Belgrade meets the grade!
19.06.2011 - 21.06.2011 29 °C
Hello from Beograd!
As said on Facebook we have survived our first night train. We got to the station about 10.50 to get the 11.30pm train-unfortunately it was delayed by 50 minutes so we had to hang around-Typical for Balkan trains
When it arrived, it was a shabby looking thing - the trains to Germany were much more good looking! We had no idea what to expect so we went on the hunt for our beds. Turns out it was a 6 person sleeper bunk, so Daisy ended up sharing with 4 men.
We met a Serbian man who was sleeping above Steve and he was able to tell us all about Belgrade. What was nice though was that he was really pleased that 'Westerners' were coming to see his country.
We were awoken twice for guards to check our passports, but to be honest it wasn't the best sleep as the trains routine was to stop, start, stop, start. But I think we got more sleep than we thought.
When we arrived into Belgrade we saw how incredibly different it was to Budapest. It appeared to us to be not so attractive. Our Serbian friend pointed us in the direction of the bus station as we soon saw that everything was uphill and we were fairly exhausted. Unfortunately it turned out to be the wrong way and so luckily with Steves guidebook, we managed to navigate our way to the hostel.
To get to the hostel, which was on the 5th floor, we had a go up in a very dodgy lift that could only take one person with a bag. Steve acted the gent and went up first, even with a slight fear of lifts!
We got there, and was greeted by a nice man! He offered us tea which we were both dying for-unfortunately it turned out to be peppermint tea. Not the English Breakfast that we were craving.
This was about the point we learned about the disastrious Amy Winehouse concert, as two Bosnian girls had come especially for this and told us how awful she had been. We tried to explain that this isn´t normal amongst musicians in Britain.
After we had a quick sleep, we went and explored Belgrade and one of the first things to strike us was how friendly everyone was!! Not everybody could speak English so we used sign language to get food or request drinks, and honestly they couldn´t have been nicer. We loved this aspect as in Budapest, many could be rude.
We went to get our tickets for the next days train ride to Podgorica, but were told by the very nice ticket guy that there were no seats left, but if we were to try the next day then we may get lucky as they release a load more tickets.
With this out of our minds and control, we explored the fortress called Kalemegdan in the old part of town, which Steve loved as he made up stories on our way round of us attacking the fort. Daisy found this quite funny!
In the evening we went to a typically Serbian restaurant with the name ´?´ and although the service wasn´t great, the food was nice if not slightly random. One dish on the menu was young bulls sex gland, needless to say we didn´t order this. The reason for the name is that the restaurant and the church could not agree on a name, so it ended up being nameless.
We woke up the next day after a proper nights sleep to go and get the tickets for the train. The lady at the desk of the hostel was incredibly helpful and called for us several times to save us going down there and wasting a journey. It got to be past 12 and we still did not know if we would be leaving that evening-so we went to the station and were lucky enough to get two sleepers. It was a massive weight off our minds. Now we just had to get to the station for 10.10pm and we would be on our way to Podgorica.
For the rest of the day we explored Belgrade in more detail. Tried to go to the Nikola Tesla museum but it was closed on Mondays, so we went and saw the buildings that NATO bombed in 1999. The devastation is incredible. Daisy spotted some graffiti saying Necu NATO which translates to ´We do not want NATO´. We then stumbled upon a park called Tasmajdan which was beautiful, possibly the newest part we saw of Belgrade. Lovely flowers, fountains and several playing areas for children. It was only when we came across a monument that we realised it was a park in tribute to the children that had been killed in the bombings. The monument said ´We were just children´and below it saying that they were killed during the NATO aggression. We both went quite quiet, but there were really happy familes and people relaxing.
We walked back to the hostel along a bohemian street which had lots of restaurants and bars, and also another called silicone valley where in the evenings the siliconed women come out. (Honestly, it is even called this on the maps!)
When we were eating back at the hostel, we spoke to the girl working called Mina and she offered us a shot which was her favourite drink. OH MY. We both struggled. It was a brandy type shot made from quince. Possibly the worst thing we have tasted.
Arrived at the station and it actually left on time. The people we were sharing with commented that it was for us as these trains are not supposed to run on time! This time the train was even worse! A tight cabin with 6 of us, no curtains and we were warned to go to the toilet within the first 30minutes otherwise it gets horrid. And to boot it was absolutely boiling even with the windows open. It turned out that they do not keep the windows open so Daisy had to change into quite little as it was humid and sticky. One Serbian lady who didn´t speak English explained in sign that she was going to Bar for swimming, a Montenegran guy going home for his holidays and an English guy called Richard who brought us ´medicine´to help us sleep. On the bottle it said Lozza which is the Monte name for it. It was a typical Montenegro shot-but we soon found out it was the same as we had had in Belgrade. So Steve drank politely whilst Daisy made excuses and went to sleep.
Same as before we were awoken twice for passports. But at 5am Daisy woke up as the sun came up and saw the most BEAUTIFUL landscapes in the world. Tempted to wake Steve as we cruised through mountainous valley after valley and winding with the rivers, but decided not to incase he had not slept well. Daisy found it quite hard to go back to sleep but hoped it would still be like that in a couple of hours.
And it was!! Steve was also very impressed. We got to Podgorica only about an hour late, as Steve says ´A miracle!´We had planned to walk and explore Podgorica but the people were really rude and it was sparse so decided to hop on the next bus to Kotor.
We´ll leave it here for now but we will update the rest soon, fingers have been tpying away quickly!