The Emperor Trajan Decius was born here and I love it
Coming to the Balkans has been one of the most special things ever. I have seen a set of countries that fascinate and amaze - hidden treasures and history.
But most of all I have met people who charm, and talk and sing with enthusiam. And more than that I have made friends.
Today I fly back to London, to my home, my partner, my family and other friends. I leave behind hopes and fond memories. But before I leave I have just been for a walk round my favourite park here in Belgrade - Academic Park - the site of the former Roman Baths of the city of Singidunun. As I wander through I see and sense the history, I construct the stories and re-enact the chatter gossip and news of ancient times. For me it brings history to life and I imagine that the bold statues are former Emperors, Senators and Poets. I see the crumbling features and I imagine the decline of the power of Rome.
It is a huge privilege to travel - I think the greatest privilege - to see, learn and educate yourself about who you are and what you can do. To see human nature out of your own context and in a foreign land. But for me Serbia is no foreign land - Viminacium, Naissus, Taurunum, Budalia (where Trajan Decius was born) Surmium, to see the Pannonian Sea and the Danube and the palaces and forts and baths and more. These are places I studied, tensions I understood and roads travelled that I read about for my degree. They bring the third century of Ancient Rome alive for me.
And so as I leave, having worked and trained and laughed with friends I give huge and grateful thanks for the chances I have had and hope for more to come. Love you Serbia, love you Balkans, love you Pannonia and Moesia.
It's good evening Belgrade and so I take my walk down of an evening to where the refugee camp is by the central railway and bus station. I arrive and as I sort of suspected it's cleared - the grass which had worn away has been lightly ploughed over, the open areas have been cordoned off and there is a sense of renewal. Everything has changed.