314-324: to Beograd
pics #1414 - #1551
Monday September 12th - White Lunar Wind
Before I leave the community, we are talking in the main room with Adi, spiritual guide and founder of the community. Translated from Romanian to French by Eliza who was French teacher. He keeps his humor blended with wise words, advising me to keep meditating. Adi seems convinced that I will come back. Me not, at least not forever, because of the ban on yogic practices. This place was very inspiring though. To help me survive a few extra days, the girl in the kitchen brings me tomatoes, bell peppers, bread, cheese, goat milk and a smile. Then Adi offers me to drive me to Brad, which I am not refusing: this way I avoid the steep descent in the dirt road. Despite being in a car it takes about one hour to ride thirty km. At eleven o'clock, I am on the road again by myself. It is a hot day, up there in the hills it was not so heavy. I ride in the hills, seeing the crests of mountains in the distance. I camp in the proximity of a river. Full moon, new start.
Tuesday September 13th - Blue Electric night
The road is simple today, follow the road to Petroșani. There is work on the road, it is hot, no shadow. A climb at 750m, not much compared to what is on the menu tomorrow: the highest road of Romania. After reaching the city, I turn in a valley that becomes more narrow. Erring dogs on the road come attracted, when i start cooking. They are not dangerous, just hungry, but not interested by vegetables, they leave and run after the next car. By caution, I camp on the other side of the river. Distant dogs barking, resonating in the valley. A herd of sheeps go down the road.
A communist symbol on a church?
Wednesday September 14th - Zellow Self-Exisitng Seed
Big day today: the Transalpina, highest road of Romania, and will be the highest of the year for me. I start cycling in a nice canyon, climbing a pass at about 1500m. During my lunch break a mountain biker passes me asking to make a picture. I meet him later at the top of the pass. Putting on a warm pullover before going down, soon we reach the crossing and take the way south, joining the official Transalpina road. We cycle together, following the river for a bit. Then the road climbs seriously and after a few turns, my companion leaves because it is too hard. I am surprised because he has no bags and still the possibility to go on easier gears. When reaching the area over the pine trees, I take a break near a fountain. One hour later I resume the ascension, greeted by the men at work on the road and many friendly honking car drivers. That adds for motivation during this steep ascension. The sun is still hot, the gradient of the road is around 9% average, the way up does not seem to end. When I feel the breeze, I know I am reaching the top. Up there I take a pause for some food and admiring the landscape, and there I see a road on the flank of a mountain in front of me. That is not the best news but I have to go down for a bit, and climb again. This tricky thing does not enchant me really. Less than one hour later, I finally reach the top of this road, the appears valley of the Danube. I go down to have diner in a restaurant, two salads and two main courses, for a small price. The Romanian words I learned at the eco-village helps me. I camp just outside of this ski station.
Le français je le parles très mieux que vous... et je vous merde
Transalpina: leaving Transilvania behind
Thursday September 15th - Red Overtone Serpent
I wake up and gaze at the sun rise. In the height of the mountains, it is one of those special moments that make give the trip all its meaning, and cannot be translated in words. Going down on a brand new road is a pleasure, wind in the hair, high speed... Then I will follow the foothills of the mountains, noticing by the colors in trees that autumn is arriving. I am in a region of the historic Romania, there wells are painted with orthodox icons. I wonder if I drink blessed water? I stop in Târgu Jiu, to buy fruits and go around this pleasant city where one can find sculpture from Brâncuși. My host for tonight lives in a village. He speaks no English but his hospitality is enchanting. His son makes the translation. Friends come for dinner, there is barbecue with wine. My good resolutions of not eating meat nor drinking alcohol are breaking apart. Nevermind, I would not be so rude to his offered hospitality.
A well of holy Water?
Târgu Jiu: Brâncuși's sculptures
Friday September 16th - White Rhythmic Worldbridger
I spend a relaxed day today. Standing up late, lunching late, southern European lifestyle, relax, it is too warm to run anyway. He guides me to the valley of a river, digging its way in the Carpates. It is a canyon, calm and impressive scenery. Back at home, one of his neighbors who speaks french is waiting for us. The evening will goes like yesterday, with friends around a barbecue. his french speaking friend give me a detailed lecture about the history of Romania. I like it, at school in France, apart from the antiquity and last century, we only learn about French history. History of a country is important to understand it. As it is said, people who forget their history are sentenced to live it again.
Saturday September 17th - Blue Resonant Hand
We are invited by neighbors for breakfast, we arrive late, of course. The relaxed life goes on, drinks, friends, talks. I am given a map of Romania, that even includes Beograd. My host explained that I could stay for a week, it would be no problem, while I am leaving in early afternoon. Nearby there is the village where sculptor Brâncuşi was born, further, in Tismana, orthodox monasteries founded by Saint Nicodemus. After Apa Neagră the road ascends in a narrow valley. I camp by a river in bucolic surroundings.
Sunday September 18th - Yellow Galactic Seed
As I pack in my tent I am not at all conscious that Jimi Hendrix died 41years ago. But I am in peace with the fact that the rock-star in my died at the age of 27. My life now has more meaning than back then. Now, it is about climbing, following the valley to the next pass.. I meet a shepherd and its two cows, three sheeps and five goats by the side of the road. It is Sunday so here and there one can see car parked and people barbecueing in nature. Something I noticed in many areas since Hungary, people seem to take more freedom, there are not as many restrictions as some countries I will not mention. More spontaneity, I like that character. I also meet erring dogs, not dangerous at all, not very active and rather afraid of human. Poor animals left in the wild after Brigitte Bardot came to Bucharest to convince the mayor not to kill the many of them roaming in the capital. It was big trouble there, so to solve it, the mayor then decided, instead of killing them, to send them away in the wild by entire bus. Now erring dogs are everywhere in Romania, for the capital the problem is solved.
