A night out in Pernik

After arriving in Pernik, Bulgaria, I had no plans whatsoever to visit the town. Get something to eat and go to sleep was the main course of that night. I went to a small family restaurant that served some gyros. After enjoying my meal and drinking a cold beer, I called my parents to say that I arrived safe and well that day and give an update of my journey. I talk to my parents in spanish (with my mom) and dutch (with my dad, ok not formerly in dutch but in the dialect of our hometown: Antwaarps).

Some of the other guests at the restaurant heard me talking in spanish and they invited me to their table which a gladly accepted. When you are all day on the road by your own it’s very welcoming to talk to someone. Mony and mony (I think that their formal names are Simeone) and other guy who’s name I can’t remember. One of the Mony’s had worked in Portugal, so we communicated in a mix of portuguese and spanish. Italian and ingles formed also part of the mix. They gave me some great insights about Bulgarian culture and compared it with Mexican and Belgian culture.

It was a interesting night, so sometimes it’s best not to expect a lot and embrace the momentthe guys at Pernik.

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Buca and Sasha

After I left Zajecar to go to Knjazevac, I decided to take a road less traveled, instead of biking on the main highway. The road should have taken me through the villages of Sljivar, Leskovac and Lasovo. This was a difficult road but the surroundings were beautiful. After a couple of steep climbs and taking a midday breake, a truck stopped and the driver told me that the road up ahead wasn’t accessible. Surprised and feeling bummed I had to turn around and take the same round back to the point were I started.

After leaving Zajecar (again), tired and with the spirit a bit broken, two cyclist approached me and asked me where I was heading. With no plan anymore, they invited me to join them to the lake near Grliste. Buca and Sasha showed me a great place to camp near the lake, nearby a monastery and a fresh water source. They made sure with the locals, that I would be taken care of. I felt calm and secure, took a bath in the lake, had a good night sleep and was ready to hit the road again the day after.

Thanks again guys for your kindness.

Sasha and Buca

Sasha and Buca

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Motel Beba

If you are in Zajecar, Serbia, and need a place to stay, be sure to try out Motel Beba. I got in Zajecar at nightfall and started to look for a place to spend the night. I asked the bartender at a local cafe where I could find a cheap hotel, but that didn’t help very much. People aren’t always informed what the accommodation facilities are in there town. After a quick search using the app Tripadvisor, I found out about Beba. Google maps send me in the wrong direction. But  local taxi company shared their WI-FI connection and loaded the correct GPS track, and off I went.

The personal at Beba (I can’t remember their names) were very kind, inviting me on sugary drinks and ice-cream, a delight when you just traveled 120km on your bike. Discussed on what direction I should take to get to Sofia, even when I said to them that I was planning to take another trail.

You would think that this shouldn’t be an entry under this section. But the personal at Beba were very kind to me, even when they didn’t have to, surpassing what’s stated in their job description.

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Astrid and Johannes

I met Astrid and Johannes (Germany) briefly on my trip between Kladovo and Negotin. They started their trip in Budapest and are traveling up to the Black Sea, following the Danube. It is a preparation ride for their next journey starting from Istanbul and going to China. They were riding +20 year old bikes, formerly owned by Johannes parents. Very enthusiastic and curious, they were learning how to get prepared for their next big trip. And what better preparation than experience. I found their setup a good example that you don’t need high tech material for this kind of trip. But I must add that I I’m very happy with my setup.

I’m looking forward to here from you guys once you start with your big journey.

Astrid and Johannes

Astrid and Johannes

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Martin S.

I regret I don’t have a picture of Martin with his recumbent or fixie bicycle. I contacted Martin through the warmshower community and he didn’t hesitate to offer me a place to stay at his apartment. A very knowledgeable guy about bicycles and biking, he is really a bike enthusiast. He loved my Surly LHT, it passed his quality control ride : ).

Hope to meet you again and share at one point or the other a trip.

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Zoran K.

Warmshowers is not only a way to get a free bed and a warm shower. But a way to get to know the local culture and exchange our experiences with others. You get first hand information on the surroundings and which roads to travel. Having a profile and offering help to strangers, makes you an ambassador of your town and country. And Zolan is a great ambassador for the town of Backa Palanka, Serbia.

