I’m peering out the train window as it leaves Budapest station – on the way to Belgrade as I write this. Faaaar from where I started in Vancouver.
More on that in a sec!
I’ve been working on several new tracks! Recording them in my European Airbnb’s as I go.. I’ve decided to coin a new genre to describe the sound of a guy surfing from city to city with a laptop, a mini keyboard, and a cheap vocal mic;
I’ll be posting the first finished one on October 31st! 🙂 It’s a song called “All I Need” which is one you may have heard me play before, but I promise, it’s super different – in all the best ways .
The inspiration to head to Belgrade of all places came from a conversation with a Slovakian friend I met in Prague. She asked me if I knew about the secret café in city center.
Of course I didn’t (being Canadian), and of course I hounded her to show me because everyone likes being in on a good secret.. especially when it’s in a new city and there’s delicious coffee involved.
She led me a few streets north of Wenceslas Square and into a run down building that looked… nearly abandoned. The further we walked into the building the less it seemed that anyone was supposed to be there at all.
We walked around a poorly lit corner and up to a locked fire door. There was a dirty security panel like the one you find outside your apartment building, and she pressed on the very last button – the one without a name beside it.
Annnnd we waited. I gave her a look like – “Are you sure about this? This definitely seems like practical joke people play on unsuspecting foreigners.”
She motioned to just wait..
Success! The door buzzed and we pushed our way inside. To the stairs. A LOT of stairs. Up.
One story….. two stories…. and up … and up … and for real I can climb a lot of stairs but at a certain point there becomes a clear need for an elevator. BAD.
I had to ask… Is there REALLY a cafe up here? Does anyone else go up here? Do they climb the whole way every time? I seriously doubt it.
We reached the very top. Huge flights of stairs seem an eternity when you’re not exactly sure what you’re climbing TO.
When we pushed our way into the main door, I was shocked!!
It was an apartment. But… converted, clearly, into a café with a bar.. with great music playing, and multiple rooms as you walked in. And there were people, LOTS of people!
It strangely reminded me of the kind of cafe you’d find in Winnipeg, occupied mostly by students.
In one room folks were tapping away on their laptops around a big table.. another room in the far back had big couches with people strewn across reading books and sipping their coffee. And a main room with a half dozen people socializing at their tables.
There was even a big stack of vinyl with someone digging through the music collection to keep the tunes rolling.
We grabbed our coffee at the bar… & she asked for pickled cheese. …… which is a thing here. But they were all out (because obviously it must be a top seller?? hmmm)
Once we had our drinks we sat down and she told me the story of her epic 3 month trip through the Balkans. She just got back!
Balkans, if you don’t know (I didn’t) are east in Europe.. south of Russia and…. yah I don’t know – I can vaguely point it out on a map. If you’re in Istanbul, you went too far lol.
Her eyes were lit up with the stories of what she encountered and the excitement of being away from Slovakia for such an adventure.
And I had to ask, partially for selfish reconnaissance reasons, and also because she was so excited.. “Be honest. Out of the whole trip, where was your favourite place?”
She didn’t hesitate.
“Hands down, it’s Belgrade. The capital of Serbia. The students, the people, the kindness, the art, the food, the history, the music… I had more fun there than everywhere else combined!!”
Strong testimonial! And it was good enough for me.
So I booked my next AirBnb apartment in Belgrade.
And here I am now, on this train.. staring out into the Hungarian countryside after visiting a couple of friends in Budapest for the night (and by the way I’m DEFINITELY coming back here again if I can, what an amazing city!!!).. on my way to Belgrade.
They say it’s the new Berlin, as it was 15 years ago… plenty of music, but way cheaper.
Wish me luck 🙂