Tuesday, 26 November 2013


OK lets settle one thing, it is not warmer than home. Today on a walking tour I got caught in the snow. I also learnt that by some definitions I have just entered the Balkans.

I started however by discovering the last Ottoman mosque in the city before visiting the gallery of frescoes

 The actual tour started at midday by a theatre built in the 19th Century, then again in 1922
 Somehow the descendents of the people who painted the Byzyntine icons created this!
 We then headed down a narrow pedestrianised  street lined with cafes and art galleries that is apparently the Belgrade answer to Montmarte, though possibly only in better weather

 This is a statue of an artist, while we were there an old man came up and rubbed the statues knee. I asked the guide if this was meant to be for luck and he said that no, the old man was just a bit strange.
 This is supposedly the oldest house in the city and still inhabited

 I'm not sure this was officially part of the tour since it wasn't mentioned but an interesting take on zebra crossing.
 Rather confusingly this is apparently an Ottoman house despite the fact that would make it older than the Austrian  oldest house in the city.
 Nearby was a mosque, also from Ottoman times
 After a brief talk on the dangers of hyperinflation illustrated by a 50 billion dinar note
 we walked through the fortress, where by now the snow was getting quite thick.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Slovenia to Serbia via Zagreb

I took a train to Zagreb, capital of Croatia for my first couch surfing of the trip. The host family live in a little flat in a suburb called Sesteve about 20 minutes train ride out from the centre on what turned out to be the same train. As we chatted I learnt that they were originally refugees from the eastern border forced out in the early 90s and had bought the flat after several years of being moved around the country by the government.

Having arrive late they served me what they called sandwich but was more like a pizza and then I slept on the living room floor.

On saturday I braved the rain and went back into town where I was able to see the archaeology museum and the very in depth city museum. Where among other things I learnt that Zagreb used to be two cities which even had battles with each other before being forcibly united by the Austrian emperor.

On returning to Sesteve I rang Helena, one of my hosts and she told me not to come to the flat as they were all at a 25th wedding anniversary for her boyfriends elder brother. So I was picked up from the station and taken to a function room in an anonymous looking shopping complex where they served huge amounts of grilled meat, salads and spicy beans while a band played folk songs on a range of stringed instruments and the couples did complicated dances.

On sunday Helena looked up train times for Belgrade and anywhere else I mentioned, I pretty much have a timetable for the region now. Then as it was a dry day I went back into town and walked about for ages going from the art museum up to the hill over the city centre and back down.

It took six hours to get to Belgrade several of which seemed to be taken up with the process of leaving the EU. First tickets have to be checked twice by the Croatians, then border guards from both countries check passports and finally tickets are checked by a Serbian official. One thing that is consistent between countries is all the stations were built by people who didn't know how high off the ground a train is. The platforms are at ground level and you have to climb a ladder to get into the carriages.

I'm currently in Green Studio Hostel and hoping to see more of the city tomorrow.