Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beautiful World


I've just arrived back 'home' in Vienna after a 16 hour train ride from Split, Croatia, it's about 5pm and I'm feeling surprisingly good. I've discovered that years of bizarre sleep patterns have enabled me to function quite normally on relatively small doses of pretty uncomfortable sleep. If it wasn't for that ability, I don't think I would have survived this past week. Not to say that I slept badly or uncomfortably while staying with people that is, but in the last week I've spent just under 50 hours in transit, mostly on trains but partially wandering strange cities after midnight while waiting for yet another train. Over the next few days, I'll try and make a post for every place I stayed, in order, so keep an eye out. Do yourself a favour and click the photos for the full-sized ones, it's worth it.

First off, Serbia. I left Vienna at about 10am last Thursday, for a fairly mild introduction to all the travel that was yet to come. For most of the morning, the train was in a dense fog, and I couldn't see much more than 50, maybe 100 metres out of the window. After midday, that cleared to reveal a beautiful countryside dotted with small towns and farms. I have to say, if you're going on a long journey, bring an mp3 player, and load it with a few audiobooks. They're great for starving off boredom, and have the added benefit of allowing you to look out the window while 'reading'. I've been listening to Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, they're very good, as well as being extremely well voiced. But I digress...

Went past this on the train, looked interesting.

Did I mention the sunset?

I was greeted at the train station by Bojan (pronounced a little like 'boy-an' - I think the letter J is pronounced like a Y in Serbian), someone I'd known only as 'Xenon' up until recently. We went back to his house, ate, and I was reassured there wouldn't be any raping =). I wasn't that tired, so I was shown around Belgrade. It's a really interesting city to visit, and if you're ever in the area I definately recommend stopping by for a few days. I was shown around an old fort used in the war which has since been converted into a park, as well as St Mark's Church and St Sava Temple, both very impressive buildings, especially when lit up at night.

St Mark's
Main Doors

St Sava Temple

The next morning we went back to the fort/park for a while, as I'd only seen a small part of it the previous night. After that, and walking along the river that runs through Belgrade (pity it was a foggy day, but it was still a nice area), I was introduced to Bojan's cousin Anja (Ahn-ya), and together we all went to St Mark's again, so I could see it from the inside. Back home for lunch, which consisted of some sausage-like things and something that was a bit like a pie with lots of very thin layers of pastry filled with egg, cheese, and something I couldn't work out how to pronounce, let alone spell. Either way, it was very good (if you're reading this Bojan, help me out =p). Oh, that reminds me - next time you're close to Eastern Europe, look for something called 'Burek' I had it for breakfast, and it's really good. I found out later that it's also really cheap and available from street-vendors all over the place. It looks like a flatish oval-shaped bready thing made of pastry, and it's filled with meat, cheese, or nothing, in a mesh of pastry inside. Sometimes, they also come in the form of a slice of pie.

Part of the Belgrade Fortress

After lunch we got in the car and picked up a friend of Bojan and Anja's - Ivan - and together we drove to New Belgrade, a newer part of the city that consists mostly of ugly identical buildings. There is a nice riverfront however, and we walked up a hill that overlooks the whole city. Unfortunately it was a bit foggy, but a good view nevertheless. I've used my camera to get footage of various areas I've been to, and when I get home (I don't want to mess around with it here) I'll try and put some of it up on YouTube. It was starting to get dark, so we finished up the day walking along the river - strangely, the area looked a lot like parts of the Swan River in Perth - before visiting a place called Pinnochio's (I think - it had paintings of him on the building) for what were quite possibly the most filling pancakes I've ever had. Next time any of you are in Serbia, look out for it =D.

House *on* the river
View from the hill

A typical Serbian streetlamp farm

Bojan & I in front of St Mark's

Thanks Bojan, for showing me around and letting me stay, it was a pleasure. Also thanks to Anja and Ivan for keeping us company and helping with the tourguide duties. =p

Soon: Slovenia


Anonymous said...

Good 2 hear from u . . Take care of urself whilst wondering around dark streets etc. . . Cyas Later Elle

Mephistopheles said...

I want a streetlamp farm! Of all the places you've been, that's the coolest.

Good to see you remain anally in tact, and getting you fair share of awesome scenery and kooky architechture. Need I say jealous!?

What's the economic situation like in Eastern Europe there? i was always led to believe impoverished explosive toothlessness reigned, but then my entire experience of the rgion comes from "Molvania" and "Escape from Sarajevo". Please inform.

What are your plans regarding other travel. you still thinking spainways here we come?

The Jenius said...

Well, most things are cheaper than Australia, ESPECIALLY alcohol. You can buy it in supermarkets, and it's amayingly cheap. I bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of orange juice for the 12 hour train ride from Ljubljana to Split for about $10AU. I drank less than 1/4 of it, but for the price had no problem throwing it out when I arrived. Austria is more expensive, but not a great deal more than Australia. It balances out, I think.

As for future travel, I'm now trying to get a tour of Funcom (the game company that made TLJ (the game that the forum I met these people is centred on) in Norway. Spain is more unlikely now, as that's where I was planning to meet Tom, who's back in Australia now. I'll probably take a few days exploring wider Austria here and there, and I've extended my return to be on the 16th of December, and may yet extend it again.

Bojan said...

"some sausage-like things and something that was a bit like a pie with lots of very thin layers of pastry filled with egg, cheese, and something I couldn't work out how to pronounce, let alone spell."

Sausage-like things were cevapcici CornDude was talking about, and that stuff you couldn't pronounce is kajmak (ka-ymak) :)

Glad you had a nice time, and I like the pictures you've selected for upload :)

"Molvania"? "Escape from Sarajevo" ? Never heard of those... ?!

The Jenius said...

Molvania is a fake tourguide for an imaginary country, and I don't know about the other ones. Thanks for reminding me of those things. :)

Jai said...

And "Escape from Sarajevo" is an account of the Bosnian genocide written from the POV of a Bosnian boy whose name reminds me of Aamir Sohail.