I thought I had enough adventures on the way home to warrant a full post on them. There are however, no pictures to accompany this. I feel awkward taking pictures as a tourist on a train with no other tourists. Makes me feel odd, even though I know the locals know I am a tourist. I’m not sure why really…
But! I shared a cabin (is this what you call them?) with this Turkish girl on the overnight train from Budapest to Belgrade. She was really nice and friendly and we talked for a bit before falling asleep. The guy in the next cabin over was from Iran/Turkey and they were able to speak Turkish together. I don’t think I had ever really met someone from Iran before. (I’m sure I have and their original location was just never revealed.) He brought up how the US doesn’t like Iran right now. The funny part of this story takes place at 1:42 am when we cross the border. The train stops and they come around knocking on our doors for our passports. I have mine ready, but she has to dig hers out. We get stamped out of Hungary and she goes “That was odd. I wonder why they did that.” Thinking that she was just tired, I stated “Well, Serbia isn’t part of the Schengen zone, so…” Her response “*&$! Really?” She didn’t know that! And she had no clue I Turkish citizens were allowed into Serbia. After quickly turning on my cell to see if they were, and finding no internet, she got ready to be kicked off the train when we crossed into Serbia. At this point, I am really hoping she is allowed in because I don’t want to be kicked out for associating with her, or have my luggage searched or something! The Serbian border authorities just glance at our passports and let us in, so we go back to sleep. (I later looked it up and they are allowed in. This is one benefit to being an American- we can go most places in the world without having to worry about if we are allowed in.)
When we arrived in Belgrade, the guy was trying to rush me off the train. But I figured that I had the whole day and I was exhausted, so I took my time. When I went in to check what time the train left for Skopje I found out that there was a day train! Like seriously internet? I know you aren’t reliable, but to be this OFF?! I decided to go ahead and take the day train- that meant I didn’t have to pay anything extra to be able to sleep that night- and I would get to see the countryside. It was so beautiful!
I met some colorful characters on the train.
-the lady whose husband was in the US for some reason or another and she thought my accent sounded good. (which was a nice lie, but a lie none the less)
-the college student who was interested in the book I was reading and how it treated the Balkans. He tried to speak to me in Serbian at first and I had to admit that I had no clue what he was saying. We had a nice hour long conversation about life, politics (he didn’t like the Serbian politics) and the book I was reading.
-the old guy who just sat across from the college student and I and stared when I spoke English
-the old lady who got in the cabin and tried to speak with me and told me I needed to drink a lot of water because it was so hot
I like traveling by train. It was so much more relaxing than the bus. While it takes about 3-4 hours more than a bus, those 6 hours that are the same are vastly different! There is space to move on the train, bathrooms on the train, better seats on the train! And most importantly- leg room! If you are crunched for time during the day- take the bus. But if you are traveling at night- take the train. If you don’t need to rush- take the train. If you don’t want to be fed up by the end of your journey- take the train.
See you around the globe!