Budapest to the Black Sea

Budapest to the Black Sea

Monday, 28 October 2013

Black Sea or Bust - Day 8 Belgrade - Kostolac 89 Km (56 miles)

Breakfast at 6.00 and it was still dark when I left the hotel. Cynthia and I retraced our steps across the railway tracks to the riverside cycle path, back to the centre of the city then we cut across to find the road out of town. A main road but not too scary and on the whole a pleasant day's ride. I stop for the first beer of the day at a rather posh restaurant in Smederevo. I ask a smart young waiter for a large beer. After five minutes he returns to tell me that he is very sorry but they don't have a big beer. "Fine" I say "I'll have a small one. In fact why not bring two".

As I leave Smederevo I cycle past Serbia's biggest steel mill looking very dark and satanic, but soon we are back in the country. My route turns off the main road along a 10 Km stretch of rural delight. It is a hot afternoon, lizards and dragonflies are about and on the lane I pass locals on their way on foot or by tractor to and from the fields. They look cheerful and frankly they are the first cheerful Serbians that I have seen (apart, of course, from the blonde hotel receptionist in Belgrade). 

Slowly the landscape becomes more industrial again, or perhaps I should say post industrial, because the waste ground on either side of the road is littered with vast chunks of obsolete machine and as I ride along I try and guess what these their original purpose was and in most cases I have no idea. I am getting near my destination for the night at Kostolac and scattered among the industrial detritus is my hotel. As I approach I fear the worst, unlike nearly all the hotels on this trip which have been done via I wrote (yes in the post) to this hotel but got no reply but as it appeared to be the only hotel in the district I thought I would risk it. Welcome to the second worst hotel so far. One thing it did have going for it was a plausible rogue behind the reception desk with very good English. I mentioned my letter, he waved that away saying that they had a room available for me so no problem. Looking at the pigeonholes behind I would say he had fifty rooms available for me. If you book through you can guarantee one thing, the hotel has a computer not the case here I would guess. Nor indeed did they have much. my room was foul and overheated "Oh sorry we have heating problem, we are linked to power station", the bathroom looked like an abattoir and bizarrely the room was furnished with rickety book shelves, nothing else apart from an ancient office swivel chair with its stuffing oozing out. I popped down to enquire about the Wi-Fi password from the rogue. 
"Ah sorry there is a problem, the Wi-Fi only works on the second floor" I was about to ask for a room on the second floor but couldn't be bothered. I went back upstairs and heaved the office chair out onto the rusting balcony and sat in my boxer shorts drinking beer and was well content as I watched local life while the sun set. I went down to ask where I could eat.
"You could have dinner er supper here"
"OK. What would that be exactly?"
"It would perhaps be meat and some vegetables"
"Hmm sounds good I'll try it"
Served by a white haired version of Lurch from the Adams Family dinner consisted of a Wiener Schnitzel served with some mashed potato served in an interesting wave pattern on the plate, peas and carrots. It could have been worse. 
The bill for room, breakfast and dinner came to 14 euros and one can't complain at that price can you? And I didn't.

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Cycling Down the Danube

Cycling Down the Danube
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