Trip Start May 06, 2011
Trip End Mar 31, 2012

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Flag of Serbia  ,
Friday, July 1, 2011

When Karen and I first mapped out this trip about a month before, I needed to find a way to get us from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Athens, Greece.  Trains and buses took too long and crossed too many borders, so a flight was the only way.  And the only flight I could find gave us an 8 hour layover in Belgrade, Serbia.  We hadn't really planned how we would spend these 8 hours, or that we would get zero sleep the previous night, so we arrived in Belgrade pretty much clueless about what to do.  The airport didn't seem like one that I'd want to kill an 8 hour layover in, not that any is.  We were flying Yugoslav airlines (which is oddly still an airline even though it's no longer a country) so my "I'm better than you and get to go in this cool VIP lounge and drink for free and hang out with Jack Johnson" airline status didn't apply here.  Randomly, four teachers from California had the same routing and itinerary as us, and they went to the tourist desk with the same question of how to kill an 8 hour layover.  The lady mapped out an itinerary, and I decided we'd all be friends.  I was feeling slightly re-energized from the gate-to-gate nap on our last flight, but Karen's exhaustion hit and enthusiasm dwindled.  She wanted to do nothing, so she decided to stay in the airport.  I watched her head back in through security, and I headed in to downtown Belgrade with my new California friends.

We walked through downtown, stopping at the nice churches and buildings for some obligatory photos, but mainly just having the traveler introductory conversations.  Really though, the only destination I was concerned about was the recommended lunch spot.  We chose the '?' cafe, whose name, as you might have guessed, has an interesting story.  The cafe is adjacent to a large cathedral, so they first called themselves the Cathedral Cafe.  The cathedral protested, saying the cafe/bar "desecrated the name of God's temple".  The cafe owner, who obviously has a sense of humor, responded by renaming the cathedral '?'.  Nicely done sir.  The food, atmosphere, and prices were great - even for the most tourist-frequented restaurant in Belgrade.  I got one of the teachers to arm crush Belgrade with me, and 550 Easy had just gone more global.  This cafe gave you a nice taste of how cheap Eastern Europe can be the further you go off the beaten path. 

We wondered the tranquil grounds of Kalemegdan Citadel for a while before catching a cab back to the airport.  Exhaustion caught up with me on the way - at the expense my crushing partner's now drool covered shoulder.  I found Karen at the airport, and she was just as miserable as when I left her.  There were no good nap locations around, so she just struggled through the day.  Soon enough though (well, probably not soon enough for her), we were on our flight to chapter two - GREECE.

(pictures to follow)
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