Novi Sad to Belgrade, Serbia
Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
17Trip End Dec 17, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
After the climb I had mostly flat road to Belgrade. I was 10km from Belgrade when the rear tyre slowly started to deflate
It was great to see my good friend Pavle. We'd had a chance meeting at the hostel in Linz and had kept in touch. It was great to see a friendly face after a torrid day. He introduced me to his girlfriend, Nada and their friend, Tanya and they showed me a good time as we toured the city's nightlife.
After another late night I couldn't sleep past 10am
I met Nemanja the following day and he introduced me to his friends Milan and Tikana. We went for drinks, more Rakia, in a bar known by the symbol ?. Nemanja advised me of a route to Sofia he had cycled with a French couple, who are also clearly barking mad; they are now in Tibet, one year into a two year cycling trip. From Sofia I can continue to Istanbul. The route is more direct than the one I had planned and should get me to Istanbul before the 18th December. Unfortunately, it means I will miss meeting up with Lubo, a Bulgarian I met in Linz earlier in the trip (apologies, Lubo). Of course, this means I will be taking alternative transport from Istanbul to Egypt in order to spend Christmas with my cousin, Charley
Things were going well on the Monday. I spoke to my family and a contact in Istanbul. Having someone to meet and a place to stay at a destination really makes a difference. Later, Nemanja and I were driving to his place. We passed through some traffics lights on green. A car shot out of a road to our right straight into the traffic. He collided with the front passenger side of the car and we both came to a shudering halt. Luckily no-one was hurt but as we checked the car's we noticed the guy fıddlıng wıth something in his boot. Thinking nothing of it we continued to look around. And spotted a yellow sign on his window and the sıgn for nuclear materials. We walked to the back of the guy's car again and found him passing a Geiger counter over some metallic cases. Yikes. Had a look for cuts and scratches and had visions of arms and legs sprouting from my eyes. Luckily no leaks. Well he would say that wouldn't he.
Police arrived on the scene impressively quickly and then stood around doing absolutely nothing. Unconcerned about the traffic they watched on as cars and lorries of all shapes and sizes did their best to manouver around the crash site which was slap, bang in the middle of a busy crossroads. Next the fire brigade arrived and assumed control. They started to take statements from all concerned. In mine I mentioned that my neck was a little sore from the whiplash but nothing to worry about. Five minutes later I'm the only English speaker in a serbian ambulance in heavy traffic. The ambulance pulled up at the hospital about an hour later. I made my way to a desk of sorts and tried to explain my presence. I didn't get far before somebody took pity and helped out. I was told I needed to pay 75 euros before I could even be examined. My neck wasn't 100% but I wasn't in 75 euros of pain either so I skipped the check-up and prescribed myself a few bottles of Jelen Pivo to be taken orally. One bottle per hour for the rest of the evening. Firstly however, Milan and Nemanja collected me from the hospital and we had some traditional food that Nemanja's mother had kindly prepared for us.
After the excitement of the previous day and under strict instruction from doctor's Nemanja and Milan I was told to rest another day in Belgrade. Pavle agreed. It suited me fine as I was in no great rush to get back on the bike although I did feel it was time to move on... Or at least time to do something different. I toyed with the idea of looking for teaching work in Belgrade but I feel like I need to close this chapter first. I realise that I won't be satisfied until I reach Istanbul and the far reaches of Europe.
My last day in Belgrade began with a cold morning. The mist of the prevıous day had failed to clear and the temperature had dropped by about 10oC. I don't feel thrilled about the cycling, less the prospect of camping in the cold. But I do want to get to Istanbul and I want to get there by bike. Fortunately, a friend in Istanbul has found a short-term home for Clara and Freddy so I've decided to rest them once I arrive and take a flight to Cairo followed by a bus to Dahab.
I give more thought to teaching. It would be good to find work soon so I don't forget completely the new skills I learned in Leeds and so that I can get some much needed experience. Afterall this is supposed to keep me going for a long time into the future. I would also like to return, for a while at least, to a life of rhythm and dare I say, routine. It's amazing what you miss when it's gone.
Pavle and I visited his mother in New Belgrade. We ate her delicious apple pie and I picked up another bottle of rocket fuel, I mean, Rakia. Same difference. Nemanja has planned a great route for me from Belgrade to Sofia and Tikana has written me a letter of introduction for the nun's at the monastery where I'll camp on my first night out of Belgrade.
I've had an interesting and eventful time in Belgrade spent with some wonderful people and I'm sorry to leave. After coming so close to taking the train I've been lifted by a great deal of kindness and support. However, the clock continues to tick as the mercury drops. Winter is hard on my heels. It should take me two and a half weeks to cycle to Istanbul. I hope to spend few of those nights in the tent.