Day 45 - Friday, July 8, 2011 - Ruma, Serbia to Belgrad, Serbia - Trip 76.64 kms Time 4:50:48
I had a good night's sleep in spite of a dozen or more kids hanging out in the lot behind the hotel. I closed all the windows and turned on the A/C. I got up at 6:40 and went to the restaurant also on the 3rd floor for b'fast. I ordered coffee (not to strong), orange juice, scrambled eggs, bread and butter and jam (only one choice - marmalade). The waitress asked me to call the reception when I was ready to leave and someone would come up to help me carry my bike down. I went back to my room and called the receptionist who asked me "Do you need help?" I said "I could manage OK on my own." I started down the stairs with my bike and a guy met me on the 2nd floor and took over. I carried my panniers down to the lobby. Paid 3,050 HRK when I checked out. Before leaving I asked for directions to Putinci/Stara Pazova. The young fellow, who was still hanging about, indicated I should follow the main road in front of the hotel all the way to the Danube at Stari Banovci. When I came to Hwy 21, which I had to go over, the sign indicated Novi Sad left and Sabac right but nothing for Stara Pazova. I couldn't get either Putinci or Stara Pazova on my GPS just Belgrad and the directions were very vague! There was no one around to ask for directions so I took a chance and went up on the Hwy overpass where I was able to see another sign which indicated Stara Pazova straight ahead. It was pretty flat all the way and very boring. Not to much traffic until I made the turn at Stari Banovci. I got stuck behind a tractor pulling a wagon loaded with loose hay. Good thing I don't have any allergies! A guy pulled up beside me in his car and asked me where I was from. I told him CANADA. He invited me to come to his house for cold water and olives? I said "No thankyou - I'm OK". My main objective was to get to Belgrad as quickly as possible and hopefully find a bike shop where I could get my disc brakes fixed. The road became very patchy and rough at Batajnica. I had to make a right and a left turn. I must have managed the right turn OK but went through the lights at the left turn. I quickly realized my mistake and made a U-turn. I asked a local if this was the way to Belgrad and he pointed straight on. It was a very busy road - lots of trucks and buses and not very wide with a lot of rough patches and sunken drainage grates that would totally wreck a bicycle wheel if you were not careful. On the way to Stara Pazova I stopped at a corner store and bought a cold drink, a chocolat bar and a huge pastry with cheese. It was very filling! When I arrived in Belgrad I went into a corner store and bought some apples, oranges, bananas, water and a cold pop. I had a banana and some more cheese pastry with my cold drink. It was around 12:30. I asked a few people where I could find a bicycle shop. No luck. There was nothing listed in my guide book either. After cycling around for an hour in the very hot city I found a car parts shop that sold Thule stuff. I went in and asked the parts guy if he knew of a bike shop that could fix disc brakes. He wasn't to busy and after doing a bit of research on the Internet and making a couple calls he was able to locate Planet Bike shop about 2 kms from his shop where I could get help with my disc brakes. He said his colleague would soon arrive and he would take me to the shop. All I had to do was follow him on his scooter! His colleague soon arrived and together they also found a room for me at the Hotel Serbia and printed off a map with directions on how to get to it. Going to the bike shop was OK. Lots of traffic lights, crosswalks and only 2 kms. I was able to take my bike in around the back and a mechanic adjusted the back and front brakes. The front were really out of whack and it took him 1/2 an hour to get them adjusted properly. They were amazed that I had cycled from Amsterdam and that I was going to Instanbul. The mechanic asked how old I was. When I told him I was 67, soon to be 68, he shook my hand. I still had to pay 250 HRK for the adjustments which was OK by me because a bike with no brakes is pretty scary especially when you're going down hills at 45 + kph. The parts guy then took me over to the very busy main road and pointed me in the direction of the hotel. It was about 5 kms away. I had to stop once after crossing the bridge and asked for directions again. It was a very tricky exit ramp that looped back over the main road then continued on on the opposite side parallel to the main road. The Hotel Serbia was another 3-4 kms along. It was quite a big hotel (18 floors). I went in and asked for a room. A single room with b'fast and Wi-Fi cost 4,200 HRK or about 45 E. I checked in at 3:30. I was able to store my bike in the baggage room by the front desk. I took my bags up to the 13th floor using a baggage cart and the elevator. Did some laundry. I managed to knock a glass over wrapped in a sanitary bag so not to much of a mess to clean up. I lay down for a nap after my shower. I got up at 5:40 and tried to connect to the Internet. No luck. I went out in the hallway and found the router by the elevators. There was a coffee table, sofa and chairs so I was able to set up my Notebook and get a Wi-Fi connection. It was very slow in spite of a reading of 54 Mbps and Excellent connection. I went down to the outdoor patio bar for a beer. Only small bottles of beer at 130 HRK. I filled in my journal. I ordered Penne Ortolana at 450 HRK and a 1/4 L red wine. It came in a small 1/4 L bottle. It was a very nice local wine. After settling my bill I went back up to my room. In spite of having an Internet connection I was not able to download or upload anything in my room so I went out in the halllway and sat by the elevators where I was able to type up Day 44 of my blog. It was very hot. No A/C in the hallways. I was off to bed at 10:30.
Note to self - always finish off the whole chocolat bar - otherwise it turns to mush in the very hot temps. Luckily there was a Mini Bar fridge and i was able to put it in the fridge to get it solid again.
This blog was posted at the Hotel Dunav in Pozarevac, Serbia on Saturday, July 9, 2011