14th August 2007
Belgrade, Serbia (euro trip part 11)
Current mood: Indifferent
Category: Travel and Places
From reading the Lonely Planet guides on Serbia I was to learn that the overnight train ride from Bulgaria to Serbia is a shit hot place for bag thieves praying on travellers like us.
So it wasn’t a surprise when in the morning I was awoken by a panicking Lou whilst on the verge of having a stroke saying Owens bag containing their passports and IPod had been taken from the compartment we were all sharing. What was a surprise though was the stealth Thieving Bastard used to swipe the goodies, or rather lack of it. Usually the first thing I think of when I awake in the morning is what I am going to eat for breakfast, but this morning I found myself recollecting the hazy memories of momentarily being woken up in he middle of the night by our compartment door suddenly banging shut. Now thieving is one thing but to go and have to wake me up whilst you’re doing it is bang out of order. There wasn’t too much we could do on the train, no doubt the bag is still laying on the train tracks somewhere in central Serbia as I write this, so we had no choice but to wait until we reached Belgrade to take action stations. At the police station in Belgrade I could do nothing but only reassure Owen and Lou that it could have been much much worse – it could have been my bag Thieving Bastard had taken, ha ha.
American President discoveres perect holiday home in Serbia
Del arrives to pick up his date...
Leaving Owen and Lou to have the pleasure of visiting the embassies to sort out their passports, something fortunately not on our travel itinerary for Serbia, Mands and I headed into the centre of the city and soon found ourselves relaxing at a nice looking outdoor café sipping on a frappuccino. It wasn’t a very nice frappuccino though, and I declared it was a crappuccino before leaving to check out Belgrade. So what of it? Belgrade as a city is quite built up. In fact it’s more of a shopping precinct that would make a footballers wife cream her knickers and could be a city anywhere in any of the established countries – quite a surprise actually as I was expecting a slight upgrade from Romania where the Mayor of Belgrade is still chauffeured around on a donkey. It’s true, they even have electricity and roads made of real tarmac over there. So the daytime isn’t up to much, but as for the night time… well that isn’t up to much either I’m afraid. We visited a place that used to be a WWII bunker, then a mushroom farm, yeah I’m still trying to figure that one out too, before turning into the bar that we had some trouble finding cos of the funny alphabet Serbia used on the road signs. Once we finally found the place though we couldn’t get a drink cos the barman was too busy watching some Serbian chick on TV playing in a tennis tournament to be arsed to open the bar up. Fair enough, though I openly I hoped for the tennis player to get fucking whitewashed and the bar owner to lose a months wages down the bookies as a result.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, whilst we travelling around Europe Mands and I were drinking all the locals beers in each region and ordering the national dish of each country to try out their foods, and up until this point it was great fun. Now, at the hostel we were staying in the staff were very nice to the people and I’m sure I’d done nothing to offend them, so why the fuck they recommended the restaurant at the bottom of their road to try a traditional Serbian meal is beyond me. Absolutely horrible it was. I asked for a traditional Serbian meal with mixed meats and the owner brings me out a plate with nothing but grilled meat on it. Meat that looked like it had been eaten by a dog and then shat out onto my plate. Not a carbohydrate in site there was. And yes, I did eat it cos I was bloody hungry by this point. And foreigners like to slag off the food in Britain?
It was here in Serbia that we scored a right result with this couchsurfing lark. We found a student in Valencia who was willing to let us crash around his place for free over the La Tomatina Festival – how good is that? For a while there it was looking like Mands and I were going to have to rough it on the beach for a few days as the 150 Euro a night hotels were ever so slightly out of our budget. Now with a tiny little bit more luck this student wouldn’t turn out to be a psycho serial murderer – or Dutch Peter who we met in Bulgaria come to think of it. No doubt the student fella was thinking the same thing…
We visited the city park where upon we stumbled across yet more tanks and artillery bollocks from this Second World War. One was beginning to suspect this war was pretty big. Anyroad, whereas early in our travels seeing a tank was exciting to the point of bringing on a semi erection, I had know reached the point that seeing another tank was like in comparison to seeing a Mini zooming around the streets of London – not very exciting at all. But here there was a difference, we were able to clamber into the tanks and pretend to blow up people we took an unfair dislike to. Oh it was great, especially as we were half cut when we were doing it, and in the space of half an hour we had single handily won World War III before finding another bar to quench our thirst. Who knew blowing people up could be such thirsty work? In the city park we met locals Marko and Nemeti who chatted to us and bought us beers. Based on this experience alone this makes all Serbians great people – except that bar owner I mention earlier, and maybe the tennis player too as it was partly her fault we never got served. The park itself was setting up for a massive beer festival that was to be happening over the next few days and our 2 Serbian friends were trying to convince us to stay for it, but for some stupid bloody reason I’ve yet to figure out we decided not to stay but instead go to Croatia instead – like you do.