Tour de Karpaty ends in Beograd

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?

DSC_0326 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

Karpaty by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

DSCN5979 by bryandkeith on flickr

and this:

DSCN6033 by bryandkeith on flickr

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).

Mirko and Snežana by bryandkeith on flickr

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!):

Igor by bryandkeith on flickr

Rajko treated us to giant plates of sweets in downtown Smederevo:

Igor, Bryan, Snežana, Rajko by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

Last camp before Belgrade by bryandkeith on flickr

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 😉

Paddy, Peter, Snežana by bryandkeith on flickr

We all were coming from Bratislava and going to Turkey, but we were traveling in opposite directions by bryandkeith on flickr

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!

Bryan, Duca, Snežana by bryandkeith on flickr

Bryan, Snežana, Jelena, Ivan by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

DSCN4854 by bryandkeith on flickr

Lubovna Castle:

DSCN4876 by bryandkeith on flickr

Schengen area border control:

Back into Poland by bryandkeith on flickr

Bardejov, Slovakia:

DSCF1028 by bryandkeith on flickr

Slovak countryside:

Plavi autobus by bryandkeith on flickr

Smart cyclists take the bridge.  I attempted to pedal through the stream and failed:

DSCN4959 by bryandkeith on flickr

Magurski Park Ńarodowy, Poland:

Kampovanje u Narodnom parku Magura, koji je pod zaštitom WWL-a by bryandkeith on flickr

Ukraine:

DSCF1312 by bryandkeith on flickr

Typical road-side shrine by bryandkeith on flickr

Izvorul Muntelui Reservoir, Romania:

DSCN5278 by bryandkeith on flickr

Transylvania, Romania:

DSCN5353 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN5499 by bryandkeith on flickr

Descending Transfăgărășan:

DSCN5627 by bryandkeith on flickr

Făgăraș foothills, Romania:

DSCF2228 by bryandkeith on flickr

Climbing above Petrimanu, Romania:

DSCN5693 by bryandkeith on flickr

Transalpina, Romania:

DSCF2361 by bryandkeith on flickr

Lost above Vulcan, Romania:

DSCF2541 by bryandkeith on flickr

The Danube in Đerdap National Park, Serbia:

DSCN5936 by bryandkeith on flickr

Don’t worry, still on the road!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryandkeith/6298923576

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7 Responses to Tour de Karpaty ends in Beograd

  1. Zane Selvans says:

    I love your route’s complete disregard for political boundaries, instead slavishly following a real geographic feature. I wish it was easier to do that kind of thing in more of the world!

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Yeah, that route looks pretty cool when you see it on the terrain map, doesn’t it? It was fun meandering around on those dirt roads through the mountains. I’m hoping that maybe Greece will be warm enough to entice us onto back roads again, but that might wait till Turkey…

  2. Kevin says:

    Another terrific post — I think of Europe as being so densely populated, so I’m impressed by all the wilderness and great wilderness scenery you’ve passed through.

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Well, there’s almost as many people in the Netherlands as there are in Romania so it does depend on where you are. Romania was wild. It’s not wilderness like we have in North America, but some places felt about as wild as anything I’ve biked through in Colorado. Didn’t see any animals, however. I was hoping we might see a bear. We took bear precautions some nights. In fact, the largest wild animal I’ve seen on the whole trip was a fox I saw a couple days ago in the mountains east of Sarajevo.

  3. Paddy says:

    Hi Guys
    I was going through some old maps and came across your contact details. Its great to see you are still on the road.

    It was great meeting you both on that cold grey day outside Belgrade, the Rakija warmed are bellies!

    Hopefully cross paths again

    Paddy

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