castro, Moammar Gaddafay, Leonid Brezhnev, Hafez El Assad, and of course the first one, Tito in 1961. My favorite is from 1976, Jimmy Carter planted a California Sequoia which must have died because there was a large bush near his marker that certainly didn’t look like a 35-year old Giant Redwood. One of the latest trees planted was by current Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kemel Amr in September next to the Serbian Foriegn Minister, Vuk Jeremić in September of 2011.

The other interesting part of the park is the Soviet-style monument erected by Slobodan Milosević after the NATO bombings in 2000. It used to contain an eternal flame. In the background of the photo to start this post, you can also see the former Central Committee building. It was destroyed in the NATO bombing campaign, but is now office buildings.

Family Journal: July 26, 2008

Ocean in New Stroller, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

I went for a run this morning in our new jogging stroller. Actually the frame is the same, but I bought a new canvas seat for it. I have put on so many miles on the old one, that the fabric was getting worn out and the velcro straps no longer worked. The new seat will give me several more years of morning running. I highly recommend to any running parents to invest in one of these. The key is to find one with the large bicycle tires. I can go anywhere in the thing.

I checked out Topcider Park, just south of my neighborhood of Senjak, here in Belgrade. Belgrade has the most parks of any city in continental Europe! I have been exploring several near my home and it is great. I feel like I am in the country, although Belgrade metro area probably has around 2 million people. Ocean is shown above in the new stroller.

The park is huge and fabulous. The name of the park means “Valley of the Cannons” in Turkish. It dates back to the 1521 when the Ottoman Turks set up makeshift foundries to produce cannons to attack the city. In 1831 Prince Milos Obrenovic set aside the area for a park and his mansion, which is now a museum. The park has lots of monuments, trails, fountains, and trees. I only explored a portion of it and it is the perfect place for a picnic. There is a nice restaurant there also. Another view to the park is below. Thank you to Laurence Mitchell and his Bradt pocket guide to Belgrade for the background on the park. We’ll try to take the kids down there tomorrow.

We finished unpacking finally. We took care of the Venezuelan boxes and the last two suitcases. In the afternoon I took the boys over to the school and they rode their bikes and we played soccer. Then we took the whole family to Home Center and Nadia bought some stuff for our house. We are getting settled in and making it our home. Nadia then cooked a delicious chicken and prepared a salad and we ate outside. The rain came again and we had to move the table under the gazebo. Home Center was very nice and had everything we were looking for. The boneless whole chicken was stuffed with ham and cheese and it was absolutely delicious. The food here has been fantastic.

It has been lots of work getting everything unpacked and into place. We are very happy with our home and the kids really like it too.