• sa
  • Highlands
  • K
  • H
  • MNE
  • F
  • R
  • Roma
  • SA
  • Un
  • a
  • 1
  • Transalpina Pass
  • Transalpina Pass
  • Romania
  • Riding....
  • Moldova....
  • My shadow...
  • Ukraine
  • In Evinos river reservoir, Greece...
  • Curving...
  • Montenegro...
  • Croatia...
  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • In Graz, Austria...
  • In Montenegro...
  • Ljubljana...
  • Bled lake
  • Bled lake to Bohinj lake
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Bohinj lake, Slovenia
  • Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • Grossglockner, Austria...
  • Grossglockner Pass
  • Grossglockner, Austria...
  • Don't drink and drive...
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Graz
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • A1, Croatia
  • Curving in MotoLeonidio Race...
  • In a Gas Station in Serbia
  • On the road...
  • On the road in Hungary...
  • On the road in Belarus...
  • In Minsk, Belarus...
  • In Russia...
  • Borders Belarus - Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Riding in Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Crossing a bridge in Latvia...
  • On the road in Latvia...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • In Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Poland...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Trigrad Gorge, Bulgaria...
  • In Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria...
  • Morocco...
  • Morocco...
  • Morocco...
  • Morocco...
  • My son Konstantinos
  • Falkirk, Scotland...
  • Biogradsko Jezero, Montenegro...
  • Fez, Morocco...
  • Rabat, Morocco...
  • Transfagarasan Pass, Romania...
  • Careterra Austral, Chile...
  • Unpacking my new baby...
  • Leonidio, Greece....
  • Transalpina Pass, Romania
  • Transalpina Pass, Romania
  • In Romania...
  • Riding...
  • Moldova...
  • In Evinos river reservoir, Greece...
  • Curving...
  • Montenegro...
  • Croatia...
  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • In Graz, Austria...
  • Keeping notes of the trip, in Montenegro...
  • In Ljubljana, Slovenia...
  • In Bled lake, Slovenia...
  • On the road from Bled lake to Bohinj lake, Slovenia...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse, Austria...
  • In Bohinj lake, Slovenia...
  • Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • In Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • In Kaiser Franz Josef Hohe, Grossglockner, Austria...
  • Crossing Grossglockner Pass, Austria...
  • In Kaiser Franz Josef Hohe, Grossglockner, Austria...
  • In Benedikt, Slovenia...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Walking in Graz, Austria...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Heavy rain while crossing A1 Highway in Croatia...
  • Curving in MotoLeonidio Race...
  • In a Gas station in Serbia...
  • On the road...
  • On the road in Hungary...
  • On the road in Belarus...
  • In Minsk, Belarus...
  • In Russia...
  • Borders Belarus - Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Riding in Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Crossing a bridge in Latvia...
  • On the road in Latvia...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • In Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Poland...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Trigrad Gorge, Bulgaria...
  • In Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria...
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SouthEast Serbia (August 2017)

Written by Thanasis Vavaroutas. Posted in Expeditions

Click here for the full map of the trip...

 

Click here for the route in SE Serbia...

 

Not one, not two, but three times I faced an accident on this trip... So many years and so many kilometers on my log, it was the first time I had so many difficult issues with possible collisions... One near Kladovo in Serbia and two more in the city Orsova in Romania...

  But let's take things from the beginning... One of the nearby places (I live in Greece) I hadn’t explored was South-East Serbia. I had gone many times west, "driving up and down" the E75 the Serbian highway), and several times I had visited Nis which is located in the southeast part of Serbia... Nevertheless I never went east, so it was something that I had noted in the back of my mind... I had read about Iron Gates on the Danube, for lakes that are "planted" in green mountains, for vineyards that fed their delicious wine, France and California and furthermore even the USA in times when they were not produced due to natural disasters (in USA) and for castles dating a from the time of the Roman legions. The beauty of the Danube river, however, is the undisputed beauty of the region, the natural border of the Serbia with Bulgaria and Romania ...

 What else does a motorcyclist want? Aha! And a low budget to travel... Essential for the times we live...

