Danube Day 9: Bela Crvka to Drencova
Total Distance 103 km
See end of post for map, elevation profile, and GPX file.
Trip overview can be found here.
We wake up to the beeping of the alarm clock and mutter a bit. Sarah’s in the tent next to us with earplugs in so she doesn’t hear my verbal alarm. My hips have shooting pains in them from the combination of cycling almost every day for the last week and a half and sleeping in this teeny tiny tent with poor padding. As I struggle to find the motivation to get dressed, pull on a clean chamois and extract myself from the tent I can hear and feel my entire body creaking. I feel like I am a thousand years old.
We all rally to get the tents packed and the coffee made. Warm, sweet milky coffee boosts my morale and we look out over the little lake at the morning mist rising to the sunny skies above. The morning is cold but it is beautiful.
As Kyle and Sarah pack up the tents they finally meet the man in charge of the campground, turns out he wants 1,000 dinar per person which is the equivalent of about $12. This seems entirely unreasonable for a place without showers, hot water or anything but non-flushing squatter toilets.
Turns out there is a whole complex with showers and real toilets but hidden in the back corner behind all the caravans. They pay and we grumble about the price. Luckily we get away with only paying for 3 of the five of us because Andrew and Yoshi have camped by the lake instead of in the so called campground.
When we reach the Serbian border I hop off the stoker’s position on the tandem and hand the border guard our pile of passports. He gets a real kick out of seeing that we are such an international group and then asks us if we registered with the police. I reply that we didn’t and he excuses himself to go talk with his boss.
When he gets back he says, “I see this is your first time in Serbia and I don’t want you to have a bad impression of us, but next time you come you need to register with the police in every place you stay.” At this point I realize he is referring to the white slips of paper that the hotels we stayed at gave us when they returned our passports after checking us in.
Turns out we do have some of those though some have been forgotten or thrown away so we give him what we have. He is happy with this and lets us through. Kyle notices a sign explaining that if you are missing any they can charge you 400,000 dinar (400 ) or send you to a Serbian prison for 14 days. I guess this is what he meant by us having a bad impression of Serbia.
We are happy to have had a good impression of Serbia and relieved we caught the guard in a good mood, but for future reference, make sure you keep every single one of those slips and if a hotel or campground fails to give you one, ask for it specifically. This would suggest stealth camping is illegal or might require that you tell the police that you are camping in their city.
We made it through border limbo and on to the Romanian side. Despite Andrew’s loud comments about how many poppy seed muffins he would need to eat in order to test positive for opium, they let us in, back to the EU.
Insignificant mass headed down the road and then split up for a bit. Just a few kilometers from the border there is a fork in the road, going left takes you 18 km to Pojojena over the hills and down into the Danube valley while going right saves some climbing (though there are rollers) and takes you around the mountains adding an extra 24 km.
Our friends all wanted the climb, but with our heavy trailer and the memory of the last significant climb out of Novi Sad we opted for the scenic route and decided to meet in Pojojena.
Arriving in this part of Romania was like arriving in a natural paradise. There were beautiful babbling brooks, and goat herds and gorgeous rolling hills. The pavement was great for most of the ride and we passed lots of really pretty villages with more roadside flair that I can even describe.
These towns have no store, no market, certainly no ATM but the fronts of all the houses are painted extravagantly or tiled with mosaics and all have stately Romanesque colonnades and window framings. Given the overall poverty of the villages I was blown away by the care and resources put into these houses. I would be so curious to see the insides.
After 23 km we finally rejoined the Danube. We stopped for a pee break and a picture and stood mouths agape at how beautiful it was. Reaching this part of the trip really felt like the reward for our journey so far. It is truly beautiful.
As the road met the river the quality if pavement decreased and we spent the rest of our ride dodging potholes, but with so little traffic it wasn’t a big deal. We met up with our friends and headed to Moldova Noua, the largest town we’d pass through that day. Luckily they had an ATM and a super market so we got some money then walked across the street to spend it on provisions.
Being our last night as a whole group we planned an extravagant pasta dinner and bought a few bottles of Romanian wine to celebrate. We put in another 35 km along the river until we found a good spot to camp.
Wild camping is legal in Romania as long as you are on public land. All through the Carpathian valley there are local fisherman and families who have set up camp right on the river, some seem to have been there for months.
Our spot was off the road and down even with the shore, it was a bit rocky but was pretty flat. There was only one other group there consisting of two Romanian fishermen with a little RV trailer.
We approached them to ask if it was ok that we join them and they answered with an air of complete indifference, to me that said “Why are you even asking, of course it’s ok to camp here.”
We set up our tents and made dinner and had a grand old time. The only deterrent to the gorgeous setting was the amount of trash everywhere. Most of it clearly came from other campers and fisherman who didn’t pack out a thing. There was also some indications of toilet-related activities which we did our best to avoid and ignore and decided to concentrate on the conversation and natural scenery. Overall it was a lovely day!
Here is a link to the GPS file (right click – Save as).
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