Across Continents

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Cycling into Serbia

The crossing point was deserted. Had to hunt around for a Hungarian border guard. A disinterested nod and I was free to cross into the Republic of Serbia. Not sure what I was expecting. Not the warm welcome I received. Genuine curiosity at what I was doing. ’I have items I wish to declare for temporary importation. I have a list.’ I explained. ’That won’t be necessary, you have a computer perhaps?’ advised one of the Serbian border guards in very good English. ’Yes’ I replied, and gave him one of my cards with details of the website. He looked pleased. And I had an entry stamp in my passport.

I’d not exactly describe Hungary as prosperous, but in comparison to Serbia it was. A few kilometres beyond the border and the road began to deteriorate. And there was the fly-tipping, mostly household rubbish. I pressed on to the town of Sombor, searching for an ATM to get some Serbian Dinars. Didn’t like the look of the place, something unsettling. Eventually finding an outdoor cash machine – didn’t want to leave the bike unattended even for a moment – I decided to make a sprint for the town of Apatin, twenty or so kilometres away. It would soon be dark and I’d yet to find somewhere to stay.

I stopped briefly at a small village shop. Offering my dinars as payment, the lady said ’Hungarian, German, Austrian’. Hard currency I thought, but no, she was just intrigued as to where I had come from. I explained, mostly in broken German. She followed me outside, eager to see the bike. She shook my hand and I continued on my way. Reaching Apatin as the light began to go, I quickly found a small hotel, little more than the cost of a youth hostel in Germany or Austria. Another friendly welcome.

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