Breakfast on the roofSun Mar 10, 2013 23:07 (UTC -7)
So there were four of us—me, Katya, our CouchSurfing host, and another CouchSurfer—and we were at a Belgrade casino. For the food. I had informally resolved never to set foot in a casino if I could help it, but I didn’t see myself getting out of this one, and besides, the buffet was actually really good. Plus, as new members of the Grand Casino Beograd, we three CouchSurfers got coupons for free drinks, so there was that.
So after dinner we had some drinks and talked and laughed and laughed. Our host tried to keep some food with him to take home until one of the staff noticed and made him give it up. Since new members also got coupons for free chips (or tokens, or whatever they use), we decided to play some games. Well, everyone else did. I let Katya use mine.
The next day, back at our host’s apartment, we all woke up late and then went to have breakfast on the roof. We just had to go up one flight of stairs, and instead of an apartment being there, there was a rickety old door that led out to a small rooftop area with a patio-type table and an eclectic variety of chairs. There was barbed wire along one side—to keep people from waltzing over to the roof next to us, I guess, since it was literally right there—and what seemed to be a clothesline running over the table. All around was a sea of communist-era apartment buildings like our own, but each with its own character.
We had a good Slavic breakfast: bread with butter and cheese and Serbian coffee. I think this was the first time on the trip that I had Serbian coffee, which I first found pretty repugnant but eventually took a liking to. It’s like Turkish coffee. I think it’s exactly like that. Don’t tell the Serbs, though.
We also talked. Our host couldn’t have been too much older than any of us, but he had an idea of what things used to be like. He spoke fondly of the days of communism, when life was simple and everyone could coast by without having to work hard. The Californian CouchSurfer talked about how easy it was to get medical marijuana in his home state. We talked politics a little. I don’t recall saying much. I’m like that, usually.
Then Katya and I set off on our own to explore the city a bit. We walked down an avenue past the Serbian capitol and into a quieter neighborhood with shops, grocery stores, and decrepit apartment buildings, many of which appeared to have no paint on them whatsoever except for anti-NATO graffiti. Walking further, we crossed into a small district that might have been uninhabited. Sure, cars were parked here and there, a few people were walking around, and some of the buildings weren’t roofless burnt-out husks, but it was too quiet. I was a little freaked out.
At last, we were on the grounds of the historic Belgrade Fortress, which is equal parts historic site and public park. It’s a large complex with old buildings, tennis courts, replicas of cannons, ice cream stands, statues, basketball courts, a museum, a small cafe, and ruins of old buildings. We sat on the fortress wall and watched the sun slide down toward the Danube.
As we left the fortress, I realized I had forgotten to take the map with me. Although that was an idiotic move that sucked big time, we were fortunately able to retrace our steps and make it back to our host’s place. Soon, we were headed back to the casino for more food, drinks, and (for some of us) gaming. They are really generous with the free stuff when you join. Everything was free except the food.
Some four years ago, I reviewed (for some loose definition of “reviewed”) a Creative Commons-licensed novel called Noisome Beasts. I’ve just found out that the book is now available as a Kindle e-book. This reminds me that I should read it again. I recommend it! (Although my employer doesn’t necessarily. I, uh, have to say that.)