On 22 May we cruised into Serbia, after a good nights sleep next to the Donau dyke just outside Ujmohacs. Bye bye Hungary, dober dan Serbia!
Our first ‘real’ border crossing: two checkpoints and the first stamp in our passport. A huge sign that welcomes cyclists to the country greets us upon arrival. Nice!
We love Serbia
The change in atmosphere is immediate. People smile and wave, sun is shining, the asphalt is smooth, the dogs are cute. Life is good to cyclists in Serbia. We find a perfect well-kept little campsite where we also have a catfish dinner cooked by the manager.
The next day the Serbian adventure begins for real. The three weeks on the road mark has been passed, meaning we are now beyond the normal time frame for a cycling holiday. Cyril wonders when we will start to feel like real road warriors instead of relaxed holiday makers. Turns out today is the day.
Into the wild boars
First, we head into the Upper Donau national park. It is very hot, well over 30 degrees, but we are going fast on the dykes with a steady wind in our back. We see some (dead) snakes and not many people but enough to be sure of food and water. The landscape is flat but less rigidly manicured than Hungary. We are loving it and devouring the kilometres, we will make 136km in total today, breaking my personal record for daily distance with a fully loaded bike. We cross a woodland and hear little wild piglets squealing, which is cute but also a bit scary since it means big mama is nearby and possibly upset. A bit later we see a big boar crashing across the bike lane. We didn’t see it coming because the grass on either side of the path is very high. Further along the road is a whole family of piglets and boars; the jump into the primordial swamp next to the dyke with big loud splashes and grunts. We disturbed their lazy afternoon nap in the mud. This is starting to feel like adventure.
After the wild pig excitement we find a little camp with old caravans sitting on the shore of the Danube. It looks like a little collection of man caves for local guys who like to fish and enjoy a beer in the outdoors. Completely deserted because it is a week day, we decide to have a little break in the shade. Turns out there is one older man on his own at his caravan. Nikola ambles over to us and we have a lovely chat even though he only speaks 4 words of German and 2 words of English and we have only just learned how to say hello and thank you in Serbian. He brings out the slivovice and a nice prune brandy ‘for the lady’ and cooks us our first Serbian Turkish mud coffee. Nikola has been a truck driver for 40 years and all it got him was a triple bypass. This sweet old man completely agrees with our mad idea of quitting our jobs and cycling the world for a year. He misses the good old communist days when there was little stress but fishing brings him peace of mind. A lovely man, we are very glad to have met him. Cycling with a shot of moonshine and strong coffee makes everything a little bit surreal. Since there is no traffic we are free to enjoy the buzz.
Our goal for today is Bačka Palanka where the guidebook promises us a camp site. We arrive after 136km, tired, hot and hungry, but no camp site to be seen. After asking around for a place to stay the local kayak club welcomes us to put up our tent on their grounds. Staying safe within the fence, the club keeper comes to check on us with his torch light after we’ve enjoyed cevapcici and a beer by the waterside. When we are clean, warm, fed and cozy inside our sleeping bags a thunderstorm breaks and it starts to rain. Today was wonderful and we are starting to feel like real bicycle adventurers.