Here we go; Night bus done and dusted, all I had to do was walk my way through Belgrade’s main town until I found my hostel. I was armed with a hostel leaflet that had a map on it so I was ready to get shacked up in a nice warm hostel, have a nap then spend the whole day exploring the capital of Serbia.
All I had to do…
The bus stopped at 6 in the morning and my hostel was a good 2 miles away. Not a problem usually but in -10 degree weather it’s a kick in the ging gang goolies. My map was, to put it politely, shit, and I was soon lost. So much so that I took a wrong turn and somehow ended up at a bridge that wasn’t on my map. 2 hours later after strategically stopping at certain shops pretending I was lost so I could warm up for a bit, I finally found Star Hostel. I rang the doorbell a few times but no one would answer the door.
“For the love of God open the door!!!” I screamed in desperation as my legs were beginning to go numb through the cold, but it was useless. They weren’t opening the door anytime soon because they’d actually closed forever two days beforehand. Stupid game! So I spent the next hour looking for another hostel nearby as I didn’t know where any other hostels were because I hadn’t prepared for a closed hostel. Thanks to a nice Serbian bloke working at a local hospital (He didn’t hit me, I’ll get there…) I ended up finding a hostel nearby, a place called El Diablo’s. which was a amazing hostel with really friendly and accommodating owners. Then I spent the next couple of days seeing the sights and shit. Here’s some pictures to make it look like I accomplished something:
But of course, that’s not why you are here, so let’s get down to it:
Let’s set the scene; it was 9:30 at night, I was looking pretty above average in my fake Adidas tracksuit bottoms and my woolly hat and scarf. So I bowled it to the local Serbian restaurant and had a romantic meal for one. After I was done I paid the exact amount (Still have no idea why I’m single, I’m such a catch…) and began to walk home in the snow. As I walked across the second street I noticed out the corner of my eye someone walking quickly towards me from the side so as he approached I took a step back. He then got right up in my face and said something aggressively in Serbian (I’m willing to guess that he wasn’t complimenting my fake Adidas tracksuit bottoms…) So I played the dumb tourist, smiled as if I was oblivious to the fact that I was being robbed and said “Sorry, English…”
He looked at me confused, obviously unsure what to do, so he took the primal method and thought “Fuck it, I’ll knock this guy out…” and punched me as hard as he could in my jaw.
Luckily for me even though I’m built like a broomstick I seem to possess an iron jaw, the guy was clearly in shock as I not only didn’t go down, I immediately shouted “What the fuck?!?” After he hit me. We then stared at each other for about a second but seemed like a lot longer. Then our stare was broken up by shouting on the other side of the street from where the bloke had originally come from. I couldn’t see anyone as it was so dark so I began to think this could turn into a group mugging and looked behind me, noticing that there was no one there I ran in that direction, almost certain that he was going to rugby tackle me to the ground and nick my stuff but after carefully running through the snow for a few streets I noticed that he wasn’t behind me anymore.
“What the fuck just happened?” I thought to myself as I walked into the closest bar, the evening had quickly become a lot more exciting than I had anticipated. I looked at the barman and said to him in a confused tone, “I’ve just been punched in the face…”
He looked genuinely shocked and said to me that this is the first time he’s ever heard of something like that happen in this area. By the tone of his voice I had no reason to disbelieve him. Then he rang my hostel and got the hostel owner to come and pick me up from the bar.
I kept looking in the mirror in the bar rubbing my jaw looking impressed. I’ve been hit before, sure; I used to do Tae kwon-do when I was younger so I’ve been punched and kicked in the face a fair few times, but I’ve never felt a punch like that before. It felt like he hit me round the face with a rock. How I didn’t get knocked out I’ll never know. I’m impressed that I can withstand that kind of punishment but I still feel embarrassed that I got hit in the first place with all my martial arts training and unnaturally quick reflexes. I didn’t even see the punch coming, so what was the point in all that training? Not only that, but I ended up running in the opposite direction instead of being able to deal with the situation. Not exactly the most manly way to deal with the threat…
“What did you do?” The hostel owner said theatrically when he saw me. I explained what happened and he walked me back home. I spent the rest of the evening nursing my jaw and preparing to leave Serbia.
On the grand scale of things this went very well for me; I didn’t get robbed of any money, cards or passport. (Cambodia, I’m looking at you…) I also found out I have a good chin on me. But in terms of pride I took a real big hit. I found out I can’t fight and if the situation presented itself again I doubt I’d be able to handle it.
So the mugging didn’t go well for him, but at the same time it could have gone a whole lot worse for me. I have my health so I can’t really complain. I have a bit of a headache still but out of all the possible scenarios that could have happened I think I got off lightly…
I’m out of Serbia now and in Timisoara, Romania. I still have positive memories of Serbia despite that dickhead. The people are friendly, the hostel owners are fantastic people, and the country itself is beautiful with lots of architecture. I don’t know if I’ll be back any time soon, but I’m not going to let some punk put me off this beautiful country. He’ll get his comeuppance one day. He’ll punch the wrong Serb with connections and… well, you can use your imagination… Until then I’ll carry on doing what I’m doing and not let the actions of one person affect the rest of my trip. It’s time to explore Romania and Moldova!!!