If I were to look at the signs I would most probably stay home. The two years preparation of this trip ended up almost catastrophically. I had one week to tag together my bike. Firstly they broke my frame in the cycling service. How did they manage I don't know. Then I had to send back my new pedals, one of them didn't fit. Afterwards I have found out that the Shwalbe tires were falling down from the rims. So I got a new pair. Two days before the set off day I had a small accident. Once again the tire went off during a ride!!! This is just too much. So during the last day I had to get new wheels. Instead of calm packing day I had a bit of a rush day going to Bratislava, buying new wheels (this time I went for quality, Mavic) and then getting the bike ready. I was done at 11pm. Packing remains for to morrow. At least I have a decent wheels.
I set off at 9 am. Lego have come to make an intro shot on my camcorder. We shot few scenes and then he left. Right after he was gone the rear Shwalbe tire went off. What the hell?! I don't believe it! So I had to come back and change the tires. I took what I had at home plus two spare ones. Once again I left after 12 o'clock. First kilometres were fine, but I had so much stuff in my head that I didn't even realize that I'm finally on the road. Heading east. On my dream trip to India. NO. I was just cycling from Galanta, waiting for another disaster. I didn't trust anything. After 50km my head eased a bit. Then a heavy rain started. I didn't care. I had to be in Sturovo at 7pm plus I was too stressed to wait somewhere. I had put on my waterproof gear and kept on cycling. After a while the rain changed to a heavy down pour. Who cares? I went like crazy. More it rained, happier and easier I was. I didn't even realized that I had a flat tire. But soon I found out that the pedalling is too hard, this cannot be the wind. So I looked down... whoops... Never mind. I fixed it quickly and went on the road again.
I came to Sturovo just before the train, from which Dusan was suppose to get out. But he didn't. Funny, but whit all these problems I came here first. Brano showed up at 9 pm with news about Dusan. He was washed out with by the same heavy water in Dubnica and missed the train. He'll be here at midnight. We set up our base at the trains station.
Big meeting with Dusan. We are all tree together. The trip can begin.
We woke up quite late, still on the Slovak side. First few kilometres were nice and easy. We were still fresh and full of energy. Budapest came within few ours. We took a bath in a like on the outskirts of the town. Then went trough the centre and then went to the opposite side. There we found a small church with nice lawn were we stayed for the night
Flat, flat flat! Just straight and flat roads of Hungary are the best way how to get started. My body, my muscles and my buttocks are not prepared for such a trip. I had never done more than 70km a day and now we want to average 100km a day!!! Well, we'll see. But at the end of the day I'm pretty knocked. Just during the last refiling of our water bottles, we stopped in a small village. One old farmer came with a bucket full of peaches. Wow. That's all for us? Thanks a lot.
Morning was nice. The cycling to the Serbian border was a good exercise. One would say a good warm up! We spent all our Hungarian money in the last village. Ice cream and coke. We still have some food from home, so we didn't have to worry much about our stomachs.
Hello Serbia. Finally we can understand what the people are saying, even though quite deep into Serbia people are still speaking Hungarian. We changed money in Subotica. I tried to use my debit card and it didn't work. This worried me a bit, because I have only 500$. My first thoughts? If I really wanted to I thing we can manage the whole trip to India, but our way of taking care of our selves would have to change. So far we don't starve at all! This is more of a gastronomic journey than a pilgrimage to a monastery. But our bodies are asking for the energy that we use every hour. In other words: we eat like horses!
The landscape is pretty much the same as in Hungary, but the people are a different kind. Much more passionate and energetic. They gesticulate wildly when they talk and they talk a lot. Everywhere where we stop, even just for water, people start shooting typical questions... where are we from, where do we go? Oh my goodness, Istanbul? We are trying to prevent them from heart attacks so India is not always mentioned.
Today is not so windy as yesterday so we are full of energy. Wind is very depressing factor. Flat roads should be peace of cake, but with wind facing us it's a nightmare... but with wind blowing to our backs its superb. It looks so easy now. My knee is getting better, bus muscles are stronger and buttocks tougher. I'm looking for a day off, but I can see that the worst is behind us. We sleep on the shore of Danube just before Beograd. We met Dragan there. For the first look a tough guy, but he ended up as an experienced motorcycle traveller and offered us a shower and coffee. Very much appreciated after 6 long days, specially before having a day of in a city. He travelled throughout Mexico and from North to South in Africa. Not bad for such a strange looking guy.
Beograd. The outskirts are terrible. Cyclists nightmare. I didn't know that there are slums in Europe. Dragan said that there are 100 000 gypsies living in here, and we know it's true. The edge of the town was dirtier than dirt. But the inner city is very nice and quite bike friendly. Lot of drinking water and city parks. This day is for recharging our energy and so it looks like right from the beginning. Slow morning, slow day, adrenalin evening.
Firstly we got all we needed in the city, then a big big chill out near the city fortress and finally swimming in the city lake. It was overcrowded with people. It looked like the whole city is bathing in there, but after a week on the road we appreciated some company. Strangely enough nobody talked to us. Well big city, they are used to strangers. We chilled a bit too much, because we left the centre a bit too late. Till we got to the suburbs it got dark and still too many houses to pitch our tents. We climbed all the way up and then... woooowwww a 15 km downhill ride between buses, cars and wholes in the road. And all this with just head torch and a red back light. Well, we were seen, but we saw less than nothing. But the speed was so tantalizing that we didn't care. We shouted like crazy!