7th & 8th June 2018
It’s our sons’ birthday today and we are contemplative, thinking about family and we miss them, that’s the only drawback to this life. We spent another few hours at the outdoor lounge writing and Dave finished off a few jobs on Miles McFlattery for Jeanne, we left camp at 3pm, forgetting to sign the visitors book! We are off to Belgrade, it’s a cheap parking spot 3km from Belgrade centre we found it on Park 4 Night and its located at an RV repair centre, EHU & water if needed. Jeannes priority is her fridge and I offered that when I get there to arrange for her to come and hopefully have it done there, she wants to head south and free camp and no way can she do that without a gas fridge.
We drove in to a thunderstorm, yes another one, the roads were awful for at least 75kms so we pulled over for muesli and banana after going through Uzice which was a very ugly town, getting on to the toll road, 220 SRB dinar (€1.60) A2 this was a good road, the cars around here are literally bone shakers, clattering down the road, there’s not much money around here and it looks like folks are scraping a living, makes us feel guilty as we drive along in Pogo. We drive into a huge queue of traffic and we wait for what seems like an eternity in the heat, but it was only 20 mins, two lorries on the opposite side lane have crushed a car between the two, the rear of the car was stuck up in the air, I couldn’t look I didn’t want to see. At 7pm the temperature says 28 but it feels like 30! The scenery gets better nearer to Belgrade, entering the city felt surreal, my only images of Belgrade are from news clips during the war with Kosovo, we are interested to see what tomorrow brings.
It took 5 hours to get to Belgrade, we don’t normally drive for that long but after getting through Belgrade’s’ version of the Birmingham spaghetti junction and going around it a couple of times.
Arriving on site of RV centre we are opposite a huge shopping mall, the temperature has increased to over 30 c, there’s nothing for it than to go into the air-conditioned shopping centre, we’re very hungry and thirsty, McDonalds was our refuge and fast food and cool air was our much-needed medicine. Dave pops in to the Telenor shop, 10GB SIM for 300 SRB dinar (€2.50) for 7 days, he was so happy especially as he was ‘hands off’ the young lad did it all for him, no mistakes this time, even better I spotted a hairdresser that uses Alfaparf products which my hairdresser at home uses, appointment made for 10am tomorrow. Back at RV centre I see some guy working late, its 10.30pm and I get chatting to Zoran, he says he can fix Jeannes things in her van, I sit outside reception for the good wifi signal and she says she’ll drive up tomorrow, the humidity is so high tonight, we have the huge cooling fan (via Amazon for £24.95) on all night using the EHU,
I have a hair appointment at 10.am so whilst I’m doing that Dave goes food shopping, finds out which bus to get into Belgrade and does some research on what to see.
We caught the No.35 bus into Belgrade getting off at Skadarlija which is the Stari Grad (old town), the drivers not interested in our cash he grunts, so we ride for free, we stroll down it’s beautiful cobbled street lined with cafes and flowers so bright and beautiful, the walls of the buildings have been painted to make them look 3D, the bohemian character came from the early 19th century when artists, actors and writers moved in to the Skadarlija inns called kafanas.
Daves’ trying to find the points he’s researched; his location isn’t showing on the google map? I’m not sure what is going on with his phone, he says it’s gremlins, I think he’s right it’s a 6ft gremlin with a silver beard, strangely resembling Dave!!! Hahaha! I’m not standing still in this heat so off I go in the direction which I think is right, my instincts were correct, and we reach Kalemegdan and walk through the park towards the fortress, we spot a guy with a buggy, he works for the restaurant at the top, yes, he’ll give us a lift, lovely as I’m perspiring a little……….
The fortress is dated back to the Romans in the 2nd century AD as a strategic position over the two rivers, frequent cultural, artistic and entertainment events are now held here.
We cooled down with a LAV beer at the fortress restaurant, LAV beer is crap! the temperature has reached 37c it’s killing us, even the views of the confluence with the Sava and the Danube are not enough to lighten the mood, the air is heavy, we walked down into the park where the breeze came just a little as we were high up but the breeze is hot! so many trees meant we could stop in the shade, we joked that we were walking for 5 mins and stopping to rest for 10, we’re not going to see much of Belgrade at this rate!
Entering the City it’s a mixture of eastern bloc and new modern buildings, we walk through a large pedestrianised boulevard area lined with all the usual high street type shops, it’s modern and clean with nice trees and with a good vibe, we stroll around looking for the shady areas, our list of ‘to see’ items is given a back seat, we wanted to walk to St Sava church but it’s a good walk away and we literally can’t cope with the humidity, I’m sorry to have missed it.
We did make it to Trg Republic Square and sat outside, the cafes all have little water jets that release water in front of huge fans, casting a fine mist on the diners, we sat down right by such a fan but it didn’t make much difference as the hot breeze just pushed it away, we ordered a veggie pizza to share, it’s our favourite pizza, lots of courgette and peppers and onions and it came with a little pot of tomato juice flavoured with Basil, Dave loves it.
We haven’t done Belgrade justice today, we are too hot, so we head back about 6 pm, we know there has been a taxi blockade of the roads for an hour due to the high cost of fuel, but it should be over now and hopefully the buses are running, we’d normally walk the 3kms back if it was cooler.
The fuel here is approx. the same as UK prices but the average wage is much lower, approaching the bus stop 3 of the number 35 buses went past us, oh bugger! When we got there it was jam-packed, a number 95 turns up and people literally squeeze on like sardines, butted right up to each other, glad I’m not on that bus, as it leaves another 95 arrives and it’s empty! I feel sorry for those people, 35 arrives and it’s packed, do we get on or hope an empty one is going to arrive aaaaah decisions! We get on and I spend the next 15 minutes with my nose in a guys armpit, he’s holding on to the strap and I can’t move at all, at the next stop a couple of people alight, I get a slightly better position sandwiched between a woman to my front and a guy to my rear, they both want to get off at the next stop, he shoves me forward, she shoves me back, they play Cathy ping-pong for what seems like an eternity before I exclaim for F*** sake, hopefully no one speaks English near me, no interpretation needed!
Getting back to Pogo Dave tells me that the fridge has defrosted on EHU? We switch to gas fingers crossed it chills quickly or we will have to chuck the meat out and he’s just bought it! Very annoying.
We see Jeanne has arrived and the guys are already working on her van, the Balkans get things done that’s for sure! at 7.30 pm we decide to move on as it’s hot and clammy and there’s thunderstorm forecast for tomorrow, so we would not go back into the city to see the things we had missed.
Saying goodbye to Tai and Jeanne again we set off for the next part of this adventure.