 It was time with high temperatures in Greece in the last days of July, and with my girlfriend Efi we believed that in the mountains of Serbia we would find a little bit of coolness... I had prepared the trip for a couple of weeks before leaving, the moto was ready of service and tires and all that left to us was to prepare our personal stuff... How do women (even if they have the experience of traveling on a motorbike) get 10 outfits more than they need is always a mystery, which hasn’t been solved by the experts!!! The inner suitcase of Efi with a little difficulty fitted in the side large metal pannier of the motorcycle... I always put my stuff on the small side pannier where the various necessities for the motorcycle ( tyre repair kit, electric pump, tools and various), and our rain trousers and jackets as well...

 Something different that had this trip compared to my past ones was that we would go quite loose and the real trip would start from Lake Vlasina Rid in Serbia... On the daily routes I had planned to drive 200 to 300 kilometers in provincial roads... But the first and the last day of the trip would have been several kilometers to be covered as always... 

 

Day 1                          Patras - Surdulica (Serbia) 760 km

 In the dawn of July 29th, Saturday we departed from Patras (Greece). The time on motorcycle’s display was 4 o’clock in the morning when we passed the "Harilaos Trikoupis" bridge and followed the Ionian Highway. A few days ago, the Menidi part of the Ionian Highway, which was under construction, was ready. It was a dangerous point on the old National Road, which is not part in our route anymore... The new highway was superb! It was six o‘clock (in the morning) when we stopped for an espresso at Stop & Go coffee shop, before entering in  Egnatia highway. Efi found the opportunity and got a nap for a quarter of an hour after that she was ok... The cafe was full of Serbian tourists whose their bus stopped for a break on their way to Lefkada Island, where they would spend their holidays. Our brothers! Yes, Serbs brothers with Greeks! Identified by my many trips to Serbia...

Egnatia Highway was “covered” quickly and easily, and after the toll of Malgara, we turned left for the Evzonoi Greek border station. We arrived at the borders shortly after nine o'clock, and after a short stop we departed to get to FYROM. The check at the borders was a routine, and we continued on the highway. We found a lot of traffic because it was holiday season, and several people were travelling to Greece, while the same time many other tourists leaving Greece to return into their homes after a short break of their daily life, enjoying the beaches of our country (Greece). The temperature had begun to rise, and the delay at the border stations and tolls on the FYROM highway became tedious... the cost of tolls in FYROM was costing 1.5 euros. I usually pay in dinars that have been left to me from my previous trips in the neighbouring country. Efi, after having taken her nap, was now cool and began to "play" with the camera and filming our crossing in FYROM... With a conservative driving, the crossing of the neighbouring country takes more or less about two hours. The total crossing of FYROM is 180 easy kilometer, but it just needs attention for police... It was almost noon when we stopped on the border of FYROM - Serbia... There was again a traffic jam, but not so much as in the previous border stations...

 After we entered Serbia, we stopped at the first gas station for refueling and coffee... Then Marios and his girlfriend arrived there on a BMW GS Adventure LC that had departed from Karditsa (Greece), all the way to North Cape!!! We chatted about the route of their trip. I told him some of my experiences from my trip to North Cape in the distant 2010... what to be aware of and about sightseeing. That couple was very well informed and had prepared a great trip and from what I saw through Facebook, as we were friends there, they were enjoying every kilometer and everything went perfectly. Awesome!!! After we exchanged wishes for our trips, we were greeted them and they continued their day route to Belgrade while we left the E75 at the exit for Vladicin Han.

