So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs Wagners pie and walked off to look for America.
When we arrive at the border crossing between Serbia and Bulgaria it is just before eight o'clock in the morning but it feels as it has hardly passed two am. It has been a long and strange train ride. It is the second night train on this trip and we thought it couldn't get any worse after the first one, but oh, how wrong were we.
I arrived in Slovenia a Sunday night after a crazy and awesome weekend in Gothenburg at Way out West with a sister and a best friend. (I know I haven't told you, but well, I have hardly told you anything lately soooo.. For now let's just tell you the whole weekend was awesome in all kinds of ways, music, weather, people, food, drink. Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome.) The flight with AirSerbia was almost an hour late but even though it was closing in on midnight there was a minibus for the city centre. Soon I found myself in the arms of Isolde, and she in mine. The day after Sean arrived and my interrailing with them would finally begin!
After two days in Ljubljana, Slovenia where we went to a water park, to a castle and strolled around the very small city centre, we jumped on a night train to Belgrade, Serbia. It was a six person compartment we were three and it looked as if we would get the entire one for ourselves. Until we came to Zagreb. Three friendly British girls joined in and it was full, basically just feet and heads everywhere. Even though it was hard to find a comfortable position, this wasn't the worst. But just when you found yourself a good spot, maybe had just drifted away or were about to, someone came, knocked on your shoulder and you were asked to show your ticket. Or passport. Or ticket. Or passport. Or ticket again. When we arrived in Belgrade we were tired, hungry and grumpy.
Well, all we needed was a few more hours of sleep in the hostel, were they even gave us the beds a bit earlier, and a breakfast/lunch. Then we felt human again and took a walk around the city. For once it wasn't railning and we saw the city centre and the Belgrade fortress in just a few hours.
The day after we weren't quite as lucky with the weather. After a very relaxing morning and breakfast we got out and were about to start a 40min walk to another part of Belgrade that were supposed to be completely different because way back in time it belonged to another country, Austria-Hungary. After five minute walk the sky opened up, heavy rain started pouring down, flooding the streets along with thunder and lightning. We found shelter in a kind mans photocopy-store where we played some games waiting for the weather to ease up.
It kind of did so we went out, got extremely wet and bitter, but some chocolate and Disney songs lightened up the mood, soon also the sky. And Zemun was worth the stroll. The former city was completely different from Belgrade with low houses and small alleys that we actually appreciated even when the energy faded away. A picnic lunch outside a small church watching pigeons everyday lives on the square prepared us for the walk back where we took a short stop at a beer festival. There we could hear a Serbian cover band singing "We will, we will, SHIT YOU!" Before we moved along and finally went on our night train for Sofia.
Now, we are well aware that we have been cheap, trying to save some money and not booked a sleeping cabin on any of the night trains. And we know that there would be some hard nights, a night train is never easy. But, when we entered the train 462 to Sofia we didn't know if to laugh or cry when we saw our seats. They weren't even real seats. It was three next to each other, along one side of the train with seats that bounced back if it was no weight on them. Good seats or not, we at least got front view of the Serbians or Bulgarians that went into the space between the wagons for a smoke, or a bit of fresh air. In the middle of the ride, while the train was still in motion, they could just open up one or two of the doors out. We thought some of them were about to jumped off the train, but no. The action ended with the door, opening and closing again and again.
Finally we got a few hours of sleep, the train was fairly empty and we could split up, having two real seats each. I was pretty delirious from sleep when I gave and took my passport from the border police. Trying to be friendly I even said a thank you, but in Swedish, which led to some confusion with the police who stopped in the middle of his movement and looked at me. A girl with hair standing in all directions, so tired that she didn't understand that she was speaking in her own mother tounge, a language not many border polices in Eastern Europe master.
It was a long night, but, in the end we eventually arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria. Only to realise they have their own currency and NOT euros like Belgium, which I apparently have completely mixed Bulgaria with.. So time for the town and an ATM to get some cash.