I arrived in Belgrade and was accosted by a bearded man in lycra who approached me like an old friend and asked if I was Matt. I had to inform him that I wasn’t but we chatted bike touring. He was heading to the Philippines. I left him and headed to my host who declined the opportunity to sing to the new Serbian government in order to host me. She took me along to her opera lesson which was phenomenal, two opera singers with voices to fill a hall trapped in a tiny practice room. I left in awe and sad from the melancholy Italian themes.
After Belgrade I was over taken by the same bearded man in lycra that I met before. Jason is a cockney and managed to pick up a young German going to china and a chap from Leeds heading to Yemen. I stuck on their wheel and they persuaded me to change my route and head to the mountains, and Sofia. We wild camped in a park thanks to a local police man. The next day we passed two Swiss cyclers who joined the convoy and by the end of the day a Serbian student (Aleksa) was directing us to his parents village house in the hills. We arrived and his father brought out a bottle of Slibovica which is the local face burner. We finished the first bottle and made headway on a second. Their generosity was amazing. They fed us and let us sleep in their lounge. The 6 of us woke up groggy the next morning and headed for Sofia. right now we have set up camp for the night and are preparing dinner.
Riding in a group is shockingly different to being alone. All 6 of us have been alone till Belgrade and riding together requires a change of style for us all. Aleksa’s brother left us with a beautiful blessing, as the 6 of us rode out he said “I hope you all find what you’re looking for.” I wonder what my fellow travelers thought of his comments and as we left on our way and I began to wonder what they were looking for.
Picture: From left to right Aleksa, Andrea, Matt, Robin, Jason, Michi, Aleksa’s brother, Aleksa’s dad