Translated by: Gréta kojsza
The Danube’s Iron Gates start off at Golubac. The river flows through a deep ravine here, bordered by huge, rocky mountains on both sides. The view is breathtaking. It’s hard to tell, you really have to see it! As there are no villages until Donji Milanovac and you don’t care about surfaced roads, you can easily have the feeling that you travelled back in time. The nature clearly makes it job, wherever you look. The flow got its way through the valley…I can almost see it. Amazing! Who wants to know more about the ravine, you can read more about it here it is very interesting. As we were drifting down the road, the valley got tighter and the rocks started to grow above our heads. In some places, hundred meters high rocks towered us. Tunnels came, the shortest was 40 meters long, while the longest is around 260 meters. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic, but seeing trucks rushing across still made our legs pedal faster in the tunnels.
Slobodan suggested us to visit the museum of Lepenski Vir. This unique quarry, which covered 2000 years of Mesolithic and Neolithic culture of Europe has been discovered in the ‘60s right next to the river by the archeologists of Belgrad University. We watched a short movie about the excavation, checked the vitrines and finally observed the posture of the huts in a hall made of glass. Quite interesting that people paid so much attention on the function even in 8000 B.C. The houses looked towards the river, the fireplace can be found not far from the door, which possibly kept animals apart from people sleeping inside the hut.
Interesting comparison. People lived outdoors, while we are both liable to the adversity of the weather, staying outdoors all day long, only huddle up in the tent for the night.
We were heading to the direction of Donji Milanovac, climbed a challenging slope then got a nice downhill on the other side. We soon arrived to a small city, which didn’t have too much to offer, but at least we had something to eat. We outstripped the Danube and its wonderful valley and headed to the mountains. We slept on a field in the company of a straw bale. We can actually use the gasoline cooker correctly for now, making mash works out wonderfully. We’ve still got some work to do with the parking time, but in such a cold weather everything takes longer. That’s our only excuse. The valleys, where we were cycling upwards were filled with the scent of charcoal-burners. The sun seemed to be in a good mood sometimes and indicated its presence, we only had to be patient. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling good. Because of the cold I was feeling smart pain in my breast, but I really couldn’t pay attention to that, as we were struggling with the differences of height (don’t worry, I’m feeling much better now). After reaching the top, we started to delve and it was raining cats and dogs. We stopped in a small village for a coffee and chocolate break. We kind of deserved this extra.
The first night spent in a hotel passed. Our warmshower host forgot to check his massages, though we wrote him that we’re going to be one day late. As we couldn’t spend the night at his place, we were sleeping on a gas station close to Zajecar. After a little bit of swimming around, we got a suggestion to sleep in a small hotel, which got the prestigious name of Hotel Konj (Horse Hotel) and was situated in a hidden alley. 3 older men, in the middle of drinking pálinka (called rakia here) greeted us in the absolutely empty hotel (at least it seemed to be empty). Besides its name, it has got the sign of a cut horse head. After all of it, we’ve got the Godfather feeling. The room was partially clean and quite cold, but the bed was quite comfortable and they had hot water. That’s enough for us, it will get worse anyway.
We battled the mountains again the following day. We had wild camping on a very dirty river-bank and got through a new height in the random mixture of snow and dashing sun. We visited a small church of the 15th century. A nun was hoovering the floor…such a bizarre scene. There’s a monastery not far from the church where 10 nuns live. It doesn’t look like a real monastery, it better resemble an apartment at Lake Balaton. We arrived to Pirot totally exhausted, but gained some energy with a strong coffee at a gas station as usual, while we had the possibility to use WIFI. We asked the nice lady working at the gas station if there’s any camping nearby. Well, when we ask such a thing we always wait for the answer: “Ahw you really shouldn’t go to a camping, you can sleep here or there.” We obviously don’t expect the person to invite us in his/her own garden, but to suggest us a good place for wild camping.
