Sunday, December 5, 2010

On the train from Belgrade to Ljubljana; God, I love Eurorail!

Leafing through tourist magazines at the visitor’s center on Republic Square, Draga expresses the wish to show me more of Serbia than just Belgrade. It’s only too bad that we don’t have a car.
     “But I have a car,” I say realizing that I’m not entirely sure where I left it. “It’s in Ljubljana.”
A day later our lives are packed in Samsonite duffle bags, and we perch beneath them on the train from Belgrade to Ljubljana. For some reason the train ride from Belgrade to Ljubljana costs 13 Euro less than the other way around (36 Euro versus 49 Euro).

The pandemonium of the trip up to Belgrade is fortunately not repeated. We have the coupe to ourselves, and a peaceful nine hours of train travel ensue. Draga unfolds a blinding array of sandwiches, cookies, chocolate, juices in sturdy glass bottles and six liter of mineral water that had somehow made it into my backpack. She settles down with a Haruki Murakami, which is so exiting that I get a kick in the shins every other page or so. I am finally finishing Bill Bryson’s masterful tome At Home.

Countries slide by. Border patrol officers come and go and convince me that only the sweetest and kindest gentlemen are allowed to guard the interior borders of the former republic of Yugoslavia. Bill and I walk hand in hand through Tomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Cherry filled bonbons keep finding their way into my mouth. Snow begins to fall.

     “Let’s go to Italy,” she says slowly when she looks up from her book, realizing I’ve been staring at her for the last hour.

     “Okay,” I say, knowing very well I will never be able to say anything else to this woman.

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