Mia Montesin

Bumblebees & Bottom Bunks

It’s early morning in a party hostel, the prime time for solitary reflection, some sleepy reading and tea. I flop from my bunk to the couch and squint at The History of Salt, one of the few English books on offer at Reveller’s hostel in Belgrade.

I spot Andi, the excitable German who’s followed me from Theth, peeped his head out in Ohrid and boarded the same bus in Skopje. We finally swap travel plans which are identical, if you can believe it, and plan a thrift shopping extravaganza the following morning.

I text the slumbering dragon that it’s time to awaken; the day is young and so are we! Off we pop for a coffee, hit some thrift shops, make a pastry stop and cop a face full of fur coats. I learn that “knacken” is the sound made when nuts are cracked open—one of the more useful terms I’ve picked up. I soundtrack our walk with a very average rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.

He talks me out of buying the ridiculous knitted hat and we both fight over the dark-washed wide leg jeans with bejewelled pockets. It’s a no on the glittery knitted underwear and some truly heinous souvenirs of arguably the worst period of fashion history, the mid-2000s. I settle on a rust coloured singlet for a fair price of 50 dinar (70c) and stretch my wallet for one navy tshirt ($1.90).

I explicate complex Australian terms such as ‘drongo’ and ‘dickhead’ which he finds hilarious and we make penis unicorn horns on our foreheads. At the hostel, we compare our op shop finds with other travellers (see photo of BJ who’s clearly not packing light). At dinner I have lots of fun facts to share about salt, for example, did you know that salt ships were so infested with rats that for centuries they believed the rat species could reproduce without contact? Inconceivable!

In bed, I grapple with the benefits of top versus bottom bunks. Here are my findings.


  • Shielded from light
  • Easier to climb into when drunk or hungover
  • Rights to floor space for belongings
  • Can piss off the top person by kicking if they snore
  • Quicker escape route in case of alien invasion


  • Protection from the lava floor.

This next day, the 8th of October, someone very dear to my heart turns 22 (it’s me). Scarlett and I treat ourself to a lovely breakfast of roasted hazelnut milk porridge and avocado toast and explore more thrift shops. I buy a festive princess bandana and participate in some fur coat fabulosity.

We have a LaVazza americano at an underwhelming Yugoslavia museum. There’s a bug in my hair and the buses are on strike but we make it back in time for a rosemary craft beer (eat me) followed by a honey-undertoned Pablo, the best brew in the entire world!
Since it’s my special day, I eat my dessert before my dinner. There are shots of rakija waiting for us when we return but I’m ready to collapse into a weighty slumber and also I hate rakija, get it away from me. A Lithuanian guy with wide eyes interrupts me as I’m closing my door.

Enthusiastically and very loudly he asks, “Excuse me do you know where I can go to party? I want to party. I am a very easy going guy.” I wish that was an exaggeration but those are the exact words that exit his fast-moving mouth.

“Why are you asking me?” I snap, and continue my voyage to my bed. I’m 22 now so it’s no bullshit and survival tactics only.

In the morning, my hungover eyes blink goodbye to The History of Salt and opt for something more sour, a raw account of the Vietnam war that I’d be destined to leave behind hours later on my Flixbus to Budapest. Upsetting, but as I am now a grown-up, I purchase a sweet treat to make it all better.

фраза дана: Wanna hear a fun fact about salt?

песма места: Ready to Go - Republica

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