I woke up after 09:00, showered, dressed, packed my bags, and checked out of the hostel. I stored my bags at the reception desk and walked down to the common area to enjoy some coffee and chocolate. I then researched Sofia, Bulgaria (the next leg of my journey), while waiting for the other hostel guests to get ready. From our drunken talk last night, we were planning on renting a car and driving to the Bosnian border to see a hermit house built on a rock outcropping in the middle of the river that acts as the border between Serbia and Bosnia, but, as the clock ticked away, it became evident that this plan would have to be scrapped. I talked with the French-Canadian woman and we both agreed that we would like to see Zemun, an old neighborhood that is part of Belgrade, but located west of the Sava River and on the banks of the Danube River; the Aussie man, the Romanian Londoner, and the Egyptian-American now living in Australia agreed with this plan as well; so, we all rented bicycles from the hostel (luckily there were five) and we biked through Belgrade (somewhat dangerous), across the Sava River, through New Belgrade along the Danube River, and to Zemun. Before reaching Zemun, however, we stopped at one of the floating restaurants on the Danube River and ate lunch on the top deck. I had a Caesar salad with chicken and bacon, as well as a glass of lemonade. After lunch, we resumed our bike ride and reached the end of the bike trail, and the end of the Danube Quay. We then found a place to lock our bikes before heading in to Zemun. We then walked through a market and came to a square with a fountain in front of the Church of Ascension of the Holy Virgin Mary. There, we bought some strawberries and little sour oranges to eat. Next, we walked through a pedestrian street with restaurants and cafes, before passing through a back street to Gradski Park; we checked out the interior of the Church of St. Archangel Michael, located in the park, before turning back toward our bicycles. Along the way, we passed by another building that was deserted and looked like it had been bombed by NATO in 1999 AD (there was also a memorial in front with names of military men who had been killed during the bombing – or so we assumed, since none of us could really read Cyrillic). Once back at our bikes, we mounted our vehicles and rode back toward the hostel. After crossing the Brankov Most bridge over the Sava River, we split up (the Egyptian-American man, whose chain came off the bike, and the Aussie man walked back to the hostel; the Romanian man, French-Canadian woman, and I rode to the Main Railway Station). When we finally reached the railway station, I bought my ticket to Sophia (departing tonight) and the French-Canadian woman bought her ticket to Budapest for the following morning. With train tickets in hand, we rode back to the hostel, reaching it around 16:30. The whole excursion lasted about four hours and it was nice to get some exercise in the sun. At the hostel, I worked on the website and conducted some more research while the Romanian played some music. Unfortunately, the Londoners had a dinner with a journalist tonight, so we could not hang out; I fare welled the two that were there as they left just before 19:00 (there was a meeting earlier today at the hostel as well, that the Romanian slept through – oops -, but, of course, he’s an undergraduate student, so this can be forgiven). Then, the Aussie man and the French-Canadian woman decided to cook dinner at the hostel and invited me to join them; so we walked to the nearby supermarket to buy the ingredients (I bought the wine) and we returned to the hostel’s kitchen. They both prepared the meal and the Aussie man was the chef. Once cooked, it was served, and I joined them in eating a delicious pasta with mushrooms, salami slices, spinach, cream, and tomato sauce. The wine, was a bottle of Serbian Prokupac red wine that tasted kind of flat, with tannins and flavors of red berries. While eating and drinking, a Canadian man who now lives in Switzerland, shared his bottle of wine with us and the other Canadian woman (from the night at the Mr. Stefan Braun Club), as well as an Aussie woman that had just arrived at the hostel; this bottle of wine was a dry red, from Greece, near Macedonia, and was made from Xinomavro grapes; it tasted of cherries and was a very light wine. Then, at 21:20, it was time for me to go, so I had the receptionist call a taxi, I paid the Aussie man and the French-Canadian woman for my portion of the dinner, and then I said goodbye to everyone. The taxi arrived in no time at all and I was driven to the Main Railway Station.
At the Main Railway Station, I paid the taxi driver, bought some snacks for the journey (water, cookies, chocolate bar, and a bag of Smokis – these are popular in Serbia and are corn puffed snacks that taste like they were cooked in peanut oil). I then boarded the train and found my sleeper bed. I shared the compartment with two Canadian guys and one Canadian woman; they were fun to be around, but soon, as I wished for sleep, they would become an intolerable nuisance. Anyway, the train departed and we talked for a while and I ate my snacks, along with a small bottle of wine I had bought earlier at the supermarket; it was a bottle of “Portugizer” white wine that tasted awful with flavors of plums. Later, a Bulgarian man came up to the compartment with beer and started chatting with us; he also gave the Canadian woman another beer once she finished her last, and then another to follow up – this courtesy was never extended to the guys and it became obvious that this 45-year old man was hoping to have another girlfriend to add to his list. However, this man became more and more obnoxious with his opinions and drunkenness; the Canadians then told him it was time to sleep and closed the door on him; however, they did not all wish to sleep, and the woman went on for the next hour about how that Bulgarian man annoyed her; then one of the Canadian men and the woman watched a television show on the bottom beds while the other Canadian man and I desperately tried to fall asleep. Finally, after their show stopped and they went to bed – at 03:00 –, I was finally able to fall asleep too. Pretty unbelievable behavior, but, looking back on the night, it was obvious from the beginning, as they claimed beds that were not reserved for them, that they didn’t care about others.