Throughout the trip we cycled along and across the Danube on a few occasions. At first we met in Bratislava, then cycled upstream for a few kilometres in Southern Hungary and latest crossed from Vojvodina in Serbia’s north to Croatia. In Belgrade the river is even bigger now that it incorporates Sava as well. We leave Belgrade along the Danube with many other cyclists as well as people enjoying a nice walk and set off in direction East. After crossing Danube on a 2km long bridge we leave all traffic and noise behind and just enjoy the beautiful landscape. No human anywhere close.
Whenever we stay in civilisation for a few days, with the comfort of chairs, electricity, WiFi and running water I get thrilled when we pack up and get on our bikes again. Having everything we need with us, ideally washed clothes and charged up batteries and no aim, but to cycle to the horizon. I realised we were low on fuel though in our multi fuel stove so we planned to find a small family owned gas station (of which many exist here) and get half a liter of gasoline in order to be able to cook dinner and tea in the morning. Nastya’s parents had brought us some black tea from Kazakhstan which we enjoy every other morning. Gas station spotted, discussion with the employees who were afraid I’d set off an explosion and I’d rather should buy petroleum (for lamps) ensues. Then we meet the owner. Djuro worked in Austria in the 70’s speaks fluent German and invites us for a coke and a chat over at the stable of his recently acquired long horn cattle.
His gas station is along EuroVelo 6 – the Danube route. He sees up to 30 cyclists passing by every day. For us it’s very interesting to listen to his stories “from the other perspective”. Usually we are the centre of attention, but we quickly realised that we’re not that special 🙂 Djuro (George) met a 70 year old granny once, she cycled Route 66 the year before. Lots of couples with children – some only 5 months old. Another German on a walking cycle – a wooden frame with no pedals, just like the very first bicycles more than a hundred years ago. People pass by with all kinds of funny vehicles and many ask if its ok to pitch a tent. We thought: “At a gas station?” Yes – makes perfect sense. Access to water, a toilet, even wifi. Basically it’s a free campground with a very nice host. We asked to pitch our tent as well and decided to add the remaining 20km we had planned to do to tomorrows itinerary of 100km. Tent built, stove fired up, Nastya in search for WiFi – we still had to book flights for our parents to come join us in Istanbul later this year. After dinner, we enjoyed a beer and then the road became very noisy as a long trail of cars moved from one village to another lead by a truck that had a long table and 20 guys drinking loaded up on its back. Supposedly a wedding 🙂 George told us that, as we’re back on the northern side of the Danube, we’re indeed back in Vojvodina. The surrounding villages were partly German and also Hungarian. We would find out more about that the next day.