Day 39: After the Fish
Sunday August 4 - Day 39 - 44miles - Total 1540miles
We woke up early-ish and breakfast was served in the kitchen at 8am sharp by Granny IV! The omelets were pretty tasty but the coffee was very strange. It was watery and milky...it looked like a bad instant coffee was made with watery hot milk. We tasted it and it wasn't any better than it looked. Rebecca and Stefan definitely made the right choice when they opted for the juice.
After packing the bikes up, we paid up and got the passports back (one of the few times they have been kept overnight.....very disconcerting). We cycled back the kilometre into Donji Milanovac and went to the market to get supplies for the day. Over the next half hour, all the other touring cyclists that we had met over the last few days showed up at the market to get supplies for their journeys. The French couple with the trailer had made friends with the American sailing boat crew so they were going to get a trip down river for a while today. The French family (parents & 5 children) as well as the German couple we had met up at the expensive hotel were all there. Even Ovidiu turned up as well to bid us farewell! Since we hadn't gotten real coffee this morning, Bruce bought coffees while Andrea did the grocery shopping.
We headed off! The road we were on, joined back up with the main road just out of town. The only problem was that they had put in new curbing recently, but now there was a gravel bank and new curbs separating us from the road. It was pretty easily maneuvered but why would you do that when you know that this intersection is a main cycle route? There is even one of the awesome Serbian Eurovelo 6 signs right at the intersection...
The main road had a good surface and we followed an inlet of the Danube until we crossed it on a causeway and worked our way back to following the main river. We crossed the 1500mile mark at this point which is pretty awesome!
Once back following the Danube we went through a few more tunnels and we were at the Iron Gates proper, which is the narrowest part of the Danube (at least in its lower reaches) as it goes through a series of gorges. It is just beautiful scenery, although the road climbs pretty harshly on the Serbian side which gave us great views but did take the wind out of our sails a bit. The road on the Romanian side seemed a lot flatter...(at least at this point). There were some viewpoints along the road where you could see a massive face had been carved into the rock. There was also meant to be a tablet on the wall dedicating the original Roman road along here, but we couldn't see it....maybe you have to be down at river level to see it. The tablet had been relocated higher after they built the dam, which flooded the original Roman road.
There was a long downhill after the long uphill but we finally made it to Tekija, where we had lunch under the shade of a large tree. We went swimming in the Danube after lunch to cool down a bit before the last few kilometres of our trip in Serbia together as the Fearsome Foursome.
Before we reached the dam (which is the border crossing between Serbia & Romania), we met a German touring cyclist, named Muritz, on the side of the road by himself. He was having troubles with a flat tire... and then 2 flat tires... so we stopped to give him as much assistance as possible. He didn't have the correct wrench to remove his rear wheel. Neither did any of us, so we helped him patch his tube in situ without removing the rear wheel. We also gave him cool water (from the fridge) and a Clif Bar as he was out of water and looked like he needed some TLC. We think he had been wild camping mostly to save money, but he had bug bites everywhere. Hopefully he will recover OK, and continue his trip as he was heading for Sofia, Bulgaria.
At the dam, we said goodbye to Rebecca & Stefan. They were continuing in Serbia and then directly to Bulgaria. We are sure we will see them again soon and they have been wonderful travel companions for the past week or so.
We were slightly disappointed at the Serbia border station as we didn't get bumped ahead in line nor did we get an exit stamp! But as we finally got through the hot border station, we were cheered up as the French family had already been through and cheered us into the Duty Free shop! It was very touching! The Duty free shop was more like a corner mini-market that was badly stocked than a Duty Free shop. It did have some dodgy looking vodka on display along with some cartons of cigarettes, but there was just a surly man working there watching "How I met Your Mother" with subtitles. We bought some cold water and chocolate with some of our remaining Serbian dinars.
We cycled across the dam and into Romania! We were now back in the European Union and we also changed time zones as we were an hour ahead of Serbia. We quickly got stamped into Romania and changed our remaining Serbian dinars into Romanian Lei. You never get the best exchange rates right at the border station, but it wasn't awful and it would tide us over until we got to an ATM.
We turned out onto main road and quickly cycled the 13km in Drobeta Turnu Severin. The road was pretty busy, but we continued into the city center and all the traffic went around the bypass which was nice. We passed another water park, which looked tempting in the heat, but not so temping with the missive amount of people crammed into the relatively small space. We cycled into the city center and found the Hotel Continental.... And guess what? We had a reservation waiting for us! Score! Thank you Ovidiu! We bought the bikes inside and unpacked and did laundry in the air conditioning which felt fabulous! After showering and cleaning up we started walking around the town. There was an awesome rotating fountain in the main square outside the theatre and the post office, which seemed to be the local gathering place to cool down in the evening once the day's heat starts to dissipate.
Now that we were out of Serbia the cell phone started working again so we both talked to our parents and then we went to dinner. We decided to have a quick and easy pizza dinner, and we had fresh lemonade which was very refreshing! We had the option of having mayonnaise or ketchup drizzled over the top of our pizza, but we politely declined either.......
We decided to take a rest day tomorrow to recharge our batteries.
The World is Ours!