Make God laugh- tell him your plans

Hubris? Inane optimism? Not long after posting last night I had a message from Air Serbia and the sky fell in. Flight cancelled, Serbia shut and me in jolly old Banja Luka which has been shut down.

So I spent two hours trying to find a way out of what has become a logistical nightmare. Best I could find was a two legs to Heathrow via Stuttgart with eurowings. Gets in 6 o’clock so should be able to get last train from Paddington at 2002. And if that is cancelled, go to Istanbul overnight and end up in Brussels 1040 on Wednesday. Can then use a journey on the pass all the way back to Exmouth.

Felt totally drained, plus finished off gin left in the fridge with a bottle of Schweppes. Had to rearrange the pickup twice in all this. Fortunately he was very accommodating. But it means back to Sarajevo on the bus again. At least in the daylight. And Aldina has a room for me at Ada after another cheaper place took a booking and cancelled it an hour later with no apology.

Bright blue sky and crisp warmth to underline what a waste of a day. At least it is a proper coach not a rattletrap. We arrive half an hour early but way out of time by the airport. It is a Serbian coach so goes to the Serbian part of town. Driver is a surly and unpleasant piece of work – more stereotyping? Fortunately an anglophone points me at the right trolleybus. Go from one terminus to the other, a good 90p worth.

There is no answer to the hotel door. I look at tablet which picks up their WiFi. Messages from Aldina- H&S have fumigated the hotel that morning and told her no guests for two weeks. But she has spoken to hotel round the corner and they have a room, same price or less. I seem to be continuously tiptoeing on the edge of a chasm. So far just about kept my balance.

Hotel is insalubrious. Tries it on for forty euros till I remind what Aldina has said. Only one night. Walking into town I pass what appears to be a derelict wood fired bakery. As I peer in two burly citizens stop by and turns out younger is the baker and older his woodcutter father. Happy to show me around. In a mixture of English and German he says he is one of five in town who still do it this way. He shoots off for a few minutes and returns with a large bottle of dad’s home made apple distillation. It is fruity and clean, but obviously strong. Memories of Georgia!

Dad had horrendous scars running down one thigh from a Serbian mine. Despite their looks they are Muslims, Ekrem and Mustapha. Ekrem says at 25 he is still too young to drink spirits, sticks to beer.

Subsequent quick walk round turn reveals a sullen and vacant atmosphere. Difficult when you have come to rely on tourism.

Supper at same place as Saturday though not as good. Breaded veal steak actually comes in a sort of calzone. But the grilled vegetables are good.

And rather smothered in white sauce.

So tomorrow, what will it bring? Keep checking email for cancellations but happily nothing.

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