Liane contacted Zoran very last minute, and he didn’t hesitate to open the doors of his house to four strangers. We met Zoran at a local pub nearby the orthodox church St. John the Baptist, which his company has been repainting. Zoran told us a lot about current Serbian traditions. Backa Palanka is also known as “little china”, due the fact that all people are going there by bike. After a couple of beers we went to the store to buy some cevapi (balkan sausage) and Zoran prepared it in his serbian barbeque, the pan has a wok-like form, and the food is baked in pig fat. I must say it was delicious.

When it was time to leave, Zoran gave some produce from his garden, so we had some healthy food for on the road.

Thanks again man, and you are always welcome wherever I might be!!!

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Zoran and his bike

Serbian barbeque

Serbian barbeque

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Milan

I met Milan through the Warmshowers social network. Something such as Couchsurfing, but specifically for bicycle travelers. It was my first Warmshowers experience and it was a great one. Milan and his family are my benchmark for Hungarian hospitality. I had a pleasant ride to Bölcske, Hungary, but had to push the bike to arrive there on time. As some already know me, I didn’t arrive on time.

Tired and a bit nervous to what to expect, I was warmly welcomed by Milan and his parents. I got fed delicious pizza, with the produce of their farm. Drank the home made rakia, wine and beer. Milan taught me about Hungarian culture, his experience traveling from Denmark to Barcelona by bike,  and about the families vineyards.

I told Milan about an strange encounter on the way to his home, the road between Dunaföldvar en Bolcske. In the middle of nowhere while I was sending a text message, a woman with a strange walk and a crooked eye, passed me by and returned slightly after and started talking to me. After a few attempts to explain to her I didn’t understand what she was trying to say, she emphasized on the word sex. I kindly refused the offer and went on my way. When I told Milan about my strange encounter, he told me:

“You will see a lot of strange things in the Balkan”

The day after, we met Alex and Liane in town’s center (they camped in Dunaföldvar), and we visited the vineyards the day after and learned how they try to maintain the craft of wine production. He gave us two bottles of their fine wine, which we enjoyed the night after.

I don’t know when but the postcard from China will arrive.

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The wine cellar

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Grape tasting

Thanks again mate!!!

Milan in front of one the families wine cellars

Milan in front of one the families wine cellars

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One of Milan’s ceramic creations, with the scripture: “The life of a designer is a life of fight against the ugliness”

 

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Bernadette and Robi

I met Bernadette and Robi (Switzerland) on the road between Baja and Kopačevo, while riding along with Liane and Alex.

Bernadette and Robi are very experienced travelers. On this trip they were completing the eurovelo 6 route between Budapest and the Black Sea. The last part to complete the whole tour.

I talked a lot with Bernadette about her experience traveling in Asia. This gave me new insights on my future plans and also made me very enthusiast of whats to come.

The last time I saw them was on the road between Brnjica and Kladovo (Serbia), near the so called Iron Gate.

Wish you the best!!

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Remi

The more the merrier. Remi D. (France) joined the group after the town of Kopačevo, Croatia. We traveled together until Belgrade, Serbia. After a couple of years working, Remi decided to quit his job, leave his apartment and get on a bicycle and travel. I recognized a lot of the ideas and feelings that led to my decision to travel by bike.

After Belgrade, Remi is following the road along the Danube up to Constanta, Rumania. And then heads up to Istanbul. And then….

May your journey be long and safe!!!

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Remi D.

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To keep you bike safe is very important. A good place is on top of a terrace and hidden between laundry

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After Budapest

You’re never alone. I thought that after Budapest I would not meet a lot of people touring on their bikes. Jeez, was I wrong. After starting my trip I met Liane and Alex, from Germany. They were heading to Istanbul following the Danube river up to the Black Sea and then cycling the coast.

We shared the road up to Negotin, Serbia, where I continued on the eurovelo 13 route, also called the Iron Curtain route. We traveled together for a week. Shared great views, nice evenings and great talks. Hope to see this guys again in Istanbul.

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Alex (Germany)

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Liane (Germany)

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