10/31/2013 – 119 days/12177 miles

Well folks, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…another weird address…or directions more specifically.
I left Budapest in the morning and got into Novi Sad, Serbia last night with these instructions, from Google:
Exit route 7, go 4.6km (sounds good)
Turn left on Temerinska/Temepnhcka go 1.2km (will do, thanks for that Latin spelling as well!)
Turn left at Slovak Evangelist Church (uh, ok)
Turn left at Board Shop Novi Sad (really?!)
Turn right at Levi9 Global Sourcing (go to hell google maps!)

Seriously though, I thought the point of google maps was so that you didn’t have to get obscure directions like this anymore…oh well, I eventually found the place, despite the fact there were 3 churches right by each other…how stupid of me to not be up to speed on the finer points of Slovak Evangelist design.

My experience leaving Hungary and entering Serbia went incredibly smooth, despite a few problems that had me a little nervous for a minute.
The first was in regards to my lack of a Hungarian vignette. I didn’t realize I needed one when I entered a few days earlier. At my last fuel stop in Hungary, as I was leaving the station to enter the motorway, a semi-official looking guy flagged me down. He punched my license plate number into his computer and told me I didn’t have a vignette, and I’ll have to pay a €55 fine. I must’ve looked a little surprised as I explained that I never knew I needed one, so he asked how long I’ve been here without getting caught. I told him it was my first time in Hungary and I’d just gotten here a couple days ago…
“Ahh, so you just got here and never knew about the vignette?”
“Yeah, sorry about that…”
“Well, we can let it go since you just got here. How about you just go back to the gas station and buy the vignette. It’ll only be €15, instead of the €55 fine”
Thrilled to hear this, I put my helmet back on and was just about to fire up the bike and head back to the station.
How stopped me, “How much longer are you planning to be in Hungary anyway?”
“Not long, I’m on my way to Serbia now.”
“Oh! You’re leaving! Then don’t get a vignette, all you need to do is not mention me if someone else stops you.”
Sounds good!

Next up was leaving Hungary, which was my final Schengen Zone country. I hadn’t overstayed my 90 limit in the Schengen Zone, but my worry was in regards to my lack of an entry stamp in my passport. When I took the Chunnel from UK to France, I passed what seemed to be a customs office, but it was unoccupied. Everyone else was just cruising through, so I did the same, figuring there must be another one. Nope…never got a stamp.
But based on how I left Hungary with ease, this must not be a problem. I’ll pulled up to the gate, agent greets me enthusiastically. I hand him my passport, debating whether or not I should bring up the lack of stamp, and decide to keep my mouth shut. He looks at the passport, hands it back, and says bye. Two words and a glance at the passport was much easier than I expected.

Entering Serbia was just as easy, and I was on my way. I got off the highway before long and immediately noticed I was in a different place. Wagons pulled by horses became a regularity, along with a few of these water wells.

Here’s an abandoned monument I passed, not far outside of Belgrade. It was built as a memorial to the victims of Fascism, and has clearly not been kept up…At this point, it appears as though it’s treated more as an eyesore…no one else was there, and it didn’t look like anyone had been for quite some time.
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I’m guessing there used to be some sort of plaque attached to this pedestal…

Here is what should be a building, which wasn’t far down the road from the monument. It looks like they started construction on it some time ago, and just stopped partway through.

I got into Novi Sad (sometimes called the Athens of Serbia, due to it being the cultural center) at dusk, and found my destination after a little backtracking.
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Marco, the guy running the hostel, is about my age, and grew up in Belgrade. He was really willing to talk about everything he experienced there, which I found absolutely fascinating, and more so, terrifying. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that it’s only by pure luck that I ended up being born in the US…none of my friends or family died fighting, I never heard a bomb explode down the street…my biggest concern was when mom and dad would get a second phone line that we could use for internet.

Before spring 1999, these columns supported a bridge…I have a hard time comprehending how recently this all happened.
There are still some bombs (from the 3 separate NATO attacks on this bridge) that are undetonated, sitting on the river bottom. In February 2013, a crew of divers went in to try and remove the bombs, hoping to get it cleaned up so they could maybe one day rebuild the bridge. While trying to either remove or defuse them, one went off, killing a diver.

Here’s a crappy picture of a picture, but in 1999, all 3 bridges that crossed the Danube in Novi Sad were destroyed. This is how people got to school or work during that time.

An interesting thing I’ve noticed after my short time here…I think it’s the easiest place I’ve been to in regards to speaking English. Communicating here has been easier than anywhere else, surprisingly enough.

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