Not Allowed To Talk About Football

Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  ,
Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"It's a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it." - Blues Brothers

As I write, we are sat outside a cafe in Banja Luka, a town in North Bosnia. In the background the Italy Australia game is five minutes in. We just got off a five hour train from Sarejevo, and we have another five hours to kill before our next train - we're hoping the football goes to penalties.

Bosnia's been great. The countryside is some of the most beautiful we've ever seen, and the contrast of the Mosques, the Churches and the bombed out shells of buildings is pretty intense.

We haven't encountered anyone who speaks much English - or rather, anyone who speaks much English and is willing to speak to us. And although we (Vinny) can order two beers, our conversational Bosnian is pretty limited. So for the last 4 days we've only had each other to talk to. It's been fine though - you'd be amazed at how much quality conversation you can get out of discussing the relative merits of girls bottoms.

It's later on now. The Ozzies were robbed in the football, and we've successfully waster five hours. We're now on the night train to Belgrade. It's like an oven. Here we both are, ten at night in shorts and t-shirt, sweating like members of the Anti Salt league.

Hardly anyone uses trains in Bosnia. The cars are all donated hand me downs from Sweden and Germany, part of the EU's rejuvenation project in the country. And by hand me downs, I do mean we're talking colour schemes that by 1971 were considered passe.

But they go, which is the main thing. Actually, the main thing is striking a balance between window open (too loud to sleep) and window closed (too hot to sleep).

Memories of Karim and Europe come flooding back, of drunk Turkish Customs Officials and psychotically deranged (and thus over qualified) Greek Ticket Inspectors.

But back to this train. It's nine hours to Belgrade, which is fine as we'll be able to spend most of it in a bizarre half sleep of hot flushes and passport checks. Sounds rubbish but it's ok - time passes.

Things are cooling down now the train's underway. The window won't stay open so we've stuck a water bottle into the gap... fine until we get thirsty... probably a couple of hours until the first passport check... and so to bed.
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