Monday, 20 July 2009

Heading through the Balkans

We're moving into the Balkans now. Thursday night we caught a sleeper train from Sofia in Bulgaria, to Belgrade in Serbia. Luckily we got our own compartment, it would have been very cosy with three people in there! The Australian guy next door managed to get a compartment to himself which he was pretty happy with :)

Sofia to Belgrade sleeper train

Belgrade is nice, friendly people, most speak English which is handy for us. Has been pretty hot the last few days, in the high 30 degrees, which I'm struggling with a bit. Pretty much unbearable around 3-4pm to be out in the sun. The city is rather cosmopolitan - much more developed and seems to have more money than Bulgaria - a lot of 'brands' I recognise from the UK, and a lot of people out spending money. Only one weird incident so far, where a drunk (or maybe 'confused'?) old guy wandered into a restaurant we were having dinner in, stole a knife off a table, and wandered off muttering to himself.

Belgrade, Serbia

There isn't a lot of touristy stuff to do, but that's a plus for me. We've been to a museum all about Nikolas Tesla, and his work on alternating currents and later work with radio, a few churches including the Sv. Sava, the largest orthodox church in the world, which is still under construction (keeps being interrupted by inconvienent wars and conflicts). Also visited the Military Museum - interesting displays of military artefacts and costumes up to the present day, including a whole section of items from shot down and captured US airplanes, which is slightly bizarre.

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There is not really an 'old town' in Belgrade, the area they call the old town is full of new buildings, and a pedestrianised shopping street. We're not too sure, but there are a lot of abandoned and crumbling buildings that may still be damaged from the NATO bombing in the 1990's - if anyone can confirm I'd be grateful.
Edit: Turns out this is the Federal Ministry of Defense building, which was bombed by NATO in 1999. It's been in ruins ever since, with no current plans to do anything with it.

Belgrade, Serbia

We took a day trip on Saturday to Novi Sad, 95km or so to the north, which took nearly 2 hours each way by bus, not surprising when the roads are so bad the bus can only travel at 40km/h. Almost a non-starter, after the lady at the ticket office sold us tickets for a bus that had left by the time we sprinted to the stand. Confusion trying to get the ticket changed, but we managed it in the end. There is a big citadel there, which was still being cleaned up from the Exit Festival, a huge music festival, that was on a week or so ago.

Novi Sad, Serbia

As usual, photos are on flickr (http://flickr.com/photos/rachaelr).

Next stop, Slovenia. Another sleeper train tonight to Ljubljana, and over to Bled for a night on Tuesday.

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