Entering Serbia means leaving the EU. We enter Serbia twice, because as I mentioned in the previous post, the border is going from one side of the Danube to the other and back all the time. Actually we cross the border many more times, but there is no checkpoint if you cross the border on a bike trail.
Everything gets more official when you leave the EU. „Passport please“, then you get a stamp with the time and place you entered the country. So far so good. Knowing how to properly cross borders isn’t always easy though. Cora already wrote about it.
In the end nothing changes much. The landscape is like in southern Hungary, but I would say North Western Serbia is even less populated. We cycle on top of the dyke most of the time. Every few kilometers there is a bigger farm, with some huge houses. People along the route cut trees, tend sheep or mow grass. It is a quiet land except the dogs of course. In this remote area, where they don’t see much strangers, they are getting really aggressive.
We still find very nice places to pitch our tent and now often have lunch at so called Czardas. They are basically remote country restaurants, offering fish from the Danube and often located directly at the river. Actually like our beer gardens, but less touristic, yet. We cross some national parks and see lots of storks and herons and feel a bit like in some perfect world. It is just the right mixture of forest, water, grass and swamp. And the birds behave like it is their territory, not ours.
From Backa Palanka on, we enter a more populated region. Now we first experience the overwhelming sympathy of the Serbian people. In some parts we feel like at the finish line of the Tour de France. They are cheering at us, open their car windows, to ask where we are from. Some honk some clap their hands. A reverend shouts across the street „from what country?“. I answer „Germany“, then he only shows both thumbs up.
In little towns elder men tend to sit in front of their houses and just watch the world pass by. I guess it’s better than watching TV and usually there are no commercials every 15 minutes. These guys just smile and cheer at you and within seconds shout at you all the foreign words they know. Some just assume we are Germans and say „Grüss Gott, wie geht’s?“. It is just great and didn’t happen in the other countries before.
When we stay in Backa Palanka, we spent a night at a little guesthouse in a room with no more than 8 square meters. However the dinner there is fantastic. I’m not part of the Instagram-generation, so don’t expect any pictures of what we eat (there might be exceptions). But the Ćevapčići Cora orders could easily feed three grown men. My mixed grill plate is also a challenge. I accomplish it, but won’t be able to sleep in my preferred sleeping position…on my belly. During dinner a band of 5 men enters the room and starts to play traditional Serbian music. They aren’t as intrusive as you may know it from some other countries, where you pay them to just leave and go to the next table. They don’t expect anything. There are only us and three other people anyway. I recorded one of their songs, so you get a pretty good impression. One of the other guys just starts dancing with the bartender and then asks them to play certain songs, so he can do the vocals.
It is a really pleasant evening. Cora gets her Ćevapčići packed into some aluminium foil and it feeds us for two more days.
Our last night before Belgrade we spend very uncomfortable. It gets darker and we can’t find a spot to pitch the tent. So we finally choose a place between some apple trees just 5 meters away from the railway tracks. On the map the tracks seem to end just a few kilometers away, so we think there isn’t much traffic. However, they don’t end. It’s just a tunnel.