If you look at the route of our crossing of Europe on a map, you will understand that coming to Serbia was quite a detour. We have not really taken the most direct route to connect Portugal with Istanbul. But how to cross all the Balkans, the whole of the former Yugoslavia and ignoring Serbia?
Arriving in Serbia on November 22nd meant discovering the country during the wet season when the days are almost the shortest of the year. Honestly, we did not put all the chances on the side of Serbia to seduce us. Gray sky, plucked trees, night at 4:30 PM and mud from beginning to end...
The Zavojsko Jezero
After a few rather dull days walking on forest tracks and small asphalt roads, we reached the Zavojsko Jezero, a large artificial lake of the Stara Planina Natural Park. The edge of the lake must swarm with life during the summer, beautiful country homes are scattered all around, but in late November it was desert! At the edge of the water and on the lake, small floating huts bring a lot of charm to the whole.
Slavinja: the canyon Rosomac
Between two drops of rain and a small detour later, we discover a unique place. The canyon is an important part of the geological heritage of the region. Jurassic sediments and fossil remains have been created in the deepest parts of the sea. The layers form a magnificent series of waterfalls in the riverbed.
The last wild rivers of Europe
On the way, we passed by the village of Topli Do. A small traditional village, almost like any other one. Everything was quiet when we were there but the banners and signs on the bridge over the river were there. In recent weeks, residents of the village and the surrounding area are protesting against the construction of a mini hydroelectric power station. The proliferation of these plants is a trend in the Balkans and announces the planned destruction of the last wild rivers in Europe.
The Babin Zub (in English "grandma's tooth") is one of the peaks of the Stara Planina mountain chain, the one we will follow in Bulgaria, almost to the Black Sea. After a day of climbing, the spectacle that awaited us at the top left us speechless. A sea of mist was galloping on the slopes of the mountain. Autumn is good at the end!
In Serbia, the situation is the same as in the rest of Europe: abandoned houses, dying villages and large cities overflowing. In November, the picture is even quieter since these houses that are sometimes still used as vacation or weekend are deserted out of season. Not easy in these conditions to meet people, to discover the soul of this country...
The meetings were rare and very often they started with the same question: are we migrants? Do we come from Syria, Pakistan, Albania? We heard these questions absolutely every day during our crossing of Serbia. One would think that cameras hung around our necks and mountain gear hanging from our bag could point people in another direction, but overall, no. The first day we even had the pleasure of being sent police to control our passports! Only in Croatia has this happened to us so far...
Our Serbian family
We had made ourselves a reason. We were going to leave Serbia without having made a real encounter, without remembering the name of a single person. We were leaving Serbia saying that "Syria?" was the word we had heard most here. You imagine that it was a huge disappointment for us.
And then on a gray morning, we used our last water supply for breakfast, we follow this monotonous track and we pass in front of a house. What is it doing here alone? A group of 6 geese announce our arrival, soon the dog too. At least we know it's inhabited! "Ima voda?" (Is there water?). "Of course ! But you may be hungry too? " How many of us would propose to strangers who pass in front of us to come and eat?
Anyway, even though it was 10am, we sat down for lunch and stayed for at least two hours!
2PVA on Serbian TV!
Before our last Serbian kilometers, we had the pleasure of meeting the TV in Knjaževac. A nice interview and an opportunity to talk about our project, 1KG FOR THE PLANET and our experience in Serbia.
As you can see, our Serbian experience has been half-hearted. The meetings were rare, our itinerary was not fantastic but the season clearly did not help to make our passage more charming. The climate plays on the presence of people in certain places, the charm of landscapes and our mood to us too.We are heading to Bulgaria and we are about to pass the penultimate frontier of this incredible adventure!
Talk to you soon!
Marie & Nil