Sep 5:  Budva

I stayed in bed half asleep till 9:15am.  This was a free day and I had absolutely nothing planned.  Also I suspected it was raining, which it was.

Weird thing going on in the hotel...I heard some machinery operating, and it seemed to be causing the lights in my room to oscillate in intensity.  And then I turned on the faucet in the bathroom and the water pressure was also oscillating in sync.

Another weird thing--the light switches outside the bathroom.  The first is for the bathroom light, the second is for the water heater, and the third is for some mystery loop device.  I kept flipping #3 and it didn't appear to activate anything.

In the 10am hour I walked down the other end of the promenade to a bigger and nicer beach.  The rain had stopped by the time I left the hotel.

See where this is?  Old town is way out there on the left.  It's farther than it looks though.  Didn't take that long to walk.  If you're sedentary, there's a tram styled like a choo-choo train that operates on Mediteranska that you can gain weight in while you ride.

Despite the bigness and niceness of the beach, nobody was there on account of the weather.  Workers were just starting to set up tables and whatnot after the drenching.

Returning in the direction of old town.

Back on Mediteranska, I took this photo of a McDonalds, just to remind myself that I did not eat at McDonalds on this entire trip.  I think that's the first time I've done it, except in Southeast Asia were McDonalds doesn't exist.  Its role as a familiar fallback option was taken over by cevapi.  Oaza was down a street/driveway next to this McDonalds--I stopped by to see if any Intrepid people were there.  They were not, but the waiter from the last two nights saw me and I told him we might be back again (which ultimately we were not).

At 11am next to Palacinke Square I had lunch, consisting of Wiener schnitzel and my first morning beer of the trip.  I was shamed a bit in my beer-drinking because at various times on the tour I'd thought about buying beer and bringing it back to the room to drink, but it always seemed pointless (and I have very flimsy requirements for establishing a point to solitary drinking).  Then in Budva, we saw Sue on her balcony, drinking a beer.  There's a 71-year-old with a good attitude.

My first beer was a half-litre.  When I motioned for a refill the waiter (and he earned that title, because he usually waited a very long time before checking to see if any customers were motioning) brought me a smaller mug (330 mL), saw his error and said "no problem", which didn't make sense, unless he was speaking on behalf of me in accepting it.  In total I had 1.33 L of the good stuff during a liesurely 2-hour lunch.

This is the famous Palacinke Square, which I don't think has a real name.  It's just a convenient meeting point.  The brown stand on the left is part of the larger restaurant where I ate lunch.  The Chinese place is the one with the red sign.  If I walked backwards from here I'd get to the post office, and then a few more blocks to the hotel.  That's assuming I didn't bump into anything.  Typically, I'd turn around and walk forward so I could see where I was going.  Oh yeah, you might be wondering what palacinke means--it's a huge thin pancake on which you can get a huge variety of sweet toppings.  It's a local favorite, but I didn't have any.  I just don't find myself craving sweets and pastries.

(By the way, I'm not using the proper diacritical marks on Serbian words, because it's too much of a pain.  They wouldn't help you with pronunciation anyway.  if you're curious, the c in palacinke is a "ch" sound, or possibly "tch", which I don't hear a difference between.  In pljeskavica it's a "ts" sound.  And I'm not getting into the j there.)

Our hotel.  Nicest one of the tour.

