Don Feidner

Last Update:   17 April 2013

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9 - Belgrade to Romania

CIMG0615 Belgrade

Serbian National Assembly in Belgrade

CIMG0618 Omoljica Wet Bumpy Road

Bumpy Road in Serbia after the Rain

CIMG0619 Roadsign in Ivanovo1

The next night, I slept on the wide sheep grazing plain below the dike next to the Danube. I had planned to ride to a camping place which was only 5 km further, but I could feel the rain coming and put up my tent early. The tent was like a trampoline bouncing the hailstones away and the rain pounded on the tent with a ferocity that was incredible. When I thought the storm was about to end, the rain and wind doubled in intensity. Yes, I wondered if a tornado was coming and whether the tent could stand the tempest. Suddenly, it was over – the wind stopped.  But the rain continued the rest of the night.

CIMG0623 Sheep on Dike Ovanovo

Sheep on Dike near Ivanovo

When I realized that I could walk faster than ride, I discovered that I had a flat tire - the first in several thousand kilometers. No wonder, the road was terrible. The tire was fine, but the tube was defective. An hour lost. After fixing it, I rode on to the next town and onto the super highway. No traffic. Two hours sailing with the wind, I entered a water-soaked area national park which was more like a jungle than anything else. The frogs were croaking, the snakes had wandered onto the road and were squashed and the birds were gathering in the treetops and singing up a storm – probably warning about the next torrent of rain to come. 

CIMG0628 Storks in Field

Storks Looking for Breakfast

I rode to about 15 km from the Romanian border when I saw the storm clouds gathering again. Not 5 minutes later, I saw a house on the right that was boarded up. Empty and no sign of life and no tire tracks in the driveway. I rode into the driveway and found a place behind the trees that was flat with a perfect view into the desert scenery beyond. Perfect. I put up the tent immediately and the rain began again. After a couple of hours, the clouds cleared away and I watched the sun setting on the horizon.

CIMG0643 Sunset Camp Crate Banatska Palanka

Sunset near Banatska Palanka

CIMG0645 Road to Vracev Gaj

Sunrise on the Way to Vracev Gaj

The next morning was dry, so I rode on to the Romanian Border. The boarder police and customs officers on both sides – Serbian and Romanian – saw my bicycle with the 6 flags on it and waved me to the front of the line. We laughed and talked about the flags and what they signify and they stamped my passport, smiled and wished me good luck on my trip to Constanta.

Highlight of the Day

The two people on the right, Danu and Duleta, saw me riding on the highway, stopped their car and told me to follow them. At first, I was a bit wary, but Duleta had such a nice smile, I figured they were not trying to lure me into a trap.

They couldn’t speak any of the languages I have learned, but with hand signals and body language, we were able to communicate. They spoke in Serbian and I spoke in English and we understood each other perfectly.

They figured I was thirsty and gave me a home-made brew of fruit juices and mineral water. Afterwards, they offered me a meal. I showed them photographs of my family and they showed me their passion - bird cages everywhere with parakeets and parrots and canaries and many birds I didn’t recognize.

As we sat in their pagoda, it was obvious that they were anything but wealthy, but they just wanted to be kind to the stranger on a bicycle at their home.

CIMG0907 sign to Romania

This leg of my Danube Bike Tour took me from Belgrade to the border of Romania.

Both adults and children were fascinated when they saw my bicycle loaded with six pieces of luggage and 6 flags coming down the highway. The children would often run alongside and ask me one question after another. 

Why 6 flags? They represent the languages in which I am able to communicate - some better - others just good enough to meet my needs. But the primary purpose of the flags is that they provide an extra margin of safety. Cars and trucks tend to pass much further than when cycling without them.

It was sometimes comical when someone, early in the morning, would shout out “Buenas Noches” (Good Night!) - the only words of greeting they knew when they saw the Spanish flag.

CIMG0617 Omoljica Serbia

Typical Empty Highway East of Belgrade

This leg of the trip was definitely an adventure. With threatening clouds above, I rushed through water-filled streets in Belgrade. As you can see, I had gained some weight over the winter, so I was badly in need of some good hard exercise. From Belgrade, I rode across the Danube bridge to the north.

All the way, I felt like a celebrity. When the people saw my bicycle with the 6 flags, they waved and shouted and put their thumbs in the air with big smiles on their faces. The people in every second car was honking and waving at me as I passed. Several times, people stopped me to ask me where I was from and where I was going. Everyone was smiling and laughing and wishing me well.

The ambulances and police cars turned on their sirens and gave me the thumbs up with smiles on their faces. One police car stopped me with his siren going. I greeted him very friendly-like and before I could ask him what he wanted, he asked me, “Can I take your picture?”  This continued all the way into Romania. Nearly all of the police and border patrol cars wanted to talk with me about my trip.

CIMG0616 Omelet

The traffic was sparse, so. I continued from Belgrade to Pancevo on a 4-lane highway – there was an empty bus lane on the right, so I sailed at record speed to the next town. The bicycle trail along the river was flooded. After that, the rain began to fall – thunder, lightning, hail the size of golf balls and wind beyond belief. Thank God the wind was at my back, so I could sail along at 28-30 kmh. When the hail and rain came, I was able to find shelter in a Mexican restaurant. A large 2-egg Mexican omelet, large piece of pita-bread, salad and cappuccino (3 Euros) – more than I could possibly eat. The waiter took part of the bread back.  

CIMG0620 Campsite below Dike Rainy Night

Emergency Camp Site below the Dike near Ivanovo

The sound of sheep bleating woke me up at 5:30 the next morning as a shepherd walked behind them on the dike. One hour later I was struggling against the wind from the north after deciding to leave the water-soaked dike and ride on a bumpy road back to the highway. 

CIMG0624 Wet riverank near Kovin

Rainy Day in Serbia

After leaving what was like a tepid jungle, I found myself in a near-desert landscape. Everything was dry, and since it was at the eastern end of Serbia just before the border crossing, the road was empty. But…. It was a struggle to go up the hill… I eventually decided to walk and push my bike up the endless hill.  But what a nice reward afterward. I felt like I was in Arizona…. Brush and dry trees all the way to the horizon. The road was empty and I could ride easily on the smooth surface.

The sky was overcast again this morning, but the birds were singing happily, not melancholy, which meant the sun would shine within the next 2 hours. Strange how quickly one learns to read the signs of nature when on a bicycle. When the birds begin to chirp instead of sing, the leaves turn backside up and the smoke hangs low instead of rising, rain is near at hand.

CIMG0637 Wide open country near Vracev Gaj

Highway with Smooth Surface

CIMG0640 Wide open country near Vracev Gaj

Tree Near Vracev Gaj

CIMG0630 Danu u Duleta invited me for drink and lunch

Danu and Duleta

Continue on to Leg 10

Weiter nach Etappe 10

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