I took the train from Budapest to Subotica and shared my car with a German guy who
had a slightly bushy, poorly manicured mullet. He spoke a little English and kept
saying "we are going slow, is this train being pulled by horses or something?"
He was headed to Novi Sad in order to buy things at the illegal market. I didn't
understand very well, but I believe he had four days off of work and spent two and
a half of them getting to and from Novi Sad and the other two at some illegal goods
I made it to Subotica, Serbia and quickly found my way into town and got to the
city hall, which was quite impressive and a part of the research for an art history
paper I'm writing. I then had the hardest time trying to find the Synagogue,
so asked a couple of young girls who spoke some English. They were very nice and
showed me the Synagogue, however it's falling apart and the gates are locked
up. I then caught a train to Belgrade in the afternoon.
I found a train car with a young student and a middle-aged man with a mullet, who
gave the police a hard time as they walked around the train. As soon as we took
off, the police came around and checked everyone's ID and asked for our addresses
(if it was present on the ID) to verify our identities. This guy refused to give
his address and the police decided they had time to wait so they did, but only for
about 15 minutes at which point he somehow checked out and they left. The rest of
the trip consisted of the mullet-wearer chain smoking in the non-smoking cabin...
but it's Serbia and I was warned that there's no such thing as a non-smoking
section in this country.
Our train pulled into the Belgrade train station at which point I went under the
bridge with two others from the train and caught a tram into town. The mullet-wearer,
who had already been harassed by the police on the train decided to "help"
me by asking me questions about where I was going and then started following me
around, until I eventually out-maneuvered him... or he just got sick of me, probably
I found my hotel and realized the man I reserved my room with on the phone had not
made a reservation for me, so I went in search of the hostel mentioned in the guide
book. Unfortunately, to get there I had to skate across the sidewalks. It took much
longer than it should have and I got to the hostel only to find out it has been
turned into a casino and hotel, the prices had jumped about three times, yet this
place retained its old name.
I headed back to the other hotel, stopping at about four other hotels along the
way, asking each for a room, none of which had a room for cheaper than the first
More than not finding a hotel at a reasonable price, I had a bad string of luck
with the people I encountered. I've heard great things about Belgrade, but it
seemed I wasn't meeting any of those people. After one bad encounter too many,
I decided to try to get out of town immediately so headed to the train station.
I found the train station to be quiet, but the police officer there, about 20 years
old, was holding his semi-automatic and was quite proud of himself when he understood
the word schedule when I asked for it. He responded "I understand" with
a big smile, then used his gun to point to it; he made me laugh. The train departure
times were poor and I headed to the bus station, where the times weren't much
I headed back to the first hotel and got a room for the night.
March 11, 2005
The next morning, I got my free breakfast, served with less enthusiasm than a hibernating
snail, but she cracked the music, which was playing Criss-Cross's "Jump,
Jump" and other 1980s classics. After breakfast I headed into town and again
ran into all the wrong people. One of my good friends loves this city, but my experience
was not as positive; I was ready to leave.
I arrived to the bus station for a bus to Montenegro, but as I tried to get on the
bus, the driver told me something that I didn't understand so another guy said
they weren't going to Zabljak (my destination), but were going to the town just
short of it. I bought a ticket to Zabljak though, so I asked how I could get there
and he said there are plenty of shuttles between the town we're stopping in
and Zabljak so I got on the bus. Unfortunately, my bad luck here in Serbia continued
as I got stranded in this mountain town as there were no shuttles to Zabljak. I
pulled out my emergency $50 and got a taxi to Zabljak, leaving Serbia behind, trying
to recall only the great experience I had in Subotica.
Continue the above trip to: Montenegro