Having lived in Africa throughout our childhood, my brother and I never considered winter to be a magical season. Our festive holidays were spent tanning by the swimming pool – the furthest thing you can imagine from snow!
It wasn’t until I moved to Switzerland for university, when I got my real first taste of winter. I was very lucky to live in Montreux which turns into a Christmas fairy tale due to its perfect location – surrounded by grandiose mountains yet sitting on the glittery Lac Leman. The iconic Christmas Market brings with it not only delicious goodies, but a spirit I never experienced before.
Despite the chilly wind, the foggy skies, and the soggy feeling of melting snow – catching the glimpse of a snowflake caught in my hair while the sun was shining, showed me the beauty of this chilly season – just like in the movies. As the frosty refreshing winter air covers the Northern Hemisphere allowing the Earth to finally rest, Belgrade turns into a winter wonderland for all the senses.
Sight – Is there anything more beautiful than watching snowflakes falling from the sky, forming a white blanket of snow over the city, while decorative lanterns illuminate a million lights.
Sound – The streets are filled with chatter and laughter from pedestrians, friendly shopkeepers, children and not to mention the sounds of Christmas songs from every corner.
Smell – From the smokiness of fireplaces and outdoor heating lamps, to roasted chestnuts, hot pastries and mulled wine, the city is surrounded by an abundance of smells filling the air.
Feel – That extra bit of frosty chill, obliges you to snuggle in your fluffy scarf, put on a pair of gloves and warm up by the fire.
Taste – The moment your taste buds make contact with a delicacy, not only do you experience a thrill of happiness, but also perhaps the spark of memory. The options in Belgrade are endless, however my personal winter favourites include: hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts, cinnamon infused mulled wine, ratluk (turkish delight) made from cranberries and paired with a shot of traditional rakija made from blackberries.
Belgrade’s Christmas Market is the perfect place to experience all of these senses. Little chalets scattered throughout the Republic Square (city centre) offer everything from handmade woven winter clothes to yummylicious winter treats such as the Hungarian specialty chimney cake called Kürtőskalács (pronounced: kurtosh kalach).
Winter isn’t complete without ice skating, and in Belgrade the options are endless. Various venues throughout the city offer rentals, however my top picks are: Ada Ciganlija which offers the largest open rink and Pionir Hall which hosts Disco on Ice every Friday and Saturday.
My other favourite thing about winter is snuggling up with a hot chocolate, lighting some apple-cinnamon candles and relaxing with my favourite Christmas movie, The Holiday. What’s yours?