Good people and more good people
Balkans cycling trip, Day 4
9 July 2017: Smerski Karlovci – A valley near Sabac
Distance: 93 km
Total distance: 253 km
It took us four days to fall in love with Serbia. Not that we didn’t experience sincere hospitality on the first two cycling days but we could easily put them down to the fact that the ethnic Hungarians living in Vojvodina generally like to help out people coming from Hungary. But today we left the Hungarian-speaking region and we felt even more welcome than before.
First we had to climb up Furska Gora but at least it wasn’t that hot. Then we left the busy highway for the quiet country roads. As we turned left at a junction, Aron was summoned by an old man who was selling fruits under a tree. He gave us a kilo of ripe sweet peaches.
Then we passed through quaint villages and agricultural land before we arrived in Platicevo. It was noon and getting really hot so we stopped at a roadside pub to spend our siesta there. We ordered some drinks then I did a translation while Anita and Aron played a pool game. I was just about to join them when the owner appeared with a big piece of watermelon and gave it to my wife. We were amazed but then he returned twice with two more pieces. We could hardly finish them they were so huge.
We thanked the man and then hurried on because some dangerous-looking clouds were coming our way.
Powered by the watermelon, we easily beat the storm and after crossing bridge over the Sava river, we arrived in Sabac.
We had some pizza and then sat down at another bar to send some beer and cola after it. When the owner, a lady of our age, brought our drinks to our table, whe said it was on the house. She explained it was because they also cycled a lot and they had a son about the same age as Aron. After this heartwarming experience we decided to keep on cycling, hoping to find a nice spot and perhaps a spring in the nearby hills.
We did find the hills but no fresh water. The other problem was that there were houses and farms scattered all ofer the place, making it diffcult to camp unnoticed. We needed water to wash and cook so we stopped by a house to ask for some. The old lady helped us with a smile and we were about to go on when her husband appeared. He insisted that we go in and have a coffee with them so we did. It turned out that his son had his birthday so we got some cake, too, and drinks. I offered them a little palinka and we chatted for half an hour. They were all teachers just like us so it was easy to find common topics and the young ones spoke English.
Then it was time to leave. They stuffed a big bag of tomatoes in our panniers and we said goodbye. Time was running out, just as the force from our legs, but there was really nowhere to put up our tent. In the end our choice fell on a little valley next to a cornfield. It was OK and we realised one bottle of water per person was enough to wash thoroughly… and how much we waste in our bathrooms every day…