Oops, Wrong City. I'm Sorry

Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
1
53
238
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Serbia  ,
Sunday, October 9, 2005





Belgrade is by far the scariest city I've ever visited. We pulled into a train station on the outskirts of town. I needed to use the toilet. The doors to them were locked so I walked into the dining car and asked a gun-toting man in uniform for assistance. Without lifting his eyes from the morning news he started barking orders in the opposite direction. I could tell by the tone and the number of words he was using that much of what he was saying was expletive deleteds' directed at me. Just as I thought he'd turn, level his machine pistol and start firing, the steward charged into the car mad as hell.

He raced towards the toilet and yelled, "You want the toilet? Here is the toilet." with spittle spraying from his mouth he continued, "There is one at the end of each and every car."
"Yes, but the door is locked." I said. "And so are the one's in the other cars."
With only a stunned look he pulled a key from his pocket, slammed the door open and bounded off angrily.

Ellen, who visited Communist Prague many years ago, says that Belgrade is somewhat like Prague was back then, minus the beautiful architecture. Much of the downtown area is made up of old communist high-rise buildings that were probably apartments; now many of them have been converted into tiny expensive hotel rooms.

We went into a tourist office to ask if it was possible to take a boat up the Danube to Budapest.
The woman behind the counter replied, "No, it is not."
Ellen was so surprised by the matter-of-fact that response she smiled and chuckled slightly.
This angered the tourism official who then dropped her nail file on the desk and shouted loudly, "It is not possible. What do you want me to tell you?"

From downtown Belgrade there's a very busy pedestrian mall, probably two to three kilometres in length. It leads to a beautiful park that overlooks the Danube. On the way there I'd kept my eye open for restaurants. Choices were limited. On our return along the pedestrian mall we paid greater attention; we were getting hungry. For the entire two to three kilometre stretch there turned out to be a total of two places to eat. We went into one and were the only customers. When we finished the surly waiter tried to rip us off by charging us for ketchup, salt and pepper and a couple of napkins. I told him that we didn't use the condiments and that I'd wiped off my face with the sleeve of my jacket. Once the check was recalculated we paid in full. The waiter got no tip.

If you're looking for drab communist-era architecture Belgrade is the place to visit. If you want to mingle with people who don't like foreigners and don't want you in their city you're in for a real treat.
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