We continued our route to Surdulica where we booked our accommodation for the first day. After about 10 kilometers from our exit from the motorway we met the Markov Konak Guest House. We got from the motrcycle’s panniers our necessities for the day and we got to our room. After the necessary refreshment and a short nap, we met the family who owned the accommodation. The son of the family, Marco was the only one who was speaking English and so there was the necessary communication channel. He was also a motorcyclist who brought us even closer as our nationality as well. (I told you that Serbians and Greeks are brothers in soul!) Mark pointed out to us that we could go to Surdulica for a coffee. We arrived in the center of the town of about 12,000 inhabitants. We left the moto in the beginning of the pedestrian walkway and we walked to the center. We enjoyed our coffee and watching the locals that had gone out for their afternoon walk... Poor people, with enough Roma to walk among them. The town had nothing special but was quite neat and clean. We paid less than € 1 for a coffee and we felt the provincial difference from urban centers... Paying coffee at such a price makes you feel rich in these times we live (economical crisis etc.)... We returned to our hotel and sat in the restaurant where with Marko's help we ordered for dinner. What else; Serbian specialties... Pleskavitsa and Karatzordjeva... I asked Marco if they serve ajvar, and Marko explained to me that it was not its time, and is usually served in winter and spring... Next time wmaybe we will be lucky! (Ajvar is a pepper-based condiment made principally from red bell peppers and oil.)

 We slept like birds and the next morning we loaded the motorcycle, we took our breakfast, we paid the sum of 20 €, we thanked our hosts and we gave them an appointment for the next time we would get this route again...

 

Day 2      Surdulica - Vlasina Rid (Lake) - Stara Planina - Knjazevac (Serbia) 230 km

We left Markov Konak behind and headed back to Surdulica's center for a morning coffee and to get an idea about local’s Sunday morning routine... We enjoyed the morning chill and our coffee and a little later when the sun started to rise enough and warned us for a warm day, we get in the moto and departed for Lake Vlasina Rid, which was the first stop of our day trip... I drove about 20 km to the lake at road 40 at the beginning and then we continued at 231 - in a forested area all the kilometers - which led us to the shores of the lake. Lake Vlasina Rid is one of the largest in Serbia and was created by the rivers Vlasina and Vrla. It is surrounded by mountains and is at an altitude of approximately 1,200 meters. The Serbs had flooded the shores of the lake, enjoying their Sunday's excursion and others spending there their summer vacation! The view was very beautiful and our trip just started from a stunning scenery!

After some drive around the lake we continued on road 231 towards Pirot. A beautiful route through a forested area descended us from the 1200 meters altitude, where we met road 39 which guided us through small villages and rivers (where the locals were swimming) which led us to the town of Pirot of 40,000 inhabitants. We looked for the central square, and sat under the shade of a large plane tree (and an awning...) in one of the coffee shops that existed there. Next to a Greek-speaking group of people who just heard the language, we started a conversation and exchanged impressions of the place. They were working on the construction company of Aktor and were building the highway that starts from Nis passing through Pirot and crossing the Serbia-Bulgaria border will end in Sofia. It was already noon and I ordered a beer, Nikšićko. We always try the local products!!! It was very hot at the time (close to 38° C), and it was what the best to get away my thirst! Efi's beverage and my beer were complimented by our compatriots, and after we greeted them, we got on my moto and got the road to the Stara Planina National Park ... 

Stara Planina in Serbian means old mountain and is an extension of the Carpathians separated from them by the Danube river. Its highest point is at 2,170 meters altitude. So I started to drive through narrow streets and some dirt pieces to get to Zavojsko Lake on the fringe of the mountain. The nature? At its best!!! Bright narrow streets that passed through a dense forested area where it was sparse and where we met small villages that made us wonder how they live out there in winter... On our way we met a wooded plateau with a waterfall that attracted our attention to since several locals had set up for a picnic... Pots over improvised fireplaces were preparing their lunch... Beers in the streams with cool running water froze them, ready for consumption when the time would come. The kids were playing around and the big ones were enjoying their conversation... We just took a break there to live a little bit of this beautiful set up... A very pleasant break I could tell! Although our routes were mountainous, we didn’t find the coolness that promises the altitude... We hoped that in the Serbian mountains we would find the coolness that would make us forget the 38s and 39s deegres of Celcius, that mercury reached for several days in Greece... but it was an illusion! Heat and there, on the mountains! 

