8.08.2013

Riding the 8:10 pm Night Train from Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro



The train has just pulled out of Belgrade, Serbia on the 11+ hour night journey to Bar, Montenegro. I am pretty certain that by the time we arrive I will have lost at least five pound through sweat. I am sharing a three-bed compartment with two Serbian babushkas and have had the misfortune to be assigned the top bunk. It is sweltering up here which is unfortunate because the only relief from the Serbian heat comes in the evening when temperatures drop from the mid to upper 90s (It’s even reached over 100 once or twice during my visit) to the low 70s.


Night train in Novi Sad, Serbia
Serbian train. This one's in Novi Sad.

Serbian trains have a poor reputation. Old, slow, always late. Based on the train’s speed right now I can see why it takes over 11 hours to travel 296 miles. I have seen photos of this route and it is stunning – soaring mountains, beautiful canyons, high bridge trestles. For those of you who have traveled with me you know how much I sleep when in a car, plane, train or so I sacrificed the scenery figuring I’d sleep anyway and the overnight train would give a chance to avoid the heat. Now I find myself on the steamy top bunk. I am tempted to sleep nude with my only worry being caught in the buff during the boarder crossing – in about two or three hours I am told.



20:49 – Babushkas say lights out. We’re at our second stop for the evening. It is going to be a long night!



Update: I made it to Montenegro just fine and the train was “only” an hour late. For the record I did sleep covered only by the thin blanket provided for my bunk but covered up before passport control. As the night wore on it got cooler (Probably had something to do with being in the mountains) and I slept comfortably. I imagine I only lost a pound or so in sweat ;)



Interestingly I did a web search and found out that the Belgrade in Montana was indeed named after Belgrade, Serbia as a way of thanking Serbian investors who helped finance a portion of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1880s. This is funny given the condition of the trains today. Bet they wish they had that money today (plus interest) to upgrade their train network. 


While Serbian trains have a bad reputation for efficiency they do have great graffiti!