Exactly three months after Snežana and I were in Bratislava, we crossed the Danube again on the nasty Pančevo Bridge and rolled into Belgrade. Big city, big traffic. The biggest city I’ve been in since Vienna and probably the poorest bicycle facilities of any big city I’ve pedaled in Europe. Less than one km from the end of Tour de Karpaty, a woman opened her car door in front of me. Trapped between tram tracks and a curb, I knew I was passing her too closely. Over the handlebars I went, and I landed running on my feet. A man at the crowded bus stop patted me on the back, smiled, and said something to the effect of “keep on keeping on.” Bob Dylan fan?
It’s about 450 km from Bratislava to Belgrade. By road Google Maps says it’s 572 km via Budapest and Novi Sad. Following the Carpathians through Slovakia (15 days), Poland (10 days), Ukraine (7 days), Romania (48 days), and Serbia (12 days), it’s about 4000 km. If you’re in a hurry, I recommend the bus.
Interactive map here.
As soon as we left the mountains, we were treated to the hospitality of Snežana’s friends. Wait, no, the first really was Saša who e-mailed us a suggested route through the back roads of east Serbia. He led us to roads like this:
For two rainy days we stayed at Mirko and Biljana’s weekend house near Ždrelo. I must have needed a rest because it felt so great to spend five hours lounging around at the nearby hot springs resort.
Mirko cycled with us from Ždrelo to Petrovac where the three of us joined Nataša and Saša (different Saša from the bike routes) for a coffee (and mandatory burek for the cycle tourists).
The following day Igor hosted us for a coffee at his house (and even insisted on buying the burek that we insisted on buying on the way to his house!):
Rajko treated us to giant plates of sweets in downtown Smederevo:
and Šone bought us beers in Kovin. I have no photo of Šone but check out this camping spot near Kovin for the very windy last night of Tour de Karpaty:
Near the US Steel factory in Radinac we meet Peter and Paddy (on a Long Haul Trucker), two Irish lads who had cycled from Ireland. They had traveled about the same distance we had in half the time. The following day we met a young Irish couple (he was on a Long Haul Trucker) on their way to India. A few hundred meters later we found Snežana’s friend, Duca, our bicycle escort to Belgrade. He probably thought we’d never make it to Belgrade since we stopped a few minutes later to chat with four young British cyclists (all on Long Haul Truckers?) on their way to Istanbul. They have grand plans to cycle from Durban, South Africa to Mombasa, Kenya. I assured them they were crazy 😉
Snežana, Duca, and I made it to Omoljica, our burek stop for the day, and then cruised into Pančevo with our continued strong tailwind. At a café in Pančevo Ivan and Jelena treated us to yummy soup and beers. If it weren’t for the tailwind, who knows, maybe we would have never arrived in Belgrade!
Snežana’s friend of 20 years, Dada, greeted us at her office, our comfortable home during our stay in Belgrade. Whew! Ready for a well-deserved rest.
Here is a selection of Tour de Karpaty photos that, with luck, haven’t been previously posted on this blog:
View of the High Tatras from the Polish side:
Schengen area border control:
Smart cyclists take the bridge. I attempted to pedal through the stream and failed:
Magurski Park Ńarodowy, Poland:
Izvorul Muntelui Reservoir, Romania:
Făgăraș foothills, Romania:
Climbing above Petrimanu, Romania:
Lost above Vulcan, Romania:
The Danube in Đerdap National Park, Serbia:
Don’t worry, still on the road!