The autoroute bridge, with tunnel, that I rode over the Danube at Novi Sad
Today started well, had good and bad riding periods and has ended with a question mark. I'm in a 'motel' south of Novi Sad, near the Danube. I stopped here for two reasons: first, once I got into Novi Sad, I wanted to get out again. It isn't a bad place, in fact it seemed like quite a nice big city, but it was too much of a big city for me to want to stay there. Even riding the, good, bike paths through the city was an experience in big city life. I knocked a front pannier off and popped my front fender safety releases when a woman walking on the bike path while talking on her cell phone didn't hear my bell and drifted into my path, forcing me into a parked car. Anyway I made it through and, illegally, rode over the autoroute bridge, and through an autoroute tunnel, t get to the other side of the Danube. Once I got here I started looking for a place to stay. I could have ridden on, but I want to ride through, and possibly stop in a Park area near here tomorrow.The first place I saw looked good, but the woman working in the kitchen couldn't do English or German. She told me to wait. When I protested after fifteen minute of waiting, she got mad at me. I now think I should have left then. Instead, I waited for half an hour before her husband, who had been around, waiting another table, for at least 20 minutes came over to talk to me. He has a little German so, after another 15 or 20 minutes I managed to get him to give me room for the night. The room is OK, but hot and noisy - road noise and loud insipid music from the garden dining area - with an uncomfortable bed, Still, the rate is 1200 dinars, or 15 E so I shouldn't complain too much. I think he told me 1400 dinars with breakfast.
I cleaned up and went down to the garden dinning area - quite nice - to get his help on getting to the Park tomorrow. I also ordered a local beer - I'm in 1 E per .5 liter beer area here. He was trying to route me through Belgrade in order to get to this park which is less than 10 km from here, and not even in the same direction as Belgrade, so I wasted another fifteen minute politely getting out of that conversation. Then I noticed I was drinking an expensive German beer - I bet his most expensive - from Hamburg. I like the local beer better and I think I just got ripped off for a few Euros.I started working on my web pages. It was pleasant working in the garden area, even with the insipid music, for a few minutes, but then he seated some other folks - the only other customers - next to me and he and they had a great time talking and smoking - upwind of me ;-} while I tried to concentrate. I gave up after half an hour or so and came up to my hot and noisy, room to work. Ear plugs help, but are not nearly strong enough. It is going to be challenging to sleep here. If I close the window, it will be too hot and if I open the window, it will be too noisy.
It turned out worse than I expected. At dark, my landlord told me that the room rate - which is on the wall at 1200 dinars - is 60 E - 4800 dinars - and that doesn't include breakfast. I showed him the rates on the wall and offered to pay them, as I thought we had agreed, but he refused. So I had to pay him 60 E to get my passport back. I got too complacent because of my good initial experience here. I will pay more attention to my gut feeling and less to my desire to believe people are honest here. Tomorrow I hope to ride to Bosnia, but I'll probably have to stay in the Serb Republic part tomorrow night. Enough rant, back to the ride report.
Today's ride started after another nice visit, over Turkish coffee and stuff from the 24 hr bakery just a few doors away, with my hosts in Subotica. The rode out of Subotica was easy and the 'old road' to Novi Sad was reasonably sooth - far better than the roads in Hungary - and the wind was a side-tail wind. Traffic was light - most of it goes on the new autoroute - and I was had a great time cruising at 14 mph with less effort that it took to do 10 mph going south in Hungary. The towns along the old road were interesting and the crops beside the road between the towns looked good.
Large field of Canola
An FMC - I worked for them when i was in college - combine near Novi Sad
Like in southern Hungary, this area is the countries 'bread basket' and that was very obvious during today's ride.
Entering the first town south of Subotica
This reminds me of the towns in southern Slovakia where the church is always 'in' the center of the road as you ride into town
In addition to crops, I was interested in churches today. As I rode today, the most common churches changed for Roman Catholic to Eastern Orthodox. When I got to Novi Sad, the dominant alphabet had also changed. Although Serbian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, almost all the signs in Subotica were in the Latin alphabet. In Novi Sad I saw few Latin letters.
The pavement for about half of todays ride
It is much rougher than it looks!
Unfortunately, after 18 miles of good riding conditions, the road surface became narrow, erroded, and cracked, concrete slabs. This surface was much better than the really bad roads I experienced in Romaina, but not much fun to ride. I bounced around a lot for the next half a dozen miles. Things improved for the next five miles and I was hopefully there was only that one bad stretch. Then, with 45 km to go, the pavement went back to bad and stayed there for 20+ km. The last 20 km into Novi Sad had good pavement.
Coming into Novi Sad
Notice the hills behind the city
That is where I'm staying tonight
During the ride, the wind came around to the south so riding the last 20 km Novi Sad was slow. I had a hard time maintaining 10 mph. Traffic also increased dramatically during the last half of the trip, because the autoroute is not finished on that half. I choose to bail out a few times to keep from blocking big truck traffic on the narrow road and later, when riding in Novi Sad, to let buses, which took the entire lane, pass. None of this was very traumatic. I was just trying to be polite.
When I rode Novi Sad's main drag to get to and over the Danube, I chose to ride on the bike paths for the same reason and because it let me focus more attention on the people and the city. Unlike Subotica, it is an agressive, to the point of being rude, culture. Now that I'm away from it, even thought there are other issues here, life is much more peaceful.