Checking the weather forecast everyday did not make us any happier, it looked like the rain will continue for another couple of days, we could not wait any longer – we have to arrive to Skopje in a week to meet with my Macedonian friend Nevena.
So we left Valjevo and were determined to cycle to Belgrade regardless the unfortunate weather (it was about 100km to go though). After 30 kilometers we arrived to a small city called Ub and agreed on a small break as we found an open Wi-Fi hotspot. We parked the bikes next to an office building and right away a man came out and politely asked if we would like to come into his office for coffee and to use the Internet if needed. The man who’s name Vladimir as we found out was the director of the local mining factory. At the moment he had a meeting, we joined at the round table, the cute secretary quickly made coffee for us. What a luxury! We definitely were not dressed according to the office dress-code – dirty water was dripping from our jackets, sweaty shirts, muddy shoes 🙂 But as we learned on this trip – never judge people by the way they look ( …or the car they drive – my rule: the fancier BMW, the ruder the driver 🙂 ).
It was nice to meet Vladimir, we enjoyed the talk, exchanged our cards 🙂 but we had to continue. We got back on the road, the rain sat back in and got even stronger, we were cycling from one bus stop to another to wait for the intensity to decrease and after some (6?) hours we entered Belgrade. I have heard so much about it, Sascha was just telling me non-stop how beautiful and vibrant it is. And here we go – gray sky and tall Paneláky and wherever I looked, I felt like I am in the “Matrix” movie. Apparently it was a new part of the city Novi Beograd. But by the time we arrived at our hostel the architecture luckily improved. 🙂
This time we had to stay in a hostel as all our attempts to find a host in Belgrade failed (as it usually happens in big cities). Nevertheless, our 6 bed-bedroom was only for us just for 1 euro extra pay and Sascha’s charming talk with the reception girl 🙂 Our day ended with a nice (cooked on a stove! :)) dinner and an old Yugoslav movie Ko To Tamo Peva (link) which was recommended by many hosts who we stayed with.
The next day was dedicated to sightseeing and tasting local specialties. Good that we are cycling regularly, the food and especially pastries are so good, you just can not help it and want more and more. Belgrade is amazing, very lively and relaxing. From early in the morning everyone from young to old is outside, enjoying the weather, drinking coffee, talking or just having a walk along the 2 rivers Sava and Danube that meet here. And in my opinion this is how it should be everywhere.
We got to the hostel rather early that day but started feeling bad for not going out as it was Friday and we were in Belgrade – that is why we came here in the first place 😀 Luckily hostels always connect people – we met guys from Poland, Australia, France who we explored some clubs on the Danube river with.
Next morning we were determined to see Ada Ciganlija – the island in Belgrade, so we hopped on our bikes and cycled to the river. The island is all about recreational sports – finally a place to relax and time to read a few pages of our endless amount of books that we carry for 3500km and finally quality time together without explaining for the hundredth time where we are coming from, where we cycle to, how many km we cycle a day, how much salary is in the CZ, if we have kids etc. 🙂
Later we went for coffee at a Kafana on Danube and once we walked out of the cafe (who would have thought!) our friend from Prague, Petra is cycling towards us with her friend. All 3 of us are staring into each other astonished how it could be possible to meet a friend from Prague just like that in a 2 million people city. So all four of us went for a second round of coffee…and beers and food. The bar owner was so nice and also amazed of our accidental meeting, so in the end he refused to accept any payment. Wow! Serbs are indeed the most hospitable people I have ever met. We spent a beautiful evening with Petra and Ognjen! It was so nice to meet you guys, thanks a lot for the splendid dinner together! And we seem to meet again at a real Balkan wedding this week, where we got invited by Ognjen. Our dream will finally come true!