A whiff of hospitality
It was with a sense of adventure that my husband and I boarded the train from Belgrade in Serbia to Montenegro. The compartments were small but relatively empty so there was plenty of space because we were travelling light.
Our flight from Romania to Belgrade the previous day had been comfortable and without incident. In fact, as we disembarked I commented to my husband how impressed I had been with the airline. That changed as we waited in vain for our luggage to appear. Fortunately, it wasn’t lost, but still sitting on the tarmac at Bucharest airport. Note to self: don’t be the first to check in; your suitcase might not accompany you on the same flight.
As we settled into our rail journey we were gradually joined by fellow travellers. My excitement at the prospect of sharing holiday anecdotes turned to disappointment when I discovered no one in our compartment spoke En- glish. The lovely older gentlemen sitting next to me made several attempts, but my shoulder-shrugging and sympathetic smile clearly indicated I had no idea what he was talking about. We settled into a comfortable silence.
That was until a dishevelled man with questionable hygiene entered. It wasn’t difficult to work out he had enjoyed a few drinks prior to boarding, and he had brought along one for the road. But he had not anticipated the scarcity of bottle openers on the train, and was becoming increasingly frustrated in his attempts to open his beer.
Most passengers were heaving a collective sigh of relief, as the aroma of alcohol permeated the compartment. You can appreciate my horror when my husband, oblivious to my menacing glares, gallantly offered to demonstrate some Aussie ingenuity. Who would have guessed window sills could be so versatile?
The inebriated man’s delight was obvious. The older gentleman was equally expressive. It wasn’t necessary to speak Serbian to understand he was unimpressed. Who said language is a barrier to communicating? Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. Columnists receive L’Occitane hisand-her treats of Cedrat After-Shave Cream Gel with notes of bergamot, nutmeg and cedar; and a limited edition Rose Shea Handcream released to mark L’Occitane’s 40th anniversary this year; $82. More: au.loccitane.com