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Trip Report The "B" Trip, Part Two, Serbia and Bulgaria

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This is part two of my "B" trip, which began with the Baltics here:

This part will cover Serbia (on my own) and Bulgaria (on a tour), after which I'll move on to more of the Balkans.

Sep 9 - 10 - Belgrade: First Impressions

There are, occasionally, days when I wonder why I travel - usually when I have to get up early to catch a train or a plane and especially when I'm leaving a place I liked. So I wasn't in the best of moods as I waited for the airport bus to show up at the Radisson in Riga, but at least I didn't have to join the long line for Ryan Air once I got out to the airport.

I had printed my boarding card the day before, and airBaltic's bag drop went fast. In fact, my only problem with the flight wasn't airBaltic's fault at all, the wretched woman with the grating voice seated behind me, who talked even-on for the entire flight could have happened anywhere. 

Instead of the rather pricey taxi offered by my B&B I opted for the public bus, but it did take a long time to show up, and I did have rather a long trek through town from the bus stop. The Art Home B&B, number one B&B/Inn for Belgrade on Tripadvisor, but listed nowhere else, impressed me favorably at first. I had a big room, with a big bed, a desk, wifi and TV, and tea, coffee and fruit available all day. Later I discovered there was nowhere in the shower to put anything, including the shower head, and there was only room for three people to eat breakfast. (The real problem with Art Home wouldn't show up until later.)

My route through town, with my new wheeled bag, had taken me up the main pedestrian street, which I visited several more times during my stay. The smooth pavement and upmarket shops could have been anywhere, and made a favorable first impression. So did the trees lining the streets in the Dorcol section where I was staying, although the pavement and buildings were in worse shape.

You couldn't leave the main street without encountering a cafe, but at 6:00 pm on a Friday evening it seems you're supposed to drink alcohol. I picked the only one with a posted price list, but the waiter told me that I couldn't have fruitjuice on its own, and then walked off! I did not feel welcomed to Belgrade, although I did slightly better at dinner that night. Little Bay, a Lonely Planet pick, did indeed remind me of the Sarastro in London, which has a similar opera theme, but the appetizer was mostly pastry and the trout tasted pickled.

The next morning I trekked over to the bus and train stations, where I checked the bus times for my move to Novy Sad, and found that I could only buy train tickets for journeys starting in Belgrade. Then I crossed the railroad tracks (on foot!) to reach the very nice bike/foot path along the river. I also approved of the park surrounding the remains of the fortress, strategically located on a bluff overlooking the junction of the Sara and Danube rivers.

By the time I reached the fortress proper I was too tired to keep going past the (pricey) restaurant to the (presumably cheaper) cafe, but I did enjoy a huge portion of pork stuffed with cheese and ham, with a good view. I was less pleased to discover I could also see into the very sad zoo, where an unfortunate tiger was kept in a concrete cage.

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