The Djerdap National Park has definitely been the scenic highlight of Serbia.
You’ve got beautiful views of the Danube and surrounding gorge.
And great cycling too. The road is called the “Danube Highway” but there is barely any traffic on it at all. The asphalt is like, totally fresh.
The only negative is that there are 21 tunnels on the road. Most are short but the longest is over 300 meters; they are all unlit. That would have scared us away if traffic was even moderate but we usually have the tunnels completely to ourselves.
We started this trip with front lights for our bicycles, but we couldn’t find a good way to attach them to our racks, so we gave up on them. We haven’t really missed them except when riding through dark tunnels, but then Sarah came up with the brilliant idea of wrapping our trusty headlamps around our handlebar bags. It may not look like much in this photo, but it works like a charm in a pitch-black tunnel!
We are still on the Danube bicycle route, but there are no bicycle signs at this point. You can purchase German maps but we’ve just been ridin’ freestyle since there is basically only one road to follow and the Danube is pretty hard to lose. The views have really been fantastic.
There are two hydroelectric dams here. I can’t imagine how beautiful this place must have been before the river was dammed.
Not many people live in this area of Serbia. The locals we’ve met have told us that most of the towns and villages around here are actually shrinking as the young people move to Belgrade or out of the country looking for work. We did meet one young guy, who was a bit of a nefarious character, but he was friendly and spoke English well so we spent an afternoon with him as the “face of Serbia” as he put it. That meant putting away about 6 liters of beer among us and trying some traditional Serbian food. We had a bland, white-bean soup with a delicious sausage in it and a salad consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, and copious amounts of shredded cheese on top.
We were amazed when he managed to ride and balance Sarah’s fully loaded bicycle while she perched sideways on the top tube. Sarah says this is the second scariest things she’s done on the trip so far.
We’ve been staying in a mix of campsites, private pensions, and hotels. The pensions are our favorite because we get to meet the local people and sometimes try traditional food. We usually cook ourselves on a deck or in the park to keep costs down and because Sarah is practicing for her new Food Network show, Gas Stove Gourmet.
When we do eat with the hosting family at a pension, breakfast and dinner are usually accompanied with what the Serbians call “schnapps”, but it tastes the same as the herbal brandy we tried in Croatia. It is always homemade, but neither of us has gone blind yet. Excellent sausage is also part of every meal.
Everyone also heats their homes with woodstoves around here. Walking through the villages, it is amazing how much wood is stacked up all over the place. We were wondering how there were any trees left in the forest at all. Most pension owners start the fire for us in a matter of minutes, but it was a bit more difficult for a couple of city slickers like us. We briefly considered using some of the gasoline from our fuel bottles as an accelerant before we finally got a nice blaze going. Toasty!
We’re out of the gorge now and on the border between Serbia and Bulgaria. Now we’ll follow the Danube east to the Black Sea.