Through the Iron Gates, Serbia
The Eurovelo 6 route through Serbia starts at the Iron Gates. When I think of the Iron Gates I imagine the Black Gate in Lord of the Rings – a huge monstrosity across a narrow ravine. In Serbia it actually refers to the gorge that the Danube runs through. It has Serbia on one side and Romania on the other. We cycled over the massive hydroelectric dam, that was completed in 1972. Interestingly it uses different equipment on each half, so though one dam, it generates two different amounts of power. I collected my first passport stamp on the Serbian side, though its the 16th country I’ve been to!
Immediatly after crossing over we camped at Tekija, where there is a small field next to riverside restaurant and boating area. There wasn’t much in the way of facilities, just a public tap outside the restaurant and scruffy toilets. We washed in the river in the evening and then watched the moon rise from behind the hills in Romania.
The main reason we decided to rejoin Eurovelo 6 in Serbia was because the gorge looked beautiful in all of the photos we had seen before. Even the photos I took barely do its beauty justice
One of the cliffs had a huge face carved into it, you can just about make it out on the right in the first photo. The face is of a local king who fought the Roman Empire.
We spotted a quiet looking sports ground around 5pm and decided to stay there. There was food and beer at a local shop and we relaxed beside the river. A nearby peach tree was ripe with peaches but I decided the allotment owner probably wouldn’t want us eating any. We decided not to wash in the river here as it was full of grimy pond weed and the odd piece of debris, instead using the football field’s cold outside showers. The draining system was directly below the shower, and consisted of wooden boards balanced over a deep hole dug into the ground. It was not my most relaxing shower!
There was once again a gorgeous sunset over the river and we spotted two fishermen hauling in the nets.
The vast proportion of crops we have seen so far have been corn. We knew from experience that the corn wasn’t for eating after trying it last year in Finland. Many of the fields were nearly dead and we saw the farmers mincing it up and storing it in vast piles. I think it’s used for either cattle fodder over the winter or biofuel.
We passed a lot of ramshackle roadside dwellings along the fields, either used for selling farm-grown goods or old shelters for people harvesting.
One of the areas along the river had these old tug boats and barges tied up together which I really liked the look of. They reminded me of a dystopian river based future.
Later on we passed Golubac Fortress, an incredible walled town nestled against the river. We cycled under it through a small tunnel which was not what I expected!
Our next stop was Belgrade. Getting there turned into an absolute nightmare when the paved roads got too busy to cycle on and the river path turned to grass and dirt. We alternated between stretches of quiet road and the river until that was no longer an option and then decided to slog it out through the grass.
At Belgrade decided to leave the Eurovelo route and explore the city. After lunch we quickly got lost and were found looking around totally confused by two local students. They lived in the same town we were heading to so offered to guide us there. We heard a lot about the city on route and they showed us the best view of their city. Though it was up a steep cobbled street which was hard work with our heavy bikes.