GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Republic of Serbia is an unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, covering 88.361 square kilometres. It is the home of 7.041.599 people, of which 91% are Christians and 3% Muslims.
The currency is Serbian Dinar, worth 0,063 Danish Krone and €0,0084. The GDP is US$37.739 billion.
The climate of Serbia is under the influences of the landmass of Eurasia and the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, giving it something like a warm-humid continental or humid subtropical climate.
Among the more interesting larger mammals are the Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus), Balkan Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica.), Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber), Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) and Boar (Sus scrofa). The flora is also rich, although I fail to find any I will be looking for in particular.
It is still over 200 kilometres to my first sight, and I stay on the good highway for the first 50. Before long, there is a tool booth, and despite they use dinars, he ask for 50 cents (Euro). Then I turn of, and head into the farmland. The first I met is copplestone roads, and long ones it is. It make a lot of noise, but I am still able to hear, what might be a broken barring.
Here are a lot of farmed fields with so many different crops. Raspberry, sunflowers, mays, barley, vegetables, tobacco and things I don't recall as I drive pass. Here are only tiny fields, but many next to each other. It look like experimental farming, but is just how things are done here around. I see a few sheep and even fewer cows. Most cows seem to be kept in small stables, to judge from the manure outside the little window.
The road soon after turn into the green hills and then the mountains. They are fertile as well, and here are some fields for hay. Firewood is a big industry, and in some places, the road is lined with huge amounts. I see a few old Soviet trucks, but most are new Volvos and Mercedes on the highway. The tractors look so much like Massy Ferguson 35, but are Soviets as well.
Within the mountains, there are a long way between houses, and when I meet a guy, waiving with a cable in front of his car, I pull over. I though he was out of power, but his car just won't start. I try to give the starter relay good smack, and it works!
A few kilometres further into the mountains, I see a big Marginated Tortoise; Testudo marginata. The mountain sides turn steeper, but the bushes manages. I do several stops, and find some nice sights and plants. One look so much like an orchid, I almost miss the next true orchid. Here are actually several species.
The flowers are teaming with insects. May Bugs and Black Horned Beetles and on the road, I find a real big beetle. 20 kilometres before my first sight, I reach a real remote village. The entire village sits fenced with a wooden fence, and the huts look medieval.
And then the sealing ends. And the gravel road is washed away, leaving the bigger rocks exposed. Not really Lupo territory! But it might just be a short streash... Well, the road get better, but still gravel. It passes barren rock mountains, great views and lots of flowering plants. However, I do concentrate on the road, as it is not a rental car...
I reach a sealed road and a few souvenir stands: This is where the Devil's Town trail starts. A few hundred meters in is the government ticket sale, and he does not accept Euros. Bit of a bummer. While I walk back to the souvenir stands to try to exchange, I meet two American exchange students.
They buy some Euros, and we hike together. Real present people, and I spend way more time with them, than I actually had. Way into the beech forest, we first encounter the Red Well, a mineral spring with a pH on 3,5. Then we reach the St. Petkas Church, which is small.
It start to rain, and we seek shelter here. The story is that the columns that form the Devil's Town are the sorrows of people who prayed here. You can buy a cloth, wipe on a sore spot, tie it to a branch, and the pain will go away. Well, besides from pocket-pains, I have no problems.
We reach the area, and it is truly a great sight. Here are numerous columns in a larger area. All formed by the protection of a big rock. If they weren't Catholics, I bet they would call these columns with big heads something else!
While at leas I wait for the sun, Michael and Danbi, make videos for a alternative version of a Hell energy drink. Bruce Willis have made one, this is slightly different.... I add with the Devil's voice. Quite funny, and I guess we spend quite some time with it. Actually, we all wonder what the guys in the entrance think we are doing.
We get back to the cars at half pass five, and I realises my next target 300 kilometres away (5,5 hour, the GPS guesses), is a bit unrealistic. But I have a hotel lined up, just 25 kilometres away in Kusumlija. It is a little town with a lot of disintegrating buildings and a rather new pedestrian street.
