“Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious:
Belgrade is by no means a ‘pretty’ capital,
but its gritty exuberance makes it one of the most happening cities in Europe.”
What inspires your travel? Talk to travelers and they’ll admit that they journey for myriad reasons – teenage dreams, memorable songs, life-changing events, a great bargain. Or in my case, a childhood fascination with the board game Monopoly.
Now, I’m not saying I liked the game – it always seemed so cutthroat. Around our household of four sisters, none of us really had the inclination or killer instinct to crush our opponents … we saved that tactic for penny poker. Then we rocked! But Monopoly exposed me to exotic destinations beyond my small-town purview.
When Hasbro, the producers of Monopoly, introduced their World Edition game in 2008 featuring 22 international cities selected by popular vote, it rekindled a memory of the first time I tasted Chicken Kyiv as a teenage waitress at a Chicago HoJo’s. The next thing I knew, James and I were heading to Ukraine to taste the real thing.
This year Monopoly marks its 80th birthday, and they’re celebrating globally by introducing a new World Edition sometime this fall – again featuring online voter-selected cities.
Only 11 cities made the cut twice – and Belgrade (Beograd), Serbia was one. We took that as a sign that we needed to return to the Balkans to check out the allure of Belgrade.
Here’s how the voting for the cities stacked up in 2008 and 2015.
HONG KONG, China
NEW YORK, NY, U.S.A
QUEENSTOWN New Zealand
CAPE TOWN, South Africa
A Little Background
The 1990s were a turbulent time for Belgrade. As in other cities around the world, the student movement was at the forefront of forcing change.
“In Belgrade the main slogan of the student movement was “Belgrade is the world,” suggesting a wish for the Serbian people to overcome the insularity brought on them by xenophobic nationalism and war, and to find in themselves some universal values that would connect them with the rest of the world.”
—Jasminka Udovicki, James Ridgeway in Burn This House: The Making and Unmaking of Yugoslavia
We explored Belgrade and used it as our hub as we explored Serbia. Every time we’ve traveled in or out by bus or train, we’ve seen this fascinating city from a different angle – sometimes modern and sleek, other times gritty and graffitied, but always interesting. From its ubiquitous coffee houses to smoky restaurants, Belgrade exudes an intellectual vibe.
While we were there, Belgrade was extremely chaotic given the tremendous influx of migrants from the Refugee Crisis. We were impressed by the efforts of the people of Belgrade to patiently accommodate so many. For many Refugees, Belgrade is the World.
And if you’re curious about the new 2015 World Edition Monopoly, you might want to know:
The game will work a bit differently this time. Players won’t buy real estate, but must visit as many destination as possible to collect passport stamps along the journey. They’ll pay “visitor’s fees” instead of rent, and the first player to fill their passport wins.
Belgrade is in interesting company with 10 other two-time winners: Riga, Cape Town, Hong Kong, London, New York, Sydney, Istanbul, Athens, Tokyo, and Taipei.
In addition to the famous shortlisted cities, the small town of Giethoorn in the Netherlands won a wildcard spot in online voting week. Although I’ve spent a lot of time in the Netherlands, I’ve missed Giethoorn.
When we looked at both city lists we still have several cities to explore. For us that includes Taipei, Santiago, Moscow, Cape Town, Shanghai … and of course, Giethoorn and Gdynia. What about you? Are any of these cities on your Must-See List?
1. Slaviša Savić
2-6. Courtesy of Hasbro
7. Nemezis via Wikimedia Commons
Fascinating post. I remember playing Monopoly once-upon-a-blue-moon but never actually got into it. Heck, I guess, I never was a ‘game’ kind-of-kid.
I knew nothing about the background nor the updates on the game now. Interesting to know. Great photos, by the way. 😀
Thanks Tess! My parents were big believers in board games when we were growing up – we lived in the country so they wanted entertainment for those long winter nights! 🙂 You name it and we had them all. I still enjoy some board games and would love to see this one when it comes out. I like that you get your passport stamped – just like real life! 🙂 ~Terri
I understand how board games are popular and entertaining, even my daughter and all her family enjoy them. I never played a board game or monopoly till I was in my 30s. I’d rather read. 😦
I like the sound of the new monopoly game! We spent many hours playing Monopoly on the farm, With no TV it was good entertainment. My brothers and I were very competitive, Some games went on for days! Good memories.
Darlene, I grew up on a farm, too! Board games (and penny poker) were our evening entertainment. The problem we all had with Monopoly was that it just took too long to play, so we created our own short version. We seemed to have better long term staying power for jigsaw puzzles which were epic! 🙂 Did you and your brothers have other favorite games? ~Terri
Oh yes, the games went on for days and mom got annoyed as we wouldn´t let her take it off the dining room table. I never got into jigsaw puzzles. We played card games as well and a marble game on a board. Not sure if it ever had a name but it was fun. Kept us going on those long,cold winter nights!
