I was in bed 11:30pm-8am. Barely slept again, but I had a dream that some kid attacked me so I sicced a dog on him, and then at a family get-together months later he revealed what I had done, as if I'd molested him. This was probably inspired by the boy in Phnom Penh who kept following me and I tried to lose him in traffic and finally he ran off when a dog spooked him.
I found an Internet cafe in the morning and checked up my Rotisserie team, Merkle's Boners. Bobby Livingston had gone on the DL so I scrambled to replace him. See, that's why I check. Thursday morning I was 3.5 points out of the money, and today I was 3 out. Getting interesting. I didn't send e-mails to family or friends because I had nothing to report yet.
Budapest is like Buenos Aires in two ways: (1) Zero girls passing me on the street made eye contact with me (I continue to struggle for an explanation of this highly localized phenomenon), and (2) there were posters touting an upcoming local Black Eyed Peas concert.
Before the train ride I stocked up on sodas (3) and popcorn. I've lived a day on popcorn before so I know it's an adequate meal (the Philly-Chicago drive in 1991 when we spent the night in Youngstown OH or PA--I forget which state). At the supermarket the checker rang up my items, then moved and repositioned each one before announcing the total, sometimes keeping it in the same spot. Like when the Count moved Ernie's blocks.
As we left the hotel, Gorana mentioned that she had an itch but couldn't see what was causing it. I said it's because the critters had gotten under the skin already. Buz said it was probably chiggers. I recommended Chig-Away, which I remember Paul Shaffer touting to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, probably in the Supermarket Finds segment. Can't find that one on YouTube, so you'll have to trust me.
We had a 6-hour train ride to Novi Sad. I didn't sleep but I was half-conscious. The insomnia was starting to catch up. My sodas and water got colder because they were leaning against a cold bar near the floor. Another beverage convenience in the Balkans. At the border an officer boarded the train to stamp passports, welcoming us into Serbia (country #36). I immediately got the All in the Family theme stuck in my head: "Mister we could use a man like Marshall Tito again..."
In the taxi from the train station to the hotel, I saw several locations of what appeared to be a local pharmacy chain: Apotek Biljana. I wanted to go back later and take a photo (the name is an inside joke) but couldn't find one again.
I forget when my first shower here was (I assume it was after check-in and before dinner) but I know I was underwhelmed. I'd expected the powerful cleansing of a circus-strength shower head, because--as you know--the Serbs are fanatic about their showers.
Observation: Serbian girls are much hotter than Hungarian, and not afraid to wear shorts. Good god. I met a girl in LA who wasn't fat at all, but she did not own a pair of shorts. It's sad when even the non-hogs make themselves less attractive. I read today (as I type this, Sep 12) that China has a ratio of 119 boys for every 100 girls due to infanticide, and there's worry about the dating/marriage imbalance. But come on...in the US it's more like 100 datable guys for every 5 datable girls, due to obesity. That's the root of all social evils in this country. I've cited this stat a few times since the tour started: The average American female weighs 164.3 lb, which is heavier than me, and I have a huge belly of my own. The average is probably higher in LA due to immigration from fat countries. I'm spotting you girls 20 pounds of fat and you still outweigh me. It's disgusting, and yes I'm bitter. Rant over for now.
We went to dinner at Fontana, which I remember the name of because Gorana quizzed us on the Cyrillic sign "ФОНТАНА" which I could read since I've been to Russia. Serbian Cyrillic is slightly different though. There were a couple things I wanted to eat on this tour so I ordered the mixed grill to sample them.
From roughly top to bottom: the thickest-ever slab of bacon, pljeskavica (like a hamburger), porkchop, sausage, kebab, cevapi. I'd been told about cevapi and they were the #1 thing on my to-eat list. They're minced meat (usually beef or lamb) mixed with some spices and very tasty. Singular is cevap (same root as kebab), diminutive plural is cevapcici. But that sounds too much like Monchhichi and Yung Chih Chi, neither of which is appetizing. So I called them cevapi. This meal was 450 g (about a pound) and I got it all down, along with two 1/2-L beers. I walked it off with Gorana, Jung and Charles along Zmaj Jovina (the pedestrian promenade), where I noted that most of the girls out walking were perfect (no lie), and went to bed around midnight.