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Caught in the Rain in Belgrade's Skadarlija District

A catchy tune's stuck in my head. It goes a little something like,

If you like pina coladas cappuccinos,
and getting caught in the raaaain...

Appropriate for San Francisco's decidedly un-chipper mood this week as well as for our rainy adventures on our last full day in Belgrade. The Balkans in September promises ideal traveling weather: warm enough to swim in the Adriatic, but not suffocatingly hot like it is in the summer. But no one warned us that it'd be monsoon season!!! Fine, not monsoons... just "light rain." --said no Californian ever.

That morning, our sights were set on Skadarlija–Belgrade's bohemian quarter. On our way, we passed Terazije and Republic Square, the center of town.
Utterly fascinated by all of the street art / graffiti that graces every wall, some silly and others political and even others just because. Cassandra and I were particularly charmed by the Cyrillic street-signs. She's been practicing her Cyrillic for a whole year now, so this was the perfect testing opportunity. Here, we are standing under "Jovanova Street."
Because we had begun our journey quite early and also because the sky darkened ominously, our quartet made up about 97% of the people out and about.

Here we were, faced with an incredibly enchanting panorama. An empty cobblestone street stretching as far as the eye could see, flanked on either side by a long row of lush, lofty trees standing at attention. Buildings in neutral pastels completed the scene, their windows thrown open, treating us to peeks into folks going about their daily lives.

The most idyllic of Instagrams, and no one there to snap one for us. Que horror!
And so, we improvised.

First, we took turns manning the camera.

Then, Cassandra tapped into her innovative spirit and engineered a variety of "tripods." She tied her iPhone to a street-sign in the middle of the road using headphones and a purse strap, then tried burying the bottom half of her phone in the dirt of a huge potted plant, and finally started stacking all of our travel notebooks haphazardly atop the aforementioned street sign, each method lending itself to some modicum of success. (All captured in the video you'll find at the end of this post.)

Et, voila:
Sick and tired of living in front of the lens (as if), we strolled to the other end of Skadarlija. Much livelier and more groomed, this portion was obviously more tailored towards tourists. We avoided one cafe after another when their hostesses approached us with promotion offers and English menus, hiding out at another picturesque Insta-opportunity we'd spotted: 
Lest you think all this documentation isn't hard work...

Well, there's a lot of sprinting to and from the iPhone once the self-timer is set, minor adjustments to be made because someone's best angle is another's worst, holding of breaths because any sudden movement could topple the phone over which means a cracked screen OR WORSE a crooked snapshot.

Hard work, I tell ya. 
As we giggled away at our antics, the sky really let up and raindrops started to hit the pavement with greater urgency. Seeking quick shelter, we followed locals much wiser than us:
Of course we'd end up accidentally at the only cafe (Red Bar) with snoozing kitties. In San Francisco, you'd have to pay $25 an hour for this kind of luxury. I know because I've done it.

In Belgrade, it's at the mercy of the weather and the price of four strong, heady cappuccinos. Which was maybe $4. Total. Stop, I know. 

We sat here for awhile, petting the cats when they deemed us worthy and enjoying the scent of fresh rain that candle companies spend a fortune trying to emulate. We sympathized as disgruntled gentlemen made peace with their lack of umbrellas and trod sadly down the street. We laughed as gleeful kids splashed in puddles and as schoolgirls dared each other to run through the rain. I adore storms!
The instant that the downpour calmed down a tad, we made a break for it. Leah and Hanna shared a colorful, roomy umbrella and Cassandra and I huddled under a broken one that did more damage than it helped.

*side-eye*

Totally not salty, still.
Soaked, we headed not to our apartment or to sightsee, but straight to a wine bar for wine and cheese. Don't know what to tell you. We girls need our sustenance. 

The waiters, smiling at how we looked like drowned rats, left us alone to enjoy our sips and nibbles and our neighboring table's cloud of cigarette smoke and we savored this quiet, dark refuge until we couldn't stand the cigarettes any longer. (So, give or take an hour or two. We can suffer for a looooong time if there's wine.)
Our apartment wasn't too far from the wine bar, so it wasn't long before we were once again warm and dry and beginning to ready ourselves for our dinner reservation.

But then!

In a sudden fit of panic, we realized... wait a minute. What if, Heaven forbid, Moritz Eis doesn't open until after we leave for the airport the next morning? What if we run out of time for one last visit because we still needed to pack? What if we couldn't have one last taste of Moritz Eis?????

Our eyes met. We raised our fists. We knew what we had to do. Slipped on cheap "water shoes" that we'd brought for swimming later in Dubrovnik. Braced ourselves. Grabbed the umbrellas. Onward! To Moritz, we go! Our shoes squeaked and slipped the entire 10 minutes it took to walk to our beloved ice cream parlor, but we made it and could at last all rest easy. 
Spoiler alert: we made it back to Moritz Eis the next morning.

If you want to watch the ice cream adventure and the innovative tripod technology play out in video form, I gotchyo back. Cassandra's going to have my head once she sees this amateur editing work, so... nice knowing ya!

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