With a good attitude, relatively clean bikes, and the excitement that comes from approaching a new country, we breakfasted on our new staple of bread, butter, and honey, and set off towards a better day.
Under sunny skies, over flat, blessedly paved roads, we cycled towards the border singing silly songs, changing the lyrics so they involved the word "Romania." (Romaniac, Romaniac, on the floor!) I voted we call today's post "Whoa-mania" and then proceeded to annoy Tyler with various dumb jokes and many permutations on the theme. (What should we call today's post if we make noodles for dinner? …. lo-mein-ia! Get it?!)
After riding through the lovely lakeside tourist resort of Bela Crkva, we pedaled another ten kilometers before reaching the Serbian border. During those ten kilometers, the scenery changed dramatically, rising from flat farmlands into scrubby hills. We could also see mountains off in the distance.
At the actual border, there were some cute signs marking the end of the bicycle route in Serbia. Tyler took a few photos of it but the border guard came running over and told him to delete them. He sneakily managed to save this one. In case the print is too small to read, the sign says, "GOOD BY / You are leaving Serbia. Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happend :) / We wish your bike to always have tires full of air, and shain always ready to transfer your dreams to roads and paths. Have a nice rolling in beautiful Romania :)" Cute!
As the stern Serbian border guard put exit stamps into our passports, I was a little nostalgic because we really enjoyed our time here and I was going to miss it. I would never have thought that Serbia would be among my favorite countries, but it was. As I looked ahead, I felt the slightest bit of foreboding about the wilds of Romania.
As we crossed out of Serbia, we witnessed a scene we will never forget: the no-man's land between the border was filled with half naked people! They were all standing beside their cars, stuffing packs of cigarettes into their underwear, their bras, their pants, basically everywhere! I assume cigarettes are cheaper in Serbia, and I'm guessing they aren't supposed to smuggle them into Romania. Nuts.
Precisely (and humorously given the warnings we've received), at the Romanian border, the paved road abruptly ended in a mess of gravel and construction. A long, restless line of cars waited to be processed by the border guards. When we rolled up, we were waved through ahead of everyone. We gave our passports to the guards and they took them to a small office that was littered with beer cans and cigarette butts. Ten minutes later we had our passports back and we were on our way.
Immediately it felt like we were "out there", very far from civilization. Tyler was enthralled and excited but I was still a little nervous considering we had no money, and no idea when we might find ATM. We rode past beautiful green wooded hills with streams carved in winding curls between them. The trees were teeming with songbirds, and Tyler said he felt for the first time that this was what he wanted our land to feel like.
We stopped our ride for a few minutes to investigate this old building. I think it used to be a border crossing because there was an official-looking roadside checkpoint, according to our GPS it was only a few hundred meters from Serbia, and this wall says something about Romania. It was definitely no longer in use, though!
When we came across this old water mill, Tyler turned the gigantic wheel, surprised to find that it was very easy to move.
We rode for another few kilometers, but when we saw this church in the distance, we decided it was too good of a spot to pass up.
We had already been talking about how Romania was one gigantic wild-camp, but this one was beyond belief. We wheeled our bikes down the hill and rested them against the church wall while we walked around exploring our new home for the night.
After a bit, I went off to take photos while Tyler began assembling our home for the umpteenth time. It is just one of the many things he does nearly every single day that makes our lives possible, for which I am deeply grateful. Thank you, honey!
For dinner I went foraging for dandelion leaves while Tyler went off with his sound recorder. In his absence I prepared a lovely salad and a hefty amount of the best part—garlic croutons. When he returned, we ate our fill, then took to the tent with a bar of chocolate, and spent our evening listening to the birds.
Tomorrow we set off for our first full day in Romania!