I’ve just spent a few days in Serbia, mostly in Belgrade, with a night in Novi Sad, an hour or so’s drive north. Belgrade was busy, with a lot of traffic (split between cranky old cars and shiny new models) and bad drivers, but there seemed to be much less litter than London. Late on Saturday evening, we were wandering around the city’s main pedestrianised shopping street and the old castle that is now a lovely wooded park, marvelling at how relaxing and friendly the atmosphere was. A British city centre at 11pm on a Saturday night is only a fun place to be if you’re one of the pissed teens or twentysomethings dropping kebab down your front, whereas Belgrade was far more civilised.
I guess the time has passed when one marvels at the multinational branding dotted around Eastern Europe, and what surprised me most was the number of familiar smaller chains: Mango, Replay and Miss Sixty clothing and several branches of Office shoes. In fact both Belgrade and the smaller, calmer Novi Sad appear to be approaching their own form of the Shoe Event Horizon,1 with as many sports shoe shops as a UK high street has mobile phone stores. Hundreds of pairs of Puma, Skechers, etc. on display, but very few people doing more than looking in shop windows.
I took quite a few photos but only a couple seemed worth putting online.
- It seems I’m not the first to make this comparison about the region. What is it about shoe stores and the former Yugoslavia?