Yes, its cobbled...we continue the journey. We enter z wealthier part and my preconceptions are thus blown away. I expected the poorest country so far, yet new tudor white plastered buildings with clean red tiled roofs and dark window and roof trimmings. The country itself is richer than before the border, but we have entered a large plain, the land behind riddled with by mountains, alkes and tight valleys. The sky is vast, and vague, corn in one direction stretches for a kilometre at least, in the sunshine it all seems to be blessed by riches. And ah! Telegraph lines on wonky nude weathered tree stems, grey and brave like crutches, old materials holding up the new.
A bit like Belgian town planning, the plain is strewn with hamlets, diverged to appropriate distances, private but social. Thus town size is demphasised in this plan, ruralising the populace and by carefully cohered townlets placed like gems among the corn, Nature takes on a convivial and civilisingly friendly appeal. The odd palm tree reiterates the southern, continental climate.
We stop again, the drivers tucking into yet another kebab (called Cevapi) and coffee, I help myself to a large 45 pence cappuccino. An Australian couple are stung for 6 euros for two sandwiches, at the time I heartily disapprove of the opportunism of the restaurateur, but then I remember the story of Robin Hood and think that it is only the poor robbing the rich. A flotilla of clouds rides over us, in the bus again, like liberated heads of gigantic foaming flagons of beer, abstracted from pint and glass and taken by the wind and quiffed, raised into a boiling magnifence, a hundred in one direction, rarified by the light and the pressure of their Elysial couch.
I notice from the way the other people on the coach seem to me, and how I seem to them, that I am growing a little wild! I am sensitive when approached, like a young deer, the hours alone, away from familiarity, have worked their wonder upon me. Like the deer, I am patterned into my own private domain of the traveller, my own niche in the landscape. This mould is a surprisingly comfortable dressing. As Herman Hesse once said, music came about at the edges of forests, where humanity was alone and watchful for predator and prey. In the silence and simplicity of their existence, music sauntered before them and illumined their olfactory gaze. And so for writing I think it helps to 'feel' alone, I am writing better now because I feel I cannot care less about others in an important way. So this is my kind of music.
We cross a great river with a boat upon it, a pleasure boat, each back clad with long fingered willows, and a chapter of my book later we are in the city.
Holy Tito! Is this a new world? The star coach Enterprise has docked on a strange new planet. A double block of beige flats stands by the road, joined at their summit by a concrete Bridge Of Sighs, an eighty foot high advertising poster inexplicably covering the view of at least 100 windows and on top, a space needle looks a lot like some sort of robotic probe. Communist architecture! Next we pass a colony of small blocks, uniquely in appearance as battered concrete hedgehogs and then the plush and more sophisticated splendour of the Belgrade Arena, home of the Red Star Belgrade football team, a set of at least 30 flags outside the stadium flaps as the coach speeds by. Next a leisure centre, its greened windows and damp concrete make it seem as if it is filled internally by pond water. We cross the Danube, and Belgrade looks like a Serbian Newcastle, the town reaching upto the top of a small hill by the river, crams loom orange and insect like and boats are moored, ready to take clubbers on a swirling dance and drinking escapade of the riverway. And here a sign says M, Im lovin it - McDonalds is even here, and on the coach radio Slavic lyrics rolls around the coach like lusty sailors.
We get off, and I go straight to the internet cafe, and find a message to meet Began and Marko at 8. They take me into their home and it seems they dont have room after all, but I have a Reikja (60% strength) and we go for walk/waddle to the Orthodox church here, still under construction after over 100 years, its interior big enough to house a power station, a bigger Orthodox church than in the whole of Russia. They are unexpectedly helpful, and though I cant stay with them, Marco rings a friend and I get a bed for a 3 euro discount at a central hostel. Tomorrow I sleep and decide not to sleep in a corn field. I am ashamed.