Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Clara's Travel Tales: The Belgrade Edition 1

I wrote this about 6weeks ago, while I was gallivanting around Eastern Europe, so the political landscape might have changed since then... I spent about 10days in Serbia and Hungary, and as usual had some pretty weird things happen to me. I thought it'd make more sense to make it into a 3-part account, so anyway here's the second one. Enjoy.
I wanted to go somewhere cool to celebrate writing my German exams, so I decided, having exchanged a few emails with one of my oldest friends from Paris who had returned to her home country of Serbia, to visit Belgrade. I really wanted to see her again as we'd been quite close in Paris, and it is easier for me to go than it is for her to come to me (I don't need a visa/other financial considerations etc.), we decided that I'd do the travelling.
A few days before my trip, I heard about the main train station in Budapest closing (yes the very same one from which I was supposed to travel to Belgrade) because of the refugee crisis, and with every new report I saw, things seemed to be deteriorating rapidly along the Hungary/Serbia border. I became a bit worried about having to deal with the situation, and wondered if it would even be possible for me to travel, but you know I like living on the edge, so I decided to continue with my plans. I checked in and printed my boarding passes only to discover that I had spelt my own name wrong while booking! The ticket cost only 55€, but I found out that it would cost £110 (almost 140€!) to sort out the problem. I was so upset that I almost cancelled the entire trip, because I felt everything happening was probably a sign that I should stay home. However, thinking of all the money I'd already spent made me decide to try one last thing and look online for how my fellow silly travellers had solved the problem. Luckily I found a blog where someone advised I contact Ryanair on twitter, as apparently contacting them on social media makes them respond faster. Anyway I did that, and it was just as I was told, with the extra benefit of them resolving the problem for free. Happy at this wonderful turn of events, I decided I was going to have a lovely time with my friend and enjoy my holiday to the maximum, as I knew I probably wouldn't be visiting any more "exotic" locations this year. Little did I know what was to come...
Ok, so let me start with the good. The weather, amazing! It was almost always around the 30°C mark and sunny, a real treat and a change from the Brussels I'd left behind. Other good things include meeting my Instagram friend and her family, the friendly helpful people and of course their beautiful 

The good; friends, fun and beautiful architecture
The bad was the constant staring. Although it wasn't hostile at all and seemed more from curiosity  than anything else, it still felt a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes, one just wants to blend in with the crowd ya know? Yeah that wasn't too possible in this case. In fact I stood out like a sore thumb, but my "exoticness" helped me later on, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much!

Now to the downright ugly.
Right from the first day, I noticed my friend seemed different. She repeatedly apologised about how everything was so "third-worldly", talked about how everyone were peasants and basically slagged off the country. I found the new M very difficult to handle because she seemed so hard and judgemental.

Anyway the problem really started on the second day when I met the friend from Instagram. M had instructed my friend to bring me back by 7pm, but we got lost and ended up arriving about 10mins later (actually 7mins, I checked) and she was so upset! She said lots of horrible things about my friend and her family, that they were stupid peasants, a family made of a controlling husband, a depressed mother and a spoilt child. I was shocked because she'd only met them for 5minutes and I though her reaction was a bit exaggerated! She later apologised though, and told me she'd been upset because she thought I'd been kidnapped and trafficked to Albania and then Italy. I again found this extremely weird, but also a bit sweet when idiot that I am, I should have seen the signs.

A little later on the bus back home, I randomly said something about hoping I could talk to T before he went to bed, without keeping him up too late. Imagine my surprise when she went off on me, telling me that what T and I have is an unhealthy relationship. She said we had a bad mutual mother-child dependence thing going on, and then basically talked rubbish about us being together! I found it so strange and upsetting that I shut up (and down) from the stress of it all. In any case, I didn't want to bring even more attention to myself on the bus, because people were already staring at me and that only worsened when M started shouting at me on the bus.

Later, still hurt by what I felt was an unjust and uncalled for assault on me and my relationship, I excused myself politely and  told her I was tired and needed to sleep. Once I got into the room, I called T because I needed to talk to someone, plus I really needed to calm down a bit. Anyway just after our conversation she came into the room, ostensibly to apologise, and asked me what had been said (T had asked me to ask her if she knew the few Serbian words he knew). I replied jokingly that he was showing off with the words he'd learnt from an old friend, however she seized on one of my phrases and said I was always talking about the same thing, completely bizarre and untrue because this was the first time anything like this conversation ever came up!

She said I was obsessed and that my life was not a life at all, I was living in a fairytale make-believe world. Then went on to add that I was judgemental and unfair and wicked. To top it all, she said T was only a boyfriend temporarily, and that things would soon change! The cherry on the cake was when she started talked badly about my family; my mum, my sisters (she was friends with them too!), and even my lovely MIL, no one was safe from her verbal attack. Again, to say I was flabbergasted would be understating the point. I had (still don't understand even after lots of reflection) no clue why she'd be so vehement and venomous about such a banal comment. It was all so strange, especially because she kept "advising" me on how to have a better non-dependant relationship! I tried to tell her in a diplomatic way that it was none of her business, by repeatedly saying "that's your opinion, and I understand, but don't necessarily agree with you". Yes I am British and that how we disagree. In the end she said she couldn't bear talking to or even looking at me any more, and went off in a sulk into the other room to sleep. Confused at the events of the last couple of days, and shocked at the new M, I was sleepless until the early hours of the morning.

Day 3, I got up and stayed in the room because I was tired and to be honest wasn't sure how to deal with this new persona. Imagine my surprise when she came to me and started apologising! She said she was sorry for being a Jekyll and Hyde, and said she was stressed because her life was in flux after all the therapy she'd had in the last 2years. Said she'd always been too sensitive (she was indeed a lovely sensitive person when I knew her!) and that she'd now unfortunately gone too far the other way and needed to find the right balance. She then thanked me for helping her see how she'd started according to her, "losing her humanity", and begged me to forgive her. Finally she told me all the mean things she'd said to me were actually directed at herself. I still felt very upset, but forgave her even though I privately thought it was a bit much that she kept saying she'd never forgive herself.

***This is getting a bit long so I think I'll break it up into 2parts :)


  1. I am sorry this your friend is a horrible person...i can't stand such insults, I would have packed my bags the next day.

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