Balkan discoveries

Some random observations and photos from the first few days.

1) Montenegro sort of has a Zakim Bridge like Boston:


The Millennium Bridge, Podgorica, Montenegro

2) Kosovo has an Old Man in the Mountain like New Hampshire (only theirs is still there):


Rugova Canyon, Kosovo

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Guess which country?

I’m currently on Day 4 of my Balkan road trip, and we’ve all sort of nonverbally agreed to a siesta in the hotel in Shkoder before venturing out. Since I already briefly siesta’d in the car (today was my turn in the back seat), I thought this downtime would be a good opportunity to sort through my photos so far and post a few.

The theme of the trip so far is mountains, and since we really have been driving around and faux-moaning, “Oh God, please stop torturing me with these gorgeous mountain vistas,” I thought I’d post a few and let you guess the country. Your choices are: Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo (no pictures of Albanian mountains yet, other than maybe the ones that they share with Kosovo).

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Of cabbies, conductors, and cafes

Finally the Belgrade travel story (only one week late). 

 The first line in my journal from 29 October is, “I’m kind of amazed that I ever get anywhere.”

 I wrote that at not quite 9:00 pm, after I had

  • worked a full day – taught 4 periods and then had a Bulgarian lesson with a student 8th period, during which I asked for travel terms I might need for my trip, then promptly forgot my notebook at school
  • graded for 2+ hours AFTER school, literally up until the minute I had to run out of my apartment because I knew I’d never make my train otherwise
  • packed in about 20 minutes and simply prayed that I wasn’t missing anything vital, like, you know, my passport
  • hailed a taxi on my own because somehow there were none lined up at the gas station like there usually are
  • correctly instructed the driver on where to go – not only initially (“централна гара), but also once we got there (“не автогара, влак), then made brief conversation with him, clarifying that I was not студентка but rather “работя. учителка съм” AND tell him “искам единайсет лева” back as change from my 20 — booooooyahh!! He was a very sweet older man, and probably the only cabbie in Sofia who drives under the speed limit (though this gave me cause to bite my nails for a while, worrying that I would miss my train)
  • asked for a “билет за Белград at one of the ticket windows, then understood the woman’s directions to go to the Rila international ticket office at one end of the station. The Sofia train station, by the way, definitely feels very Eastern European – high industrial ceilings, cold cruel breezes wafting throughout, sad-looking people sitting morosely on seats.
  • purchased my ticket in Bulgarian even though I think the woman was just playing with me about not knowing English (either that or I completely misunderstood her – I thought she said “no” but I think she said “само” as in, only a little). I thought she was being mean at first but then she started flipping through my passport to look at the pictures on each page, which was sort of cute, and she wished me a good evening and safe travels
  • found the correct platform despite it being written confusingly backwards (they give the track number first, followed by the section, but when you go to the platform area, they list the section first, then the track number)

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