We entered Serbia late as the sun was setting and became fearful of finding a safe place to camp as the landscape was very flat and were not many options available. After pushing on, we noticed a forest about 3km off on a dusty side road. Finding a suitable place to put up our tents was a bit tricky due to the marsh-land terrain beneath. It was not until a few days later we found out that we had camped about 500metres from the Croatian border, where there were a number of unexploded mines left from the war – oops!
That morning while taking an innocent picture of a dilapidated church we were offered Slivovitz from a wandering worker from the iron factory. It would have been rude to refuse and so by 10:30am we were being given the grand tour of the factory feeling very slightly inebriated.
We noted a sharp change in the quality of living between Hungary and Serbia with many more houses being left in a very poor condition and the quality of roads decreasing further. The price of food also dropped dramatically and we were able to eat for a quarter of that in Western Europe! It was nice to see the high level of pride which people had.
Entering Belgrade was quite a stressful experience with a mix of very dense traffic, erratic driving, pollution and bad weather! I (Jon) also fell off my bike, not adding to the enjoyment of the experience! We took a day off from riding here and visited a number of museums including the Nikola Tesla museum, which was really interesting looking at his engineering achievements. There were a number of working models which displayed his inventions.
Still following the Danube, we could now see Romania from across the water. Heading towards the Iron Gates (a huge gorge), similar to the fjords of Norway, cycling was fantastic. The views we experienced were truly incredible, passing by a number of old ruins and the carving ‘Decebalus Rex.’ Our final night in Serbia just so happened to be the best! As the sun was setting, we had reached the peak of one of the gorges and knocked on the door of a local farmer to use his land. He obliged and we enjoyed the lush soft grass, peace and views of the Danube.