Hitchhiking to Belgrade


I had to have my second Hepatitis B vaccine on last week of january. My plan was going to Belgrade on Wednesday and have it on Thursday.

It was sunny from begining of the week until Tuesday evening, sun had shown its face. The gift was, melting of snow and resurface of land and grass.
On Tuesday evening, while i was thinking of having a great hitchhiking experience, the sudden snowing made me worry. As different from past ones, this time there were huge snow flakes and heavy falling. It didn’t take long, after nearly half an hour, tree boughes got closer to ground moreover some were cracking due to snow heaviness.
Cracking boughes was cutting through silence of night. At the moment i wanted to go out and enjoy the air, i heard a strong cracking and falling noise coming from forest. When i went there, i saw a huge tree had fallen down. I was in a surprise. Only one hour snowing could destroy a grand tree.
As it was the famous winter of Balkans coming.

When i woke up i faced an unexpected view. All night long snowing accrued more than a half meter and everywhere was covered. Condition was getting serious.
I decided to have a little change in my plan, get on the road immediately and get in any vechile that would stop for me.
It was winding with heavy snowing like the way to the main road was covered with waist height snow was not enough. It was difficult but i was having fun and i succeed to reach the main road. I remonstrated myself during the all way. Why didn’t i take my beautiful winter coat with me and left it at home just because not to carry it? How long can i go on with the thin sweat on me in this cold?

On main road, i waited my thumb up 10-15 minutes and a lorry stopped.

I yelled to driver “Beograd”

Answered “Haydi!” (Means “come on” both in Serbian and Turkish)

He told me about how less he earns money and how difficult his job is with his poor English. And i told him about what i am doing here and where i came from with my poor Serbian.
Then his phone rang and he answered “Selamun aleykum”. I was surprised, he hung up and said: “My friend orthodox, joke joke” and started to laugh. I responded with a long laugh to that weirdest joke i heard lately.
After nearly two hours travel, he tried to tell me that the town we arrived was 30 km away from Belgrade and i could find a bus and he was going to take an other road. At least i understood like that. I prefered to go on with lorry instead of waiting for bus in that cold weather.
While we were going on warm and enjoying the road, we headed off the highway. I was thinking that the trucks were not allowed in city center so we were taking the highway, he stopped at 150 meters away from Novi Sad – Belgrade parting and told me that he would continue to Novi Sad and i needed to go from other way. I got out of lorry.

I found myself hitchhiking at somewhere on a highway with my backpack and sweat in that cold snowy and windy weather.
I was smiling with a little dissappointment and exitement.
It was almost getting dark and amount of cars passing was getting lesser. The best thing i did was that i walked to the main road instead of walking 500-600 meters away Belgrade road. I kept getting angry with myself about leaving my coat at home.

After waited nearly 45 minutes my thumb up on main road 12 km away from Belgrade, an old man stopped. Supposed he felt pity for me. When i said “Beograd” to last two cars, they had pointed me the nearby settled area and i don’t know why- i had thanked them and closed the door like i’m stupid.

I was learning the most important rule of hitchhiking while my face was hurting badly in that cold.

It is better to go to the nearest town than waiting in nowhere with thumb up. Especially if it is windy, -5 degrees and getting dark.
When the third car stopped, the old man pointed the same settled area. This time i acted clever and asked “Beograd bus?”. By the time i got “Da” answer, i had already gotten into car and closed the door. I felt in warm car, i had paralyse on half of my face. With a little burn at my hands, i thought i had gotten through a freezing danger.

The old man took me to the bus stop and told me the best new i had gotten lately that i could take bus number 58 to the city center.

After waited 5 minutes i took the bus and had nearly 10 minutes travel and finally arrived Belgrade city center and started to wait for Dragana in front of the parliament building.

It was a nonsense travel for humanity but for me –it was like a lesson.

UNITY IN DIVERSITY


After arriving to Belgrade my first steps were for Dragana. She accepted my couch-request at CS. A nice travel from center of Belgrade to Kosutnjak. Passing the road inside of a nice forest. Getting off at a place, have never been before. Feeling the existence in unknown.
A smiling face with opened arms appeared on opposite side of the road. Simple but kindly hug is enough to transform the foreigner to a friend.

