Rain this morning. We muttered something along the lines of "pshhh… forget this", rolled over, and slept through it. Around 11:30 the downpour let up and we roused ourselves from sleep feeling very well rested, but slightly annoyed at ourselves for stringing two very late starts in a row.
Last night Tara's back was hurting and she was feeling crampy so before we got out of bed I asked her how she was holding up. It went something like this:
Me How is your back?
Me …and your cramps?
Tara Still crampy.
Tara You forgot to ask…
Us How is your STICKINESS LEVEL!? (a term we coined recently)
Us Really, really bad!
Throughout this trip, we've had to overcome all sorts of minor discomforts in order to enjoy ourselves, from setting up in the rain, to wearing damp clothes to dry them more quickly. After a year on the road, stickiness is one of those things we're still not quite pros at ignoring. This morning, we were both exceptionally sticky. No shower + excessive sweating + residual sunscreen + high humidity = gross.
Everything felt clammy and disgusting as we packed camp; we decided a shower would definitely be in order tonight. Adding to our morning "woes", breakfast was a bit of a disappointment too. We're still getting used to not having access to grocery stores again, and managed to run out of food. So, we had overly chewy and damp bread (I shook the bread bag to let an exploratory cockroach escape), and that was about it.
Thankfully, riding makes the aforementioned uncomfortable stick much better. With the wind in your face and some fresh sweat going, it no longer feels crusted onto your body. Hair of the dog.
We spent the early afternoon riding through small villages as a front moved past and the sun came out. We are both loving Serbia. I said it earlier but it bears repeating, any and all anti-Eastern-Europe talk we've heard thus far seems like a clever ruse to keep people away from these awesome places.
I'm not sure any longer what I had in mind when I imagined riding through Eastern Europe, but it certainly wasn't this!
We often see these impromptu garbage dumps in otherwise pristine fields, perhaps due to a lack of trash-handling infrastructure? I'm not sure, but it is not just Serbia; it's Italy, Tunisia, Greece, Macedonia…
After a leisurely hour or two of winding through the countryside, we decided it was about time we made some distance. So, we hopped on the freeway. I spent the rest of the day coaching Tara along as she was very tired (no doubt due our poor eating the last day and a half) and she hates interstate riding.
Sometimes I stretch the truth when she asks how many kilometers remain. For example, if we have 55 to go, I might report back to her that we have 45, slowly working my way backwards to meet up with the actual number throughout the course of the ride. It works wonders!
We were both exhausted by the time we finished our late afternoon sprint into the town of Para?in. With dark clouds looming overhead, Tara ran into the first hotel we saw to ask about prices. It was a little expensive but she negotiated an impressive 20% discount with a little encouragement from me.
While we were waffling about the 40€ per night price, the sky lit up and a movie-like crack of thunder sounded the beginning of a truly torrential onslaught of rain. The decision was made. YES WE WILL STAY! As the downpour picked up, we hurriedly wheeled our bikes to shelter with the help of the hotel's friendly staff. It was the heaviest rain we've seen since Tuscan Thunder and we were very glad to be taking shelter indoors.
Now we're in the stately Hotel Professional. The restaurant has delicious cheap food, our room is very cozy, and features a bathtub. Tara took to it first with a beer and lots of sudsy bubbles while I hopped online to check on work. "Gawwd this is AMAZING", Tara piped from the bathroom every five minutes. I guess the dreaded sticky was gone.