Balkan Hospitality

As my friends and I wondered the streets of Belgrade looking for a coffee shop, we stumbled upon Ulica Café. Immediately once we sat down a man came over and gave us a nod. As we began to struggle with the Serbian menu, the man said I can translate for you in flawless English. His warm and inviting demeanor encouraged us to come back, particularly on the following Friday when there was going to be Cuban music and tango.

On Friday, we walked up to the café and looked for the man, who apparently owned the place, who ran over to us. He had a great smile on his face and shook all of our hands, excitedly telling us he could grab some tables for us. He grabbed a few tables, which had a reserved marker, and encouraged us to sit and let us know that the band played very well earlier. I looked around at my friends, not sure how good Cuban music could be in Serbia, but when the band started I was blown away. Almost all of the people in the café jumped up to tango with a partner, while my friends and I just watched in awe. As we sat there, the owner came over and encouraged us to dance with homemade milkshakes. We then got up and danced the night away.

This night was one of the many many examples of Balkan hospitality that I have experienced in my time here. Despite all the recent conflicts and extensive foreign interventions, the people of Serbia often go above and beyond in terms of helping and extending hospitality to everyone. Whether it was bringing out free drinks for us or giving directions when we were obviously lost, the people of Belgrade were exceptionally hospitable.