One of the biggest things that happened to us in 2015 was that we finished up our tour in Belgrade. Our feelings on this were definitely bittersweet: it is hard not to be excited to move on when one is moving on to a cool city like Brussels, but we really loved living in Belgrade. Two years there was nowhere near long enough!
We’ve been gone from Serbia since June and there are things I think I will always miss, no matter where we are in the world. The incredible green markets — open daily all over the city — definitely rank up there. Serbian food is delicious, the cost of living is low, Belgrade is beautiful in an unexpected way, and we interacted with some pretty great people on a daily basis. Oh, and the weather. In the winter, the sun set ridiculously early (before 4 pm!) but in general, I loooved the weather, with lots of sun throughout the year and snow in the winter (but not for too long and not too cold).
At the end of every tour comes the dreaded packout, when a group of guys comes to pack up everything non-Drexel in a residence, put it all in boxes, and send it to the next destination. Packout is very not fun. For liability reasons, we’re not actually allowed to do the packing ourselves; instead, we have to monitor it. This can be hard when there are people packing up boxes on three different floors. Even with Grant around, too, it was difficult to keep tabs on everything, especially because we need to make sure that the right things went to the right places — although we figured (correctly) that it wouldn’t make much difference timewise whether we sent things in our UAB (unaccompanied air baggage, which has very limited weight) versus HHE (household effects, which is usually quite a bit slower), we were also sending things back to go into storage.
I really shouldn’t be complaining because this was my first “real” packout with tons of stuff since Grant had handled the one in Uzbekistan all by himself. It definitely helped that Scarlett was not around because she gets upset when a suitcase comes out so with a whole lot of boxes… the poor poodle doesn’t know what to do! She usually demands to be held the entire time.
We managed to get everything done in one day, thankfully. Everyone but us thought it would take two days: little did they know how organized we are (or, more accurately, how organized Grant is!). The apartment was very empty and echo-y with all of our stuff gone, so we were very happy we only had to live with it like that for about a week. That week was full of parties and receptions, of which a couple were farewells in our honor. It was a great chance to say goodbye to those who had help make our life in Serbia so wonderful for the time we were there.
As we drove to the airport early in the morning on our way to leave, I continued my tradition of saying “goodbye” to everything at the end: “Goodbye apartment, goodbye Pink Circle, goodbye bus stop, goodbye Partizan Stadium…” etc. It is sad to leave a place you’ve loved, not knowing when you will be back. But we were off to be reunited with Scarlett (and get in some beach time with family), so that helped with the looking forward!