Danube Day 5: Baja, Hungary to Subotica, Serbia
Total Distance 82 km
See end of post for map, elevation profile, and GPX file.
Trip overview can be found here.
After our forced rest day in Baja we were feeling refreshed but still worried about the weather. It was cold and windy in the morning but the forecast predicted sunshine in the afternoon. We were finding that every insignificant mass rider was on the same page… coffee, check… afternoon start, check… low mileage day, check. It was really reassuring to know we were all in this together.
We checked our map in the morning over coffee and tried to figure out where we were headed. If we followed the Danube we would go into Croatia and have some significant climbs ahead of us. So we decided to cut out Croatia and head straight to Serbia.
Our map showed a few border crossings and we targeted the one along minor roads. The map designated the border crossing as having restrictions but we figured it would be fine. Restrictions probably meant limited opening hours, right? Having set our route we packed up our gear and hit the road.
We started biking around 1:30pm and had a wicked tailwind. We felt like rock stars flying down the road at 30kph. We kept joking about how the wind was literally going to blow us straight across the border and into Serbia. It was a really beautiful ride through the Hungarian countryside. We found some fields of flowers and had fun running through them reenacting Bollywood romance scenes. We made the turn toward the border and kept sailing toward Serbia.
We began to get a little bit worried when we didn’t see any cars going toward the border. Ah well, it’s not such a densely populated area. We gave them our passports and waited for a few minutes while we thought they were stamping them. But when we got them back and looked for our stamps we didn’t see any. They just handed them back and we thought they motioned for us to ride through the open gate. Just as we turned to do so they started yelling, saying that we had to turn around. Apparently only Serbians and EU citizens can cross there. It was kind of a funny scene as the one guy who actually speaks English finally comes out to explain why we couldn’t cross and tells us that the next border crossing was 30km east.
So we turned back, this time into the wind, and trudged toward the border crossing at Tompa. Sarah took the lead and we managed to draft her and keep it to a steady 18kph until we turned east toward the border reuniting with our beautiful tailwind.
We followed the line of cars and queued but the car behind us started honking and pointed to the other lane. So we headed over there and got our exit stamps. Then we rode another 200meters to the Serbian border officials who stamped our passports and waved us into the country. It was starting to get late and we didn’t want to ride in the dark so we pedaled hard to get to Subotica and find a place to stay.
None of us had any information about Serbia. To be honest none of us realized we would be going into Serbia until this morning so we didn’t even know if we could drink the water. We crossed the border and had a truly foreign moment. When we saw the toilets at the border crossing Sarah looked at Briana and said “hey do you think we’re Izlaz or Uzlaz?”
We arrived in Subotica around 7pm, feeling properly bonked, and just as it was starting to get cold and we found a hostel right in the center of town. While Sarah went in to negotiate rooms some local kids came up and tried to talk to us. We didn’t really understand what they said but we tried to communicate what we were doing and gave them some stickers. Then I asked if they wanted to go for a ride on the tandem. Before I had a chance to unhook the trailer they were on the back ready to go. So I took them one at time around the block and they were grinning ear to ear.
Sarah came back and gave us the rundown on the hostel. They only had a room for 3 but they said if you want to share beds that’s no problem. So we got all our stuff in there, checked in and headed out into the city. We arrived on a night where there was a big concert in the town center complete with food booths and carnival style games.
We saw a big booth of men grilling some sort of dessert. It was clearly the place to be as there were crowds of people waiting to put in their order. We thought that they were marshmallows at first but it turned out to be, what we called Tunnel Cake. They had 5 different types of toppings so we got one of each. There was even one called Dios,the Spanish word for God. It was pretty heavenly and covered in crushed walnuts. We stayed for a little bit of music but given that we had cycled 105km we decided to call it a day and passed out. We slept really well that night. So far Serbia was turning out to be an awesome place.
Here is a link to the GPX file. (Right click – Save as)
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