Before Niš: Jagodina
We reached Jagodina way after sunset.
The original route was supposed to be an easy 50 km ride, but when we looked it up the day before Cycleroute, we didn’t double-check the route it planned. As it turns out, it contained a fair bit of dirt road, and we decided we didn’t want to enjoy the countryside that much. Two out of three local dentists also suggested the other route. That one was a 85 kms, with a few sizeable hills along the way, which meant we’ll need to step on it.
The scenery was picturesque and unfortunately I spent more time on banging my head into a virtual wall thinking about inadequate planning than enjoying the view or taking some photos. We put our heads down, we wanted to get to Svilajnac relatively quickly, as it meant that the hard part of the day is done.
A quick interlude, to talk about our numbers a bit: freewheeling downhill is around 30-40 km/h; on flat without an evil headwind our speed is about 18-23 km/h and uphill is 7-10 km/h.
On average for now, we count with 15 km/h so that we have a bit of buffer for an unexpected burek or a nasty puncture. We’re excited to see how that number will change after the post-Turkey mountainous bootcamp section.
It was about 8pm when we got to our host’s address, all cold and tired.
We had really high hopes for this gent, his reviews resembled a well-traveled and knowledgeable person, which is always a pleasurable encounter for every traveler. We were truly looking forward to it, and imagined an evening in a warm living-room, sitting around a table and exchanging stories about life and travels.
We have to give you that, he really was the man of above description with an extra topping of good-heartedness. But, at this time of the year, the circumstances weren’t yet ready to accommodate guests.
Not everything was as we hoped.
After a quick introduction we’ve been led into a small establishment at the end of the garden, which was to be our suite for the coming days. Once we carried some hundred year old huge chests and rusty bicycles outside, we realised that our apartment has been unused for almost a year, was unheated and uncleaned and also a favourite meetup place of the local spider population.
Still, we were grateful as it was a closed accommodation, with four walls; better than sleeping out in a tent with the temperature being below zero degrees.
After locking up the bikes, we welcomed the suggestion to go out and grab a bite somewhere. We’ve wandered around the town, then spent two hours consuming some pasta and being settled in a local place, sipping beer. Our host was a great talker; his topics were coming and going, and we were trying to keep track but it was hard to do so, especially after our speedy ride that day.
As we walked back to the shack, we were shivering from the cold and tiredness and really looking forward to sleep, but first, we were to attend a one hour guided walking tour around the property to inspect his collectibles and items he’s selling in flea markets across the country.
Sadly, all our signals about tiredness were disregarded.
Eventually we got to bed around midnight. We were so exhausted that we couldn’t even take the situation seriously anymore. We wrapped ourselves up in our sleeping bags and fell asleep, putting all our faith into the sole 40 year old small indoor heater buzzing it’s way throughout the night.
The next day was the first proper sign of spring: sunshine so intense that it felt too warm sitting outside in pants and a shirt. We settled in a cafe and then in a public square, planning the coming days, contacting hosts, calculating distances and elevations. As it was late in the day, we decided to endure another night in the fridge and set off the next day early morning.
Early evening popped into a brilliant restaurant recommended by our host, where we got a proper three course meal for 280 dinars – about 2.3 euros. The menu items were presented in activity format by our waitress, which was clearly an added extra. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the restaurant on google maps, otherwise it’d definitely get 13 stars.
The second night was somewhat more comfortable, we put some extra sheets on the bed, even got a hot shower in the ice-cold bathroom, set our indoor toaster to the maximum and went to sleep early.
Who knows, there’s a chance that later on at some point we’ll remember this place as a five star accommodation.
Jagodina to Niš: above 100
Regardless of the fact that we were about to start our day covering the longest distance – 100 kms – so far, as usual, we stopped at the local bakery early morning for our regular breakfast burek boost.
Even if we had the appropriate fuel, the first 30 kilometres were awful – there was a nasty headwind so we stopped for an inspirational turkish coffee. Either the caffeine was doing its job or the headwind had stopped but our pace improved visibly. We climbed a few hills and stopped for a cold lunch that consisted of bacon, bread and ajvar, on the main square of the really quiet Razanj.
We ordered coffee in a nearby kafana, and Zsofi couldn’t resist the urge to dance and do some karaoke for Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off coming from the shop. She did all this outside the kafana window, and it was probably due to this stunt, that we’ve been rewarded with two free coffees at the end.
After Razanj we had about 50 kilometres to go till Niš. As we stopped halfway in Aleksinac, the Liverpool – United game was on, so it was time for kuvana rakija, peanuts and a slice of cake. After our post-mach analysis we had a really steep climb at the outskirts of the town and about two hours later, just right at sunset, we’ve arrived at Niš.
It was a really pleasant day and we were curious to see what new adventures our next couch might have for us.
A történet folytatása: Adventures in South Serbia II
Do you enjoy reading about our fortunes and misfortunes? If you do, please spare some change to support a cause that’s important for us. A price of a coffee would do.