The woman told us that there was a small town 12 kilometers away in the direction of Dimitrovgad (where we’re heading as well), though it’s a few kilometers away from the main road. There’s a monastery in the border of the town, where we can have a camping for sure. We got ready and after informing the family, that we’re ok we set off to Suhovo. We arrived to the monastery before sunset and a woman came out as we were waving keenly. We told them that we would like to set up our tent in their garden if it’s ok for them. She had to find the abbot first, but he disappeared. So they invited us in and offered some tea and coffee, which we accepted of course. Finally, the abbot showed up and they offered us a room, as it was too cold to sleep outside and they were absolutely right about it. We didn’t expect them to act like this, but we accepted the gesture with pleasure. It wasn’t a problem that we had to sleep in separate rooms with Eni. As they were fasting, we were asked not to eat meat or dairy products. We didn’t have too much left in our pocket, but they insisted on dining us. We had a very delicious vegan dinner, which consisted of vegetable soup, boiled potatoes, tomato-onion sauce, pickle and cookies with jam. As beverage, we had a small glass of liquor of herbs and nuts.
After that, we went to our rooms. Eni didn’t sleep alone, she got the company of 3 older, Serbian women as roommates (who work in the monastery).We managed to communicate with them, with the help of Serbian-English activity mixture. I was all alone, only a guy arrived in the middle of the night to sleep on one of the other beds. In the morning we couldn’t wait to see each other and give a kiss on the corridor.
We visited a church in the morning, packed our stuff and thanked for the warm hospitality. We got two bottles of home-made drops. One of them is St John’s wort and propolis. They’re going to be pretty useful during the road for sure.
Passing the borderline took half an hour, they didn’t look us through. They only checked the passports. Mountains came, mainly the way upwards. We finally reached the top of Sophia and after that, we were rolling down. We ran into some cyclists in the city, who were the part of a group, which organizes trips each weekend. We talked a bit, told them where we are going to and took a photo as well. At the evening we arrived to our dear, old friend Pavka, who had been already waiting for us. We’ve got 945 kilometers behind us. Sophia seemed to be so far away, but here we are now. Let’s have a rest!
Translated by: Alexandra Fadgyas
We said goodbye to Belgrade on a rainy day. Sadly, we did not have a chance to explore the city because of the heavy rain that had been going on for the past 3 days. We could see clearly through the window that a huge amount of water was slowly rolling down the hill. The weather was definitely not ideal for sightseeing. We got cozy in the flat of our host and did not mind the bad weather as much. Belgrade is not far from Hungary, and we could come back any time for a visit once we have completed our journey to New Zealand. We stretched out our legs – they were really tense from the lot of exercise- and started writing our travelogue, so we could share our first weeks with you. As the day was passing we got more and more relaxed. We enjoyed pretty good weather before Belgrade and deep in our heart we hoped that spring will find us again very soon.
We left our host in the afternoon. We had an exciting meeting coming up that evening. We were supposed to meet a couple who had just arrived back from an 8,5 month journey from Asia. First-hand information– we thought. Eni was especially interested in Mongolia. While we were having our dinner – which was delicious- we had a nice chat about the countries, they visited.
The exchange of information was not as sucessful as we hoped it would be at the beginning but we did not mind. They were such a cool couple!
The journey continued early morning the next day. This was the night when the clocks had to be set an hour forward and we had to keep our tight schedule. We only had a chance to say goodbye to our host’s wife, because Ivan was still asleep.
Right after we had left, we came across two wayfarers – Christoph and Simon. These two guys left Austria in January to raise money for children living in Vietnam. Their plan is to make the journey on foot and get to Vietnam through China finding as many patronisers throughout the trip as possible. They have been helping many children, orphanages and schools already. The positive mentality of these two persons impressed us a lot. They were radiating energy. It was so contiguous/ infectious that we also started feeling the good vibes. We needed this push as we had a long day ahead of us.
We turned towards Smedrevo. It was the next stop of our trip. Smedrevo is a small town in Serbia. It is situated on the bank of Morodva which is one of the sub-rivers of the Danube. The place became famous of its fortress, which was built in the 15th century. Another interesting fact is that one of our talented general was killed here in a siege in 1494.
We were crossing the second steep hill towards Smedrevo, when our host Ivan reached us. He wanted to say good bye and wish good luck for the rest of our journey. We had a little talk on top of the hill, hugged each other and took a couple of pictures. Ivan gave us some useful directions on how to get to our next stop. As a farewell present he handed us two nice bottles of mineral water, which was refreshing!
