Project 365: Day 219 – Midnight drummers and midwinter dreams

5th February 2015 – Belgrade, Serbia

From the gongs and the beats of a Turkish drum,
To the throngs of a Serbian diplomatic immunity.
And as the wind kept blowing, and sending chills up my spine.
I feel like a zombie, in this beautiful, yet deserted city.
Belgrade, Serbia

Smile, even during a tough day. – Belgrade, Serbia

I caught the 9 PM bus ride to Istanbul yesterday night. And to my surprise, slept like a baby.

Only to be woken up somewhere between Bursa and Istanbul by the sound of loud drums next to the bus window. Stepped out to see a bunch of youngsters playing the drums, and dancing what looked like a wedding dance to me. I tried to click some pictures, but the low light was a total killjoy.
Reached Istanbul Sabiha Goekcen by 6 AM in the morning, thanks to a connecting service by the bus company from Istanbul city centre to SAW airport. All was dandy and good, until I reached check-in.
Now, I’ve mentioned before that I have to be extremely careful when planning my trips, because of my India passport. I had to exit Turkey, because I only had a 30-day visa, and I couldn’t go to Georgia, because they refused me a visa in Turkey. Hence, Serbia. But then, it isn’t illogical for you to ask a question: What about the Serbia visa?
Thats the same question the guys at the Turkey Passport control had for me. “Where is your Serbia visa?”
And the answer was, “I don’t have one.”
“Then how are you going to enter Serbia”, they asked.
“With a US visa”, I said.
I knew they would be dumbfounded, so I had a printout of a letter from the Serbian embassy in New Delhi, which stated that I could enter Serbia as long as I had a valid US or EU visa. I had a US visa that was still valid, and a EU visa that is valid from the 3rd of March. The immigration officer read through every word on the letter, than made some calls on his cellphone to confirm, and finally let me through.
After an hour, I was in Belgrade. And surprisingly, there was absolutely no fuss! In the airport, they accepted the US visa, and just asked me how long I was staying. That was it! I was in Serbia now!
But the city of Belgrade wore a deserted look. And I would blame only myself for it. The temperature here was at least 5C colder than Turkey. It was so cold that even the amusement parks where deserted.
And I was the only nutter in the hostel who actually came as a tourist!

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About Abhi Surendran

Abhi quit his corporate job, and decided to immerse himself in travels, photography, occasional periods of bankruptcy, and copious amounts of insanity. He is currently working on a book of his experiences, and a dream road trip through South Asia. Both in a haphazard fashion. He blogs at Iamnothome and you can also catch him at times on Facebook and twitter.

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