A Central European Adventure

A Central European Adventure

By Robert Scott

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My last column was two weeks ago, when I was starting on a wonderful cruise from Romania up the Danube with daytime shore excursions. We spent three days in Romania – including Transylvania, where many American and British novels and horror films are set – and in Bulgaria, one of the former Soviet satellite countries still struggling to get its economic feet on the ground. Next was Serbia, where we visited its capital Belgrade, a very historic city that changed hands from Hungary to Turkey to Austria before becoming the capital of Yugoslavia. Next, and what unexpectedly was my final stop, was Novi Sad, the second largest Serbian city. While ashore, I slipped on the last step going down a medieval staircase, and I broke my hip.

I’ve spent the past week in a Serbian hospital, but I am very lucky. The break was routine (for them, not for me!) and the surgery was simple: a standard artificial hip replacement. Novi Sad is the city of Serbia’s Medical University, and there is an orthopedic wing of the hospital headed by a Professor who teaches Orthopedics. He he was my surgeon. He speaks fluent English and exudes confidence and competence. Since the nearest American military hospital was across the Alps in Germany and I was in no condition to travel, I decided to stay here in Novi Sad with all my luggage from the trip, my laptop, and my cell phone. 

Here are some lessons learned for intrepid travelers to out-of-the-way places like Central Europe. First and foremost is this: always carry your cell phone and sign up for whatever plan lets you use it wherever you are. I found for ten bucks a day I can make and receive calls just as if I were still in Edgefield. Second, make sure you know how to make your phone an internet hot spot. With that and my laptop, I could even watch US Major League Baseball in the middle of the night when I got bored. Third, bring actual books to read. I brought so many that I still have some to start, despite being in the hospital more than a week. And fourth, make sure you know how to use the app Google Translate. Only about 20% of the hospital staff understand and speak English, but with Google Translate that has not been a serious issue. 

I am already walking with a walker, and my hospital stay is almost over. Thanks to Google Maps, I discovered there is a 4.5-star Sheraton Resort literally across the street from the hospital, and in two days I am moving there for (maybe) a week of physical therapy. Alexandra is the hospital’s PT person, and she has agreed to treat me there until I’m ready to fly to my daughterKathryn’s home in Charleston. The best part is this. Hospital food in Serbia is the local equivalent of hospital food anywhere. I am looking forward to Sheraton’s Breakfast Bar, their regular bar (the doctor said it’s okay with moderation), and their restaurant. I’ll let all of you know how that goes, in next week’s column. Final note: I had locals here, many friends in Edgefield and Augusta, and even some of my Moslem friends praying for me. I am sincerely grateful for each and every prayer and all the good wishes. Thanks to all of you, they clearly worked. See you soon!

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