Crossing into Serbia

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What I did
Crossing into Serbia

Flag of Hungary  ,
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So this morning found us in Budapest. I went out fairly early in the search for SD cards as someone stole the one out my camera and i choose to blame my girlfriend and for rubber hose because my fuel line had collapsed. I went for a ride to a mall I spotted on the way in and found a different one on our doorstep so went there instead. I found a Euronics store which could provide for my SD needs but nothing on the rubber hose front, rather disappointingly. I waited for the store to open and asked random strangers about a length of rubber hose. Nobody spoke English at all which I found a little surprising. In the end I drew a blank. I got my SD cards after considerable difficulty and my bike was running like a sack of shit. I assumed I had done bad things to her by fitting her with a petrol line that had gone hard and then melted. She wouldn't stay running at all which was reminiscent of the troubles I had with the spark plugs before. Then I got back, packed up and hoped for the best. It was raining when we left so i expected another day of abject misery. I stuck one of the SD cards in my GPS and mostly it started magically working as if Harry potter himself had rubbed his magic wand on it. We plodded on and I noticed that the engine stayed running. We stopped at a little alley with dozens of bike shops so I could get some hose but all were closed. We found an open scooter shop thing and they apologised that they could not accept cards and didn’t have rubber hose, all they had was proper fuel lines. They offered me a length of perfect stuff but the price was just under 2 euros and all I had was 5. I told them to keep the change which made them slightly excited and they accepted my terms. In England that hose cost me over 15.

So we rode off, my bike now running fine. We stopped at a petrol station for some food. I had a small cheese pasty, Marcin ate... pretty much everything. They didn’t understand us well enough to get the order right which was again, slightly strange. We had two choices on how to proceed. Romania or Serbia. Romania was my choice, someone on the HUBB had said he was scammed for insurance in Serbia and that was the opposite choice of Marcin after the advice of a man we met in a bar. So with no reliable information and google just toying with us I did the most reasonable thing possible, I asked some lorry drivers figuring they did this trip and knew best. They sided with the man in the pub, Serbia was safer, faster and easier. We were sold. An hour later we crossed the border. In all it took 15 minutes, it was very straightforward. We offered our passports, got the back and moved on to customs. Customs looked at the passports and we were free to enter. Simple. The roads were indeed pretty decent but in a fairly bad state of repair. It was interesting how unfinished lengths of road were already collapsing and telling of the economy that stretches of motorway are open with cones along miles of length and already having a patchwork quilt or repaired sections before even being completed. Driving here was actually pretty decent. The roads may be poor but there was none of the rampant arrogance of other drivers in Europe. These people might have simple tastes but accidently killing bikers wasn’t one of them.

We made it into Belgrade after being lashed by winds for several hundred miles. It was a charming town and spirits were high. Here we were after our first proper border crossing into a strange, non European country. The city was huge, vast in fact and the architecture was interesting but slightly lacklustre compared to some we’ve seen. The outskirts range from ploughed dirty fields with Russian cars being used as tractors to little alcoves of chavs running amok.

We stopped off a few times to take some pictures, after all, how often do you ride through Serbia? We were stuck in traffic which is understandable considering the sheer size of the place. A lot of people still paid attention to the bikes but we’re getting used to that. Once we were in the centre we got stuck in traffic because with our gear we can’t filter thorough. We heard a beep and a young lad on the back of a scooter was waving to us. Even when we stopped to take pictures people came up to us to offer to take one of us both. Despite the preconceptions this is a pretty decent place with very warm and friendly people.

Once into Belgrade all was good but Marcin wanted to plod on for a few more miles. I didn’t mind but when we left I just couldn’t keep up. It was dark by now and we were doing 70mph and he was pulling away. I had repaired my fuse problem but can’t go to full beam so had no way to flash him and at that speed I couldn’t over-take and let him know I just couldn’t keep up.

Eventually I just slowed down to 50 and let him catch on that I wasn’t there. Then he slowed down and I overtook and took us to a motel. He was hoping to do 90 miles, we made another 50 and I said we needed to talk. He is burning rubber to get to Sydney by Christmas but my plans are different. I don’t see any way an extra day more or less here makes much difference. Through Turkey there are no motorways past Anchorage, Iran has a poor road system and then Pakistan we have to wait for escorts and India is a joke of international proportions. We chatted briefly about it. I really like Marcin and we’re happy riding together so we put it behind us and tomorrow we’ll compromise, we’ll slow the pace so my little single can keep up and we’ll leave earlier and ride longer. That way we all get what we want.

The hotel/motel is just this side of good and at a price Europe can't compete with. The waiter had a real sense of purpose and brought us plate of plate of local delicacies and drinks which we still cheaper than eating out in France.

So talking of my little single... She’s running fine but drinking fuel. With my partner in Europe my fuel system delivered 180-190 miles per tank. Now it’s giving me 135 miles. That’s a hell of a drop. Marcin says he’s noticing a similar drop in his bike too so we’re suspecting dodgy fuel. Both bikes are running fine, just delivering worse range. We’re keeping our eyes on that one....
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thunderstick on

Pretty intense journey in the underbelly of Europe. Funnily enough when I read the blog summary it censored 'shit'. I think the bike has forgiven you, and it's good to hear that your mad veggie tastes are being catered for. Fair enough Marcin's in a rush, but it's better to see the road together surely? It'd be good to ride in a pair through Iran and the sub continent. I trust there will be a knees up when you're heading out of Europe and into Turkey? Be a nice little fare-thee-well to the land mass disintegrating into discontent....

jtw000 on

Actually the first knees up will be at the other end of Turkey as we prpare ourselves for the beerless environs of Iran and Pakistan. Bastards.

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