If I recall correctly Terri, you’ve talked about Monopoly in the past. The new game sounds like it will be great to introduce kids to the world. Of the list, I think Capetown might be first, because I want to wander off to the big game parks again. –Curt
You’re right, Curt. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised that Hasbro has created international (and city specific) versions of Monopoly. I think it’s a great way to arouse people’s curiosity about places. And I’m with you on Cape Town – our last photographic safari was in Kenya when we lived in Sudan and it was magical. I hear that South Africa is, too. ~Terri
Lions and cheetahs and elephants, oh my!
Played Monopoly, but was never a big fan. Like the sound of the new edition!
From the lists, I’m missing Cape Town, Jerusalem, Kyiv and Gdynia from the first, and Cape Town, Lima, Belfast and Giethoorn from the second. Can’t work up much enthusiasm for a return to the Netherlands, but Lima and Kyiv are definitely on the list. Am in two minds about Cape Town, would love to see Victoria Falls, but have little interest in big game safaris. (Have serious doubts about the validity of the voting!)
Sounds like you’ve really covered the lists, Kathy – I’m surprised there weren’t any Scandinavian destinations on there. I think you would really enjoy Lima-it’s been one of my personal faves. And I’m with you on wanting to visit Cape Town.
As to the online voting, it seems that many cities ran massive local campaigns to ensure that their choice made the list. The explanation for the selection of Giethoorn and Gdynia was that some “internet comedians” made it their mission to select these little-known cities and create a web campaign to earn them the wildcard slot. It definitely sent me to my atlas and I’m probably not alone. 🙂 ~Terri
I’ve only ever played the original Monopoly, but this new one sounds like it’s right up my alley! I’m lucky to have been to most of these places, but among those I’ve missed, I’d put Riga and Tokyo near the top of my list!
Hi Lexie, now you have something to add to your holiday wish list! 🙂 I think I’ll have to get it too so I can play it again with my sisters, just like the old days. I would definitely recommend Riga, a really special place – especially if you love architecture. Do you have any cities on the list to recommend! ~Terri
I’m afraid my holiday wish list is burgeoning with places! I have now become obsessed with getting to Cuba sooner rather than later and may bite the bullet and try hard to get there. On your list of places to go, I liked Cape Town a lot; it just offered such a wide variety of things to do and see within the city and nearby – vineyards, ocean, history, big-city activities, nature, action, and relaxation! It’s the whole package!
Lexie, that’s so interesting because James and I were just talking about Cuba and looking into the regulations. Have you figured out the best way to do it? ~T
Oh, I wish! It’s terribly complicated and also quite expensive (to get there) right now. Joining a group is the easiest way, but I like to roam a little more freely. Cheapair has flights now from MIA and JFK (maybe some others) and Jetblue is joining the game, too. Flying from Mexico eliminates some of the paperwork but adds some logistical complexity! And once there, Airbnb is up and running, but hotels are still iffy, I hear. Much to digest before I make any decisions!
I would love to play the new version of Monopoly with you guys and record the stories that cities spawn from your travels.
That would be so cool, Sue! We may have to add this game to the Sister’s Wishlist – but it may not be able to hold a candle to Pandemic. Maybe someone needs to combine the two games into one – Pandemic Monopoly! 🙂 Love, T
Well what a cool inspiration! Look at those Canadian cities on the list! No Calgary sadly.
We are headed to Sydney in 2016 and Amsterdam and Riga jump out for me.
You’re right, Sue. Maybe this is the perfect opportunity for you and Dave to start the campaign to get Calgary on the next version – I can’t think of better Ambassadors! 🙂 You will love Sydney – are you also going to New Zealand? I’m a huge fan of Wellington. ~Terri
Terri we are going to Fiji after Australia. We have three weeks in total so as you can imagine the itinerary is jammed. 🙂
That is SO cool, Sue. We haven’t been to Fiji yet so I can’t wait to read all about it. I know you’ll have a blast! 🙂
What?! A place you haven’t been? 🙂 We decided since we would be so ‘close’ we would stop in Fiji on our way home. I very much look forward to sharing.
Oh Sue, the list of places we haven’t been – yet – is SO long. I love it – always something to look forward to. If you haven’t seen them yet, Alison and Don wrote some great posts on their trip to Fiji.
We always joke that we shall have to live to be 150 to get to all the spots we wold like to see. Thanks so much for the link. I have bookmarked it for future planning. 🙂
We had a major flood at out home over labor day weekend which led to some extensive cleaning out. I came across a Lord of the Rings Monopoly game I bought for my oldest son when it first came out. I wonder how many editions there are of the game. I’ve never been a huge fan of playing it, but I like the idea of inspiring travel to get passport stamps. I’ve only been to 4 of the cities in the 2008 edition and 1 in the 2015 edition. I think I’d fair better with a strictly USA version.
