It was a peaceful morning with mist over the Danube when we woke up in our cabin in tiny Futog, a village west of Novi Sad. Our hostess served us eggs and coffee on the floating terrace. Things were far less hectic in the restaurant than they’d been the night before, and a fisherman had time to show me all the mounted fish heads and animal skins: sturgeon, eel, otters, and more. If I understood him, the dams on the Danube in the Iron Gate have affected migration patterns. So much for fresh caviar! In the shed where we’d put our bikes when we’d first arrived, there was a large cauldron of paprika fish soup cooking over a fire, bread was baking a brick oven, and a wild pig was ready to roast on a spit. All this was for the restaurant`s midday and evening customers.
Our hosts were Serbians who had come from what was now Croatia as refugees, having been forced to sell their property there for a pittance. If our host were to go back to Croatia, his wife told me, he could be spuriously arrested as a war criminal, and it would require extensive legal help and much time to get him out. They won’t go back. Not ever. They were proud of their new business of a floating restuarant and cosy cabins, and were building more cabins as they could afford to expand without borrowing.
We tied the loaf of fresh bread we were given to Chris’s front rack, and slowly pedalled the 20 km along a rough dyke path to Novi Sad, dodging a few cows. In Novi Sad, we took the German cyclist’s advice and got a bus to Belgrade so as to avoid a busy and not-so-scenic section. Molim, dva kartu Beograd –Please, two tickets Belgrade. Once in Belgrade, we took some time to navigate to the “Green Garden Hostel” as recommended by the Aussies. Free Internet, hence the prolific posts!
Today Chris and I took a several buses, visited the Ethnographic Museum, walked around the Citadel, and went for a boat tour on the Sava and Danube Rivers. It was time for a day off the bikes. Nemi, the young hostel host, has been great. He coached us on the practicalities of buses. I managed to ask for Molim, shaste kartu –six tickets, please. Now, if only I could read the signs.
Tomorow we plan to pedal out of town at 6:00 a.m. , and see how far we get along the north side of the river. We’ll cross back to the south side by boat the next day, before starting through the Iron Gate and tunnels along the south (Serbian) side. The German cyclist had no lights, so he flagged down a car to lead him through each tunnel.
Bedtime, if Chris will only stop arguing about globalization with a loud young guy from Belfast. The next post might be from Bulgaria or Romania.