Two days in Backa Topola had passed. I’d meant to stay for one night and then leave. But hospitality and the opportunity to enjoy one of many festivals in Serbia caused me to overstay.
I’d met Huba back in February when i passed through the town of Backa Topola where he works in the Tourism office. He told me that if i ever come back i’d have somewhere to sleep for a night. So a week or before getting to the town i sent him an SMS and true to his word he told me i’d have a place to stay and that i may even make it to the towns annual beer festival.
I slept like a baby on Huba’s floor and was allowed to spend the morning of the next day, before the beer festival, making use of his WiFi where i took care of some business and called my girlfriend via Skype.
Then it was beer festival time. This is one thing i love about Serbia. Each village or town, no matter how large or small, has a festival of some description. Whether it’s a beer, goulash or trumpet festival, one thing is clear; The Serbs love an excuse to have a good time!
The beer festival wasn’t so much a beer festival but more an excuse to drink beer and meet friends…which i guess is a beer festival. It just wasn’t what i expected. I watched families cook huge pans of beans, each family using their own secret recipe. I watched a hulk look-a-like lift a car and throw a tractor tyre around. I also ate some pastry thing that essentially looked like a chimney and was coated in sugar and cinnamon. Whatever it’s name, the cinnamon chimney cake was very tasty!
My night finished with sleeping in the spare bed at another very kind hosts place called Tibor (Huba’s friend).
I woke feeling rather refreshed, despite spending the previous night at a beer festival, but at a late hour. It was then it dawned on me that i had about 45 km’s to walk to Subotica, where i had a room donated by a very kind hotel on Lake Palic that evening. Had i left the day before i would have made the room in plenty of time. And if i left that morning i would have arrived in Subotica the next day, and the donated room was set in stone.
Then it dawned on me. I would be walking a section of the road i have already walked, just in reverse so i probably wouldn’t have learned anything about that area of the country that i hadn’t before. And besides, in the past day i’d met great people, heard great stories, some of which would probably be used in the book. Which is more than can be said for walking the same stretch of road as previously.
So, i threw caution to the wind, decided i would give me ankle a break (that had been getting more and more sore as the walk progressed…and, which was made worse by an incident involving a ditch and the dark of night) and get public transport to Subotica. This meant i would be able to learn about Backa Topola a little more and learn more about my generous hosts who made great research material for my book as they weren’t a demographic i had really met during the project. Plus i’d get to spend more time in Subotica and experiencing the place in the summer.
So, in a nutshell, i took a bus for the last few kilometres of my journey. I don’t feel great about it (my ankle is thanking me though) but i learned some interesting stuff and met some fantastic people.
And, i guess, that’s what this project was about. Not about the challenge of walking across the country, but meeting the amazing people who live it.