Leaving Budapest having fixed panniers and rested we had a longer day in order to get to a designated free camping spot in Baja. Being typically British (and too old to be called a millennial) we are too polite and worried about what people will think I’m order to camp anywhere. We are fully aware of how ridiculous this is and know that we will eventually get over it! However, a designated free spot fitted the bill as we knew we would be allowed to camp there and no angry farmer would wake us up at 3am to tell us to get off his land (again, we know how stupid a fear that is)! Parked up and tent pitched we began cooking dinner and half way through eating some serious rustling sounded from the treeline to the side. Soon, out popped a wild boar (picture the size of a large sheep) and a few little ones followed. They minded their own business until Verity got up to fetch the camera and the smell of pork salami drifted to his nostrils. The big one stared us down for a while, and Verity was rightly too scared to take the picture! After a few minutes of standoff off he trotted into the other side of the woods.
At about 10.30 at night, we were surrounded by lots of chit chat, and having already been asleep for an hour or two (we said it was a long day) we startled and Joe hi the tent expecting to have strong words with a disgruntled farmer. Instead, there were 15 or so people with head torches on looking down the path on a night time boar stroll and were getting excited about the family who came for dinner with us. Only at 3 in the morning did the beastie return with a triumphant snort that work us both up, as always in a tent…things seem 4 times as big, 4 times as close and 4 times as angry – so we stayed as still as possible and tried not to breath too loudly. Realising he couldn’t get our food package that was tied up in a tree, Mr Boar soon headed off to the forest and left us for good. Joe was delighted (as a fan of Asterix and Obelix) that not only has he seem menhirs on our adventure, he has now also met a wild boar.
The next day we moved on from Hungary to Serbia. Our first proper border patrol – our first passport stamp!! A bit of a shock as we received the text message from virgin mobile welcoming us with a hefty £12.50 per MB of data as we were outside the EU! Oops. No WhatsApp for a while then…and as we weren’t expected it (completely our own fault) we hadnt really thought about pre downloading our maps or looking ahead to find campsites. Luckily (there is a running theme here…) Serbia has a plethora of gelaterias and they seem to come with Wi-Fi if you ask nicely.
A couple of days later we were in Novi Sad, a lovely town with bustling old centre, an old fortress which great sunset views and trendy bars serving cheap food and beers. We had a rest day here fixing Joe’s panniers which the juddering potholes of eurovelo6 had taken offence to and eating a variety of (both sweet and savoury) knedle.
After a speedy 100km, we then had another day off the bikes in Belgrade! We loved the stark architecture and the friendly buzz around the city, there was a great mix of green space (the most-used outdoor gyms we have ever seen), towering sky scrapers ( straight from the set of The Fifth Element) and fantastically busy green markets.Technically we didn’t actually have a day off the saddle as we hopped on without panniers and wobbled around to see the sights. We also fixed Joe’s pannier rack (not panniers themselves this time) – curse you ev6!
We are now back in countryside and camping our way down the Danube. We continue to be overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Serbians – we receive a friendly toot from passing drivers, armfulls of apples and grapes and smiles and waves wherever we turn. It has been a real delight, they are genuinely welcoming and helpful and we think the people make the country top of our list at the moment!
The views have been epic as we cycled through the Iron Gate gorge. We have seen more cycle tourists again and have enjoyed swapping tales of where we have been and where’s next. For us, it’s ending the European leg of the trip with Romania and Bulgaria. With no change in the Iran-UK visa situation our current plan is to stay north and take a cargo boat across the Black Sea to Georgia whilst it’s still warm enough.