By 11:00am it was already 37.1 degrees celcius and we had just climbed a 2 kilometer hill out of Novi Sad. As usual we had no cover from the sun and today we had to compete with trucks, buses and cars which were also pumping hot exhaust fumes in our faces. It was everything bad about cycling.
It wasn’t all bad news though. As we left Novi Sad a bus driver stopped is bus (full of people) to beep his horn at us and gesture the correct direction for us to cycle (thank’s friendly bus driver) and as we rejoined the official bike-route after a short detour we met Sarah, a French girl who is cycling the whole route from the Atlantic to the Black sea!

“Oh, you are fresh” she exclaimed as I explained that I was 400km into a ride starting in Budapest. I was relatively fresh perhaps, but definitely not fresh in real terms. Anyway, it was inspiring to another solo biker with even more ambitious plans than me. I’m also happy to have another biking buddy because Dylan finishes in Belgrade and takes a train south to Bulgaria.

For the most part today was uneventful, long, hot and unexciting. We were close to the river but barely saw it and there was a lot of traffic. We did however meet another British couple doing the trip on a tandem bike and one other guy which means we saw more tour cyclists today than we have seen in the past 7 days. We didn’t cycle with them, but over the day we passed then and then passed us at various points during the day.

The highlight of the day was a small act of kindness from a farmers wife who was sitting on top of a trailer full of peaches. As we cycled passed, she waived us over hand handed me and Sarah two large fresh peaches each.

It was 90km to Belgrade and the route into the city winds through some quite suburbs and then joins the river where, to our delight, there are a large row of cafe’s and bars. We stopped for a celebratory beer in the sun and then weaved our way through the city to Hotel Slavija.

This is my third visit to Belgrade and I was really hoping that the city would finally reveal its hidden beauty. It has a reputation as a nice city and a fun place to be, but sadly I was still unimpressed. It’s big, grey, dirty and despite its location straddling the Sava and Danube rivers – totally uninspiring. I am perhaps biased, but compared to Kyiv, Belgrade is positively ugly.

That’s not a reflection on the people here (all have been amazingly friendly) but Belgrade is not a city I would recommend. Novi Sad was was greener, cleaner and prettier.

As we (me, Dylan and Sarah) checked-in to the hotel and prepared to go to the city, the heavens opened and the most almighty thunderstorm swept over the city. It has been bone dry and hooter than 35 degrees for the whole trip so it was nice to see rain and even nicer that it arrived 1 hour after we stopped 🙂

Monday will be my first rest, so I’ll do some shopping and sightseeing in Belgrade and then meet Andreja my Belgrade friend who studied with me in Koszeg. It will be great to see him and maybe he can convince me to like his home city.