Balkan with my mother

Serbia

We had intercom, so throughout the trip we could talk to each other. That was great. We discussed the scenery passing by. How different the landscape is from where we’re coming from. And of course trying our best to figure out what the signs says. Throughout Balkan, and Serbia in particular, the Cyrillic letters are used. Although I have traveled a lot in countries using those letters, I still struggle reading them. But I am getting better. I’m slow at it, but I am slowly improving.

After some time, we found a really nice restaurant next to a lake, where we had lunch.

Waiting for some food to be served. Not knowing exactly what we would get.

I did not notice that at the time, but my mother later told me that while she was waiting at the table for the food, and Thonny and I were at the motorcycles, an older guy had been trying to communicate with her in a way she didn’t know was flirting or disapproving. At a point, the waiter had come to tell him off by the sound of it. Nothing more happened.

The people that we meet are not used to have too many tourists around. At least not some who doesn’t speak Serbo-Croatian. And many, elderly in particular, who doesn’t speak English, is sometimes source of funny situations. But using gestures, and sounds, we always work it out. It is important to remember, that we are the foreigners, and we cannot expect them to understand English.

Sometimes, the younger generation approach us as they want to speak and practice their English. The fact that English isn’t our mother tongue, and that we have an obvious accent, does not seem to bother.

I believe that the fact that we all have the same needs, basically share each others values, we understand each other. We may not be able to have a political debate, but we get by. Actually, political debates is always something I avoid.

Kragujevac

We continued to ride across Serbia towards Romania. On the way, we stopped at the city of Kragujevac, where we stayed for the night, at the small hotel “Villa Andjelica”. We had the almost mandatory “end-of-ride-day beer”, checked in, had a shower and walked around the city a little.

It was a nice city, large enough to have the stuff you need, and small enough to not have too much traffic. We walked around a bit to find a place to eat, and ended up in a fancy, but very affordable, restaurant.

A nice, cozy restaurant with affordable prices. Multiple courses, red wine, total of approx €40 for all.

Another hotel, another night. We continued the adventure the next morning, after breakfast, north towards to border to Romania.

On the way we stopped by the Manasija monastery. Built in around 1410, it is one of the must important structures of medieval Serbia. It is not quite on the UNESCO list yet, but the “tentative list”.

When we got to the monastery, our bikes were admired by a young boy. I let him sit on my bike, start it up and rev it. He seemed to enjoy that.

Sometimes, when we stop for whatever reason, boys – and sometimes older men – approach us. Young boys just look, older men usually ask us how big the engine is, and how much the bikes cost. I love talking about the adventure and the bikes, but I don’t want to talk about how much I spend on it.

Boys, get to sit on it if they want. Most do, some don’t.

Majdanpek

We carried on, stopped by the Majdanpek copper mine. It’s a huge hole, quite impressive. Besides from a couple of pictures, not much to see or do as they’re still mining and most of it is off limits.

We had lunch at Majdanpek, at a hotel restaurant. Service was fine, but the hotel interior was very 70’s sovjet style, and worn out. I know because I had to use the restroom. Through the late 20th century, the town was in a period of industrial progress and one of the most developed areas in copper mining and metallurgy.

The Danube River

After a decent lunch we continued towards the border to Romania. But first we had to ride along the Danube river through the Iron Gates, on the Serbian side. A very scenic road, that I highly recommend.

The Danube river is the second longest river in Europe, after Volga. Originating in Germany, it was once the frontier of the Roman Empire.

Border crossing was easy. It bit more paperwork, as we were now entering Romania, and the European Union.

We rode a little along the Danube river upstream on the Romanian side. We didn’t know how much accommodation there would be further north, and as the river would be a perfect backdrop for a cold beer, we decided to stop a bit earlier. We found a decent private pension with a restaurant. Of course, we ordered beer and food, after checking in, and a shower.

We ended up talking to a family who also sat at the restaurant. It was a Romanian family who had been living in Toronto, Canada for some years, and were now back. As my sister lives in Canada, we had some common ground and could talk about Canada, the Rockies and the like, for a little while.

It was a great evening. But the sleeping arrangement! I love my my mother, but this was a bit awkward – for the both of us. A queen size bed for the two of us to share. We both slept on each’ edge of the bet. But it gave us some good laughs.

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