Return to Sofia

Monday 16 February

The snow had melted to form miniature mountain ranges clinging to the roadside by the time I left Zagreb.  I imagined tiny skiers slaloming down between the dirty rocks of melting slush. With hands shaken, I jumped in a cab to transport me to the bus station, where a 14 hour overnight journey awaited.  I’d slept all but a little of the day, with my body clock its usual erratic self, so I knew I had an almost interminable reading session ahead.  This was to be punctuated by lengthy stops at borders, the sounds of dying animals snoring, and coffees at lonely, icy gas stations in the dead of night. The crescent moon hung like a toe nail clipping in the sky, a cut in the fabric of the universe, as gears ground passengers away from city lights into the darkness.

I rested my head for as long as I could stand on the cold, shuddering window, but the vibrations shook me off in seconds.  Irregular street lamps shot by like a night-time rocket assault in a city under siege.   Leaning back in an uncomfortable seat, the gangway lights snuffed out, and thoughts took over.  There is something uniquely powerful about being the only one awake during an overnight journey, especially as a stranger in a strange land.  I revel in the thrill of my attempted cogent confidence, like I’ve done this a hundred times before.  I know what I’m doing, so follow me.  It’s gratifying, but ultimately; extremely lonely.  Nobody is awake to exalt my pointless pretense.

I was returning to Sofia.  The scene of so many a debaucherous crime in the summer before.  The heat of that heady hour long gone, as were the dear friends I was lucky enough to share with and revel in that indubitable magic of a late September.  But those memories will endure many a seasons test.

And it’s on such a stage as this, when the world seems to slow to a quiet; the space between a hummingbirds wings; that you naturally begin to reflect on days gone by, recent events, or why you pushed your sister down the stairs when you were six.  There is nothing that stirs your memory so as traveling through the mid AM for great distances, Jack Frost’s frustration in biting only at glass, with dawns’ suggestion on the horizon.  If you’re lucky enough to be awake in that moment of almost perfect stillness; you can travel through time.



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Hannibal Lector shaving my balls

Wednesday 11 February

It’s been a while dear readers.  You must forgive my tardiness, but I have always sought quality over quantity with my travel updates.  As such (and as I’ve not been doing much traveling), not a great deal of adventure or excitement worthy of note has occurred (nothing I could print anyway), and so I have been absent from my usual regalings.  For that I apologise profusely, but you’re just going to have to wait for something remotely entertaining.  I assure you something is on the horizon.

I have idly spent my days watching back to back episodes of Hannibal.  If you haven’t watched this incredible TV, I suggest you do so tout suite and bon appetite.  It’s outstanding.  However it has left me with a number of unpleasant side effects.  This includes incredibly vivid dreams about becoming a serial killer.  What concerns me is how much I actually enjoyed them.  You’d be surprised at just how satisfying the thought of going postal on stupid people really is.   Not so gratifying experiences have come in the shower cubicle; when the timed lights snapped off and quite irrationally I imagined a pair of decayed dead hands reaching under the partition to grab my ankles and pull me to my bloody demise.  Consequently, the hurry to escape this potential event made shaving my balls significantly more dangerous.  I do not recommend doing the gardening in the dark.

And so Zagreb is in the process of chewing me up and spitting me out.  The city has always been good to me, tossing up new friends, enticing women and memorable events with wild abandon.  But as ever, once again the travel sense is tingling.  The road calls.  Recently I have become somewhat stagnant, while  the universe has been conspiring to provide me with subtle signs that I should be packing my bags.  Many partners in crime have moved on.  Crazy Erasmus students have departed for pastures new.  I regularly sleep alone in an eight bed dorm room.  I was served a totally uncooked chicken in a canteen.  My toast dropped Vegemite side down on the kitchen floor.  I stared at my embarrassingly flaccid penis in front of a gorgeous naked local girl.  One little hint after another.  I have finally got the message.

It is with a heavy heart then that I must leave my beloved Croatia.  Who knows when I will darken her door once more?  What might have been had I been able to stay?  Will we ever meet again?  For now, time and tide wait for no man, and I must away in the coming days; envisaging a triumphant return to Sofia on the back of a Donkey; where I’ll probably be found dead next Winter.  In Zagreb, the driving, silent, snowy landscape through double glazed windows serves only as an excuse to remain.  The East beckons, and with it, the promise of Viagra laced Turkish Delights.


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