Daily routine: Waking up early (from a surprisingly noisy road this time) crawling out of the tent and analysing the moisture/ condensation/ rain impact of the night. Firing up the stove to cook a litre of black tea. Packing the sleeping bags, rolling up the mats, packing our panniers. Breakfast, unbuilding the tent, mounting everything on bikes and trailer and off we go. 7 o’ clock an early start on what will become the longest cycle of our trip so far. 126km will the counter on Nastyas computer show when we will sit down over draft beer in the evening, but first things first.
Serbians are VERY hospitable and helpful. I am no longer afraid of things breaking as this always leads to great encounters. So this morning all of a sudden my trailer got loose and was noisily dragging over the asphalt in the middle of the village. We turn off the road and a granny comes over and gives directions to the local shop. I assess the damage. Another case of Chinese engineering that wasn’t living up to the bumps and rocks of the previous weeks. After building a workaround I roll to the shop and another granny coming my way is already fully informed on what happened, asks if i need help and guides us to the “Meister”. The local bike repair shop. She wakes up the guy and we realise everybody speaks Hungarian here. It’s been a while, but we successfully showcased our vocabulary and earn big smiles. We do acquire some skills on this trip! The Meister was living up to his name and got to work. A spare part was transformed into a new hinge and after about 30 min I’m ready to roll. Money being refused, the sun coming out. “For You!” he says pointing to the sky and sends us on our way.
It’s a bit fresh up here about 20 km East of Belgrade. Summer seems over. We will soon cross the Danube and head South towards Macedonia (or FYROM but that’s a wikipedia article in it’s own).
Still a 100km to cycle to tonights warmshowers.org host so we skip Smederovo and continue. Buying white bread, 2nd breakfast with jam from Vlado’s mom which he gave us in Belgrade. Yummy. 30 km further we stop for coffee. An addiction that our weeks on Balkan only strengthened. Coffee is great here. The men sitting outside are very curious about us. When ordering I notice BG (Belgrade) beer in the fridge which we hadn’t tried yet so I add one to the order. Back outside we answer the usual 10 questions and everybody gets excited about Czech Republic 🙂 I should become an ambassador :p
When getting up to pay we’re being told we’re invited. Again! Humbled.
After another 20km we cross the big highway heading South with us and see a McDonalds. Nothing like sitting down, electric plugs, wifi, toilet and watching locals indulging in the shittiest food you can get in the country. I’m loving it.
More km to go. The places we pass through look rather run down and poor, another pit stop, Ajvar and being joined by the road police watching us while stopping the cars passing through. Continuing further we see a new beer brand in the shops along the road. Jagodinska. That’s where we’re going. Motivation for the last 20km and the slight hope, that we’ll manage to find a place that doesn’t serve bottled but draft.
We make it downtown and stop at a Pizza place to ask for directions to the street of our host. Everybody excited about our bikes and signalling us to join. Shaking hands with the owner and his wife. 2 big tocene pivo arriving on the table. Us in the middle of 7 people and more arriving by the minute sit seems. We explain the usual. We’re asked about our experience in Serbia as usual. Beer tastes great and another one’s coming. All the sudden an older guy shows up. Our host has noticed the bikes and found us before we found him. He’s joining the round and the conversation is getting more fluent. Later the owner’s daughter Ema joins and we chat away and agree to meet in the morning for breakfast and sightseeing. Language makes a huge difference. While we can express ourselves quite well (certainly better than most cyclists passing through I can imagine) it’s a different story altogether when you can express yourself properly. Especially when people start wondering why you do what you do instead of getting busy producing children and building a home.