Across Continents

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Leaving Belgrade

The plan was simple. Pick up the Danube cycle way where I’d left it a few hundred metres from the hostel in Belgrade and follow it over the only bridge onto the north bank of the river. Diligently following what signs I could find, I eventually ended up back at the start. Almost an hour of precious daylight wasted. Decided to pick my own way through the city to the bridge, mostly the docklands. Caught between packs of dogs and endless lorries, I was glad to reach the crossing.

Unmistakably the one and only bridge from the Capital towards the town of Pancevo. But none of the familiar cycle way signs. Had to be right. Two lanes of traffic hurtling past in either direction. Only one way to cross. Quickly. Beyond the bridge some ten miles of dual carriageway, fortunately with the addition of a bus lane to ride in for much of it. The legality of using this route had crossed my mind, but I was sure this was the right way.

Pancevo couldn’t have come soon enough. Onto quieter roads, east through small villages, few of which appeared on my map. The familiar unremarkable landscape, flat and dull, but nicer village centres I thought. Progress was good, the time lost escaping Belgrade gradually being recouped.

Then a brief stop, the bike pulled up on to the overgrown verge, just as I’d done many times before. Moving off, the front of the bike felt strangely springy – a slow puncture, the first in close on five thousand kilometres. I made it to a convenient patch of tarmac, one of few at the entrance to a field, off the road and out of sight. Thirty minutes to remove all the panniers, up-end the bike, fix the puncture, refit all the kit and get back on the road. At least it was dry.

I had planned to detour south for the night to the town of Smederevo, a former Capital of Serbia. Beautiful apparently. But I’d lost time and would try my luck in Kovin, a small town on the route east. Quite unexpectedly I found a sign for ’Sobe’ – rooms – and by dusk was safely off the road for the day. Basic but clean. And cheap. Soon managed to work out how to flush the toilet. You just had to take the cover off the cistern and raise the plunger by hand. Obvious really.


One response to “Leaving Belgrade”

  1. Iain says:

    “Soon managed to work out how to flush the toilet. You just had to take the cover off the cistern and raise the plunger by hand. Obvious really.”

    Ken – at least you only had to plunge your hand into the cistern rather than other ‘areas’ to achieve ‘effect’, especially after already getting your hands dirty with the puncture!!


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