We enjoyed the moments there and continued following road 221 to the city of Knjazevac... We arrived in the afternoon and started looking for the day's accommodation. We eventually ended up at the Timok Hotel, which looked like a remnant of the communist era with an effort of renovation and reformation... The employees at the reception during the check-in asked us over the passport and a document that they gave to the visitor when I entered the country, something I experienced during my trip last year to Belarus and Russia... It took some time to let them know that this is no longer due... It was Sunday afternoon and in the ball room the hotel hosted a wedding celebration. The volume of the music at high levels, the people well dressed suited for the occasion and the joy was everywhere. 

After we settled in our room, we went to town to have dinner after arriving late in the afternoon and we were starving... It was difficult to find a restaurant at that time of the day and we ended up in a tavern where there was an event on, for a baby’s birthday, which the Serbs celebrate with all splendor! All well-dressed, and at a moment we concluded that it was a baptismal celebration until the waitress explained to us... 

Knjazevac, a small town of about 30,000 inhabitants, crossed by Timok River and its pedestrianized side of the cafés, is a pole of attraction for the locals. The youth prevailed I could tell! There is no low birth rate as there is in Greece. We enjoyed our coffee in one of the cafes and we went back to our hotel get some rest and be ready for the next day. The feast in the hotel ball room was at its high, and it was over before the sun rose... Timok was the most expensive hotel in the trip. We paid 28 € and I think we have paid a lot (not a good value for money)... 

 

Day 3        Knjazevac - Resavska Pecina - Kucaj Pass - Bor (Serbia) 220 km

We got our breakfast in the hotel and we found some difficulties to check out because there was only one employee to cover all the positions (receptionist - waiter - bartender, etc.)!!! We loaded our stuff on the motorcycle and we went to one of the cafes by the river to drink a coffee... So relaxed... It was 11 o’clock when we got on to the moto and departed for our day route!

We followed road 217 towards Sokobanja, a narrow road that guided us through a narrow passages to the village of Sokobanja. On this route, we met some locals walking or on tractors who were walking to their jobs or to their farms. A distance of 38 kilometers in which the steering wheel in my hands looked like a compressor! There were so many holes on the asphalt that had been patched and so many of the patches that had been placed over the old patches that the moto were dancing on the road. There, I’d tested the front suspension and the forks which I still haven’t visited BMW service for the recall on GS rings on forks... 

After the village of Sokobanja we followed roads 218, 421, 36, 255, 390 and 160 that led us to Resavska Pesina, one of the oldest caves explored in Serbia. It is estimated that is 80 million years old and is one of the most visited in Serbia. I had also visited the cave of Diros and the cave of Perama in Ioannina (both in Greece) and so I expected to see something of lesser value. It was nice and it was worth visiting if somebody is in the area. The entrance ticket cost 300 Serbian Dinars, about € 2.50.

Near to the cave was the Veliki Buk waterfall near Lisine and we got the road to there... A short distance of 13 km. All the routes in this area were just great!!! Through narrow roads that snaked through forested and big cultivated areas! The joy of a motorcyclist! JUST PERFECT!!!

 We drove on gravel, which brought us close to the waterfall and in the parking lot of a beautiful tavern... The temperature was 38°C and it was late in the afternoon and our stomachs were protesting... So, we settled down in the tavern and we enjoyed the delicacies of the Serbian cuisine accompanied by local beer, of course... LAV this time... 

It was about 6 o'clock when we departed and we had some way up to Bor... 72 km away and we had to drive through Kucaj Pass... We got road 389 that would lead us to Bor where we would stay overnight. The narrow road with enough patches in several places, through a very beautiful route, took us to Kucaj where there were no high mountains but the whole area was covered by a dense forest. The road full of curves and the moto didn’t hesitate to bend in the turns and the engine to work with pleasure. Until to Bor the route was amazing and highly motorcycling, if I could say it that way... A few kilometers before we arrive to Bor we found on our left Lake Borsko, composed with the landscape that surrounded it a very beautiful ensemble. The inhabitants of Bor enjoyed their swimming there, and along the coast there were hotels, which shows that the place also had local tourists. We made a stop there even though we were only 15 kilometers away from the city because we had burst out of thirst and dehydration is not a good advisor when you drive... Of course I was dried up my bottle of sparkling water...

