So after a pretty good 8 hour train ride to Sofia where we got to stretch across the seats, and a not so good 8 hour train ride to Belgrade, Serbia (in an outdated train from the 70’s with velvet green chairs yuck!) we finally arrived at 6am! We had couchsurfers lined up to stay with, but we didn’t have plans to get to their place since we were not positive what time we would ACTUALLY arrive.


We were scheduled for 4:30 and arrived closer to 6:30am – still way too early to contact our hosts though! So we walked around the city but with most things still closed we settled down in a park and watched LOST haha! We eventually made our way through the pedestrian district to a massive 5 story bookstore and planned to be picked up by our hosts, Aka and Mihailo – both whom are teachers! We had a great chat on the way home and when we got to their place, they had this amazing Serbian style lunch prepared for us – stuffed peppers (with minced meat, rice and herbs) and a veggie soup! Oh and delicious hearty bread, which we have not had in so long! It was AMAZING! We felt totally spoiled! Then we enjoyed some Turkish coffee over more conversation (they both speak amazing English!) before resting a bit, taking showers and yay – washing our clothes! (Brad had some smelly ones from the botched laundry job the last lady did!) They also had 2 cats, a white one with a Hungarian name, and a black one with a Spanish name, but both were just referred to as the white cat and the black cat Haha. But the black cat was all over us and it was nice to be able to snuggle with a cat since it wasn’t a stray like all the other ones we’ve met!

A bombed building :(

We were debating whether to go out on the town, but ended up drinking local beer and listening to different Serbian musicians all night with Aka and Mihailo. Mihailo cooked us this massive pasta dish with bacon, tomatoes and garlic. I had this mountain of food thinking there is NO way I can eat all this – but I did..whoops! It was too yummy and I think put all of us into a food coma afterwards. We were pretty knocked out, and by the end of the night Brad was struggling to keep his eyes open!

The next morning, we went with Aka to the supermarket and picked up some fresh rolls for breakfast. She gave us some Serbian cheese and this homemade pepper sauce to put on our rolls. I should clear up that when we first met our hosts, we told them our favorite part about traveling is the local food we try and the people we met! So they took it upon themselves to share all of their amazing Serbian food with us and it was all sooo good!! After breakfast and another Turkish coffee, we hit the town and got an amazing history lesson from them while we explored! Beograd is a great city!

Massive watermelon bench!

Massive watermelon bench!

There are parks and greenspace everywhere, a lot of pretty government looking buildings, and of course 2 rivers running right through it, the Danube and the Sava! When we walked to the fortress and had an amazing view of the city, we unfortunately noticed a huge storm coming our way so decided we should head back home.

The 4 of us!

The 4 of us!

But not before picking up hamburgers for a late lunch/dinner. These hamburgers are anything but McDonalds burgers though, and apparently the hamburger is a very Serbian thing to eat! These things were MASSSIVE though!! Brad and I were thinking we wanted French fries, but luckily Aka convinced us we wouldn’t need them..and she was right! I struggled to eat my whole burger! Before we knew it, it was time to catch our train, and Aka handed us a bag filled with goodies – a notepad and pen that said Beograd (perfect for leaving thank you notes to our future couch surfers!) and muesli bars for the train ride!  We were so spoiled – hey were the absolute most generous hosts to us AND we had really great conversations together! It will be hard to top that experience in couchsurfing I think!

Our super spiffy train cabin!

When we got to our train, we were ecstatic to see our cabin! This time we had our own private sleeper, with a goodie bag and all! We were like little kids opening all the drawers and cabinets, exploring our little cabin! (We usually get the crappiest of crappy cabins, but there was a special deal for this day that was the same price for both!) We still couldn’t wipe the smiles off our face when we heard a knock at our door and were asked for our passports. We did as we were told, but it was a bit strange since we were not at the border yet. Then again, our passports were taken at the beginning of our bus ride to Bulgaria, so we went with it – this man had on a uniform and a gun, so we weren’t arguing! After looking at our passports for longer than usual, he asks us why we in Belgrade – “to visit friends just for a day, we are on our way to Vienna though”. Do you have your white papers  “no, we have never heard of these actually, what are they?… ” When you get to Belgrade, you need to go to the police station and register who you are within 24 hours – “oh, no we have never been told to do this.” Well then you have to come with us and get off at the next stop to see the judge.  “WHAT?! Sir we were just passing through. When we got here, the lady at the border asked what we were doing and how long we were here for and told us NOTHING about this. Please, we are trying to leave now.” You must do this in every city, so now you must come with us. “Sir please we did not know, we have crossed so many borders and NEVER been told this, please we will do it from now on, now that you have told us. We cannot get off this train – we payed so much money and cannot lose this ticket!… ” Well this is not my fault. You must come .. “Please where will be go, we have no idea where we are, where will we sleep? What can we do, we will pay a fine, can we pay you (even though we have not a lick of cash on us!).. ” No you must come see the judge

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So this conversation goes on and on for 45 minutes – us PLEADING not to get off the train, because seriously we would be screwed! We were scared shitless BUT Brad and I admitted later that both of us were a little skeptical of this guy from the start. He was uniformed but it was different than all the other cops walking up and down the halls. We even tried to talk to his “superior” who didn’t speak any English and it was no help. EVENTUALLY after he could probably tell we were going to do everything in our power to NOT get off the train, he says Ok the ONLY thing I can do is talk to my boss, tell his you “lost” your papers and you can pay a smaller fine to me now. “OK Ok OK we will do that! We will get off in Budapest and run to the ATM and get you 100 euros”.  NO not Budapest, you must pay HERE in Serbiaâ. “Ok um we have no cash on us …can you take credit card.. ” NO credit card! Brad and I both open our wallets and have seriously not one coin or bill inside. Then we go on and on for a little longer about having to get off and see the judge and FINALLY he says Ok, fine I will tell the border control about this and you will get a stamp. “OK thank you sir! We will pay a fine” Ok, everything is ok –  and then he leaves!! WHAT?!?!?! Relief!! But holy shit! Excuse my swearing, but this is how we felt! What just happened?! He is a sketchball! He probably had a deal with the cops that he could do that, and would give them a share of what he get. AhhhHHHH relief!! Completely killed our high of having this amazing 1st class cabin! He saw we were Americans and was on top of us! Then he realized we were broke backpacking “students” as we told him, and gave up on us! PHEW!!

When we got to the border, the man looked at our passport for a total of 2 seconds, stamped it and left! OMG!

This entry was posted in Belgrade, Cities, CouchSurfing, Eastern Europe, Serbia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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