AWAY TRIP REVIEW: belgrade, serbia, septemBER 2016
Belgrade, September 2016, the Republic of Ireland’s visit to play Serbia, the first qualifier for the World Cup in Russia, 2 years hence. The road to Russia begins in Belgrade.
We arrived in Belgrade Airport from London via Munich. We managed to secure the services of a cab to get us to our city centre hotel, the aptly named Belgrade City Hotel.
The main city of Belgrade is built on the southern side of the river Danube at the intersection of the Sava river.
In the sunshine, Belgrade is a very colourful city. One of the main attractions is the Old Citadel in Kalemegdan Park, which is at the end of the very long pedestrian only street.
From my experience, Serbians like grilled meats, like sausage,lamb and pork. Some of the more popular dishes are beef stuffed with cheese and beef mixed with smoked pork. In the short time that we were in Belgrade, we didn’t have enough time to try all the different delicacies available, but we got through a good few of them by having tapas type snacks.
There is quite a large selection of beers, including all international beers that you would expect in Belgrade. Heineken, Carlsberg, Tuborg, etc. We decided to try the local beers, which were very palatable. We started with the lagers, then moved onto the dark beers as the weekend progressed.
The stadium, the Marakana of Europe as it was and may still be known to some, its official name since 2014 is the Rajko Mitić Stadium, a famous Red Star Belgrade player.
The stadium, a big open antiquated decrepit bowl. It was built in 1963 and it really does show its age. Internally, the facilities are very poor. The cover from the elements was extremely poor as we had to suffer a deluge of biblical portions that poured down over Belgrade for most of the day and continued during most of the match.
Due to the poor weather conditions, there was a very poor turnout at the game.
Ireland started the game very well and took the lead through Hendricks on the 3rd minute and then went into a defensive shell, but to no avail, the Serbs came back to take a 2-1 lead until big Waterford fella Daryl Murphy rose the highest, late in the game to head home the equaliser.
Irish connection with Belgrade.
While in Belgrade we were introduced to a Serbian band called the Orthodox Celts. They cover a lot of traditional Irish music tunes, like the Star of the County Down and The Rocky Road to Dublin.
Here are a couple of the Orthodox Celts videos:
Orthodox Celts – Star of the County Down:
Orthodox Celts – The Rocky Road: