Day 18 - Fri 15 Dec 06
Well, the Bulgarians are more civilised and come and collect the passports from you. The customs guy came along and asked if I was German, and if I had any narcotics - I said "no" to both questions.
Bulgaria seem very brown and rather flat, it reminds me of Belarus a bit. I have no idea if we've been through Sofia yet of not. The Cyrillic alphabet makes it a bit harder to work out.
There was a real life soap opera at the Turkish border last night. A grandmother with a Romanian passport was at the front of the queue, but the Turkish border guards wouldn't stamp her passport, as she came away in tears the histrionics started . The grandchildren then presented the passport, but still no joy. But I have no idea how the story finished.
My compartment is freezing. The flat lands have given way to rocky hills and fast flowing rivers in valleys. There are a lot of abandoned industrial sights here. There was a heavy frost last nigh and it's still on the ground up here in the hills.
Arrived in Sofia at 11:40, the train seems to be due a long stop here, so I got out, changed some money in the station and got some provisions in the little market opposite the station. I shared some of the sweeties with the Swiss couple. The train pulled out at 13:10, and at 14:10 we had another border crossing - this time into Serbia. At 14:18 we crossed the border proper - the guard towers were one obvious sign, and the move to welded rails the other. No more click, clack.
After another long day on the train we arrived in Belgrade at 22:00 local time (I think we re-lived an hour at the border). The station was decidedly closed, so I grabbed a taxi to my hotel - the weather is cold and foggy. I upgraded my room for an extra five euros. I might spend another 25 and extend the room until 19:00 tomorrow. I guess a lot depends on the train ticket I get to Austria tomorrow.
My Swiss friends stayed on the train heading for Zagreb, and then to Italy.