Saying goodbye is difficult when you know it will be a long time before you see these lovely people again. We said goodbye to our parents in Budapest and decided to start cycling after a good cup of coffee. No typical destination in mind we started going south. Soon it was clear the main road is no fun to cycle on. Trucks and cars passing by at high speed and there’s almost no space next to the road. Fear was not an exaggerated emotion here. Without a good alternative we decided to give it a go. Just out of Budapest we noticed girls standing on the side of the road with either very sexy clothes on or just the private parts covered. It became clear these are prostitutes cause cars were picking them up or dropping them. After a few kilometers you just get used to the cars and mainly focus on the white line at the side of the road. Just when we set camp William noticed he was missing a shoe. He cycled a small off road part back without luck. Since it was getting colder the following days we needed shoes cause your foot is not active while cycling and can get cold very fast. Next day we cycled the whole way back to Budapest in a boring slow pace looking for his shoe and just before entering the city we found it in the grass next to a path. Lucky bastard found a snail in it too. Since the weather forecast wasn’t showing us nice weather we decided to stay at a bikercamp in Budapest. Just when we started a campfire on the camping it started raining so hard with thunder & lightning that the whole fire was gone. We had 2 awful sausages that night and william’s stomach had some struggles afterwards.
The next day we had a long day in the saddle. Cycled as much as we could in southern direction. Passing the same road for the third time and used to the cars we just kept going. Here and there some cyclist and also signs saying bicycles are not allowed. Weirdly police saw us several times and said nothing. After 70 kilometers the weather suddenly changed. More headwind, colder temperature and dark clouds came in. We took a break leeched some internet from a supermarkt. Some supermarkts here have free wifi internet! We motivated ourselves again and went on to Kecskemet. Beautiful city with lots of historic buildings but we still kept going and set camp just next to the road behind some bushes. The next morning we got woken up very early by a truck parking just next to us on the side of the road. Workers got out and started working on the side of the road. We still have no clue if they saw us but it was the quickest “packing up” we ever did. Within half an hour we were on the road on paranoia instinct. The day started very sunny but the weather forecast said heavy rain after midday. We wanted to reach just the bordercity Szeged before it would shower. We kept a good pace till Szeged and just after pitching our tent on a campingsite we saw very dark clouds crawling in. Temperature dropped a few celcius, wind started blowing and then thunder, showers and lightning! Under a roof we watched the show. It was so nasty the guy from the camping offered us a room to sleep in and made us very happy.
Serbian border was on our way the next day. This was gonna be our first real border crossing cause Serbia is not part of the European union. It was just a little over 10 km to reach the border crossing from Szeged. Serbia has it’s own money (Serbian dinars) and you can’t pay with euro’s.
We spent almost all the forints (Hungarian Currency) we had and packed everything well. Hungary is accepting the euro as currency but they still use their own forints. Not a problem but it looks like a lot when 1 euro is a little over 300 forints. After passing the Hungarian border you have the Serbian border 100 meters away. Jaillen quickly took a snapshot of the border while the guards were busy. William was a bit slower and the guards saw this. We quickly got shouted “ no photo, no photo” from the guards. Jaillen got a little nervous already because we were told by some Hungarian people that Serbians are not nice people, they are sturdy and not friendly. The guards were watching us with big eyes and looking around our stuff and talking serbian. They asked us where we are from and what we are doing and where we are heading. They laughed at us and talked to each other in serbian. They looked into every page of our passports and one of them was swinging with his handcuffs to us and wanted to see the camera. We had to show our last taken pictures. He was very serious and didn’t smile once. Pretty offensive body language but then he gave us a stamp and we were able to pass.
With a little shock we entered serbia where you would see the remains of former Yugoslavia. At some places it looks like time stood still and some small villages where there are a lot of abandoned buildings. Noticably some places where blooming oncebecause of industry. In the upper northern part people were primarly astonished to see us. We greeted and waived but most were not waiving back but just staring at us. As we were moving more inland people started getting friendlier. After getting a rainshower we decided to camp inside an abandoned shed/house just on the side of the road.
Next morning we head out with light rain and at this point we are actually used to rain. We reach a point during this trip now that rain is just a part of it and we must accept this. We just keep going through it while it bothered us in the beginning. After 3 hours of rain we decided to have a food stop at a bus station in Melenci. We discovered an open wifi network and connected. Connection with a mobile network is very expensive for us as Serbia is not part of the EU. While making use of internet a man passes by and starts talking to us. His name is Savo and he is a sailorman who works on various boats troughout Europe. His english is bad but he can speak good german. We got invited in his house for a cup of coffee and schnapps (Acoholc drink) His schnapps looked suspicious and was inside a plastic soda bottle!? Since we were cold and wet we thought it couldn’t make our day worse anyway. It wasn’t bad but it had a high amount of alcohol. We chatted a little bit with Savo, he was really nice and friendly. He tipped us to get purified water from a well a little further in the town. Our water amount was very low ti this point. We got really good tasting water from the well. In the meantime the rain stopped and we kept going further to Zrenjanin. The roads in northern Serbia are flat and straight. Imagine only farmlands around you and there’s the picture. Not a lot to see while on the road. At Zrenjanin our trip got a little more excited as the rain made big mudpools and our tires just couldn’t spin anymore because there was so much mud in between the tires, mudguards and brakes. We pushed the bikes a litle further and noticed somebody drinking water next to a trainstation. We decided to go there and literally bathed our bikes. The mud was like clay and very sticky. It took more than an hour to clean it off. Williams stomach wasn’t doing well and he was complaining already for a few days.
Before entereing Serbia Jaillen contacted a good friend of mine (Maja) and asked her about suggestions and people in Serbia. She gave me contact of a few persons whom I contacted and Natalija offered to host us in Belgrade.
Zrenjanin to Belgrade isn’t far away so we decided to take a train so we can stay at Natalija’s house. The woman at the trainstation sold us tickets but didn’t tell us the train wasn’t going further than Pancevo (a city 20 km away from Belgrade) We decided to go on and take a night ride to Belgrade. In the train we started communicating with Luka. A 75 year old man who was in the train with his bestfriend since childhood. They know each other from the times they were children. Luka cannot read or write and he can speak serbian and russian only. Communication was a real hassle. With a little help from a girl on the train we managed.
We arrived around 10 o clock at night in Pancevo and cycled along a main road directly to Belgrade. I must admit it was a scary but also adrenaline pumping ride. Jaillen got almost bitten by a dog in the dark. We crossed one big bridge on the north side of Belgrade and had a little difficulty finding Natalijas house. Natalijas received us and Jovana was there too. This was a long day and there was a lot to talk about. We went to sleep very late around 3 o clock.
Next morning was like a hangover. Tired as we were we decided to stay a day in Belgrade and explore the city. We got burek (pastry with feta cheese inside) and Natalija introduced us to delicious ayvar (a bread spread with mainly red bell peppers) We went to Dorcol platz where she partly owns a children playground and her mom owns a cafe/amusement center. It was a beautiful sight from Belgrade fortress seeing where the sava river flows into the danube river.
For lunch we had some typical serbian dishes made out of bell peppers, soups and corn cakes.
At the moment there are a lot of film crews in Belgrade. It seems attractive to shoot movies and commercials here. People walking with big camera’s, streets closed for pedestrians with big light setups and lot of scouts. Big thanx to Natalija and Maja for the Belgrade experience..
At the beginning of the night we were tired and decided to go home. We would continue our journey the next day.