Well the return to the WIR last week apparently went over well, so here's another go at it!
- T-6 weeks until I come home. Can you believe it?! Not me.
- You know how last week I told you I was kind of excited to take that overnight train? Yeah. It was interesting.
- OK, it wasn't that bad. There were no sleeper cars so I just got a seat. No problem--the trains are hardly ever full, you can stretch out in the 6 person cars and sleep. Yeah, except the train was full. Also I will admit that I do not know much about riding trains. The conductor made me move seats twice. Everything was in Montenegrin/Serbian, and when I finally found the seat where I was supposed to be sitting...there was someone there. As I wandered back and forth around the compartments a group of 5 men saw me looking confused/pathetic and asked what I was looking for. There was one more seat in their compartment and they tried to get me to join them. I thought better of it and kept looking.
- Then I came back and sat with them.
- They were incredibly nice--helped me put my bag up on the rack, insisted on sharing their cookies and snacks with me (someone of course brought homemade rakija...), told me when to get my passport out, etc.
- My only beef? They all chain smoked. All night.
- Oh, and the train was also a piece of work. The local guys were all complaining about it, which is how I knew it was extraordinarily bad. Those beautiful views? Couldn't see them through the dirty windows (and...it was dark). OK, enough about the train.
- I love Serbia!
- I also love the peppermint herbal tea they have here at my hostel.
- I spent 2 nights in Belgrade before going north up to Novi Sad for two nights. I was going to take a day trip on my way back to Belgrade yesterday...but didn't. I'll be here in Belgrade for another 2 nights, then plan on making my way down to Novi Pazar on my way to Kosovo.
- You know what I ate this week? Yep, Mcdonalds. (Don't judge!) Best hamburger I have had in a long, long time.
- Why no day trip to Subotica in the north yesterday? Well I bought my train ticket, waited on the train, confirmed with a local that it was the right train and then boarded a train that was headed south to Belgrade.
- The conductor's face was priceless when he checked my ticket and saw that it was for Subotica. He felt much worse about it than I did. I could have gotten off after 30 minutes, waited an hour or so for the train and then backtracked and made my way to Subotica. But since I was just going for the day and sleeping in Belgrade anyway...I just forgot about it and settled in for the ride to Belgrade.
- Trains are complicated.
- Belgrade is fantastic. There's not a ton of attractions here, but there's a huge fortress you can wander through for hours (for free!), lots of parks, cafes lining every street, artists and musicians everywhere and just a nice vibe running through the city.
- Unfortunately there is also smoke everywhere. I've been downgraded to glasses because my contacts just can't take it.
- I've had some great hostels here. The average costs? 11 euro.
- Last night, for the first time since Nicaragua, I went to the movies! And how much did it cost? 2.50! It was a nice change from the norm.
- I think I'll hit up the ballet in the next couple days to up my culture level.
- I've also used some downtime this week to prepare for my eminent return to the states. On one hand, it feels kind of nice to be productive. On the other hand...do I really have to go back?
- This week was my mom's birthday--Happy birthday mom!
- And tomorrow is father's day--Happy Father's Day, dad!
- My allergies are being ridiculous. Every town I go to has something in it which drives them crazy.
- One of the girls in my hostel last night just finished walking the Camino de Santiago! Sometimes the backpacker world is a small one. We had a good time talking about blisters, albergues (oh, the snoring!), the views and good ol' Santiago.
OK, a few random pics from the week!
WELL COME TO SRBIYA
Rivers in Belgrade
Fortress in Belgrade
Fortress in Novi Sad
Fortress/river in Novi Sad
Train pulling in to Belgrade (...instead of Subotica)