After a long day we arrived at the border of the town. We turned south towards Pozarevac to pass the city and find accommodation in one of the neighboring small villages. We hoped to build up our tent in a garden/ croft and spend a peaceful night under the stars. This solution seemed much safer, then sleeping somewhere by the road. However, today I would not agree with this statement completely. Camping somewhere – in the middle of a meadow or on a bank of a nice river makes you feel free. Truly free.
Finding accommodation in Salakovac seemed a pretty difficult task. Even though we asked for help from the locals and even from the teachers from the school, it looked like an impossible mission to find a place to sleep. Time went by and it got dark and cold. All of our attempts were rejected. At the very end we got help in the local hospital. One of the nurses asked the police for assistance. Soon we found ourselves at the police station with a warm cup of coffee in our hands. After all this hassle it felt really good to rest on a chair and drink something hot. We cracked some jokes and had a nice chat and our stay at the police station ended up to be lots of fun, despite the location
Soon our new host - the local priest arrived. He was a tall man, over 190 cm with a beard and a huge smile on his face. He looked about 50 years old. Slobodan Stanich – introduced himself. We shook hands and greeted each other.
After gathering our staff up, we started walking towards the vicarage. Slobodan bought some food for us at the local shop. He insisted on inviting us for dinner.
His house was a one floor building with a peaceful warm atmosphere. We got a cozy little room for ourselves and we soon started to feel at home.
As a welcome drink – Slobodan offered us some pálinka. He did not drink with us. He was fasting. We started talking during the dinner. He gladly shared some stories from his life. Originally he comes from Bosnia. He moved to Serbia in 1996. He has a family, a son and a daughter: He was not only a father but a happy grandpa as well. He proudly told stories about his grandchildren. He is divorced now.
He was such an open minded person, who talked so honestly that this encouraged us to ask anything from him that crossed our mind. Eni was mostly interested in the difference between the catholic and orthodox rite and religious practices. Soon it was our turn. We told the story of „our track” and even showed our page on facebook to him. He „like-d” us right the way He liked the idea of supporting children and hoped that we will reach our goal.
Hosted by Slobodan
Sadly, Slobodan did not talk very good English and my Bulgarian language skills were also limited, so we had to use google translator to help us out and to understand each other more.
We were chatting, laughing around the table. At the back the fire was dancing in the chimney-piece and the icons and the rest of pictures of the saints were smiling at this cheerful weird company. Time flew by and the morning soon was knocking on our door.
The breakfast was lovely. We packed our stuff up. As a gift we got two wristlets (looks like rosaries) a saint picture and also a bottle of palinka for the stressful days.
Visiting the church
Just before we left, we visited the Orthodox Church. The building was quiet small which made its atmosphere very friendly. It was bright, had huge windows on the sides. On the upper circle there was a space for the choir. There were also several chairs at the first row, for old people to sit during the mess. The walls were decorated with icons and other saint pictures. At the very back of the building there was the presbytery. Only priests were allowed to enter there. Slobodan showed us around. I took some pictures while Eni was asking about the steps of the rite.
We did not really want to, but we had to say goodbye to Slobodan and to this wonderful place. We got on our bike and forced ourselves to concentrate on our next stop. It was difficult. This encounter, the conversations and the experience uplifted us so much that we could not even talked to each other for a while. Slobodan was watching us until a little hill hid us for good.
It was a windy, cloudy day when we were leaving for Vaskapu to get to know closer the Djerdap National Park.
