Our first wild camping fail! We’ve learnt over time that trying to wild camp near a big city isn’t a good idea, no matter how tempting it may seem. We had however been given tips from a local cyclist about a good area on the outskirts of Belgrade. As the sun started to set we navigated our way down a long dirt track towards the Danube to find a spot for the night. Quite early on things didn’t feel right: first we passed a concrete compound where we could hear hundreds of dogs fighting, on the opposite river bank were temporary tin shacks where people were squatting, clouds of mosquitos were starting to appear, a strong smell of cannabis, a man with a rifle who wouldn’t say hello, and a dog that decided to befriend us and certainly wasn’t going to let us cook our dinner in peace.
With neither of us keen to admit that we were a little scared, we probably stayed longer than needed. However the first suggestion that a cosy night in a hostel might not be such a bad idea was quickly agreed, and we repacked the bikes, turned on our lights and made a get away.
The reward was a 13km night cycle along the river bike path into the city, seeing the lights of Belgrade twinkle and taking in the sweet smells from the waterfront seafood restaurants.
Being very late now, we checked into the first hostel we could find. Not quite the cosy reception we’d been dreaming of. We ended up in a pretty grotty room with an epic snorer (worse than James) and man who sat up in his bed facing the wall all night (meditating perhaps?). Needless to say it was a sleepless one!
But a new day dawned, and being keen to escape the hostel we were out at the crack of dawn to explore Belgrade on a sleepy Sunday. We can’t say the city was a highlight of our trip – pretty grey and concretey (but maybe our glasses were tainted). We did however have an excellent time at the Museum of Yugoslavia learning about Tito’s era and the infamous ‘blue train’.