Day 1
Pre-trip thoughts
Day 2
Hungary to Serbia
Day 3
Skopje, Macedonia
Day 4
Macedonia to Albania
Day 5
Tirana, Albania
Day 6
Tirana, Albania
Day 7
Tirana, Albania
Day 8
Vlore, Albania
Day 9
Albania to Montenegro
Day 10
Montenegro to Hungary


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Life During Wartime--The Balkans, 1994
Pages from the Journal: Serbia, Macedonia, Albania

Friday October 28, 1994
On the train, nearing Subotica, Serbia

      Is it Serbia? Is it Yugoslavia? I suppose it's Yugoslavia consisting of Montenegro and Serbia, which has annexed Kosovo and Vojvodina. Glad I could make that clear.
      Finally I have the hateful train ride I'd gleefully been anticipating. I thought I was bamboozled at the train station when they wouldn't give me a couchette, but the train was indeed packed. People were all over the aisles, too, some singing so no one could attempt to sleep. I didn't quite get with the program of putting your feet up on the side of the person across from you so you could stretch out. First, I havenít changed my socks in several days. Second, my money was in my shoe. Third, I don't think I want another guy's feet in my face. That said, you've got to like the camaraderie that develops in these situations. Of course no one is happy about being on a packed train, but you make do. I should take a picture of the four women in my compartment in their various states of sleep. I'm sure they'd appreciate its true artistic nature.
      My third overnight train trip on Yugoslavian railways. Ouch. Itís 8:30. We're in Novi Sad. Didn't Creedence Clearwater Revival write that song, "Oh Lord, stuck in Novi Sad again..."
      I've worn these same blue pants six straight days now. My hair feels like straw. My nagging cough won't quit. I am dirty. One shower won't be enough. This is filth on a scale unknown in more refined circles. In the long and celebrated history of filth (and grime) I'd have to say that--I can't wait to get out of Yugoslavia.
      Some random Albania thoughts:
     Albanian women. I think I can count the beautiful ones I saw on one hand. In fact, Silva and her dusky eyes would probably top the list.
     Albanian trains. I wanted to take one but was strongly discouraged by everyone. One of Henry's friends called Albanian trains, "something undefinable".
     Albanian fashions. In that last little town before the border, Sorrowville, I saw that they were losing the war against 1970's fashion, particularly bell bottoms and polyester. Complete capitulation was imminent. Long sideburns, funky vests and rayon, but no big Afros, sorry to say.

subotica Friday October 28, 1994
Subotica, Yugoslavia

      Got in at 10:30am and decided to ditch the bag and look around town for a few hours before I catch the train to Szeged. Supposedly it's nearly 2 hours to Szeged, though it's a short distance. Borders. Subotica's a nice place. I don't remember it at all from my 1986 visit. Some streets are wide enough to be double tree lined. The leaves are changing color, beginning to fall. Hungarian is everywhere. Most signs are in both languages and in the market I only hear Hungarian. Feels homey. Bought, wrote and mailed some postcards, ate some burek, walked around and am waiting for the train. Pretty exciting, eh?

Friday October 28, 1994
On the train to Pecs, Hungary

      I had thought of staying in Szeged, but typical me: when in doubt, move on.
      I had forgotten what the significance of this day of the week is in Hungary. In this little country students go home for the weekend on Friday. They just do.
      What does one do on a train when one is all trained out? I would like to talk with someone, but my trainmates don't invite approaching, and the girls would be scared off by my appearance anyway. Plus, I smell. Bad.
      Iíve had coughing fits for days now.
      I wonder if I have a place to stay tonight.
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