While Tyler was completely zonkered out this morning, I cooked breakfast. It was a last-resort sort of meal, using the remains of an age-old bag of rice. While I cooked the white grains, he slept peacefully. As I stirred in vanilla, butter, honey, a touch of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt, he rolled over and pulled the sleeping bag soundly over his head. It was adorable.
After I finished the rice pudding and made a thick pear sauce to go with, I woke Tyler. He emerged from the tent, floppy, droopy, and very heavy from the thick fog of slumber.
It was funny watching him try so hard to keep his eyes open…
We ate, and then packed up for what we had expected would be a short jaunt into Belgrade. Tyler was (oddly) still having trouble waking up as we rode away from camp. Our moods quickly turned sour as the roads buckled into a series of demoralizing hills which made us feel like we were back in England again, unfit for the task of cycle touring.
As we slowly spun our way towards the city, we wrestled with our bad attitudes. Most of our frustration stemmed from the fact that we'd been expecting an easy, flat ride following the Danube river. Adjusting our mindsets to the markedly less pleasant reality before us was a trying task and took nearly all of our ride. It didn't help that the road we traveled was one of the worst we've ridden in recent memory, riddled with bumps and potholes, and busy with cars and no shoulder.
Arriving in Belgrade, things didn't get much better. We were quickly reminded of why we aren't fond of cities as the traffic picked up, the faces became less friendly, and we were forced to spend a lot of money for a place to sleep.
When we rang the buzzer for the hostel we'd contacted, they informed us they had no rooms and sent us gruffly away while making it sound like they were booked full for weeks. Undaunted but slowly losing our cool, we stopped at several others. They either didn't answer their buzzers, had no space for us, or had no room for our bikes.
Three hours after beginning our search for a place to stay, tired, grumpy, painfully chafed for unknown reasons, and sunburned, we succumbed to our frustrations and booked two nights in the grossly overpriced Union Hotel. It was neither friendly nor inviting, but it was starting to rain and we'd lost the will to push our bikes around the city in circles yet again in a futile search for accommodation.
Once settled in our room, we immediately headed for the only thing either of us cared about at our 66-euro-a-night hotel: the shower. Tyler went first, eagerly running the taps only to find that there was no hot water. It was barely tepid, and didn't heat upon waiting. It only grew colder. A call to reception for possible advice on how to fix the situation gained nothing and our concerns were dismissed with contempt.
Sticky and disgusting, disappointed, and still not feeling settled, I crawled under the blanket and hid from the day just like Tyler had done this morning. Hopefully tomorrow will be better!