Eventually we entered in Bor at eight o'clock in the evening. We found our accommodation, which cost us 22 € and was impeccable, near the entrance of the city. In our trips, we look for accommodation, that will offer Wi-Fi, so we will be connected to internet and to get information about the weather weather etc... In addition to this, if the accommodation will be perfect if offers a closed parking lot for the motorcycle! 

We left our stuff in the room, freshened up and I drove to the center of the city. Bor, a city of 130,000 inhabitants, has the largest copper mines in Europe and the mines opened in 1904!!! I set the GPS to lead us to the city center. When we arrived, we saw policemen blocking the main boulevard on which pedestrians strolled. We learned that in the afternoon hours the city's main boulevard is given to its residents and not to their cars. I parked my motorcycle, I put the lock on the front brake disc for safety and we also walked in the city moving in this human-stream of locals. In Bor, the intense presence of youth has come to our attention. Beyond adolescents, families with several children and babies in their trolleys were able to ride. And there I once again thought that our Greece (and Europe) is getting older...

 After a light dinner, I went to get my moto, to go back to our room. I wore my helmet, got up, put the ignition on, and when I started to go the moto fold and fell down on my left foot. I forgot to unlock and remove the locker from the front disc brake... I fell down and the pain in my finger of my left foot was extreme. I was an attraction for the people who were passing by... I stopped the engine of the moto immediately, unbolt my leg and as I got up, I raised the moto with difficulty because of my pain. Some hacks on the engine sidebars and on the left hand only... Fortunately, I was wearing my Salomon shoes (they have a very good protection), otherwise I would had more damage to my finger which was the most wounded from the fall... I took the lock off the right disc brake and drove to our accommodation. I always put the lock on the right brake disc because the ABS sensor is fitted to the left and in such a case as that one the damage in ABS would be serious... 

We went back to our accommodation to check the condition of my finger... What concerned me about was the next morning I had to wear my boots... My nail had already begun to blacken and the soft toe of the finger had hurt. I also noticed that I had hit a little on the upper arch on my left foot... Efi took care on my pain and with an express treatment I slept with the wish to be better next morning...

 

Day 4      Bor - Negotin Wine Route (Serbia) - Decabalus Statue -               Drobeta (Romania) 245 km 

And of course in the morning, despite my pain, I wore my boots! The day included an exceptional route, through the wine road in Negotin... 

After we got ready, we went to a coffee shop for breakfast... It was 10 o’clock when we left the city of Bor... Efi was impressed by the huge trucks used in the mines, which were an attraction at the entrance of the city along with huge tires. She wanted to take some photos before leaving the city... We got to road 37 to Zajecar, a joyful country road and after in road 35 we were in a narrow alley that passed through large cultivated land (corn and sunflowers as most) and by some forested areas. Beautiful route, under a blue sky and a lot of heat again... Then we followed road 398 at a point and then the road 169 that leaded us to the first wine village, Rajac. Through a very narrow road covered by the trees that surrounded it we went up to the hill where wine cellars were located. The place that was revealed in front of us was extremely impressive. A small State full of scattered stone-built cellars that accommodated the barrels of wine in them! A wine little village! We looked for the reception but it was not possible to find something like that and we ended up in a cellar where it was for the staff. We enter in it, and a lady welcomed us but she didn’t speak English... We got together with the well-known method of pantomime. She served us and we tasted a delicious wine and while we enjoyed that nectar, a guy was added to our company, who, as he told us, was a musician and had visited Greece several times. We talked about how tied our people are and after we talked about a lot on other issues, we thanked them and I drove downhill to visit the next wine village...

So I followed the road to Smedovac, which was the next village... The road passed through vineyards and as it was August, the villagers were getting ready for the harvest... We got uphill again and after we passed the village, we followed the signs to which the winery was. We passed the village and after that we were again in a place full of cellars (some of them with wood-carved doors...), old barrels to decorate the outdoors... Dionysian atmosphere! We didn’t find a living soul on the premises, so we sat on a bench, outside a cellar where was shaded and cool and we enjoyed a snack that Efi prepared for us... An issue was about the wasps that annoyed us, but that didn’t prevent us to enjoy the moment! We filled up “our batteries” of mind and soul and went downhill to Negotin. We had several kilometers still to cover for the day and it was already afternoon...

