If you’re thinking I mean in a going out, having a good time sense – think again . I have been awaiting a particularly challenging day since my travels began and yesterday it finally came.
It started with an epicly long day having left the hostel in Sibiu at 8am. As I eluded to in my last post, I knew I had a long 7 hour train journey ahead. A journey which I have since accomplished but those 7 hours didn’t include a two hour stop off and change of train in a random station and as such, I finally exited at Timisoara at 6pm having initially boarded at 8.30am. You’ve taken that well…
The thing was I still had to get to Serbia from this point so the night before my hostel mate discovered two routes. The first involving another train ride (LOL) with a change of station prior to reaching Belgrade. The other option a private mini-bus straight to Belgrade for 20 euros – £15. Hmmmm….hard choice (not).
So after a further 2.5 car drive, we made into Belgrade for 9.30pm Romanian time (there’s an hour difference). And that’s when my challenge really began…
So I didn’t book my accommodation in Serbia prior for two reasons. The first was that I wasn’t properly organised this time round and the only time I got to look to have a vague look was at breakfast. I located a hostel opposite the train and bus station that showed they were practically empty. The reviews were along the lines of OK for a night’s crash – perfect. I would then book better rated hostel accommodation that night onwards as per usual.
Except I couldn’t get dropped off directly at the station because there were armed Police surrounding that part of the street so we were diverted. I got dropped off close by and cautiously made my way to the hostel only for them to tell me through an intercom they were full!? Hey!? But it showed on-line you were empty earlier.
Without a fuss, I moved on not knowing if there was another hostel located close by but then I saw a sign to another grotty looking place. Never mind I thought, thank God I found somewhere so just grin and bear it.
“Sorry we’re full”.
The only thing I could think of was that this was Saturday night but still this really was unheard of in my 2.5 weeks frequenting hostels.
Have I mentioned it was fully dark outside by now? Well, it was. So, I was in Serbia town central which was hectically busy, I was on my own, with nowhere to stay, with two heavy bags to lug around and in desperate need of food, water and a shower!
Again, I didn’t panic, I just turned around and walked away but again thankfully I swiftly came across a third hostel………..except they were fully booked.
The fourth hostel asked me for some ID before telling me they were full. Prior to me getting it out they asked me if I was Syrian!!! Yes, you read that correctly and I’m not even fully tanned yet. (Kate in particular will laugh at that as this was yet another nationality I’ve been confused for). Most recently, I had Moroccan last year and twice asked if I was Egyptian.
I had begun to accept that I would have to get a hotel and pay over the odds as they appeared to be 4 star rated from their plaques.
How many of you would have gone straight to a hotel after the first or second rejection? I can understand why.
Another 15 minutes of searching the crowded streets had passed and my hostel-attempt count was now at SIX! WTF.
I turned around to find what I thought was a three star hotel and finally accepted I had done all I could. Whilst I shouldn’t have felt guilty, I was a little gutted because I wanted my first hotel experience to be when I wanted it to be and I would want to have chosen it.
I see a final sign for a hostel and was so weak and tiered now that I couldn’t initially remember if I had tried this one – the signs all looked the same right now.
Folks, I am thrilled to say that I am writing this from a hostel, not a hotel 🙂
Not even an 8 man dorm but my favourite 4 style (there were two spaces left, one in each). It genuinely took seven attempts and that really was my last attempt. Thank the heavens. I was a tad emotional and headed straight for a shower before food.
This place itself wasn’t too bad but its clients situated in the communal area were definitely of non-local origin. I was sharing a 4 dorm with two foreign lads and a sweet Singaporean. She told me that the police was due to some heavy political demonstrators but most interestingly she told me that this area appears to be a haven for Syrian and Afghanistan refugees!!! WTF. Although I can’t piece any more of further together it half explains why everywhere was full and it definitely explains why that one place asked me for identification.
Right now, and despite only hearing good things about Belgrade from fellow travellers, I think this place is a sh!thole. I wonder if my opinion can and will change in the days to come but right now, Belgrade has a lot of making up to do to me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a tennis super star to go and search for 🙂