SERBIA

8th MAY 2011

DAY 37: ROSZKE (HUNGARY) – MOTEL + KM 86 (SERBIA)
START: 12:15 – FINISH: 18:00 – DISTANCE: 105 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 51

Today has been one of those days……..that you can only laugh and joke once it’s over. It started raining just after 8 am. So I decided to wait it out a few hours. I didn’t fancy getting wet if I could help it – come 10 am not much had changed………..so I gave it one more hour. Still nothing had changed. So the decision was made to go regardless of the rain. STUCK IN TENT BECOUSE OF THE RAIN VIDEO https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150247017107814&l=154589270922722449

Packing up the tent and getting wet before you have even started pedalling is a bit frustrating. Just after midday I set off in the rain for the border. First run was unsuccessful as I ended up following the old road to an abandoned border control. When I came back up the road the police were there and wanted to know where I had come from and check my passport. I had to go on the motorway to get to the border control. Going through the Hungary side was a breeze. You then had to get in a massive queue for the Serbian customs. I had to queue up with the cars. With only one car in front the penny dropped……………………..$%^^% my back pack. I did a U turn in no-man’s land and headed back to the Hungarian customs. There was a queue as they were checking all the cars. Finally cleared customs and headed back to the campsite to get my back pack and thankfully it was just where I had left it. I was very lucky. The thought crossed my mind about calling it quits for the day and starting afresh tomorrow. I thought stuff it and headed back to the border for another go. Took a little while but we got through in the end. I put my foot down to make up for the late start, Still managed to do over a 100 km and after cycling all afternoon in the rain.
I was resigned to the fact there were no campsites and that I would have to wild camp. After some time I spotted a sign for a motel. I was very interested. It was at a gas station and at 15 euros is cheaper than some of the campsites I have stayed in. They even let me bring my bike to the room. I ended the day much happier to be indoors than in a tent and to be warm and dry. Belgrade tomorrow and more luxury with a hostel.

DAY 38: MOTEL +KM 86 – BELGRADE
START: 9:00 – FINISH: 16:00 – DISTANCE: 117 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 58

Got back on the highway…….. Was happy to see the sun was back after the soaking I got the day before. Continued down the E75. Some mountains appeared early on in the day and they got closer and closer.To my relief at the last minute we veered left avoiding them. Despite being on the highway it was still quite scenic. The only difference being instead of passing in and out of little villages you just pass service stations.

At times the speed limit is 120 km and they bomb along a lot faster, at least most of the time the hard shoulder is as wide as a lane. Though as I got to the outskirts of Belgrade it was a nightmare because the hard shoulder disappeared and you had to share a lane making it one of the more unpleasant parts of the trip. I pulled off the highway after cycling across a bridge and having a line of traffic following me. I’d had enough. By chance I met a local who had lived in New Zealand and he gave me some directions to the hostel. He said stay close to the river and unfortunately I took a road that ended up leading to a bridge and this time I was chased over the Danube by a tram. Was quite relieved when I finally reached the hostel. Nice location – in the old part and close to the centre. Spent the evening wandering around the old town before getting some Serbian fast-food.

DAY 39 & 40: BELGRADE – DOUBLE REST DAY

First day I headed out with Felix, a Spanish guy in the dorm and we walked along the river to the old fort. Wandered around and then went in the Military museum which actually had some exhibits that have been associated with events that have changed the course of history.

The uniform worn by the????????????????when he was shot and this event led to the start of the first World War. In the afternoon we crossed over the river and walked for about 10 km along the Danube to an old town, which had some nice churches, some markets and lots of restaurants and bars on the river. We got the bus back.
The second rest day was a little unplanned.

I just never got around to planning my next few days on the road so this morning I decided to extend my stay in Belgrade and take it a bit more easy today. I made the most of it by getting the blog up-to-date and then in the afternoon I wandered a bit more through the city. Coming across some bombed out buildings from when Nato bombed the city in 1999. Because of this there were quite a few pro Gaddafi supporters and posters around.

DAY 41: BELGRADE – MOTEL +KM 174
START: 8:00 – Finish 16:30 – DISTANCE: 174 KM – RIDE TIME: 7H 45

It wasn’t too hard to find my way back to the highway E75. When I did, it was very manic. I had quite a long hill climb out of the city. By the time I got to the top I felt sick

cause I was breathing deeply and inhaling car fumes. We then descended only to climb again. I was thinking $%^ I hope it’s not like this all day. I was lucky because it flattened out after that.

The highway just carved up the countryside with very little on either side. I am a little disappointed I haven’t been able to travel some smaller roads. It would be nice, but would slow me down too much. To make up for having an extra day in Belgrade. I really went for it today and smashed out the km. I finished at 4:30pm knocking off 174 km of the 440 km to Sofia. I could have done another hour on the bike. But the sight of lightening persuaded me to find a motel pretty quick before the rain.

At 10 euro it’s pretty dodgy and nowhere near as good as the last one. I will be making a run for it early tomorrow morning. Earlier in the day I brought up the 3000 km mark………… I calculated 4100 km to Iran……….it will be more like 5100 km. I seem to need to be doing an extra 20% to keep on track.

DAY 42: MOTEL + KM 174 – NIS
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 12:00 – DISTANCE: 67 KM – RIDE TIME: 3H 20

After yesterday’s massive ride the legs just didn’t want to move. I must have had a tail wind because this morning I was into the wind and it was $%^ hard going. I got to Nis at midday

which was great because it meant I had the whole afternoon to look around Serbia’s third largest city. I think Nis has a more Serbian feel to it. I was kept busy visiting the Fortress and also a concentration camp which has been left just as it was the day the Nazis left. I walked a little out of town to skull tower and this is exactly what its name states. Built by the Turks from the skulls of the Serbian dead after a battle in 1809. It is a little gruesome. But worth a look. I finished off the afternoon sitting in the main street having coffee in the sun.

DAY 43: NIS – SOFIA
START: 7:45 – FINISH: 16:15 – DISTANCE: 162 KM – RIDE TIME: 7H 26

I have been getting a bit of a sore arm since I arrived in Serbia. I am constantly waving back at traffic after a friendly toot.

I left the E75 for the much quieter E80 highway to Sofia. It was very scenic following the river Nisava through a nice gorge. There were a few tunnels to go through as well. After a 100 km I had the border crossing, which was a breeze. The ride into Sofia was nowhere near as bad as the ride into Belgrade. At the hostel I have met up with a kiwi guy who I went for a beer with in London before I left. I will ride with Reuben for a few days at least.

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