29 Dec Branislav Mitrovic - Belgrade Calling By: Tim Hartog Men, Rio 2016 blog Hi everybody, I hope you had a great time for Christmas with your family. I’m coming from a mixed family, which happened very often in former Yugoslavia, and when I was young we celebrated Christmas twice. First with my mother’s family on December 25th and second with my father’s family on January 7th. That was very exciting for me and my sister. Now as I have grown up and have my own family we celebrate only on January 7. Of course on every 25th of December we visit my mother’s grandparents and all together celebrate. That is why I like winter. Because of the holidays, family, sharing and love. But this winter is going to be even better. The European Championships in water polo will be held in my country, in Belgrade. Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia. One of the oldest cities in Europe. As we call it in our language the ’’white city’’. A city that is set at the confluence of two rivers, the Danube and Sava. A city that a lot of armies tried to conquer through the history and nobody succeeded. A city that belongs to everybody and to nobody. The city that never sleeps. In this city is one hall, or it is even better to say arena, the Kombank Arena. In this arena people play basketball, handball while also a lot of famous musicians had their concerts. Originally the Kombank arena was meant to be open for World championships in basketball in 1994 in Belgrade. The construction of the arena started in 1991. Because of the things that happened in former Yugoslavia at the beginning of nineties Belgrade lost the rights to host these World Championships. So the construction got delayed. Finally it finished in 2004 when a basketball tournament, Diamond ball, was held as the first event that was played in the arena. In this arena, this January it’s going to be the 2016 water polo European Championships for women and men. Just for this event two brand new swimming pools have been bought. The capacity of the arena for championships is going to be 12,000 people. Imagine 12,000 people on one water polo match – WOW! For the first time 16 men's teams and 12 women's teams are going to compete for the title of best team in Europe. And not just for that. One team from Europe championships goes directly to the Olympic games in Rio in 2016. So 100 games in 14 days, with no break. Also for the first time there is going to be an 1/8 finals in the men's tournament. So you don’t have a bigger break than two days. When the tournament starts on January 10th, until 23th of January, you will play every second day. If you come to Belgrade I suppose that you want to see some things from this adorable city. The main street for walking and shopping is Knez Mihailova street. The street is in the city centre and goes directly to the Kalemegdan fortress. If you like night walk then you have to visit Skadarska street (Skadarlija). The whole street is in authentic Serbian style with a lot of restaurants where you can try real Serbian food and listen great Serbian music that musicians play just for you, on your ear. Speaking about restaurants, if you are water polo fan, you don’t have to miss restaurant ’’Tako je sudjeno’’. The owner of restaurant is the legend of the world water polo Danilo Ikodinovic. He is there every day and gladly speaks with his guests. In the night you will find a lot of places for fun. Belgrade is known as the city that never sleeps, the city where you can find places for party seven days a week. I hope you will come and see with your own eyes how great and big Belgrade is. I wish you all a Happy New Year!!! See You in Belgrade. Like my Facebook page by clicking here.