 After a short time of driving we arrived in Negotin where we stopped for a coffee break. We relaxed a bit, took a breath from the heat (again the thermometer was around 38° to 39°C) and we departed to the direction to the town of Kladovo, which was near to the bridge over the Danube river connecting Serbia and Romania and there was the border station. We stopped by Kladovo to buy a bottle of water and to quench our thirst and then we continued towards the border. We would enter to Romania to visit the Decebalus statue that was almost opposite where we were, and we would return back to Serbia to continue our trip, north alongside the banks of the Danube. After Kladovo I began to drive alongside the majestic Danube River... Just before we turned to the direction of the bridge, in a straight line, a white VW Passat which was in front of us and as no other vehicle was coming from the opposite direction, I attempted to overpass it and while I was a few meters behind that vehicle, I notified him through my horn to take me into account, but despite the warning the car started to drift to the left and it was a close call which could drive us - at least at the ditch – besides the road...

 After getting a shock with his unexpected move, which almost brought him a few centimeters away from my motorcycle, we passed the control at the border station and we entered in Romania. The statue is located north of the city of Orsova, about 35 km from the border we passed. Again, I was driving with the Danube River to my left and the spectacle was at least seductive. After we passed Orsova in less than a half of an hour, we found ourselves in front of the statue... Decebalus' head has been carved on the rock and for the history he was the last king of the Dacia region (present-day Romania) during the 1st and 2nd century AD and had fought against the Roman Empire. The monument has a height of 40 meters and is carved on the side of a rock on the Iron Gates, on the banks of the Danube river. It is the tallest rocky sculpture in Europe... We tried to took some pictures even though the sun was on the opposite side of us (behind the statue)...

 After seeing this, we decided to spend our night in Romania and the next morning to return to Serbia and continue our trip north... So we chose to go to the city Drobeta-Turnu Severin, about 50km south of the memorial of Decebalus. We arrived there at dusk and still was enough heat and humidity because the city is on the banks of the Danube. We found a hotel that cost us 18 euros, but it was our worst choice throughout that trip... It doesn’t matter, shit happens. Something to remember...

 Drobeta - Turnu Severin, a city of 100,000 inhabitants, is located south of the Iron Gates, next to the Danube. After we left our stuff in the hotel and freshened up, I drove the motorcycle into the city center and first of all to drink a coffee... We ended up in a nice square - a park called Tudor Vladimirescu and we drank a descent coffee because we had a few days to drink good coffee...

 As we walked over the city, I could say that I was not impressed of the city and it would not be my choice to visit again this place...

 

Day 5 Drobeta (Romania) - Djerdap National Park - Pozarevac (Serbia) 185 km

When the sun rose up in the morning, we picked up our stuff, we saddled up the motorcycle and we went back to downtown to have our coffee. We ended up to the same cafe, we drank another descent coffee and the day started beautifully. 

When we were done with our morning coffee, we departure towards the border station we crossed the day before, to return to Serbia, which was only 15 kilometers away. We entered back to Serbia and I drove north (following road 34) to Djerdap National Park, which stretches on the Serbian bank of the Danube for about 100 kilometers! It is Serbia's largest National Park and is the place where the deepest point of the Danube is, but as well the narrowest, just 150 meters of width! It was an awesome route! Djerdap on the left and the Danube river on our right! We traveled beside the Iron Gates, a series of canyons at the border of Serbia and Romania, with a total distance of 134 km!!! We didn’t see many motorcyclists on the way but a group of some excited Italians who were also going north.

We arrived at the medieval castle Golubac that was on our way. In fact, we have passed under it, after a tunnel has been dug under the rock where the castle is, to continue on the road! We stopped for a coffee break next to the river to enjoy the view...

