In Donji Milanovac we again meet Kelly from Canada and adventure blogger Paul from England, who we got to know in Lepenski Vir and with whom we got along very well right from the beginning. The four of us spend the night on the beach and plan to cycle together for a few days. They are similar as fond of animals as we are and also stop for every dog and cat that lies lonely or hurt beside the road. Unfortunately, there are too many of those to be found in Serbia. That is why we find ourselves in situations that were not completely free of danger along busy roads as well as in some emotional rescue operations.
In tropical heat we manage to leave a few mountains and steep ascents behind us and get rewarded with countless amazing views. After we have passed the narrowest part of the Danube at the so-called Iron Gate with a width of only about 150m and a depth of 90m, we are standing on one of the highest mountains of this region. In front of us we see the statue of the Daker king Decebalus that has been sculpted into the rocks. With 40m this statue is the highest rock sculpture in Europe. I also like to call him Mr. Djerdap whom I have introduced to you in my previous blogpost. Before our bike travel I have read a lot about Mr. Djerdap and have been very excited to face him in person. Now eventually I am standing here – a very moving and emotional moment for me, realizing that I have done 2000km that have been partly exhausting and adventurous, through rain and heat.
Easy we go downhill through the idyllic landscape. Suddenly a sign: Beach, restaurant, free camping – Welcome to paradise! We are all very happy about this coincidence. In the most beautiful sunset we make a fire, cook and I do some fishing. The evening ends with inspiring stories on the Danube beach of Tekija village.
After an early morning bath in the Danube we go on into the direction of Kladovo to the dam Djerdap I which at the same time is the border crossing point to Romania. Here Babs and I have planned to leave Serbia and say goodbye to Kelly and Paul. I was looking forward to this point for a long time, because I have never been to Romania before and find border crossing points always exciting. Although I have checked the map very often, I am just realizing after arrival that I have been all in a fluster: Oh shit, the border comes way too quickly – far away from Kladovo. And what now? A quick and painful farewell!? A decision needs to be made. After some twisting and turning we decide to stay with Kelly and Paul. Only now we are fully realizing what kind of friendship might develop here. Goodbye & Hello Serbia! Sorry Romania, I will not get to know you yet…
After dark we arrive in Brza Palanka and again set up our camp on the beach. We are enjoying self-made twist bread at the campfire and are all happy about the decision that has been made at the dam. Thus, Djerdap I remains a magical place for me although with a different meaning now. In the morning I am viewing the most beautiful sunrise I have during our travels so far.
For breakfast we have fresh pancakes and scrambled eggs with beans. It is amazing how balanced one can eat also when wild camping. And moreover, especially the meals are very nice with good company. We are fooling around and laughing a lot.
Exuberantly we go on into the direction of Negotin which will be our last city before we cross the border to Bulgaria. Suddenly, a sign beside the street: Villa Kristina*** Accommodation & Pool. Villa and pool instead of camping? Well, why not. We do feel quite exhausted and it is far too hot anyway. And within the blink of an eye we find ourselves at a small, nice pool; right now pure luxury for us. In the evening we prepare fresh fish and potatoes on the grill and enjoy sleeping in clean, soft beds. The good thing about traveling this way is that you again appreciate the simple things.
After the rescue of a newborn kitten and an invitation for coffee by some locales the next day, we find ourselves at the border to Bulgaria were we are leaving Serbia – after almost two months. We are sad, but at the same time also curious about what will happen next. I am sure we will come back to Serbia one day! Thanks so much to all new friends and amazing people we have met along our way in this beautiful country! We are not saying goodbye, but see you later :)
Some of the photos above are from my travel buddy Paul Everitt.