Belgrade (June 9th – 13th)

About 40km down the river from Backa Palanka I cycled through Novi Sad and past a huge fortress – home of Exit Festival. Frustratingly someone sent me the wrong way. I double checked with her before pedalling off ‘Are you sure this is the only bridge in Novi Sad? There is only one?’ ‘Yes definitely only one’. I get down to the bridge and of course there are two and I am on the wrong one…

I met a Croatian cycle tourer Stanko who was traveling to Cappadocia, maybe as far as Mount Ararat, but first climbing each of  the highest peaks in the Balkan countries. We talked about the possibility of climbing Ararat. I had heard the you supposedly needed to hire a guide to climb it, and Stanko seemed to think it cost over 200 € to do this. More about this a few weeks/months down the line…

The roads weren’t fantastic. At one point there was an enjoyable 5or 6km downhill. Nevertheless it was a long days riding from Backa Palanka to Zenum where I left Stanko and stayed in a campsite.

Downpour

10€ (1 person, + tent + bike + tax) – a far cry away from the 5€ advertised online. I ended up bumping back into Ugo who had roughed it the night before in the storm and got up at 5 and put down a whopping 160km+. We chatted to some Swiss girls and I finally learned why Switzerland uses .ch as its internet suffix. Confoederatio Helvetica (Helvetic Confederation). – The Latin name for the country apparently…

At 10€ per night and a full 10km outside of the centre of Belgrade it made a lot more sense to pack my bags and find a youth hostel in the centre of town. The ride into town wasn’t crazy bad but thank God for the wing mirror. A pack of about a dozen stray dogs caught my eye as I got close to the centre. It took about half an hour to find a hostel by asking people in the street. I checked in and surprise surprise there was a English stag do quartet who were already on a big one.. Turned out they were from Brizzle! And funnily enough on my last day a girl from Briz also turned up. Reppin’ to the fullest.

Belgrade was cool. It had read the Wikipedia article on my allofWiki iPod app before arriving and noticed that it had been described by the Times as offering ‘Europe’s best nightlife’, and in the Lonely Planet “1000 Ultimate Experiences” it was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world. Well I imagine my ideal night out differs fairly radically from that of your average Times reader, but this was a promising endorsement nonetheless.

I met a Dutch guy who told me about a fascinating project. This is one for any p2p geeks reading this. And it sounds like it has the potential to be a game changer: Bitcoin – an open source, decentralised, anonymous, peer-to-peer digital cryptocurrency which lies outside of any governmental regulation. Did you get that? Reread it and try to think about the implications. Pretty awful article, but you can read a layman’s description of it here.

I geeked it up in an internet café quite a bit, checked out the World’s greatest inventor ever –  Nikola Tesla museum, and Kalemegdan – a giant old fortress. Old canons and tanks displaying the might of the Serbian military through the ages were on display. Teenage boy and girl traceurs pulled off impressive leaps and climbs, but no tricks. As for the nightlife… Well I asked everyone I encountered if they knew of any good underground parties happening that weekend but it didn’t seem like anything was happening. On the Friday night I ended up in The Federal Association of Globetrotters as recommended in the Times article. Met a nice crew of people but what a let down! Apparently in the summer all the night time activity moves out of the centre of Belgrade and down onto barge nightclubs parked up along the banks of the Danube. This is where my Saturday night would take me. The plan was originally to go to a gypsy or turbofolk night at place called Black Panther. Alas I couldn’t find it and no one knew where it was so I ended up at a trancer on one of the barges. I met some good people one of whom offered me a place to crash for the next few nights which definitely made by stay in Serbia…

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1 Response to Belgrade (June 9th – 13th)

  1. Julia Bale says:

    As you’ve always known Talan – it’s only the coolest cyclists who have wing mirrors. Can’t believe you didn’t get one sooner!! Glad the trip all going well so far – enjoying reading your blog, Julia xx

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