Union of hazelnut and honey produced fantastic taste of home-made liqueur. Taste Oscar goes to Dragana’s mom.

Liqueur and wine warmth the body as well as the souls. Two souls keep the dialogue for all day and night. It’s getting hard to stop the conversation. Looks like it started years or maybe ages ago.
Similar feelings, experiences are coming out from minds which took place in different time, place and with different people. Souls are filling with peace and hope while they are finding answers to questions in mind.

Unity in diversity is all around. 4 days are enough for a friendship.

Now the friendship takes place where the time and space lost their meaning.

Beograd


Everything had already started strange. First at İzmir, returning back from security check to reach the CIP room. After at Istanbul airport, walking for a very long time to reach my gate. Belgrad appears with amazing view, at the end of a comfy flight. My advise, if you will come around here, you should pick your seat from right side and front of the wing. The landscape of the city fascinated me during the last descending. The new city and the old one’s closeness and contrast presence was gorgeus.
The houses over the River Sava surprised me suddenly. I have learned later that some of these houses are being used as summer houses and some as constant residences.

After landing, first destination was passport control. The actual thing made me anxious was that i didn’t have any return ticket, hotel resevation or invitation paper with me. The custom police who saw my clean and empty passport asked my return ticket in a quite cold way. It was easy to understand by just looking his face that he was not pleasant that much when i told him i would pass to Croatia after my stay at Serbia. He was surprised at my negative answer to his hopeful question about wheater i had any invitation or not. I told him i would stay with a friend here and she was waiting for me. He asked for phone number of Dragana who invited me from CS and told me to sit and wait on a bench.

After that, it was only an ambiguous waiting at the security point with my backpack. During my waiting a man was took to a room next to me. The police who checked my passport went to that room with many papers, talked something, got outside and returned back with many papers and conversation kept going.

After waiting nearly 45 mins in anxious and not knowing what was going to happen, a civil police who was so kind came near me. He was holding my passport and its copy. He asked me if it was my first time in Serbia very kindly after a nice salute. Then i took my old passport out my bag and show him. When i told him that it was my first time in Serbia but i had already have many visas and custom stamps and i travel a lot, he suddenly started to smile and apologized from within for keeping me wait there. Apparently, when they saw my empty passport they tought that i had been traveled abroad for the first time and they wanted to search about the stuation. Consequently, both i and policemen calmed down at last, then they stamped my passport and make me take a step to Serbia.

And i lived the most special moment of my journey. I was taking steps all alone with myself at Nikola Tesla Airport. My first thing to do was exchanging money. 1 euro is nearly 102 dinars. Then i bought a MTS simcard right away and called my CS host Dragana whom i would stay with.I notified her that i had arrived, everything was on the way and i would be there in a while. The sim card is 200 dinars and it can be bought from any canteen and be used directly.

To reach the city center from Nikola Tesla Airport, we bought tickets for 60 dinars and got into the buss number 72. The last stop is the Veleni Zenac. You can access everywhere from here.

There is a strange ticket appliance on bus. You can get into the bus from each gate you wish. You should insert your ticket in a machine and out. But there’s not any control mechanism for it. I have learned that sometimes officers may get into the bus and check the tickets if they were put in that machine or not. But as a tourist, if you have an unused ticket, you can get into busses again and again without buying a new ticket untill it will be checked.

The roads of Belgrade are in order and the traffic is generally comfortable. People are really warm, friendly and ready for help.

At night we went out to meet Dragana’s friends. We were at a small underground rock bar which had friendly ambiance and i like very much. I reccomend black beer. It is affordable with its 120 dinars price. They have a strong traditional drink called Rakija which is made of fruits. It is served in tequila shot glasses with a glass of water next to it. It made me feel like a dragon suddenly when i had the first shot. 3-4 shots of that strong but tasty drink can make you spend the night drunk.

Turkish and Serbian languages have many words in common, possibly based on their common history. ‘Mermer, haydi, aman, somun, pamuk’ are a few i came across today.

Word of day: Hvala – Thanks.

Song of day: Tom Waits – Heartattack and Vine

Posted from Belgrade, Central Serbia, Serbia.