Day 18 Sofia, Bulgaria to Belgrade, Serbia

Thursday  Dateicon  27.8.2015  Globeicon  Countries:14  Tigericon  397km Total:5241km

The border passade into Serbie turns out to be the slowest yet with completely endless lines.
The only conclusion I can draw from this since most of the vehicles where foreign (Germany, France, Belgium etc.) they thought it was worth the wait to get to Serbias motoway A1 with a 140km/h speed limit.

I really don't see that this would save any time though. We did get through most of the country pretty quickly but that was just to end up at a complete standstill at the toll outside Belgrade.
I took us an hour in cremating sun to get a thousand metres to pay a €6.5 toll.

A German gentleman noted my predicament (the sweat was probably pouring from my scorched face at this point) and offered me kallt trinkwasser which I politely declined, after all I had plenty of water in the hydration bladder... I thought.
The German had just disappeared out of sight when I gurgling sound announced that the hydration bladder wasn't going to hydrate anything until it got a refill and the tollbooths where still far in the distance.
Pride. What a stupid an useless trait it is. Lesson learned: when someone offers you a drink, take it.

When we finally get through the tolls we park up to get back our strength and replenish our fluids.
It's obvious that something isn't quite right with the bear since he kind of pours of the bike instead of getting of proper. He looks pretty shaken when he and after he's gotten some water he's actually felt himself go when approaching the tolls and thinks it would have just been a matter of minutes more in the line before blacking out completely.

We drive the last stretch into Belgrade and park on the sidewalk outside the hotel and unload our gear before being referred to the hotels secure parking which is the "City garage".
Arriving at the garage we're met by an old witch who points here finger at us like a preschool teacher reprimanding a bad child.
I wonder what the problem is they tell us that we're not going to park our bikes in their garage. The fact that we offer to pay the same fee as for cars makes no difference, they just want us to go away.
By now a guy has turned up who at least speaks a few words of English and he says that it would be illegal for them to let us park our bikes in their garage but he refers us to another garage where he thinks bikes might be allowed. 

I misunderstood the directions somewhat which led me to stroll into what was one of the city's impound lots and as far as I could see, business was booming.
On the actual parking up the street we are even more briskly rejected then at the first.
It was the same resentful wave but along with it came some sort of Serbian insult which felt like "take your ridiculous toys and f#*k off".
By now my patience has come to an abrupt halt so I dismount and ask what the damn problem is with parking bikes in this godforsaken town since as far as I'm aware motorcycles are not illegal in either the country or town.
True, she concurs but alas her parking does not allow motorbikes and as far as she knows none of the others do either which in affect then does the exact same thing since parking on the sidewalk was a guaranteed tow.

We ride back to the hotel and the receptionist starts up an extensive telephone chain which includes "Belgrade central parking service" which confirms what we already know: there are no garages or lots that will take motorcycles in the entire city of Belgrade.
The problem is eventually solved with the help of her sister who work reception at a different hotel who has their own garage.
We're somewhat overcharged 2x€10 to park the bikes but at this point it was either that or load up and leave town.
Before we got the bikes parked and walked back to the hotel we spent two hours on parking alone. In between that, 1.5 hour border passage and the one hour toll it is now so late that any form of sightseeing is completely out of the question.

I must admit that I had some prejudices beforehand about the Serbs (mostly from the Norwegian author Asne Seirstads book: With their backs against the world) but I must say that the not only met but exceeded my prejudices by an astronomical margin.
As an obvious foreigner (nobody in this region rides in protective gear) you are sometimes met with curiosity and in major cities for the most part with complete indifference.
During our 2km walk back we were met with suspicion, contempt and what can only be described as undisguised hatred.

In between the people on the street and the teller in the supermarket there was not as much as smile to be had.
The impression you got from the entire populace was "what are you doing here? get out as fast as you can" with the hotel sisters as an extreme exception.
One of the sisters, I think she was called Daniela even knew a few phrases in Swedish because "she had been to Sweden a few days".
It's stuff like that that really makes you feel pretty ignorant, we've been travelling for three weeks now and I haven't learned a single foreign word in any of the languages we've come across.

So we didn't really get to see anything of Belgrade at all but without even discussing it we were in complete agreement that it wasn't really a loss.
Spending any of our "extra days" wasn't up for discussion either since it was obvious that the Serbs didn't want either us or our despicable motorcycles there we mere more than happy to humour them.



Serbian border.

Road toll from hell.

There was definitely no love lost leaving this sight behind us.