Belgrade – Serbia

27-28th June 2017

Some days it becomes blatantly obvious to me that my ignorance can so easily become a hindrance. Today is one of those days. My stubbornness, seemingly, exists only to exacerbate the hindrance into a unnecessary, uncomfortable and undesirable obstacle to overcome. It seems to be an internal mechanism for me to actively try to chip away at my ignorance to avoid this self-prescribed difficulties.

You see, I’m not particularly familiar with the locations of many countries on a map. So when I booked a trip through the Interrail website to go from Timisoara, in Romania, to Belgrade, in Serbia, it didn’t strike me as odd that the journey would take the best part of a day and a half. Nor did it strike me as strange that I should have to change trains at Budapest, which I had previously been to on this trip. Still, I could feel the questions in the body language of any other travelers I told that route to, even though they were perhaps too kind to ask those questions directly. I decided to consult Google Maps. Sure enough, heading up to Budapest takes me in the direction completely away from my destination. Relying simply on the rail connections transforms a 4 hour bus journey into a day and half rail trip. It makes no sense. Still, I’m not on the train yet so I could always hop on a bus, possibly with no extra cost thanks to the inter-rail pass. This is where the stubbornness kicks in. I have already paid a reservation fee for the two trains, including an overnight bed. It’s not much but I’ve paid it. I resent the idea of the company taking money from me for me not to use the service. Therefore, I know I’m going to use the train. It inconveniences me, at next to no savings and the train company has no concern whether I board the train or not. Accountancy has taught me that in logical decision making costs which have already incurred are sunk costs which will be incurred no matter what the final decision. Therefore, they should be disregarded in a logical decision process. I’m no more logical than any other human being. My illogical decision is therefore based entirely on the fact I’ve incurred this cost, hence I am under obligation to follow my previous fallible decision through regardless of whether there’s a chance to change course.

Of course, by having a number of hours to kill in Budapest it means that I meet a lovely group of people in a bar where I while away my time. Three local chaps who work in IT and provide me with company, humour and interesting anecdotes. Furthermore, if I hadn’t followed my illogical decision through to come here I never would’ve met these people. So, in fact, this was the best decision and can continue to remain an optimist in the midst of silly circumstance.

The pointless trip
The pointless trip

One unnecessary journey up. One unnecessary journey down. Bliss.

Another beauty of having taken the overnight train from Budapest was meeting a bunch of lovely people after disembarking the train and needing a power point to charge my phone in the nearest McDonalds. Here, I met a group of English students traveling together on summer break before university and another English gentleman who works in a hostel in Budapest and is about to embark on a new job with rock climbing. Super interesting man! On top of this two people I met in Timisoara are also going to meet me here and catch up.

First, to check in at the hostel. Lovely Serbian owner manning the desk at all hours. Really likeable and chatty. Not who you want around after a depleting overnight train with little sleep and a desire to have some time by yourself to recharge. Definitely the type of guy you want to be around at literally any other moment though, so I ride it through and get to know the chap more and more for the nice guy that he is. Next, was the free walking tour and we’ve managed to assemble our whole group to come together for it.

Tour group Serbia
Tour group Serbia

Good times! And yes, the sun burn hurts. After 18 months of soaking in a little bit of sun I had been lucky to avoid the dreaded sun burn. Until now.

Knowing I won’t be able to chase much sleep with these burns, I’m adamant that I shall drink enough to make sleep come to me. One beer pre-lunch, one lunch beer, one post-lunch. In the evening, me and Chris find an awesome set of interlinked bars that are intimate without being intimidating. The others join us after we have had the local Rakija drink and a couple of beers. Sadly, Chris has to catch his bus but thankfully the others provide delightful company none the less.

The topic of conversation turns to relationships, high school flirtations and sex. We all admire how great sex can be of course, and appreciate the need for protection and connection with someone to enable pure, spontaneous and euphoric encounters, that one needn’t regret the next morning. One of the girls is actively looking for such a gratifying experience. The empty bar provides the adrenaline-filled location for a swipe at exhibitionism. Dreamy.

And dreams are just preconceived plans which need to be acted out in conscious life….

God. I already miss you, Serbia.

The next day I spent with Chris (the Timisoara one) and at a beautiful vegetarian café called Jazzayoga. Immediately I clicked with the owner of the café and he preceded to look after us, give us money off the bill and generally treat us very well. Even more wonderful was when I arrived at the café, maybe twenty minutes before Chris, this intelligent, independent, beautiful lady turned to me as I came up and had that welcoming look on her face. I took it as a sign that she was open to some friendly conversation whilst I waited for Chris. She was so engaging, so interesting and such an amazing person that the twenty minutes of chit-chat quickly turned into an entirely fulfilling day of conversations around life, religion, history, humanity and our favourite books (Sapiens!). It was something to behold. Something hat made me love Serbia ten-fold.

I almost missed my train after such a thrilling day. I almost wish I did miss my train. For I would’ve achieved an extra day in Serbia and god only knows what could’ve happened with another day in Serbia.

As if by magic, guess what book the chap I met on the next train was reading?

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