Balkan road trip – Part 1
From Sibiu, Romania to Nova Pazar, Serbia
Day 1: Sibiu to Orşova
23 December 2018
41442 km Sibiu
13.30, 5° C , light rain and cloudy
Leaving Sibiu, the surrounding mountain still covered partly with snow, in lower area the snow already started to melt, we took the A1 highway towards Deva.
During the afternoon light rain changed with sun and fog. From A1 we went off at Simeria, passed Hateng, then Caransebeș and continued south to Orşova. It was about 5 pm, close to the Serbian border, when we filled up the tank with gasoline. Colleagues told us, that the supply situation in Serbia might be difficult and we should bring a full tank from Romania.
At Orşova the Danube river passes the Carpathian mountain. The river is so wide that it looks more like a lake. The mountain alleys and side valleys are filled with water.
It was already dark and we decided to stay over the night on the Romanian side of the Danube river.
We parked the car in a small side road and prepared the bed – flip the rear seats forwards, flip the wooden flat bed construction forward over the seats and on the other side flip backward over the baggage area. Inflate the two 5 cm thick mattresses, roll out sleeping bags and ready for the night.
Amazing how the Dacia lodgy car turned into a micro camper.
Day 2: Orşova to Nova Pazar
24 December 2018
08:38, 316.6 km from Sibiu
9:00 am ahhhh, no, still in Romania – 8:00 am reaching Serbian Border…
15 min checking immigration and car documents.
Driving west on the other side of the Danube delta. It took only less than 15 min until we have been stopped by the police. After checking the documents, all was ok, we continued the drive.
It was cloudy and partly foggy. The fog rose from the Danube river and covered the valley. The scenery is very beautiful, steep rocks, a winding road with many tunnels.
Our next destination was Bor. Bor is a mining city, established 1903. besides the huge mining area the scenery is an industrial city with many concrete apartment buildings, several gas stations, small bars, haircut salons, shops, a large Lidl store and a hospital. The gas supply is not as bad as expected – just on the countryside you might not find any gas station for 100 km…
It was raining and after refilling gasoline and buying food at Lidl, we continued our journey.
We passed Rtanj, another, but much smaller, mining city. My father grew up here, that’s why we took a small road and loop to the village.
It was raining and the snow on the mountain and forests started to melt. It seemed that the trees have been burned by a wood file a couple of years ago. The village is located in a small valley, was very quite, no cars on the road. Some houses still are used but many houses and industrial buildings are left empty with broken windows. Overall a sad atmosphere which was intensified by the cold and rainy weather. But in summer it must be beautiful with the mountain behind and lots of nature around.
We continued driving west. During the day the rain intensified. Besides about 10 km on A1 highway, all the way we followed a winding cross county road.
Restaurants and gas-stations are rare.
In Kafana kod ŠEKIJA we found grilled pork restaurants – whole grilled pork!
Bought two portion for 900 DIN, about 8 EUR, and continued on the road. Non stop raining and we did not stop in one of the vineries nearby Aleksandovac city.
Continuously driving over the mountains, the rain almost became snow and many rocks fell on the road. The weather seemed to worsen – that’s why we continuously drove west hoping to pass the mountain before the next severe snow fall.
It started to get dark and we could not find a place to stay overnight protected by trees or a shelter which could protect us from getting completely wet. While we stuck in traffic jam in Novi Pazar, we spotted a hotel near the road offering 13 EUR rate for a room.
It turned out, that the rate was for one person, regardless if we share the room, resulting in 26 EUR for the night.
We checked in, and took a hot shower. The room was quite dirty – cigarette wrapping lying on the floor, dirty shoe taps everywhere (was the floor ever wiped wet?) and the bathroom equipment mostly broken. In the hotel was a party at night, loud music playing which was ok but I didn’t like the smell of cigarette smoke which covered the entire building. Good we could open the window and sleep dry after a hot shower.
This day we made 401 km, total 718 from Sibiu.