I didn't go to my room here; I continued past to the Internet cafe around the corner.  Tip:  There are two Internet cafes on Mediteranska.  At least one person in the group went to the one in the direction of old town, and said the connection was really slow, and paid twice what I did.  So you should use the one near the hotel.  It was full of rambunctious kids playing games, but I shut them out.  My Boners were suddenly 7 points out of the money--my point total was unchanged but The Untouchables were surging.  Maybe I shouldn't have traded Rollins and Dunn to him for a bunch of guys I dropped.  Also, I got an e-mail back from from work saying that sick days are to be used for legitimate illness only.  What the holy fuck?  On every previous occasion, albeit dealing with different bosses, the typical response I got back was "No problem.  Enjoy the rest of your vacation."  I shot back with a reminder that most of my sick days over the last 9 years have been used for reasons other than sickness, such as vacation recovery days.  (I should have said this seems capricious and arbitrary, but I wasn't thinking of Seinfeld at the moment.)  And I CCed the HR girl to ask her to confirm the practice of sick days being used as personal days.  (She wrote back quoting policy and ignoring practice.  Not unexpected.)  Changing practice without notice was a low blow, guys.  Put me in a foul mood the rest of the day.  Never got an honest reason for the denial and I haven't asked for one.  I'd rather assume.  So for anyone at work who wondered why I was back in the office less than a day after landing at LAX, you know who to ask.  (Gotta work with these people, so I cleaned this up and kept it nice and didn't mention specific names.  It had to be included though because it became part of the travel experience.  An unwelcome intrusion of a work problem into my personal life.  There were a lot more tirades in my journal but they already served their venting purpose.)

I returned to the room and had an hour-long internal monologue about the above issue, then headed back out just before 4pm.  There was a note posted about meeting for dinner at 7:30pm, so I...uh...made a note of it.

I saw another Contiki bus passing the hotel.  Despite the 18-35 age restriction, that group appeared to be less attractive than ours.

As I walked toward old town, I thought of another thing that irritates me, and I don't remember if anyone in the group did this:  native English speakers who don't know how to pluralize "euro".  Like they read 12 as "twelve euro" instead of "twelve euros".  And they do it somewhat timidly, trailing off at the end, because they're not confident in their choice.  Idiots.  In English, currencies are pluralized.  In some languages they're not.  General tip for intellectual growth, which sometimes I feel like I'm the only one continuing to pursue:  If something doesn't sound quite right or it's inconsistent with stuff you already know, look it up.  And many sources will still be wrong, so hone your ability to identify those.  I think the EU issued a statement on the euro vs. euros thing.  In this specific case, I'd take the EU as a reliable source.

I reached old town, and realized how sick I was getting of old towns.  They're starting to blend together.  Another Bloody Old Town and Another Bloody Walled City are the new Another Bloody Church.  But I went up to the walls of the Citadel anyway (which cost two euro) to have a look-see.  You can only explore one section.  I think restaurants occupy other parts of the top.

Buildings in old town, all reassembled after the 1979 quake.

Looking straight down into the sea.

There's that lackluster central beach.  The path at the base of the cliff at upper left goes to Mogren where we were the other day.

I still had some time to kill so I found an Irish pub in old town.  Tiny bar with a couple stools and a booth.  I got a pint of Guinness with the shamrock imprinted in the head.  Heard a new song "Goodbye Philadelphia" that made me somewhat reflective.  Read an Irish newspaper (my first newspaper of any kind in two weeks).  Chatted with the bartender--she's from Serbia and moved to Budva for what was supposed to be 6 months, but that was 2 years ago.  "Jerry, it's Budva.  Nobody leaves.  She's a seductress, she's a siren, she's a virgin, she's a whore."  Fun fact according to the bartender:  Serbs were originally redheads, and became darker because of the Turks--coincidentally I read something in that Irish paper about redheads in Ireland being gone after another generation.  Her perception of travel to the Balkans was that outsiders think the countries are still at war.  I heard this elsewhere, and it reminded me of when I went to Egypt right after Operation Iraqi Freedom began and people thought I was going into a war zone.  Again, people, educate yourselves.  Aw, what's the use.  We all can't be brainy like Fern here.  Anyways, I couldn't bust moves because the other bartender and some other girls who were with her came back.  I had time for 3 pints of Guinness for 14.70.  It's expensive wherever you go.

The entire group except Gorana assembled for dinner at a restaurant on the promenade.  I had fish soup, a chicken breast and a beer.  Conversation excerpt:  Ruth asked if I was valedictorian, apparently because I gave off a smart vibe.  I said no, I think I finished high school ranked #13.  "But you're very perceptive," I added.

It was frigid at dinner and on the walk back.  We returned to the hotel at 10pm.  Gorana was in the lobby but there was nothing going on (i.e. bars or clubs) so I went to bed.