Dobro jutro

Got up early at 5:50 a.m but left late after 9:00 a.m Pannónia Utca, XIII quarter to cross town - M3 Blue line Dózsa György - Határ Utca - before walking along Pannónia street the street that begins approximately at the entrance of Europark Shopping Center, just behind a tiny place with a bench and a greeting sign.

You come through the wekerletelep, the Wekerle estate, a bold and successful twentieth century venture. Loaded with my 2 bags I am even successful to hitch a ride along Pannónia utca to the main square designed by the famous Transylvanian architect Károly Kós. Two vast wood and stone gateways, designed by Károly Kós and Dezső Zrumeczky, excellent and influential Hungarian secession architects, lead into the central of the estate.

The estate, named after the then prime minister, Sándor Wekerle, was intended to solve the housing problems of local workers and clerks. It can also be regarded as a kind of 20th century attempt at socio-politics. It functions as an independent urban district with its own churches, schools, cinema and police station.

If someone ask you where is it in town you say you don't know. Probably an hidden and secret place in the heart of Budapest.

The wealthy guy very kind but looking villainous driving the Mercedes drops me by one of those gate open along nagykőrösi útca. A huge metallic cutting noise wall is running along this street leading to M5 towards Szeged. By luck there is a Mol Benzinkut (petrol station) near by and I can ask Janosh a lift out of town to the next one located right on the M5 highway. Another 2 more rest areas with a tow truck and I keep going with 2 businessmen towards Szeged. They are taking first exit to town the same exiting towards Arad, Romania.

I mind a bit to be in the middle of the highway but what else to do. Stand and give a try to my good luck or ...feel desperate.

A Macedonian truck driver can pick me up to the border gate. I go through on foot. Everything is fine on the Hungarian side but very nasty and unfriendly there are on the Serbian side. The immigration does its job properly without a word out of kindness. The customs ignore my luggage, in fact a 1.20 m cereal paper bag wrapped with rope, my food and clothes. They look at me haughty and at my bag with disdain. Some would laugh at both and keep kidding but the situation is far too serious to smile. Do they never smile in Serbia ?

I keep in memory those border crossings in Röszke / Horgoš in the Eighties - my first one being in November 84 - never been easy nor difficult but I always felt it was like walking across burning coals.

The border is behind me - they did not allow me to beg a lift from the booth - and chased me away. I gave it a try quickly asking to 2 drivers but got no luck.

As I am walking away slowly towards the exit of the TIR parking some guys in uniform having nothing else to do are whistling and hissing at me. I can't avoid them as they are on my way. One of them looking young asks me my passport. I do not give him and categorically refuse to hand him my precious sesame telling him : "I've got my passport already stamped over there".
I keep thinking that those greedy guys want something from me but won't get anything.
He tries to play it softly :"You, Polish ?". No answer from me but a stern look on my face. Being insistent I run back to the gate shouting and ask the immigration and the customs what's going on ? Their answer : "they are police". I go back to pick up my heavy bag left behind me after this scene and leave them without any more words from both sides. They try to grab my arms but I am determined to put some distance as soon as possible between them and myself. I go to the ramp where the trucks are exiting the customs park and keep waiting for my driver while I give a try to get a lift from cars coming out of the border half-kilometer away.

Adnan driving away a VW registered in Vienna (Wien) checks my passport before lifting me up to Niš, Serbia while he keeps going to Skopje, Macedonia. So srekya ! = Good luck with your family Adnan ! Milo mi e što te zapoznav = Nice to meet you. Doviduvanye = Goodbye. Sreken pat = Have a nice trip.

Highlights in Niš where I observe 2 days rest in Nenad's company who sent me a private mail after my first posting online.
Subject : Invitation to Nis.
"Dobar dan Benoit,
Wow, it seem that we will have lots of interesting stories to exchange and I am looking forward to it. I actually think that your travels are much more impressive than mine, as I've been driving mostly around Europe, and visited shortly Cuba... While your list of countries is impressive... so I hope to hear some good tips from you, heh. As for wines, don't worry too much... I personally prefer white, but if you decide - I leave that choice for you, as you are French. Heh, few of my french guests were disappointed with Serbian wine :) Anyway...let me know about some details, and see you soon."
Have a good trip.

In Niš it is generally considered perfectly normal to start the day with coffee and cigarettes. So are Nenad's habits too ! The main difference is that Nenad discovered a new type of cigarette not harming anybody, an electronic cigarette that attempts to simulate the act of tobacco smoking by producing an inhaled mist bearing the physical sensation, appearance, and often the flavor and nicotine content of inhaled tobacco smoke. It uses a rechargeable battery which can be plugged to any USB charger to power the heating element.

And Nenad as well as Higelin sang it :
"Je suis amoureux d'une cigarette (electronique)
Toute la sainte journée elle me colle au bec" ...

It remembers me this quote of Serge Gainsbourg (like the electronic cigarette being the last one you do not want to drop / give up but to keep forever) : « Si j'avais à choisir entre une dernière femme et une dernière cigarette, je choisirais la cigarette : on la jette plus facilement ! »

As well as Nenad being local ambassador for Niš there are 2 more people to be honored and remembered as they are historically part of the Niš heritage.

- The first one being the emperor Constantine the Great regarded as being the founder of the Roman city of Constantinople but also a fervent supporter of Christianity facilitating its proclamation as the official religion of the empire. He had his summer residence built in the Mediana area of the city.
As an avid visionary, he followed up dreams of the Christ monogram by battling relentlessly, often against unbalanced opposition, to emerge triumphant.
The Milan Edict signed in 313 which legalized and tolerated Christianity across the whole Empire will be commemorated with a jubilee meeting attended by representatives and leaders from the whole spectrum of Christianity, more than likely including the Pope.

- The second one whose name is Šaban Bajramović being musically a big masterpiece - he created a magical kind of gypsy / balkan / jazz folk music which roots and the cultural influence remain as seen as 100% part of the Gypsy community.

At the end of your day it is worth to go up Bubanj hill to watch the sunset and see those three huge imposing and defying fists overlooking Niš, one of the biggest execution sites in Yugoslavia during the Second World War, an estimated 10 - 15,000 people being shot at this remote location. The precise number of victims is not known, since, in an attempt to cover their crimes just before the end of the war, the Germans dug out and burnt numerous bones over 20 days.

There is a secret passage in Nenad's flat that can keep you awake the whole night if you happen to search for it and find it ! You have to discover by yourself what I mean.
Hint : Watch your coat and where you hang it ! Do not be so suspicious and don't blame me if you happen to become a movies fan.

Saturday morning before leaving Niš on my way to the Kalotina (Serbian) -Gradinje Bulgarian border let's take a dip in Niška Banja well-known by its hot, radio-active water containing radon and home of a Summer cultural festival.

"In hoc signo vinces" (With this sign you shall fight / win !).Thumb up I shall survive ! Dovidyenja