Translated by: Dóri
In the morning, on 24 of March we had to pop in to the centre of Szeged to arrange this and that. Fortunately Mesi told us to use her car, so that we can buy time , thank you Mesi once again! By the time we got back to Szőreg Linki (a friend of us from Bátor Tábor) was sitting in front of the door. He lives in Szeged and told us that he rides with us till the border. He put on costume for us, he was waiting for us in szalacsi-cap, camouflage trousers with Józsi ( a very old „type” men’s bike), which was suffering from puncture so we had to help out his pressure a bit during our ride. We had nice weather but we got the wind head-on. The Tiszasziget border was only 10 km away from us. During the ride we were chatting and laughing, we were excited because our first border crossing was waiting for us. In front of the border we stopped to take a picture and drink a sip of pálinka, tapped each other and followed by Linki’s gaze we rolled into the ring of border guards. They were pretty kind, asked the regular – from where to where - questiones for a couple of minutes. On the Serbian side they welcomed us kindly, after the „where are you going to?” „To New_Zeland” question and answer the border guard just shook his head, which was – as we think- his honest expression of „You are not on your right mind.” We got the seal and rolled into Serbia. We stopped for lunch in the boundary of the first village. Because of the cycling we turned back to our childhood routine: „breakfast-brunch- lunch-snack-dinner” anyway we can eat at any time.
Linki accompanied us to the Serbian border
After a short rest we turned towards Zenta. The wind became calmer, we rolled in nice weather. In smaller villages people were waving and blew horns to us . At Zenta we decided to take a break. We were „parking” ( we have to get used tot this as well) with the bikes when a woman came up to us. She saw us in TV and she just wanted to wish good luck to us. We were really surprised but her words felt us pretty good. In Evropa Cafe we could order in Hungarien, we drunk fine coffee and ate cakes. Then we set out to our next stop Ada. We still had 17 km ahead of us, and we started to be tired. We were having really exciting days, like a huge stone was rolling down from our hearts: we are really start off. We are on our way. At Ada we wanted to do some shopping, because we were running out of our reserves. We planned to spend the night somewhere around, but we did not exactly know where. We stopped in front of a bakery to buy some food for dinner and for breakfast. We heared that a woman was saying hello to us again. It turned out that she is Fáy Mari (she and Balázs were volunteering together at Bátor Tábor) We were happy to see each other again. We were chatting a bit, then Mari tried to find us some accomodation, unfortunately with no success. But she told us, that on the side of River Tisza there is a free camp site, that is safe , not that far away and we could spend the night there. We thanked for her help, and after a kiss and hug we left. Over the embankment we found the camp site. It was totally empty only one or two fishingmen were around. After a short survey we chose our campground. It was lee, there was no problem with that, but as for the view, well – as you can see from the pictures- it could easily fit in to Kusturica’s film scene. It is even, we thought, we were not cold, we could lock the bikes, there were benches with table: perfect choice. We set up our tents here! This was the first time in real – and dark – to set up our hiper-super tent. But after 15 minutes we could pack from the bikes. After dinner we started to write our private diaries ( we both have one) . A lot of things happend to us in the past few days to be recorded.
The first breakfast in Serbia
The weather was a bit cool when we woke up, so we tried to be ready fast, but our part-time is still not so good, we will have time to come into it I suppose. At 9 o’clock we left Ada and reached Péterréve across Mohol. We wanted to eat some brunch so we were looking around in the small village where can we go to eat something, leave the bike sin safe, maybe have some internet and we could load our phones. For a minute we thought, this would be an impossible combination, but after all we could find a super bakery. A serbian woman suggested us that place, she hardly spoke hungarian, it was not easy to understand her, but we really appreciate her help. Two hungarian women was working in the bakery. They were happy to see us, welcomed us kindly . They saw the bikes and started to ask where are we from and where do we go. We talked a little bit, then we chose our burek and sat down to have brunch. Unfortunately they did not have coffee, but we might be so simphatic to the two ladies that they cooked us turkish coffee from their own. We were really greatful for them, we couldn’t even imagine that. The internet question was solved as well, because we were told at the bakery, that the wi-fi sign of the local school is so strong that we can use it from the square and it has no password. After the brunch we said goodbye, we used the wi-fi a bit at the main square and settled our accomodation for the night at Piros. A young guy wearing a white cloak