The last part of my summer in Europe was spent visiting family in Serbia and the Netherlands. I hadn’t seen my little cousins for about eight years, but that didn’t stop them from getting so excited about my arrival that they asked their teachers if I could come in and give an English lesson. Fun fact: kids ages 8-10 really just want to know whether you have a boyfriend and if he’s cool or just a scrub.
The great thing about visiting the Netherlands again – the last time I had been I was 14 – was that I got to tour Amsterdam and understand its history. Anne Frank Huis is absolutely mind-blowing. Chills the whole way through. The city itself is built on tourists. I remember walking into a waffle shop and my uncle placing our order only to find out that the worker didn’t speak Dutch. It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise considering the bombardment of English around every corner and the general multiculturalism the city embraces. (Seriously, how many Argentine steak houses do you need on one street??)
Trips to Serbia are always a time to relax, get overfed by Grandma(s), and catch up with friends I almost never see but always welcome me with open arms.
There’s usually not much to say about this part as it’s the same every time I return, but this time my friends decided we should do some more adventuring! We made our way by train to Novi Sad, a town about an hour north of Belgrade. Years of Austrian influence left its mark on the city, now known as the cultural capital of Serbia. We headed up to the Petrovaradin fortress, which looks onto the centre of Novi Sad from the other side of the Danube river. At the top sits a clock tower which appears just like any other… until you check your watch. The clock reverses the minute and hour hand! How odd.
Besides the day trip to Novi Sad, Serbia was as Serbia always is: a time to spend with family.
Even though I enjoyed being among relatives I rarely get to see, those last few weeks made me awfully homesick. I had come down from the high that was Granada. I was dealing with the reality of a long-distance relationship. And yet I wasn’t in a place where I could cope with those emotions. Arriving home provided much-needed solace.