A couple of weeks ago, my parents were here for a short visit, during which we took them to Lake Bled for a long weekend. We had a fantastic trip and even though Grant and I had already been to Bled, we did manage to see a bunch of new things. Not like I would ever complain about going to Bled — it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The one dark spot of the trip occurred on our way home. We were making good time until the Šimanovci toll where, all of a sudden, traffic stopped moving. We were about 20 cars back but had no idea why people had stopped going through the toll. Meanwhile, cars were still coming toward us from the other side of the toll, so all we knew was that it had something to do with our side of the road.
People began getting out of their cars and wandering around, trying to figure out what was going on. Every once in a while, something would happen up toward the front and all of a sudden, cars would move forward for a couple of seconds and honking would commence, until people realized no one else would be able to move forward.
Slowly, we managed to move forward enough that we could see there was some kind of commotion up at the actual tolls. Since we weren’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon, Grant volunteered to hop out and talk to the cops we saw wandering among the cars, directing when needed. Plus, we saw police in riot gear hanging out on the side of the road and figured there was something going on…
As it turned out, the tolls were being bodily blocked by motorcyclists and their riders, who were protesting something — I think about the difficulties of registering their bikes or something along those lines — and not allowing anyone to go through the tolls as part of their protest.
Things eventually were sorted out; no thanks to the police who did little more than spectate. The majority of the motorcyclists seemed to think they had made their point after an hour or so, and the few who remained left after a couple of young boys talked with them (at least that’s what it seemed like, from ten cars back).
Had this happened in America or any number of other countries, most likely, the police would have threatened to take down license plates as soon as the problem began — and then they would have followed through with said threats. My guess is that this would have been enough to make most protestors move.
“Hells Angels Serbia” has a club a few minutes’ walk from our apartment. Laura and I thought about going there and giving them a piece of our minds (it did add more than an hour onto our trip!)… but then we thought better of it.
Fellow expats, do you have stories like this?