We took the overnight train to Sofia and were awakened every hour by various border police either demanding our passports or demanding that we take them back. Once in Sofia I quickly realized that I hadn’t considered the Eastern European portion of the program when I was packing. It was pretty much winter. I walked down the streets pretending to enjoy the scenery but my brain was frozen and I have no idea if my eyes were even open.
But the sun did come out and the change in atmosphere and attitude were dramatic. I noticed the details of the buildings and the crazy characters selling nesting dolls in the streets and all of the sudden I loved Sofia. But we were limited to only a few hours of love because we had a train to catch. Or at least we thought we did.
Thus begins the most bizarre transportation experience of my life. We file onto a train completely filled with drinking, smoking monolingual Bulgarians. Nobody spoke English and we were quite certain that there were no seats left that hadn’t already been doused in alcohol. So we stood near the door looking rather confused. One of the train guys (conductor?) was trying to explain a matter of great importance to us but of course our Bulgarian was a bit rusty and were you aware that they nod for no and shake their heads for yes? He made us sit with him and the other train guys and we were were a bit concerned that we were being detained. However, and thank God for this…there was one guy on the train who could speak English. He informed us that the track was broken and we were all to get onto a bus for the duration of the trip.
As if that wasn’t difficult enough to understand, at the Serbian border the police came in and took Rebecca away! Where’s the translator??? What is going on here??? All the English speaking guy can say to me is “Why didn’t you just fly?” So Rebecca is missing and I am surrounded by copious amounts of smoking, drinking Bulgarian men (are there no women in this country?). But Rebecca does come back and we do get on a packed bus for a four hour tour of the back roads of Serbia. Eventually we make it to Belgrade, exhausted and relieved.
Hmm, that was a rather long story. I hope it was interesting.