We get up early to catch a train. After 5 minutes past pickup time, Rob called. Aleksandar forgot. He said that his crazy wife forgot to write it down. Rob said, “Is that HER job?” Note to self: When relying on others, call to confirm the night before.
He drove like a madman. It was the first day of school, and I was certain that he was going to hit a few wide-eyed youngsters. YIKES!
There were lots of detours, the car wildly shifted in reverse, and Serbian curse words. We arrived and he did not charge us for the ride. I thought that we should pay him so he doesn’t go home and beat his wife. YIKES!
Our train ride will take 10 hours through the beautiful mountains of Serbia and Montenegro. We will travel on 435 bridges and through 254 tunnels. I asked Rob to count them to confirm. He rolled his eyes!
This made it difficult to take pictures. Right when you were ready to snap the photo, we would go through a tunnel.
Vasily and Dan from Romania were our compartment mates. They were headed to Bar, Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea. We are all in our 60s. They used to be mechanics for the trains. They did not speak much English but Vasily wanted desperately to communicate. Dan wanted to sleep.
Dan’s daughter is married and lives in Virginia. Dan is a Baptist pastor. Both Vasily and Dan are Baptists in a country where Protestants are 6.2% with a Baptist population of 0.56%. What are the odds?
They cautioned us to be aware of couples that take your luggage. Sleep with one eye open. Our packs are super heavy and on the top rack!
Vasily told me that Romania is a nice country, but politics there are bad. People can’t make money so they go to other countries. Romanians make $400/month. In Germany, they can make $1500/month. There is no industry in eastern Europe. A little bit exists in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Vasily does not like technology and wants me to look at the beautiful nature.
I had hoped to work on my blogposts, but Vasily kept shaking his head. He would tap on the window or call my name to look out of the window. He would make a clicking noise and say “Brenda” and point out the window. The view was incredible so I just laughed and went with it.
Even though Vasily doesn’t like technology, he sure asked us to use ours. Often, he wanted to know where we were on our Google map and if the train was on schedule. Note his two pair of glasses. He had a third pair and changed them often. I gave him some glass cleaner to use as they were pretty fogged up.
At this point, Vasily pours me some mint lemonade tea in a glass. Dan pulls down his suitcase and opens it. It is full of food. Without a word, he hands Rob and me a napkin and a pork sandwich. We tried to decline but he wouldn’t hear of it. (Does he plan to run into people and give them food?)
I was able to convince him that my tummy doesn’t like pork. Then Dan pulled out a dozen hard-boiled eggs. I agreed to eat one. Dan took one out and punched it with his fist to break the shell. I liked that and punched one for Rob. Henceforth, I will adopt this technique.
In order to contribute to this feast, we got out our bag of Nacho chips. You would have thought that we had offered them snake meat. Vasily had never eaten chips in his life. He said would never eat processed foods. Dan tried a few…to be nice.
Even though I told Vasily that I don’t drink coffee, he really wanted me to try his coffee. I think that it must be a special brew. I took a sip. Yuck! He couldn’t believe that I didn’t like it. We agreed that he could not like my chips and I could not like his coffee. Rob drank his coffee.
They were impressed that my father is 95. They wanted to know if he had any intellectual problems. No – just hearing and walking!!
A Serbian man joined us half way through the trip. I am not sure what they were discussing but Catholic and Protestant came up a lot.
Is being a Protestant attractive to rebels? This just occurred to me. When we tell the unchurched that we are protesters, does that give cause for alarm? Rabble-rousers causing trouble?? Many protesters lost their lives as heretics so we honor their martyrdom. We thank God for their bravery!!
Today most people will state their denomination. Perhaps denomination names such as Baptist, Methodist, etc. were in a response to remove the protester name??
Vasily wanted to know our travel countries. When he heard that we would be in Romania, he invited us to stay with him in Timisoara. We won’t be near there, but what a dear!!
When I told them that we would be in Thailand for Christmas, they became concerned.
“There are no Christians there.” I told them that there weren’t many but we would find them and pray with them.
The most traumatic experience in the ride was going to the W.C. The first one that I saw was full to the brim with urine and was sloshing back and forth. I tried to flush it, but it was not working. I went to another. Same. Then another. Same. Then another. Same. YIKES! Is there not a working toilet in the train?
I rushed my report to Rob with a full bladder and sent him out to inspect and hopefully find a clean working toilet. While he was gone, I was trying to shake the feeling that we are going uphill with very full toilets!!! YIKES! And 10 hours with nonworking toilets with a train full of people needing to use the toilets!!! YIKES!!
Rob returns and has located a flushing toilet. My hero!!! I married the right guy…but I knew that!!!
After a beautiful ride of oohs and aahs and snapping pictures, we arrived at the capital city of Montenegro, Podgorica, about 30 minutes late.
We said Goodbye and God bless you to Dan and Vasily. We barely got off the train as they were trying to make up time and we don’t move too fast. The conductor was blowing the whistle as I stumbled down the stairs. I held up a finger to let him know that one more had to get off. YIKES!
We have a taxi waiting that will drive us from the capitol city of Podgorica to Kotor, Montenegro. It is 1½ hour ride. It is a dark, stormy, and winding mountainous ride. I am getting car sick. Our driver is on the phone, drinking a Coke and passing on curves. YIKES!
What was supposed to be a romantic moonlit drive through the mountains ended up with me hanging my head out the window like a dog gasping for air!!
We arrived and our driver said, “This is the most beautiful city. There is no other city like it.”
It definitely got a WOW from Rob and me.