In the evening we would stay in Pozarevac, a town of approximately 50,000 inhabitants, where we will join our Serbian friends Ernest and Jelena (from Zrenjanin) and also our friend Adrian who would come from Braila, Romania, to travel all together in the next part of the trip... We arrived at our destination at noon, but the heat of the day, the fatigue from the hotel yesterday, made us go straight to our beds with the A/C running to create the perfect conditions for resting... So that nap didn’t leave us to visit the archaeological site Viminacium, located near the village of Kostolac. Viminacium was the capital of the region during the Roman Empire, and many finds of that time, such as tombs, sarcophagi, statues, ceramics, etc. have been discovered and exposed in the area. But as we say, on every trip we leave something to visit in our next trip!

After that refreshing nap, we went to the center of the town to drink first of all a coffee... After we drank our coffee, we strolled on the main pedestrian street and around the center to check out the place... A poor town, with descent people and enough young people! In the evening it was a Champions League match on... and so we set on a café to watch Olympiakos playing at Karaiskakis Stadium (in Greece), against Partizan (of Belgrade)! As I mentioned before, Serbians are brothers in soul and spirits to Greeks, but I didn’t expose myself when Olympiakos scored a goal because I didn’t want to try out our brotherhood with the Serb fans of Partizan... For the history, the match ended 2-2 but Olympiacos took the qualification after having won the first match in Belgrade...

 Our hotel, Boem, was a very good 3* accommodation, which cost us 22 € and its restaurant was very good!!! Its courses were perfect, and the waiter had visited Greece several times and was preparing for his next holiday trip to one of the Greek islands. At the hotel we met two couples of Greeks who visited the area spending their holidays. A bit noisy are Greeks abroad and they made their presence distinct in the hotel...

  

Day 6          Pozarevac (Serbia) - Craiova 330 km 

We drank our coffee, we took our breakfast and we departed to find our Serbian friends... So we made an appointment in Banatska Palanka, 30 km away from Pozarevac. We followed road 372 that led us to Ram to cross on a ferry the Danube river and go out to Banatska Palanka. The ticket was 5€ ... We enjoyed our little cruise on the Danube river and at the same time we had a chat with the passengers of the other two cars on the ferry. Almost everyone had a relationship with Greece and enjoyed our presence there!

 Our cruise lasted 15 to 20 minutes until we got off at Banatska Palanka. Our friends waited at the dock and, since we were warmly greeted, we went to an adjacent café - a tavern where other 3 Serbian friends from Belgrade would be travel with us. Even though it was close at noon, we drank a beer with them - to get to know each other - and we talked about various motorcyclism issues and we were ready to depart for Craiova (Romania)... We got the road to Bela Crkva and from there to the Kaluderovo border station to enter in Romania . Having completed the procedure, we got road DN57, and we traveled south this time, as our trip had reached its northernmost point and from there the descent began... Road DN57, then, was the road that would lead down to Drobeta, where we stayed overnight two days before... That time I drove next to the Danube river on the opposite side... Awesome! I drove along Danube in Serbia and I drove as well in Romania, so we had a complete view! The route was perfect on the Romanian side of the Danube! The heat enough, and the coffee and water breaks necessary! We passed again from the statue of Decebalus, through Orsova and through Drobeta as well. In some point there we left Danube river (for the moment) and continued onto road E70 towards Craiova. That route had nothing remarkable to offer... We arrived at Craiova at six o'clock in the afternoon with the temperature hitting red close to 40°C!!!

Our hotel was booked before we left Greece and Ernest booked there as well, just to be all together. So at Hotel Euphoria I booked for two nights at 23 € a day... The accommodation was quite large, with an indoor guarded parking lot for the motorbike (in courtyard) and quite clean! Best value for money! My friend Adrian was waiting for us, as he had arrived earlier in Craiova on his moto. On the previous day, he had traveled from Braila (Romania), entered in Bulgaria, and from there went to cross the Bulgarian-Serbian border, but the Serbs didn’t let him to enter in Serbia and return him back, so instead of coming the day before in Pozarevac that we had an appointment he went straight to Craiova and waited for us... Romania as well as Greece belongs to the European Union and a European citizen could pass through the use of ID Card. That's why I claim on this subject, always carry your passport!!! It is the most valid document to travel! 

