I got a super little train into Serbia, it was pretty expensive though at well over a pound. As we approached the border, the customs people got on, went through all my stuff (not very thoroughly) and stamped my passport. This was strange as up to now I had not even shown my passport never mind had it stamped.
About 5 miles after the border, the train stopped (not at a platform), and a group of women got on; the train set off again very slowly; for the next twenty minutes the women, were moving people from their seats, pushing the seat back, and revealing lids in the floor; these lifted up to reveal that they were full of T-shirts and stockings, which they stuffed into their bags. About 5 miles later the train stopped at an unmarked platform and they all got off. Apparently in the opposite direction the train is full of cigarettes.
My first stop In Serbia was in Subotica, where I had a few hours to kill before getting the train to Belgrade. This place had a similar feel to it as Szeged and Kecskemet, with similar art nouveau architecture; it comes as no surprise that Subotica used to be a part of Hungary and that the people there still speak Hungarian. The place has one of the most disguised McDonald’s I have ever seen, (It is incorporated into the bottom of the town hall shown in the picture below) it is a shame that they don’t disguise the rest of them instead of building eyesores all over the earth.
I had wanted to spend a few nights in Belgrade, but when I booked a room on the internet the hostel only had one night available, so I tried to book a sleeper to Istanbul as soon as I got there for the next day. There was not one available for a week, and as I didn’t want to travel 26 hours by couchette, I booked a sleeper train to Bucharest for the next evening, with a plan to grab a night bus to Istanbul.
When I got to the hostel they could not understand why I could only book for one day as they were half empty. Anyway I had to do Belgrade in a bit of a rush which was a bit of a shame as it is meant to have lots of good drinking venues. After sampling some beer that night, I spent the next day doing touristy things. You get a terrific view of Belgrade city and its two rivers (Danube and Sava) from the Citadel. Over the last 2300 years there has been over 115 battles fought for this bit of prime real estate.