Uphill struggle and proper beds
Balkans cyling trip, Day 5
10 July 2017: Gornja Vranjska – Valjevo
Distance: 62 km
Total distance: 315 km
We slept surprisingly well by the cornfield though we were a bit afraid that we’d be woken up by a tractor in the morning. That didn’t happen but just as I was standing outside the tent in nothing more than a T-shirt, an old man appeared out of nowhere… I could hardly hide in the tent, hoping his eyes were not that good. Then I tried to explain to him why we slept in his family’s field. He muttered something and left towards a group of houses.
I was sure some big Serbian farmers will soon return but nothing happened though it took us another hour to get ready and set off. We followed the rural road till we found a junction with a small foodstore. We had our breakfast there and then turned left to reach Highway 21 leading to Koceljeva. It was a fairly easy section but by the time we got to this quiet town it was well over 30 degrees so we had our usual siesta in a bar and in the park, drinking and playing cards.
We only left around 4 and we were doing quite well with only some 30 km left. But then I thought we could try a minor road through the mountains to avoid the trucks and see more village life. We achieved both but it turned out to be an awfully hard route. First we descended to a tiny village where we had our lunch at the local foodstore (Serbian sausage and bread with tomatoes) but then it was 6 km of impossibly steep uphill ride.
We were running out of water so we stopped by a house to ask for some. The same thing happened as the day before: they invited us in and insisted that we drink coffee or coke and eat some cakes as we needed the energy. It was getting late so we had to say goodbye and, luckily, the hard part was soon over.
We speeded down to Valjevo, thinking how hard it would be the other way, not knowing it was equally difficult on the other side of the city.
We arrived in downtown Valjevo around 8 and we were enchanted by all the bars and restaurants by the river and the nightlife in this hidden gem of Central Serbia. Anita said it would be great to stay near the centre but our plan was to camp wild by a mountain brook. Still we asked and we were directed to a small motel (Bubica), where the friendly owner offered us a lovely room for just 30 euros so we couldn’t say no.
We were soon back by the river to try the Valjevo variation of burek and mix with the locals on the terrace of a bar. A great way to finsh such a hard day!