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Here’s a plot twist right away: there actually isn’t anything that you should never, ever do in Serbia. The majority of Serbs are as laid-back as it gets – there’s almost no cultural difference strong enough to truly matter.
However, once you’re here, make sure you don’t:
- … get offended if locals invade your space by standing too close to you when engaged in a conversation… We don’t have a great need for keeping distance, like French do for instance.
- … act surprised if complete strangers on the street pet your child or start telling him/her how cute they are, or any other random things. We think we’re just being friendly!
- … get offended if people use a lot of curse words during a conversation. It’s nothing personal – just a way of life! Asking a vast majority of Serbs not to use F words every 35 seconds would be like asking them not to breathe or eat.
- … pick up the first cab you see on the street, as there’s a good chance your charge will be doubled the second u give away you’re a tourist. There are plenty of regular taxi companies, so grab a few numbers up front.
- … sit on the edge of the table. Serbs don’t take their superstitions seriously, but one thing you don’t want to do is sit on the edge of a table at social gatherings, as it means you’ll probably end up forever alone. That being said, who wants to take the chance?
- … forget to say “cheers” every two seconds when drinking with someone. It’s absolutely vital that you take a moment to look deep into the eyes of your drinking comrade and let out a hearty “Živeli!” before sipping another shot.
- … get scared of Cyrillic alphabet. Serbia is a nation of two alphabets, so prepare yourself for occasional bouts of terror when faced with characters like Ђ, Ж, and Ч. Still, try not to panic as virtually everybody around speaks decent English.
- … refuse to try “gibanica”. A traditional pastry dish, shortbread at the bottom, topped with layers of walnuts, apples, raisins, poppy seeds, ricotta and finished with cream will bring fireworks to your sense of tastes. Gibanica is love. Gibanica is life.
- … show that you’re clueless about who’s Novak Djokovic. The former No#1 tennis player in the world has done wonders for the country’s international reputation and is considered a national hero. As such, it isn’t the smartest idea to say you’re not familiar with the best Serbian sportsman that has ever lived.
- … document and photograph country’s misery and war-trauma leftovers without permission. In fact, don’t do this in any country you happen to visit, it’s just rude.
Serbia is all about the people – warmhearted, friendly folks who will go out of their way to help you.