Serbia Bike Touring – ep. 7: Rushing to Belgrade

It’s a beautiful morning here in Smederevo. Yesterday we visited the Smederevo fortress and the city. We stayed at Milos’ place, our Warmshowers host, and talked about our adventures. Now we’re getting ready for the road to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

The best road for bicycle tourists from Smederevo to Belgrade is on the Northern side of the Danube. Milos recommended us this route for its lack of intense traffic and climbs. Leaving Smederevo behind, we cross the river and head West, over the fields.

Just a few pedals’ turn and a horrible smell strikes us. What could it be? It reeks, it stinks like rotting corpses. It turns out it comes out from a dog food factory in Kovin, a town we are passing by. Just writing about it and remembering the feeling makes my stomach turn! I can only imagine how Adelina felt it, due to waking up a bit under the weather. Since leaving Milos’ place, her tummy has been rumbling and her energy was quite low. I decided that we are going to stop whenever she feels like it, take the train to Belgrade or even camp in the field, if we have to. Adelina’s well being and enjoyment of our trip are very important to me.

It’s hard to describe my amazement when I saw Adelina pedalling like the wind! She was like Wonder Woman on two wheels, constantly rolling at about 27 or 28 kilometers per hour. I actually struggled for a bit to keep up with her, which never happens – ha, ha! We stop for a bite and a beer in Banatski Brestovac right when the school was out. The streets were flooded with kids and parents – almost everyone was on a bike. I was really happy to see this, a village where the old and young use bikes. Exiting the village we saw some gigantic cows, the biggest we ever saw! Researching them at home, I found out they were Hungarian Grey Cattle. They looked gentle, but were behind electric fences…

Soon, we approach the city of Pančevo. We ride through the town and take a few minutes to walk in the central park. The architecture here is old and has a nice feel to it. It’s a quiet place and I would like to spend some more time exploring, but we decide to hurry to Belgrade for now. Adelina is feeling much better after the pedalling rush, but she does want to lay down in a bed as soon as possible.

Getting from Pančevo to Belgrade was, by far, the hardest part of the day. The road was very busy with traffic. Thousands of cars, trucks and buses, honking and screeching, tired us heavily. The cherry on top was the bridge across the Danube, with its narrow lanes and crazy drivers. Riding our bikes across was a big mistake and I actually was very afraid and trucks and buses passed us by. Guys, don’t ride your bikes across the Pančevo bridge! Use the sidewalk and push your bike like a pedestrian. It’s much safer and it will save you a gread deal of chills and sweat.

Once in Belgrade, we go straight to HostelChe, a place I’ve heard about from a bicycle touring discussion group on Facebook and decided to give it a try. Riding to the city centre was a challenge, as we immediately discovered that Belgrade was much less friendlier with cyclists compared to Bucharest. And we can’t really say that Bucharest is a bicycle friendly city, that’s for sure! We reached Republic Square soon enough, though, and continued on foot from there, pushing our bikes through the crowded pedestrian zone.

My first impression of Belgrade was: wow, what a busy city! There are so many people in the street, so many young faces! Every zebra crossind was packed with people, every pub was full. My feelings were somehow mixed. I liked the livelyhood of the city, it’s vibrant life at midday, but felt a bit squished. I am not a fan of crowds. Luckily, the hostel is not far. The staff is, like we expected, very friendly, and we get receive our beds soon enough. A nice, hot bath after, and we’re ready to roll on new adventures… on foot. This time we leave our bikes behind, for this evening and the next day, and explore Belgrade like regular bipedal tourists.

We take a walk through the Bohemian quarter, the Kalemegdan park and the Belgrade fortress. At night, the park it is a lovely place. It’s quiet and the dark landscape overlooking the Danube has a very peaceful feel to it. We are very happy to be here, very happy to have taken this trip and, despite the slow start, this was a great day.

Check out our video for the day, below. The route we followed can be found here.

Also, don’t forget about the Adventures section, for inspiration on outdoor activities in Romania. As a certified Tour Guide, I will be glad to be there for the adventure of your dreams!

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