Right here, at the very tip of Belgrade, on the Kalemegdan fortress promontory overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, is where Central Europe ends and the Balkans begin. Ahead stretches the flat Pannonian plain into Hungary and Central Europe. At my back the city of Belgrade, straddling the ridge of the first hilly outcroppings of the Šumadija, which ...

From Budapest to Belgrade is eight hours. You travel along the Pannonian plain; the great plain of Hungary; Transdanubia; the westernmost steppe in Europe; all flatlands and fields, and the heat doesn’t let up in your non-air-conditioned compartment, as you pass by dusty, flyblown  villages with sweep-wells in a sea of wheat and cornfields.  At the border to Serbia a burly ...