Our Serbian friends were exhausted and stayed at the hotel for some rest, so along with Adrian and his girlfriend Simona, we went to the center of the city, which was, only ten minutes walk from our hotel. Craiova, a city of about 300,000 inhabitants, is located in the southwestern part of Romania, and it was a city that I had never visited in many trips I had made to this country. I could say that I have visited most of Romania's cities and the very first time I visited this country was in the distant 1982... Different times then...

We walked in the center of the Old Town, on the main pedestrian street and around. The graffiti painted on walls of old buildings, in electricity distributors etc.  drew the attention of the visitors and give a cheerful tone to the city... In a square on the pedestrian street there was a set up of a giant screen and a lot of people had gathered there, to watch a football game. We drank our coffee, walked around the city, had our dinner and we returned to our hotel to find our Serbian friends. The conversation about motorcycles and travels was long, and at some point we said goodnight because everyone would leave the next morning except Efi and me, who would stay another day in Craiova. Ernest and his friends would ride to Tranfagarasan Pass and Adrian with Simona would return to Braila...

 

Day 7        Craiova 

Just the two of us (Efi and I), got our breakfast and got back downtown again... 

We walked on the pedestrian streets of the city, and relaxation in Nicolae Romanescu Park, a real oasis of green! Coffee, nice food and a walk! This was the last day of our trip...

 

Day 8         Craiova (RO) - Oryahovo (BG) Sofia (BG) - Patra 1020 km

  We woke up a few minutes after five o’ clock in the morning... Our panniers were ready from last night, so we only had to wear our gear... Early morning wake up to catch the ferry at Oryahovo, which was 80 kilometers away from Craiova.

 It was still dark when we left from the city, and we got road 55 in south direction and at half past six, we were in Oryahovo, where we crossed the Romanian border station. We purchased a ticket for the ferry and fortunately we managed to get aboard the ferry... It was full! On the ferry I also met a Romanian who, with a BMW GS 650 accompanied by his wife, where traveling from Craiova to Thassos island (in Greece) for a vacation. While we crossed the Danube River for the last time (on this trip), the sun rose and made our day shiny! Sunrise will crossing Danube river... awesome!!!

 On the Bulgarian bank, we passed the checkpoint at the border checkpoint and continued our way to Sofia with a stop for coffee break in Vratsa... We followed road 15 to Vratsa and from there road E79 and motorway A2 to Sofia which abstained 180 kilometers from Oryahovo.

 We didn’t enter to the center of Sofia because we had no time and we had several kilometers till Patras. We chose to get the Sofia’s perimeter and stopped at a gas station at the beginning of the A3 motorway to refuel and for a coffee.

 The A3 motorway after Blagoevgrad became the well-known and dangerous road E79. I hope that the motorway will continue till the Greek borders in the near future...

 At 11 o’clock we felt the waves of heat on our faces... The traffic jam was big in the Bulgarian border and in the Greek border station as well! August holidays were on! The calendar pointed... August 5... It is my pleasure to see tourists visiting my beautiful country to spend their holidays!

 So we crossed the border station at Promahonas. From that point and later the road was well-known... We got the Egnatia Street Highway and with a usual stop in Grevena city for tsipouro and snacks. We arrived in Patra close to 7 o’clock in the evening, returning to the absolute heat... Another trip was over with always the expectation of the next trip!!!

 

I had planned the journey with great care, avoiding almost entirely the motorways (except for going) and thus gave us the opportunity to see the province of the SE of Serbia and led us through fields, through the pleasant smells of the meadows and many times I found myself cutting off speed so we could better see the rivers or a valley we were passing through!

My girlfriend Efi, was fulfilled with amazing images from the superb Serbian nature, the majestic Danube and the streets of wine at Negotin! She is unstoppable and always ready for new challenges! 

My motorcycle once again I could tell that is the ultimate driving machine!!! On my bike, I always feel secure, safe and offers me enjoyable kilometers! 

The budget of the trip was absolutely small!!! The cost of the fuel was about 200€ while our accommodation for 7 nights cost 156 €... Perfect!!!

 

And do not forget...

 

We have not done our best trips yet!!!

 

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