Oh Laura, so sorry about the flood. That’s awful. I’m sure that digging out and cleaning up after that is horrible. I hope you didn’t lose anything that was dear to you. Funny that you came across the Lord of the Rings Monopoly – I didn’t even know they made that one! Like you I really like that they shifted the focus of the new Monopoly to be more travel oriented. I thought you might get a kick out of some of the weirdest versions that have been made! :)~Terri
Wow, who knew?!? I’ve seen the bass fishing version, but the rest were news to me. Dealing with the aftermath of the flood (insurance, mold remediation and the like) has been quite a drain on us. I just want back in my home!
I truly feel for you Laura. When will you get back in? ~Terri
It depends on what the mold tester finds today. It could be at least another 3 weeks. We’ve already been out of the house since the 7th of Sept.
Very cool. I wonder if this new monopoly game takes less than 4 hours to play? 🙂
I really need to visit Belgrade. I have worked with a lot of people from Serbia and Bulgaria over the years and I am sure it would be a blast.
Jeff, do I have a deal for you! Check out this youtube video by two guys who have figured out how to play the shortest possible game of Monopoly in 21 seconds. You’ll love it! And I highly recommend Serbia – its coolness is not readily evident on the surface, but if you dig deeper you’ll hit pay dirt! 🙂 ~Terri
Always loved Monopoly, though I too was never cutthroat enough. This is a fascinating post on many levels. The history of the game, I had never heard of the World Edition and now want to play. I had to laugh at the “old Martha” who immediately perked up at the Nasdaq sign in Times Square as I had the pleasure of opening and closing the exchange with various employers over the years and having your name in those lights is breath-taking!
Martha, that’s wonderful! I’ve never met anyone who opened or closed the exchange! Well done! 🙂 What a feeling that must be. And as for the Monopoly games, my sisters and I have maintained our love of board games, and now that I live in the same town as 2 of them, I’m thinking this new version will find its way to our table this winter. So glad you shared that piece of personal info. ~Terri
I spent a lot of weekend afternoons as a kid playing very competitive games of Monopoly with my sibs and friends and then I graduated to marathon games of Risk, my husband’s and son’s favorite, as an adult. We might have to pick up the world edition of Monopoly for our grandson and play a 3 generation game. I looked at the cities listed and it looks like we have lots more traveling to do. So far we’ve been to NYC, Toronto, Barcelona, Lima and Lisbon. Our travel list just keeps growing …! Anita
Anita, if you can believe it I’ve never played Risk! I didn’t think there was a game I hadn’t tried. Do you recommend it? I am also thinking about getting this version of Monopoly to play with my sisters. I just checked and it doesn’t appear to be available for purchase yet – hopefully soon. How are things going in Portugal with your visa application? ~Terri
Terry and I have been doing some serious talking about when to put an end to extensive travel in this country and when to get serious about some international treks. There is still so much to see in this country but I feel we are running out of time. I think Alaska may be next year, then time to broaden our horizons. I know whose blog I will be turning to for advice. 🙂
You are going to love Alaska, LuAnn. The wonderful thing about the USA is that there’s always so much to explore – and you and Terry have sure been adventurous. I’m sure that if you decide to broaden your horizons you’ll take your fabulous sense of adventure along and we’ll all love the tales you share with us. 🙂 ~Terri
Monopoly was one of the few games I liked as a child, of course we played the London one. Some years ago they brought out a Southampton version which was cool. I didn’t know about the world version though. I can see why it would make you want to travel.
Marie, it’s so fun to talk with someone who enjoyed Monopoly as a kid. Were you one of those players (like my sister Nancy) who had the talent of acquiring all the high-end properties and building hotels – then taking all our money? When we lived in London we played the London version – it was fun to compare it to the US version. I didn’t know they had a Southampton version – with all your walking I’m sure you know all the territory. 🙂 ~Terri
I was rubbish at it and usually lost but I enjoyed playing. I do know Southampton quite well and the Southampton version is fun to play.
Always nice to find lists of cities to visit…there’s quite a few on there in which I have not yet eaten inexplicable meals. And always interesting to hear other travelers’ origin stories! And oy, the list of “interesting to hear”s just keeps going, because I always felt the same way about Monopoly. After about half an hour you know who’s going to win, then it’s just a slow, remorseless, capitalist process of squeezing the life out of your friends and siblings. Stamping passports sounds like an upgrade to me!
I love it! You totally nailed it – “just a slow, remorseless, capitalist process of squeezing the life out of your friends and siblings.” Too funny and so spot on. One of my sisters was particularly adept at the process, but she was even better at total annihilation in penny poker – I came away penniless and she had a sock full of coins. Like you I much prefer the passport stamps – just like real life. 🙂 ~Terri