Three bags – that’s certainly a bad way of packing. I promise myself that it is the second and the last time when I go packed like this. 60 liter backpack, a bag with photographic equipment on one side and bag with my guitar on the other. Road from Beograd’s train station to Students’ Park isn’t long, but when it’s all upwards, the rain is pouring, 11p.m. on the watch, just two paper notes sum up to 20 dinars (0,15 EUR) in your pocket and you don’t know the place you’ll be sleeping tonight – bags are starting to bother. Just a bit.
And to think that not more than 2 days ago I was running a business training ina fancy shirt, in Wroclaw, these kind of problems were totally abstract… Half an hour after the training was finished, I was already in Tomek’s car heading towards Budapest. Now the fancy shirt lays folded on the bottom of my backpack – it doesn’t weight anything, and it can always turn out useful.
– You don’t have any place to sleep in Budapest? No problem, man, you won’t wander through the night! – says Tomek fifteen minutes after we first met. Blablacar connects people. Great thank you!
And now a second rainy night, I dream about hearing such words in Beograd, 350 km further. Phone call to Alex, he said that he is on a Couchsurfing weekly meeting in Students’ Park, so I’m heading there. Alex – Dutch guy writing in Beograd his doctorate about… couchsurfing.
I find couchsurfers hidden from the rain under one of the buildings, among the rest of local youth hanging out here. With great relief I hear that Alex can host me tonight and also he will find a place for me and Dani tomorrow. She is about to come from Sofia with the night train. Beograd is the point, were we start our September wandering. In this place great thanks to Alex and Dejan, his flatmate!
The next day I am up around 6 a.m. to pick up Dani form the railway station. The train, as usual, is an hour late. I guess this is how they catch up with the time difference between Bulgaria and Serbia. On a still sleepy station a TV crew is shooting some material – maybe exactly about the train delays?
Enormous happiness, when I see Dani again. After three weeks of hard work in Poland (5 training sessions and still ongoing marketing project) it seems like ages. From now on we go together. We look through applications on her tablet that may help us in further travels. I conclude it is a very useful device – computers aren’t even close to it’s handiness.
After breakfast with Alex we make our way to see Beograd – in bigger or lesser rain. Kalemegdan – complex fortress placed, where Sava meets Donau – illustrates, how important Beograd was on the map of Europe. Just as the lack of old buildings. Through the ages the city fell from hands to hands, on the meeting point of two worlds and three religions, it was gradually destroyed and rebuilt by new masters. I find it hard to experience this hidden charm that I was told about by Geert – Dutch, whom I helped with organizing hitchhiking challenge from Utrecht to Sofia this year. And by Tamara, who lives and works here. I am here the third time for the last year, third time in the rain, and third time I can’t sink into this city.
– You haven’t been to Crkva Ruzica in Kalemegdan? – Tamara is quite surprised. We sit in Blaznavec, a bar where she took me the previous time I was here. – It is a very interesting church, with chandeliers made of swords and bullet shells…
It seems that I haven’t been searching for this hidden charm persistant enough. Next time. Next morning we try to hit the road early, with pizza boxes given by Alex for the purpose of making hitchhiking signs. On the way to the bus we just find one small obstacle, an sms message: “Kris, you forgot the tablet at my place. Alex”