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Day 36-38: Cycling in Serbia had been a great experience. Especially the people I met along the way were incredibly hospitable. Milica and Nemanja in Subotica, Milica in Novi Sad, Jelena and Aleksandra in Belgrade, Slava and his family in the way to Niš, and finally Marija and her mother in Niš.
Finally? There is still one day left to the border to Bulgaria. And as mentioned previously, there will be still one amazing host before I leave Serbia. But right now, I can’t look forward to it, because I am still climbing up the first hill on this strange road. Almost no traffic. The sun is already set and I wonder if there are wolves in this area. I should have asked people in Niš. I reached the top on almost 700 meters and my worries are displaced by the joy of this beautiful place.
The south of Serbia differs tremendous from the north. While the north is predominantly flat and the land cultivated, the south with its mountains around 1500 meters is more raw.
The next day is also stunning. Almost no traffic on the small road, mesmerizing views and beautiful weather.
I arrive at the tiny village where Goran and his parents live at around 1pm. It was not hard to find the property. Goran’s father, a friendly man around 70 years old waves to me and called when he spotted me passing by on the street. Goran is already there, sitting on the veranda of the picturesque house, enjoying the sun. “The house was built all by myself”, Goran’s father tells me with a big smile. From the foundation, the interior to the roof. In a second, smaller building he has his own distillery to produce Rakija, Serbia is famous for. During my stay there, Goran’s father had a bottle of self distilled Rakija on the table that he drunk alternating with smoking cigarettes. He surprised me with accurate German that he learned back in school. He explains me that he enjoys pension with his wife, looking for the garden and building his small house. His content way of storytelling inspires me. “It’s a paradise” he repeats. This peaceful way of living has a certain attraction on me, compared to the stressful live in the city. I think about the difference between satisfaction, happiness and being content.
Later, Goran shows me his home a few minutes away. He calls his home the “bike factory“, because each room is stuffed with bike equipment. Decent mountain bikes, he is engaged to assemble. He is planning to offer bike tours through the beautiful nature surrounding his home. Goran is the embodiment of Serbian hospitality. We had a great time together. “What do you think about Bulgaria?” I ask him. “You know, in Bulgaria everything is grey, the buildings are grey, the landscape is grey, even the people are” he replies with a mischievous smile.
So I’m heading to “the grey land” the next morning. Passing the border is easy and indeed, the landscape changes rapidly.
The first time on my bike trip, I had to take the highway, because there was no other road leading to Sofia. Entering Sofia with a bicycle is far from appealing for the eye. Big housing blocks in soviet style stand out in the suburbs of Sofia. They become even uglier when coming closer.
That’s why the bulgarian capital leaves a negative impression on me. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the next few days in Sofia, because a friend of mine is visiting me with his motorcycle. He is on the way from Germany to Laos.
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