After a nice slow start up and saying my goodbyes to all the sweet cats and kittens I started on my way towards Serbia.
Slowly making my way to the Highway, I passed 2 boys on their bikes looking at me with an amazed expression and after a couple minutes of passing them I heard some noise behind me and a boy talking in broken English asking where I’m from.
During our chat they decided to join me for a little bit and show me the way to go and a good place to refill my bottles with cold water :) and of course having a couple of downhill races along the way. Reaching the Highway, we said goodbye and went our separate ways again.
After about 20km on the highway, I was getting a little bored and decided to take some smaller secondary roads, which were not as bad as when I entered Macedonia, although at some point one of the screws that keep my mudguard in place came out and got lost.
Luckily there are many car shops in Macedonia and within a minute I found one and asked if they have a replacement screw and after a 5 minute chat or so I was back on my way to Serbia again.
Following my gps over the secondary roads, it was looking as if the roads were getting smaller and smaller the closer I came to the border which struck me a little bit as odd, but I guess not as odd as the military guys might have thought of me as they saw me coming up to them on a 500m hill dirt road, apparently there are no border crossings there….. oops…. Oh well back to the main road again.
Once I crossed the border in to Serbia I quickly found my way of the highway and some pretty good secondary roads all the way to my destination for that day, Vranje, where I was hosted by 3 very nice girls showing me a nice time in the little Serbian city.
Although there wasn’t much to do in Vranje. So instead I did some planning ahead rest up as much as I could and just walk around and chill in a park until my hosts were done working and ready to get some dinner and drinks, real good fun.
But the next morning (Wednesday 17-8-2016) it was time to move on again, this time to a small town only 30 km away, so it was an easy day of cycling. When arriving in Vladicin Han (destination) I had to wait a while for a response of my host there. While waiting in a park 2 guys started talking to me, one of which was also cyclotouring and the other was his host and was apparently a good friend of my host. So we waited for a while together, had some beers and was invited to join them for lunch since it took a while before my host was available.
When my host finally arrived, we went to his house up in the hills which was very nice and quiet, until we got there, the first thing they did was put on some pretty nice techno music, got out a couple of cold beers and started making a second lunch, which lasted until dinner with more and more beers, until I got too tired to keep my eyes open and went to bed a bit early, also since I had a long 100km ride the next day.
Which was going to be to the biggest city in the south of Serbia, Nis. The route was very nice even though I stayed on the highway the whole time, it took me through some beautiful landscapes, from mountains with very dark tunnels, to hills, to flat farmlands and except for another flat in the morning it was a pretty nice day.
Arriving in Nis I had to look a bit for the address of my host but soon enough found him waiting for me on a roundabout. He is a real nice guy and had some very nice parents who very much appreciated me cooking them some chicken fried rice. After dinner me and my host went out and around in the city drinking some beers and showing me some nice places around the town which I would have liked to explore in more detail, but unfortunately couldn’t stay a second night due to changed plans of my host.
So the next day (Friday 19-8-2016) I started the 240km trip towards Belgrade. I wanted to do this in 2 days because my host for Belgrade wouldn’t be around on Sunday until late in the evening, which would have been a little inconvenient.
To make some good distance I decided to start again on the highway, since they are the most direct and flattest routes, but at the first toll I got pulled over by an annoying cop and got kicked off again, at least he didn’t give me a ticket ^^.
So the rest of the day I was cycling smaller roads over many hills and through many villages, even got a free coca cola at a gas station. Stopping at a mini market to get some lunch I found myself surrounded by a group of women seemingly examining me and giving me some weird looks, until one of them started to talk to me, after that the weird looks turned friendly and even started flirting a little and got a free fanta and ice cream from them :D
Getting closer and closer to sundown and getting quite tired, I decided to start looking for a place to pitch my tent, found an empty farm field a little close to the highway, but it was good enough and the noises from the cars wasn’t that bad.
Cooked my dinner, pitched my new tent and called it quits for the day……. Soon after though I was seeing some light flashing on the outside of my tent, luckily there was nobody there so I thought it was probably some cars from the highway, Until…….. I started hearing some pretty loud thunder…….quickly followed by a lot of rain coming down on my tent. At first I was a little worried, not knowing if the tent will be fine, but it held out fine and woke up dry and rested early the next morning.
After packing up my camp I headed out for the last 110km or so to Belgrade, the road was mostly flat and soon after starting so was my tire…. AGAIN …… uffff…… Patched the lasted hole and kept on going along the nice flat roads until I got about 50km out of Belgrade where the terrain changed quite a lot to many challenging hills, the roads were pretty steep and I was still pretty exhausted, which resulted in me walking up the last couple of hills pushing up my bike.
To my joy the last bits were all downhill and quickly found the address of my host. Again a real cool and fun guy, we had some interesting chats and later got ourselves a nice big cheeseburger dinner, until he got a call from some other Couchsurfers he’s hosting that were a little lost, we went back to pick up his car so he could pick them up and I could rest and play with his awesome 7month old kitten ^^
The rest of the evening was pretty fun, chilling chatting drinking some beers and playing with the cat.
Unfortunately the next day was not as nice as the previous one, at least for me, since I again had a flat and wanter to look for another outer tire, however almost all the shops were closed and the ones that were open didn’t have the right size, a little annoying, but being very tired and starting to get a bad mood it was very annoying :P and then out of the blue putting my mood even further down the drain the gps of my phone suddenly stopped working…… uffffffff
I tried to find some fixes while relaxing a bit in a park, but no luck and being very tired I thought it be best to go back to the house, try and fix it while having a wifi connection and get a nap.
However none of it worked out and was feeling so down I was actually looking for flights back to NL…….. until I gave up on the phone and just tried to take a nap and get some food after not succeeding to nap, but that little bit of rest and the whole lot of food I munched down really improved my mood a lot
When I got back from my rampage on all the street food stalls everybody was back at the house and pretty much repeated the previous evening.
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