I book in, drop the food-box and go-bag, and head out to the town. A tour around does not really reveal much, but when I get home to the room, it smells like the car - and that is a good thing: Now I know where the stink of death originates from: The half can of beans. Once again, it get way too late...Southern Serbia, Devil's Town and Kusumlija
17/6. I get an early start, as I have a long drive ahead of me. To add to the excitement, the rumbling sound from the front axel is now a loud screaming. The weather is not that great, and the central Serbian landscape rather familiar: Vide valleys with small fields, small forests and green hills. Despite it is Sunday, people are busy in the their fruit-fields. It is time to pick raspberries and cherries.
combination of weather and familiar landscape keep me in the car for the
most. However, I do have to get a few pictures of the old farmhouses with
weaved willow sticks with clay over-walls.
I stop in one of the few larger towns to shop a bit of food, before I head on, into the almost endless farmland in the gentle green hills. That reminds me: What is my target far out west: Gentle Green Hills. Well, I have seen enough by now, considered the screaming from the car, and set the GPS for Belgrade.
It is only the last few kilometres that indicate I'm
approaching a big city. The villages are bigger and a bit more modern, and
here start to be some rather big industrial buildings.
I have to park a bit away, on a government parking. Guess they won't be needing it on a Sunday. At the hostel, only three Pakistani guests are found. I return my gear to the car, and head into the city. I see some of the central pedestrian streets before I head towards the Kalemegdan Citadel. Here are tennis courts in the moat, and some fine red brick walls. However, I fail to talk myself into seeing the inside.
Back to find a Greek salad in one of the endless restaurants. Most show football, as Slovenia is crushing Slovenia. A heavy shower hit the city, and after it stops, I head back the the hostel. Still none to tell me where to park. I get my umbrella, and head for Skadarska, which should be "Montmartre-like".
Well, in a larger area with small alleys, one have round copplestones and a lot of restaurants in a 50 meter stretch. Here are plenty of flowers and even a little band. But I had expected more. I find a little, partly closed marked, and it is surrounded by really miserable buildings.
I head back the the centre with its large pedestrian system. Here are building from all periods, some real nice. After I have seen most, I head back pass the rather dead central market, find a pizza and then the hostel. Still none here. Check the internet on the iPhone, but end up collecting the Mac from the car, along with the rest of my go-bag. At nine, I still haven't heard from anyone. Here are open rooms and bed-lined, but I would like a parking too.
At ten, a woman shows up, give the key, take my money and ask me to park in the driveway. Right next to a bar full of young guys. Then, 20 minutes later, she ask me to swap with another guest, and I end half out on the sidewalk. Don't really feel good about that, but what can I do? Central Serbia and Belgrade
18/6. After the total disappointing hostel, I am pleased to find the car all right in the morning - except the problems it came with. I head straight out to a VW garage outside town. I get here before the open, and find the highlights from Albania while I wait. Then I watch the Quick Service guy talk in his phone some time, before he tells me; they are not really interested. I lean on him, and get an address for another VW garage on the other side of town.
Again, I tell; the bearing on the right front wheel is probably broken; can you change it? Well, they charge €100 to make a dianoetic. I ask if that is for the entire car? No, only for the problem you described. BUT; they don't have the spare parts, and doubt they can get them within a week or two. And then it is I, who are not really interested! I have seen Belgrade, and head on.
I set the GPS for Golubac Fortress, and hope to find a non-branched garage on the way, before the car brake down. It is through so familiar landscape, although the houses in the villages are bigger and better maintained. But the fields are still minute, and all I see, is manual work on them.
It is a greyish day, but the sun peaks through, when I pass one of the many sunflower fields. Besides from that, not much happens on the 130 kilometres to Lake Golubac. The road is chiselled in to the mountain side just above water level, and the fortress is visible, although misty on the peak.