was stepped to us and gave us some glucose. Endre is working at a pharmacy, he saw the bikes and thought to welcome us. He offered us that if we couldn’t find accomodation he waits for us in his home in Újvidék. We would never have thought that such thing may happen to us, a stranger greets us, just because we are with bikes, chats with us and offers accomodation. We thanked him his offer, changed contact and said goodbye. We left Péterréve with warm feelings. This time we had not known, but we had strong head-wind all day long, the next 32 km was hard to succeed. The air cooled down as well, we felt it even colder because of the wind, literally we were matted when we parked at the fence of the catholic church of Szenttamás. A car stopped next to the manse and it’s driver invited us to the garden. As we entered the garden, we found a bench where we wanted to eat our lunch. After a couple of minutes the parson appeared, who invited us into an outbuilding next to the manse to enjoy our meal there. We were chatting during the meal – he was really nice, he was deaf a little bit, so we had to speak loud. He was talking to us about his relatives in Budapest, then he looked at his watch, he had to hurry, he was having a funeral in 5 minutes. We thanked him the place and said goodbye. From Szenttamás we ride straight to Újvidék, with strong cross-wind. We arrived to the city around half past seven, Piros was not far away from here, where Feri and his family was waiting for us. We found the house easily and Feri welcomed us. We got a small residence in a quiet, clean outbuilding. We put down the bikes and continued talking in Feri’s livingroom. Before dinner we drunk from the pálinka we got from Bea. Meanwhile Csilla Feri’s wife arrived with their son Áron. They are both working at the theather in Újvidék. After a long day we went to bed around midnight. The next morning when we woke up Csilla and the parents were in the garden, they were cutting chicken, peeling, sorting. Feri was preparing a home-made „fatálas” for us, bacon, sausages and fresh bread was waiting for us on the table. (We will really miss this kind of breakfast) After drinking the turkish coffee and investigating the dzsezva (copper pot for boiling water) I packed small chickens and peted rabbits Balázs was preparing the brakes with Feri. We put our things together, said goodbye to the family and after 10 we went to a rapid sight seeing tour with Feri on bikes.
Taking a nap
We rested a bit by the side of river Duna at Újvidék, which was really nice. We wanted to have lunch, when we heard „hey, hello” from somewhere. A large, bearded guy was approaching us with a really loaded, trailered bike. He is Joaquin a chilean guy, who departed a year ago from France and since then he has been biking over Europe. He has been volunteering in a winery for 5 moths and now he decided to move on. We got to know Menegin Gospodin Dinosaurus as well, a street dog who bacame his traveling companion. We talked a bit, changed contact, Joaquin was turning toward Belgrád, then he will see. We are sure that we will meet him again! After waving him goodbye, we had our lunch at the riverside, with the castle of Pétervárad opposite to us. We left Újvidék on the Duna-bridge, and after saying goodbye to Feri we continued our way at next to Fruska Gora mountain . A high slope was waiting for us, we stopped several times to take a short brake or drink a bit and to take some pictures. At the end of the high slope we sat down for refilling our energies when – to our biggest surprise – Joaquin appeared. We had a kind of mini-picnic together, then we said goodbye, he spent one more night at the winery . Our way was leading to Belgrád.
Zastava 750's , for the first we tought old Fiat 500's
We had to search our host at the Department of Philology at the University of Belgrád. Our phone batteries were low so we were without maps. We had to use the help of the locals to reach the settled meetingpoint and get the homekeys from Bert. Balázs was improvizing and tried to use his bulgarian kind of serbian knowledge. But it worked, the locals understood what we wanted and and showed us the way . In downtown, this was much easier, more people came and helped us in English. After 8pm we met Bert, our host. He is a guy from Belgium, who is teaching french at the university and his hobby is to host people almost every week. He have been to a lot of countries, he lived a couple of years in Asia, so we got some useful information and advice from him. He gave his keys and a map to us, told us how can we get there and he went back to his class. We met again around 10 in his home, and spent a nice evening together. Bert was full of good stories. The 27 of March was a day for resting again. We both really enjoyed it. We were relaxing, eating, tried to settle our things. Bert was saying goodbye to us around 6 in the evening, he went snowboarding to the hills, so we were alone in his home. After taking a photo he went away.
Today we will have an exciting evening again: there is a serbian family living 15km away from Belgrád – Balázs found them accidentaly on the internet – who will host us this evening. A biker family, they have just arrived home from Asia. We cannot wait to see them.