Our first visit to Ušće (spelt Ушће in the Cyrillic alphabet) was on our way to catch up with our new friend Bob. Getting to Beograd from Novi Banovci was surprisingly easy. We took a bus to Zemun directly from the little town and then a bus to Beograd City.
When we realised we had hours to kill, we caught a tram to Ušće Mall. The teens wanted to watch the movie X-men:Phoenix which was showing in English in Ušće between the cities of Zemun (Земун) and Beograd (Београд), in the municipality of Novi Beograd. Ušće is a big complex of parks and entertainment areas with a mall, an art history museum and restaurants. It sits on the confluence of the Sava and Danubes river. In fact Ušće means confluence.
We realised this was a lovely place to hang after getting off a stuffy bus and walking in the heat, because it was air conditioned. While Carmelo and Giselle were watching the movie, Ajay and I sat and chatted in a cafe and Kenzo and Lui napped. Plus there’s free wifi. After this we went to hang with Bob in Beograd.
Our second visit to Ušće (Ушће) was when our German family drove the twelve hours to come visit us for a week of their school holidays. Our second attempt at getting into the city was not as fortunate. It took us two hours in intense heat, using two buses and one tram. We were all grateful for the air-conditioning to cool us off when we arrived. We headed up to the food court for lunch.
The food offers international foods but the quality is not very authentic, probably a reflection of the limited diversity in the ethnicities of the people living in Serbia. We headed to the book shop which has quite a few English books available. There were also lots of toy shops to entertain the kids. Most people working at the mall speak English and all American movies are in English except for children’s ones which get translated.
What Ušće Mall lack in international foods, they make up for in local desserts. There are great cakes and tarts that are layered. After a coffee, gelato and dessert, we all watched Men In Black International and then headed home once the storm eased up. We ended up getting lost on the way home and having to catch an extra bus to get us on the right track again. With our lack of the Serbian language and no bus timetables anywhere or bus maps, we were slowly learning our way around the bus system by asking the friendly locals. Even if they couldn’t speak English they would look around to see if someone else at the bus stop could and then get them to translate.
Our third visit to Ušće Mall was to catch up with Bob. He was meeting us at Ušće so that we could check out the Art History Museum next to the river. Behind Ušće Mall is a massive park that contains sports grounds, playgrounds, monuments, gardens, an art history museum and plenty of trees offering lots of shade from the summer sun.
It also hosts the controversial Eternal Flame monument. Traditionally the Eternal Flame is for something you want a nation to never forget. The Eternal Flame commemorates the NATO bombing of Serbia in an attempt to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanians. From Serbia’s perspective it is to remember the innocent victims of those bombings, in this case, innocent children. NATO were not authorised to attack Serbia and yet Serbia were mass murdering Albanians. Should this monument exist at all?
After our coffee at the mall we walked across the road to the park and had a play in the playground. The playground was great, accomodating for teens as well as little ones. We wandered through the hedge maze and then crossed over the Art History Museum.
Our next meet up with Bob was near the city of Zemun (Земун), which is across the river from Београд, and still within the region of Београд. Notice how when you see the Cyrillic version frequently, you can recognise the word as Beograd, even though you have no idea what each letter represents. That’s how it became for us.
The Art History Museum was interesting, taking us on a journey of how Serbia’s art evolved over the last few decades. One of the recent exhibits was how a pencil is a weapon both literally and figuratively. We were able to grab a bunch of pencils and through them at the wall, creating a cathartic process. We were even allowed to take the pencils with us, although I was worried Kenzo and Lui might try throwing pencils around the house after this exhibit.
We walked down to the Sava River after the Art History Museum and sat at one of the smoke free restaurants which had such a lovely atmosphere thanks to the hanging plants all over the place. From here we could look over the river and see the fortress in Београд city. After that we said goodbye to our dear friend Bob and headed to the movies to watch Aladdin. The movie finished after 10pm and we were so unfamiliar with how to bus home so late that we ended up catching taxis back to Novi Banovci.
We actually went back to Ušće one last time before we left, to watch the latest Spiderman movie, thus ending Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Carmelo’s interests in the MCU mean we made sure to watch this in English as soon as it came out. Ušće served as a nice haven in the heat whenever we wanted to get out of the house. It was a big ordeal to get there but it offered something familiar to first world malls, given that we were coming from a little country town that was in unfamiliar surroundings.