Translated by: Gréta kojsza
The Danube’s Iron Gates start off at Golubac. The river flows through a deep ravine here, bordered by huge, rocky mountains on both sides. The view is breathtaking. It’s hard to tell, you really have to see it! As there are no villages until Donji Milanovac and you don’t care about surfaced roads, you can easily have the feeling that you travelled back in time. The nature clearly makes it job, wherever you look. The flow got its way through the valley…I can almost see it. Amazing! Who wants to know more about the ravine, you can read more about it here it is very interesting. As we were drifting down the road, the valley got tighter and the rocks started to grow above our heads. In some places, hundred meters high rocks towered us. Tunnels came, the shortest was 40 meters long, while the longest is around 260 meters. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic, but seeing trucks rushing across still made our legs pedal faster in the tunnels.
Slobodan suggested us to visit the museum of Lepenski Vir. This unique quarry, which covered 2000 years of Mesolithic and Neolithic culture of Europe has been discovered in the ‘60s right next to the river by the archeologists of Belgrad University. We watched a short movie about the excavation, checked the vitrines and finally observed the posture of the huts in a hall made of glass. Quite interesting that people paid so much attention on the function even in 8000 B.C. The houses looked towards the river, the fireplace can be found not far from the door, which possibly kept animals apart from people sleeping inside the hut.
Interesting comparison. People lived outdoors, while we are both liable to the adversity of the weather, staying outdoors all day long, only huddle up in the tent for the night.
We were heading to the direction of Donji Milanovac, climbed a challenging slope then got a nice downhill on the other side. We soon arrived to a small city, which didn’t have too much to offer, but at least we had something to eat. We outstripped the Danube and its wonderful valley and headed to the mountains. We slept on a field in the company of a straw bale. We can actually use the gasoline cooker correctly for now, making mash works out wonderfully. We’ve still got some work to do with the parking time, but in such a cold weather everything takes longer. That’s our only excuse. The valleys, where we were cycling upwards were filled with the scent of charcoal-burners. The sun seemed to be in a good mood sometimes and indicated its presence, we only had to be patient. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling good. Because of the cold I was feeling smart pain in my breast, but I really couldn’t pay attention to that, as we were struggling with the differences of height (don’t worry, I’m feeling much better now). After reaching the top, we started to delve and it was raining cats and dogs. We stopped in a small village for a coffee and chocolate break. We kind of deserved this extra.
The first night spent in a hotel passed. Our warmshower host forgot to check his massages, though we wrote him that we’re going to be one day late. As we couldn’t spend the night at his place, we were sleeping on a gas station close to Zajecar. After a little bit of swimming around, we got a suggestion to sleep in a small hotel, which got the prestigious name of Hotel Konj (Horse Hotel) and was situated in a hidden alley. 3 older men, in the middle of drinking pálinka (called rakia here) greeted us in the absolutely empty hotel (at least it seemed to be empty). Besides its name, it has got the sign of a cut horse head. After all of it, we’ve got the Godfather feeling. The room was partially clean and quite cold, but the bed was quite comfortable and they had hot water. That’s enough for us, it will get worse anyway.
We battled the mountains again the following day. We had wild camping on a very dirty river-bank and got through a new height in the random mixture of snow and dashing sun. We visited a small church of the 15th century. A nun was hoovering the floor…such a bizarre scene. There’s a monastery not far from the church where 10 nuns live. It doesn’t look like a real monastery, it better resemble an apartment at Lake Balaton. We arrived to Pirot totally exhausted, but gained some energy with a strong coffee at a gas station as usual, while we had the possibility to use WIFI. We asked the nice lady working at the gas station if there’s any camping nearby. Well, when we ask such a thing we always wait for the answer: “Ahw you really shouldn’t go to a camping, you can sleep here or there.” We obviously don’t expect the person to invite us in his/her own garden, but to suggest us a good place for wild camping.
The woman told us that there was a small town 12 kilometers away in the direction of Dimitrovgad (where we’re heading as well), though it’s a few kilometers away from the main road. There’s a monastery in the border of the town, where we can have a camping for sure. We got ready and after informing the family, that we’re ok we set off to Suhovo. We arrived to the monastery before sunset and a woman came out as we were waving keenly. We told them that we would like to set up our tent in their garden if it’s ok for them. She had to find the abbot first, but he disappeared. So they invited us in and offered some tea and coffee, which we accepted of course. Finally, the abbot showed up and they offered us a room, as it was too cold to sleep outside and they were absolutely right about it. We didn’t expect them to act like this, but we accepted the gesture with pleasure. It wasn’t a problem that we had to sleep in separate rooms with Eni. As they were fasting, we were asked not to eat meat or dairy products. We didn’t have too much left in our pocket, but they insisted on dining us. We had a very delicious vegan dinner, which consisted of vegetable soup, boiled potatoes, tomato-onion sauce, pickle and cookies with jam. As beverage, we had a small glass of liquor of herbs and nuts.
After that, we went to our rooms. Eni didn’t sleep alone, she got the company of 3 older, Serbian women as roommates (who work in the monastery).We managed to communicate with them, with the help of Serbian-English activity mixture. I was all alone, only a guy arrived in the middle of the night to sleep on one of the other beds. In the morning we couldn’t wait to see each other and give a kiss on the corridor.
We visited a church in the morning, packed our stuff and thanked for the warm hospitality. We got two bottles of home-made drops. One of them is St John’s wort and propolis. They’re going to be pretty useful during the road for sure.
Passing the borderline took half an hour, they didn’t look us through. They only checked the passports. Mountains came, mainly the way upwards. We finally reached the top of Sophia and after that, we were rolling down. We ran into some cyclists in the city, who were the part of a group, which organizes trips each weekend. We talked a bit, told them where we are going to and took a photo as well. At the evening we arrived to our dear, old friend Pavka, who had been already waiting for us. We’ve got 945 kilometers behind us. Sophia seemed to be so far away, but here we are now. Let’s have a rest!