Traveling at night through the Western Balkan mountains is a terrifying experience, except it is too dark to really see the drop off next to the hair pin turn. I lost count of the number of hair pin turns we took through the northern snowy mountains of BiH. I just remember looking out and seeing a steep drop off. There was no traffic at midnight and so it was a smooth and quick trip, despite the many rest stops we took. Then there was the police check point at some lonely spot on the road. The came on board looking for someone? or something? Or just a normal random stop?
An overnight bus or plane trip is always hard on one’s body. Luckily, the bus was half empty and there was room to stretch out. despite the complications of schedules, and so forth, I find traveling by bus here no better and no worse than public mass transportation in the states. On the train, people do smoke, but not on the bus.
So, here I sit in one of four MacDonald’s in Belgrad while I am waiting to check into a hotel. Wireless, inexpensive coffee, and screechy techno music at 8:00 am. (Unlike in the states, one can sit in a Balkans’ MacDonalds for longer than 20- 30 minutes. There are cushy chairs, sofas, and benches, and free wireless.)So far, Belgrad is a severe Post-communist city, with cold wind and icy sidewalks. I have yet to figure out its character. Luckily, the streets have signs, and they are in both Latin and Cyrillic. I am dredging my knowledge of Cyrillic but the Serbian language is very akin to Bosnian and Croatian, and so I am not totally lost. Of course, I have to get used to a new currency. Do I do the exchange in Bosnian Marks? Dollars? It is strange to pay 150 something for a coffee..