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Addy, March 2007
Up at 4.15 hour. A shuttle picked me up to bring me to Schiphol airport. I needed to check in at 08.00 hour and will fly to Belgrade at 10.00 hour. All went well and I arrived at Belgrade airport around 14.45 hour. 45 minutes late. Jitze is at the airport to pick me up. Both on Schiphol airport and at Zurich airport, where I made a stop for chancing planes, security was very strict .That was a part of the delay.
After a good sleep we all left for a ride in the country. The idea was to drive to Novi Sad, a town at the river Donau, north of Belgrade. When we left Belgrade Christien asked me to look good at the houses in the cities we passed. There was something ďspecialĒ about a lot of the houses. I started guessing: 3 chimneys, an antenna on a wooden stock, a roof with four sides. I couldnítít guess what it was. After 45 minutes we visited a small monastery in place called Sisatova. It was one of the many in this country. When we arrived at the monastery there where a lot of tourists.
After 10 minutes we left to Novi Sad. It was then when I made the remark that the houses almost looked the same as the houses in Kenya/Tanzania. Half finished and/or just empty. That was the answer to Christiens question. It was a nice sunny day and it was a nice walk through the city. Late in the afternoon we were back in Belgrade.
Jitze and Christien live just outside the centre of Belgrade. Itís easy to go to centre by Trolleybus or a taxi. Cost for the trolleybus 27 Dinar and around 360 Dinar for the taxi. I left halfway in the morning to visit Kalemegdan a big fortress on the riverside of Belgrade. After a 1,5 hour walk I went shopping/exploring the city. I was looking for a good record store. Didnítít find one. Back at Jitzes house there was nobody home. I went for a walk in the neighborhood.
Christien and I went shopping. Yesterday I couldnítít find a good cd shop but Nina ,the nanny, told us where to find some great shops. Mamut is a ďbigĒ shop where you ca buy cdís, DVDís, books and toys. I bought 2 cd from local artists Ogi and Van Gogh. Both totally unknown. Both sing in there native lanquage Serb. After that we went to Hot Spots a place where you can eat a sandwich or so. You can there also order, light alcoholic beverages, coffee with some alcohol. One of the combinations is with Absinth. For a long time it was forbidden to sell that in great parts of Europe end the USA. Around 1900 people thought that after drinking you get ďhighĒ same thing like LSD and do some crazy stuff like murder your family. That last thing really happens once. But in 2005 the Dutch government did allow to sell Absinth again. After that we went to a store where I bought a jacket that I saw yesterday. They are building a new church Called St. Aves Temple From a distance it looked it was completed. But that isnít true. When we where in front of the church we saw that there where a few windows with bricks instead of glass and a lot of marble. When we walked around the church we saw some activity. They are still working at the church mostly inside. There was a big door that was open. The church was open for victories en the even sell some souvenirs. From what I saw there is still a lot of work to do.
First day what will become a four day trip through the Balkan. We leave at 14.00 hours too Zagreb in Croatia.
In the morning Jitze went to the Toyota garage for a quick check up of his car. The day before he saw a quick light on his dashboard. It was the oil meter. One liter oil and it was done.
The highway to Zagreb is a good one. On the way there was hardly anything to see, a lightly boring trip.
Around 18.00 hours we arrived in Zagreb. We drove to the centre of the city looking for a good hotel. We were lucky to find quickly a good hotel called Astoria. In the evening we walked through the old city and we eat at a local restaurant.
In the morning another walk trough Zagreb. We left at noon for a ride to Split. This ride wasít that boring as the day before. We drove through the mountains with sometimes spectacular views.
Arriving in Split in the late afternoon it was hard to find a good hotel. Or it was too expensive or the hotel was full. We stayed in the Dujam hotel. From the hotel we walked about 35 minutes to the city centre. Split is a city in the coast of Croatia and from the harbor a view ferries leaves to several destinations. Because is a strategic place on the coast of Croatia thereís also a palace. In that old and as important as a monument that is on the list of UNESCO as a part of world history. Only problem that thereís no money to rebuild it at once. Parts of it are restored and on other parts they working on it. Because it was already late we eat at a McDonalds. We left the for the hotel with a taxi. After that Jitze and I left for a local beer.
We left early because the ride for today is not a long one for kilometers but a long one because of time. The road along the coastline is not a highway but a local road with a lot of trucks. And a maximum speed of 60 kilometers.
The road runs at one moment within a few meters from the sea and the next moment 60 meters above sea level. Sometimes with a spectacular view. First destination today is the city Mostar.
Mostar is one of the cities that were ruined in the war 10 years ago. Mostar was and is an important city between the coast and the rest of Bosnia Hercocorvina. Itís an old city. One of the landmarks of this city is the bridge that was demolished in the war. After the war they rebuild the old centre and the bridge. But driving through Mostar you still can see what the war did to the place. Leaving Mostar at 15.00 hours we arrived 2 hours later in Serajevo. Serajevo was also a city under siege. It was in Serajevo that the Balkan war started. But after 11 years almost the whole city was rebuilt. The only thing we saw was still many bullet holes. As in Zagreb we were lucky to find a good hotel downtown. On the first night Jitze made a joke about their room: we have a jacuzzi not! Now I told Jitze I have a jacuzzi Yes. It turned out that I had the best room of the hotel. Only a 2 minute walk from the old city. We eat at a local restaurant.
We made another walk through Serajevo now by daylight. We left Serajevo at 10.00 o clock for our ride home. But first we drove to Tuzla another place that I remembered form the war. We had our lunch there. The rides to Zagreb, Split and Sarajevo were al three around 400 km. This ride was almost 600 km. A long ride. In Tuzla we missed our exit to Belgrade. We had a beautiful ride through the mountains of Tuzla. It took almost 90 minutes but no waste of time. As seen in Africa a lot of little shops where you can buy the first things you need. But just before the border o Croatia I saw a few cd shops. Shop is a big word. More a place you can buy some cdís. On this trip I bought 3 cdís. Ogi: u tebi kad me ima. Van Gogh: Kolo and a cd with church music. And the last one is my favorite. After a long drive we arrived at 19.00 oíclock home.
Iíll go home today/ I left Jitze, Christien, Yde and Vibbeke at 12.30 hours. The flight back home was a better flight then a week earlier. The first leg to Zurich on the heenvlucht was in an old plane. With too many chairs. On the second leg to Belgrade we flew on an Airbus 320 a big new plane.
This time I flew with an Airbus 320 to Zurich and with an Airbus 319 to Amsterdam. Arriving at my home at 21.30 hours. It was exactly a nine hour journey from door to door.
I Thank Christien, Jitze, Yde and Vibeke for their hospitality and I will be back this our next year