Across Continents

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Tunnel vision

You’d be hard pressed to describe the banks of the Danube in western Serbia as scenic. Largely flat, open landscapes. Dull and depressing. But that was beginning to change. A few gentle hills the previous day. Then, further east beyond Golubac, the river was soon hemmed in by steep, wooded mountain slopes. South of the river lay Serbia, to the north Romania.

Working river

Remaining in Serbia – the next river border crossing was over a hundred miles downstream – I continued east towards the town of Donji Milanovac. The road had been cut into fragile cliffs. Rock falls appeared commonplace, debris frequently strewn across the road, tarmac pitted from the impacts. A few workmen were carrying out controlled releases of shattered material from the cliffs above. There was little traffic to impede their efforts.

Often the road passed through tunnels, supposedly twenty one in all. I’d planned to count them, but instead found they’d all been helpfully numbered. Some were a mere eighty or so metres long, others closer to a quarter of a kilometre. Unlit. My lights were of little use, so instead I had to rely on being able to make out the central white line in the near darkness, hoping I wouldn’t hit a pothole or encounter anything coming towards me.

Tunnel

Reaching Donji Milanovac at dusk, I ventured into the Tourist Information Centre. Yes, they said, there were rooms available in a few private houses. I’d take one. No need for directions, the owner would come and collect me. He did. A little later he didn’t so much show me where the local mini-market was as introduce me to the staff. When I returned next morning for a few provisions the faces were new but the greetings were in English.

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