Breakfast was another huge feast of eggs, something that looked a lot like raw bacon, bread, tomatoes and peppers (picked fresh), cheese, very small amounts of coffee, and a weird sausage. I ate some of everything; you never know when you’ll eat again.
We rode another 60K today. I made a point to hydrate; it makes such a difference on hot days. Annie did great! I think she’s finally gotten her legs under her and figured out what long-distance cycling is all about. This was the first day she kept up with me, no problem. By tomorrow she’ll be speeding ahead with the boys (or the “young men” as we call them, because they’re adults now! Hard to believe. When we first started making these trips, they were 14.
It was another extremely hot day (34-35C) and we sweat buckets. But we stopped at a nice place to have a mid-morning refreshment. I got a lovely cappuccino. Coffee in general has been such a disappointment, weak and flat. There was a cute kitty begging at the restaurant. He got most of the stuff we referred to as raw bacon.
Stopped in Bac to tour the ruins of an ancient fortress. The first written sources of Bac date back to 535 AD when it was mentioned by the Roman emperor Justinian in a letter. In 873 Bac was a barbarian fortress. A little later, it was a King’s town and seat of the Bishopric. In 1241 it was destroyed by the Mongolians. The current pile of rocks was built by Hungarian King Charles Robert of the Anjoy family in 1338-42. Back then, it was completely surrounded by water from the nearby Mostonga River. Access was by a drawbridge. In 1529 the Turks conquered the fortress. During the Rakotzy uprising (1702-04) the fortress was destroyed and never rebuilt. It astounds me that a historic site like this just sits, unprotected. We were the only ones visiting.
We returned to our bikes and rode through a nature preserve, and we were lucky enough to see storks. Also gray herons (almost identical to great blue herons, but a separate species), some kind of starlings, swans, and a finch critter. Someone said it was a linnet? He had a chestnut breast, gray cap, spotted wings and he walked and bobbed. We also were besieged by bees! Annie was afraid of them and I assured her they were just curious about the bright colors she wore and they wouldn’t sting. Boy, was I wrong. Rob and I both got stung, but through our bike shorts, so the little buggers couldn’t stick their stingers in very deep, so it was more an annoyance. A bee went inside Annie’s shirt and stung her shoulder. She was very calm and after that wasn’t afraid of them anymore.
In the early afternoon we rode up a short, steep hill to a restaurant that served a traditional Serbian fish stew, cooked over an open fire in a huge black iron pot. It’s spicy, with catfish and a red broth. The stew came some noodles and the ubiquitous bread, raw peppers, salad, and baklava for dessert. We ate on a covered patio overlooking the Danube, and the weather was warm but breezy and pleasant. after lunch several of us went swimming in the Danube. (I waded, didn’t have a swimsuit with me.) There were several young people there swimming also, and a man swimming against the current and staying pretty much in one place. He had a dog that swam with him.
As nice as lunch was, I have never seen such a grim toilet. I don’t really mind pit toilets. When you bicycle in strange countries, you just get used to them. But this one was bad enough to give me nightmares. ::shiver::
At one point in our afternoon ride, we spotted a tiny puppy (only a few weeks old) wandering in the street. It almost got run over. Danjela rescued it. She rode with it for a little bit, just holding it in one hand and guiding her bike with another, until we found a house with a yard. There was no one home; we left the puppy in the yard and hoped for the best. Maybe the people will recognize who it belongs to.
We rode and rode and finally arrived at the city of Backa Palanka and are staying at a posh hotel. The A/C works great! For dinner we had a picnic in our room (watermelon and blackberries, cheese, bread and cookies. When you’ve been riding for several hours, everything just tastes better. At the time it seemed like the most sumptuous feast ever. Annie can eat her weight in watermelon, I swear.
We watched some American TV shows (Law & Order, Ally McBeal, Brothers & Sisters).