There was no way we were leaving Mokra Gora, without taking a look at this unique setting. The story behind this wood town is captivating, as well as the visual joy of seeing itfor ourselves.
On a Sunday, the day off for many locals, there were many, many people also visiting, so it was good that we went early. We walked around and then enjoyed some breakfast, at one of two restaurants. It was a great visit.
We had a fun day, indeed! The weather started out with a storm, as we waited for the train to arrive to the station, but in the two hour ride, we would see some sunshine. It all made for some interesting photography; very challenging, in fact, but regardless, we had a very nice time. It was scenic, very clean, and well laid out. There were many tunnels, as well, which surprised us.
The train cars were full of people; mostly families with children. We had a few stops to stretch thy legs and get photos, or buy icd cream. Daryl was in heaven as he found a few English-speakers. One from New Jersey, and the other from Sweden. I have always enjoyed watching Daryl visit with others. It was one of the things he does, that drew me to him, before we had met. He laughs, and jokes, and has fun. He is very social and comfortable with strangers, especially those he speaks to who love to travel as much as he does.
We had no trouble getting our tickets for the train ride at 4PM. They were waiting for us, just like the nice man on the phone, yesterday, said they would be. The cost was just under $20 for the both of us. Each train car is different, and it was fun to take a peek in a few, after all the humans left the cars and the station. The train cars are all very clean, and have been refurbished, nicely. There are a group of withers who wash the windows on the car, constantly, in between runs. As a photographer, this is really great! Though, today, I put down my window, and nobody yelled at me, and made me put it back up, so I got clean shots, anyway. The route was clean and tidy as well. It was picture perfect!
Does anybody remember having an electric train set as a kid? Well, my brother had one, and he let me play with it once in a while. My dad got him a big piece of plywood, and then my brother and I spent hours painting the green grass area on it, adding roads, then he put together track, and the lay of the town, with miniature stores, water tower, churches, farm animals in a field, train tunnels, trees, and a station. Our ride today, had me thinking back to those days when I was so young. I felt like I was on that play train and going though a perfect little village with all the miniature decor, yet I was on a real train, in a real place. It was super cool! I totally recommend, if you are ever in western Serbia!
We had to make a decision, once I learned from the American Embassy in Belgrade, that our COVID19 tests would cost about $300. The results would come back quickly, but what wasn’t clear was how fast we could get our test, and we had to pre-pay, then wait.What if it took a week for our turn? Nobody could sayhow long. It was a wait and see situation.
Since we have already been to Bosnia, (but just want to see more of the country), we decided to pass, and spend that money down the road, when we try to get in to Bulgaria. to get into their country, it will require a negative COVID19 test as well. We have not been to Bulgaria as yet, so it will be better time and money spent to do that, after we are done in Macedonia.
This morning, we left Belgrade and made another day of it, driving to Morka Gora, as we want to ride the antique railway line, called Sargan Eight. While in Belgrade, I had tried calling to make reservations, but lack the right phone number and lack of English, made that tough, so we decided to take our chances, and get booked, after we arrived.
The drive, by half way to our destination, began to turn, quite fabulous! I mean, Serbia is really pretty, but we did highway for awhile and more farmland. We weren’t exactly seeing a whole lot of new or different, scenes for the first part, as we left Belgrade. But then, there was a point on the pass, which was worth a stop for photos, plus to buy fresh blackberries! We were truly enter a beautiful valley In addition, we followed a river which was half Serbian and half Bosnia Herzegovina 🇧🇦; the dividing border.
Finally, we were also next to the Tara Canyon, which we already visited, recently while in the country of Montenegro 🇲🇪. Tara Canyon National Park also spreads into Bosnia Herzegovina 🇧🇦, (it’s a huge and beautiful canyon).
When we arrived at our destination of Mokra Gora, in about found a half hours, with only one wrong turn, we were surprised to see a very different look, then we had seen, yet, in Serbia. What a darling Village! There are a lot of wooden homes, churches and cabins. The architecture is unique and old-world. We feel a German ambiance, here.
It would appear to me, this remote location is beginning to develop even more, as we see additional cabins being built for future guests. I would expect this to become an even more popular destination in the near future.It’s very quaint, quiet and charming. The train is the big draw here for sure.
As soon as we made it here, we went directly to the train station to hopefully get tickets for tomorrow. As it would turn out, the person at the ticket window wasn’t much help. He told me the next available reservation for riding the train was four days away. I asked if there was a “stand-by” option, just in case there were any cancellations, or no-shows (the train runs three times a day) He told us no, and pretty much dismissed us. It was a bit rude, but from the beginning, he honestly was not interested in helping us, anyway. I did see a telephone number taped to the ticket window, so I took a photo of it. Not being easily deterred, we went back to our car and I called this new number I did not have from before, when I tried to call. I finally got through to a very nice person who knew some English. I told him we had come a long way, in hopes of riding the vintage train, tomorrow, and was there any way we could get standby tickets, since we were told there were no reservations for many days. He confirmed with us that, yes, we were already in Mokra Gora, and sounded surprised when we told him we had already been to the ticket booth, and what we were told. He took my phone number, and said he would look into the matter and call me back. While we waited, we went in search of a hotel. The first one we tried had one room left at 20 Euros a night. We arranged two nights. not knowing how long it might take to get on that train. Then, I got a call back from the ticket man, and he informed me he made us a reservation to ride the train at 4PM tomorrow! We are to go back to the ticket booth around 3:30PM to pay for our tickets and get ready for the train. I jumped for joy! It all worked out and we love that!
We had such a great day, and felt very fortunate to have scored some train tickets. Not sure the price, but its either about $20 pp or total. If there are unique train rides in any country we visit, we always seek them out. We love trains, and have never had a disappointing ride, ever! We are committed to two nights, here in Mokra Gora, as we had a back up plan of being at the ticket booth before each train, hoping for a stand-by situation, till we got two seats. Our hotel is right across the road from the train station parking lot, so it would have been super easy. Now that we got reservations, we get to relax and just enjoy our surroundings.
Mokra Gora, will not be our last planned stop and activity in Serbia, since we will continue driving south, and get going, back to Macedonia. We will take just a bit more time and overnights somewhere in Serbia on our way out, as the drive from here to the boarder is over six hours. We have no need or desire to rush.
After we had picked up our rental car in Macedonia, some weeks ago; maybe a month, anyway, we only had visited two places. So we will now have a chance to finish exploring that country, before finding COVID19 testing in Skopje, in preparation to traveling to Bulgaria; before returning our rental car by the end of the month.Whew, it still takes some planning, though we are wining it this summer in Europe, with no hotel reservations and its working out just fine so far
Stay tuned for our train ride!
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