March 8-9, 2016
We took a 6-hour overnight bus direct to Belgrade. it was our first overnight bus since South America. With the help of some lorazepam and a few swigs of left over table wine I slept like an angel.
Not much can be said about my experience in Serbia. Perhaps I have been made prejudice from all the negative comments I've heard while in other Balkan countries. Also, reading about the history of Bosnia and Kosovo hasn't helped.
Perhaps it is simply coincidence but nonetheless the majority of people I have interacted with in Belgrade have put a bitter taste in my mouth. People have been hostile, aggressive, and dishonest.
One of the workers on the overnight bus (the guy loading the luggage) tried to rip us off and I had to ask several times for the 3 euros he still owed me. When I confronted the bus driver about this the driver yelled and went to grab me. Our hostel owners were rude and entered our shared dorm room whenever they felt like it. The man at the desk aggressively demanded he show us what to do despite neither Sylvie or myself having any interest. Regarding this last comment--I know you think I me coming off as rude but you have to understand when you've been on the road for as long as we have sometimes we just want to relax and take things at our own pace. If I had to wait 10 minutes for every hostel owner to demand my attention I would waste over 2 full days over the course of a year.
Additionally the female worker asked to barrow $100 USD from me, which is quite unprofessional. She said she'd pay me back at the latest the next morning, however I had to hound on her lazy ass later in the evening the following day to go to the bank and get me my money.
I went to exchange money and the guy took my $43 USD and told me he'd give me 35 euro. I told him that was not a fair exchange and that I wanted my money back. I had to ask several times before he gave it back. When he finally gave it back he handed me $41 and acted as though that was all that I initially handed him. I sternly demanded he give me the remaining money a few times and then told him if he didn't I would contact the police immediately. That seemed to work.
People seem to jump in front of me to insist I buy their goods. This is common in a lot of places, but here in Serbia it is done with a certain aggression I've never seen before.
The city was unremarkable and grimy. 2 Days was 2 too many!
Upon exiting the country the Serbian official at the border marked out my Kosovo stamp in my passport signifying Serbia's refusal to accept Kosovo as an independent nation. I've heard more negative remarks about Serbs than positive while traveling within the Balkans and my first had experiences failed to prove their opinions false. I'm sorry to have experienced this.