After reaching the top of the climb, I enjoy a fast descent to the Cerna river. Following it on a boring road which goes up and down all the time. It is in a steep valley all the time. The next stop, Băile Herculane, is a thermal city where the Romans came, later the Austro-Hungarian, from which date big buildings. Unfortunately those old monuments are in a very bad state, while the new tower hotels are an ugly sight. I had a host there but he is not answering my message, so I leave the city in the late afternoon to meet again the Danube in Orşova. There is not really any good place to camp, and it is getting closer to night. I have to take care of the shortening days, and camp before 19.00 now. For today, I luckily have enough Romanian money for a hotel and a restaurant, with a double salad and double main dish again. They do not serve big quantities of vegetables.
Monday September 19th - Red Solar Moon
I ride down the Danube to end my last Lei in Drobeta Turnu Severin, and this time it is expended in useful stuff: bolts, postcard and batteries. Then I ride back to the dam across the Danube as the river leaves the canyon of the Portile de Fiere, or Iron Gate. The Romanian border guard seems happy to speak French, the Danube has a deep blue color today. At the Serbian side, the guy hardly even looks at me, while my passport receive its first stamp, finally. I bought it to be able to subscribe a mobile phone subscription in the Netherlands (while and ID was enough to work there as an EU citizen) and promised myself I would use it to travel. In Serbia, directions are written in Cyrillic alphabet, it is a good thing that I got a paper with the corresponding latin phonetic, so I can train reading it now. There I am following the Donauradweg, traced in partnership with Germany.
Dunărea, in Romanian
Dunav, in Serbian
Tuesday September 20th - White Planetary Dog
Despite the cloudy day, the scenery is wonderful. Mountains dive into the Danube which sluggishly goes in between, narrowing, widening, ... There is not much traffic on the road, which is in good state. In the small city of Donji Milanovac, there is a tourist office where I ask for a bank and a minimum of words in Serbian. "Dobre dan" for "good day", tells me that I am back in slavonic land. I withdraw Serbian Denars and buy vegetables for my lunch. The road goes on along the river, through many short tunnels, out of which appears a different landscape, each time. At the end of the day, I meet three German cycling to the Black Sea, a bit later, it is a Franco-German couple who indicate me all the cyclists behind them that they met in a hotel in Belgrade. I find a cool place to camp.
river Dunav, Iron gates
river Dunav, Iron gates
Wednesday September 21st - Blue Crystal Monkey
I have not cycled 100m that I see a guy on a green recumbent. According to the couple I met yesterday, he is French. We stop to talk about environment, freedom, organic crops and well, good life in opposition to rush for money. During our talk, two old men form the US stop shortly. After two hours we decide to resume our opposite routes. There appears a big castle, controlling the entrance of the canyon and a sort of huge lake formed by the Danube very wide. Next to this fortress, two German cyclist, they invite me for fruits, I cannot say now to two smiling ladies anyway. But as there are many others cyclist ahead and I cannot convince them to change their route and follow me, I leave after a pair of minutes. In the next village, when I stop my bicycle for groceries, there are two other cyclists having a beer! Everyone is following the Donau radweg. It is nearly midday and I have not cycled 1km yet. In a Pekara -bakery- I am advised to eat burek, a pie with cheese. Very nice taste, and even if people do not speak English very well, communication is easy. I feel their openness. Further I lose track of the bicycle road, but it does not matter as I have a map and a compass. I meet no other cyclist, they are certainly following the road precisely, sticking to the itinerary, crossroad by crossroad, as indicated in their guide, stopping in the hostels it reports, where they meet other cyclist who have the same book, who follow the same road and who have seen the same things. Exciting! Now the land is more flat, a lot of corn fields. By the end of the day, I meet a Russian woman touring. First woman alone that I meet, first Russian as well. She speaks very good French, we exchange maps, and she learns me how to say "thank you" and "please" in Serbian. I arrive in Smederovo and to avoid being surprised by darkness, I get away from the main road quickly, ending in fields bordered by a river. Nice place to camp.
Thursday September 22nd - Yellow Spectral Human
I wake up early in the morning, and set off to the city center of Smederovo, finding the Danube again. It is really wide in the plains. As I get closer to Belgrade, the traffic becomes more dense, more honking as well, but it is fine. I have become used to frequent honking that is used to great friends around, or as simple warning, to tell "I am near you", or "hey you cyclist with a lot of bags". In the next small city, A cyclist come to me in the shop to talk. This British has a great story, he is following the route of the first man who bicycled around the world in the 1880s., on a high wheeler. AFter this cool pause,. I resume my route toward the capital city of Serbia, training to decipher Cyrillic. My entrance in Beograd is brilliant, I am on a long boulevard, going down, taking speed and all the light are green. I reach the Kalemegdan park and look for internet cafe to check if I have hosts. Incredible, no positive answer. Fortunately there is a CS meeting tonight and one attendant can host. This way I meet Jordan, a girl from the US who works in a NGO on non-violence. To go to her place on the other side of the river, we take the bus, putting the bike in. People are amazing : no complaints, to the contrary they try to help us. I am going to like this country. At her home her Russian room-mate are also hosting to French hitch-hikers. we talk till late at night. Very interesting to hear about hitch hikers stories:it is a different style of traveling.