It’s early August and me and my boyfriend have travelled to Belgrade for a friend’s wedding. We took the bus from Vienna on Friday evening, after working all day and we arrive early in the morning on Saturday. It is extremely hot in Belgrade, at least 38°C. The forecast is predicting 42 degrees, a temperature I haven’t experienced since I stopped living in Bulgaria. I am nervous because I am not one for heat and I don’t want to collapse in the middle of everything. The wedding events start in the morning and end – for me – around midnight, when my one endless glass of wine finally gets to me and I collapse on the soft bed in the hotel where the dinner is taking place.
At least then I wake up early and despite still being dizzy I am determined to make it to a free walking tour of the city before taking the 8-9 hour bus back to Vienna. So a taxi to the bus station it is. There we leave our luggage and make our way to the meeting point for the free walking tour. I don’t want to miss it because I don’t know when I’ll be here again. The map on my phone is leading us but hurrying in the scorching weather isn’t easy and we have to just sit down in the shade at one point. We are late to the meeting point but the group is still there.
The tour takes around 3 hours. Three hours of walking in the desert heat, looking for shade as if it is a miracle oasis, listening to stories about the long and complicated history of Belgrade and its many wars and problems. I don’t end up taking a lot of pictures, because of how exhausted I am. The tour guide is amazing, he does this every day, no matter what the weather is like. He gives us rakia from his grandfather and 500 billion dinars, which at one point was worth next to nothing.
After we survive the tour we have just enough time for a drink in a dark cafe/bar before we have to make our way to the thankfully air conditioned bus.
When we arrive in Vienna it is after midnight and it’s finally under 20 degrees, but I think I have so much heat stored in me, that I am not even remotely cold in my shorts and tank top.
And that is the story of how I finally learned why cafes advertise that they are air conditioned. It didn’t seem that important to me before, but now I understand.