Here is a huge visitor centre, which is closed on Mondays - which it happens to be today. And the fort is guarded by a group of dogs, and I fear I will be licked all over, if I climb the fence. Well, the bad weather make is less attractive anyway.
Next target is Nis, which surely must have numerous garages. But it is 300 kilometres south. The GPS want to go even further by a big V, on the major roads. I make a path by stitching together many small roads in a straight line - except it is a but longer as the roads twist and turns in the hills and mountains.
It is through forests, small fields and every 20 or 25
kilometres, a little village. The road passes Monastery Blagovestnje,
but I see enough from the road. Some mountains are a bit barren, and the
limestone is visible.
After 200 kilometres of a patchwork of minor roads, I pass a bigger one in a little town. But it have a pedestrian street with cafés and Americans! Well, I get lunch and head on by more minor roads. Here are an area with real big fields. Potatoes, rue, wheat and then vine.
Just before the big town of Nis, I see the first horse wagon. Then I'm in the big and modern city, and look for an independent garage. I fail before I reach the fortress, and head back to Kia. Real friendly guys, who reach the same diagnose as I, within a few minutes. And without charging me €100. They can have the spare part at noon in the morning, and will charge me €110. Hard to turn down! I ask them to check the brakes as well, and head over to the brand new hotel; Good Night, on the other side of the street. I get 20% discount by asking.
It start to rain, and I work for a couple of hours, before I set out to find dinner. I find a kind of vegetarian sandwich for only €1,20, and head back through the fortress, which is huge! I will have most of the day tomorrow to investigate the town, and call it a day. Golubac Fortress and Eastern Serbia.
19/6. The forecast make it clear; I should explore the town from the morning. It is not sunny, but heavy rain is expected soon. I walk through the huge fortress area within the impressive walls, but here are almost only forest. A mosque from the 15. century is quite intact, and here are some old tomb and statues.
A man and his donkey is gathering hay on the wild meadows, which seems nice but odd this close to the centre of town. I exit the fortress, cross the large Nisava River, and are on the central square. Here are a great mix of old and new buildings, and it is truly a lively city.
I have forgotten my muesli in the car, and that is a great excuse for a sandwich and tea at one of the many cafés. I walk around the centre of town, and a bit out to the outer. Here are many statues, and I really love the one with two men and a dog at a table.
I head back home through the huge market, which is interesting and clean. Here are cloths, hardware, fruit, nuts and vegetables. A little part is with flowers, another with household chemicals and soap. I find a plastic box, which will fit better into the car - and probably won't hold all "kitchen and food".
Back home, I program the GPS for the next countries, and realises; I might not be able to reach much this afternoon. I might as well book another night at this nice hotel. I head for the garage, and tell them to relax. They guess they will have my car finish at five. I get a few items from the car, and drop it at the hotel.
Back into the town to see a bit more, and find a proper go-bag (mainly because I work best, having a target). The rain starts, and I see two of the rather modern malls, and find a real great cafe, build with old tram interior. We have one in Copenhagen too, and I think they are great! This one is like a small tram with the kitchen, within a big tram. And their cakes are perfect!
I find a go-bag, and head back through the market. Back to rest a bit while writing, and when the sun returns, I pick-up the car, and they tell me: The left back barring have gone as well - but it is not unsafe to drive (and they can't find one). I got rite of the screaming, but not the moaning of the car. I pay the agreed amount, and head back to town to find supper.
I try to spend my last dinars on stock-food, but end up buying too much, and have to pay with Visa. I am not a big fan of Euro, but I most admit; they have been cool on this tour. Nis Town.
20/6. It is only 110 kilometres to the border, and
I shorten it a bit, driving through a fantastic gorge. The mist kind of make
it even better. Besides from that, the landscape look like the rest of the
Serbia is a nice country, although here might not be that much to see yet. I have driven1062 kilometres and taken only 745 photos. Besides from the repair of the car, I have spend €195. Diesel and hotel the better part for sure. It is not on my "return one day"-list, but it have been a nice experience.