It has rained hard all night, inside the tent the only damp patch is where some rubbish blew underneath the tent earlier yesterday, so all is well. Tiny tents are fine for just spending the night in, but you've really got to get in the zone when your held hostage by the weather. Best let the legs go numb and forget about them for a bit. Nature calls and a beer can comes to the rescue. I don't mind going outside and getting wet, but it means bringing the wet back into the tent. I hear someone outside as the rain dies down slightly, its Dimitri. He is looking well miserable, as due to the weather he can't work because his workshop is outside and he went to the dentist yesterday and had a tooth pulled. We huddle under the tiny lean-to porch and curse the weather. I ask if the rain will damage the house foundations any more but he doesn't seem too bothered. Just the river is the worry.
The rain turns to a slight drizzle and I decide to make a go at packing up. Then it starts up again but I've retrieved the food bag and sit down to breakfast. I ask Dimitri if he wants any of my oats yoghut and fruit and he pulls a painful face as if to say are you having a laugh. Then I offer him orange juice and the reaction is worse. I'm nearly packed when the rain starts to get heavier and the tent and matress have to be done in the rain. I give my host a hearty handshake and thank him for letting me stay, and jokingly say I will be back next year in a kayak.
Belgrade the Serbian capital is my next stop. The ride there is miserable; it's 30km of wet horrid weather, roads with lumps instead of pot holes and I get chased by a few dogs. The first attack I see in advance as two black medium sized mutts are chasing a car down the main road. Ready for them spying me, I get pedalling and speed it up. When they see me they are far back on the pavement and hurtle into the road after me, I'm ahead of them and just starting to make ground when an old Soviet army truck turns right against me from the opposite direction and I have to chuck on the brakes. To add to the fun a huge lorry is coming up fast behind. Adrenaline gets me through this time as this is the first proper chasing I've had. I have had a few others but they didn't have "that look" in the eye and it was always at the boundary of a house. They usually seem to stop chasing when you've got past the property they guard. The two black mangy mutts disappear into the distance and for about a minute I forget the rain and try to laugh and get my breath back at the same time. The cycle path signs seem to be a bit more regular now as I follow them off the main road and into Zentum. This takes me down a hill with a cobbled road so bad I have trouble stopping because the wheels are bouncing in the air most of the time. This road is not cobbled, more random sized rocks stuck in the ground, super slippery from cars driving over them and polished to a deadly shine with the rain,. What fun! My survival is rewarded by coming out on the Danau again and I can follow this path into the centre of Belgrade. But do I want to? I'm soaked to the skin, a bit cold, I've got no where to stay and the thought of either camping in the bushes in Belgrade or walking around the city this wet does not appeal to me. Along the river floating bars and clubs bob gently in the water. I watch a new one being erected . A floating platform moored to the bank supports a metal frame over which is laid a wooden shell. As I clear my eyes of rain I see a small wooden sign that says “Floating Hostel”. I slip down the god awful rain and slime slippery splattered walkway towards a modern wooden building and enquire within. Although this is more for the night for a private room with a shared bathroom than I have spent in the entire trip so far, the promise of a very hot shower, a free welcome drink of my choice, superfast wifi and a base for Belgrade are just too appealing and I book in. I have travelled 26km and it's not even 11'oclock. Not the longest of days travelling. The guys in the hostel tell me weather is forecast to clear up tomorrow afternoon. Stay as long as you want, you only have to pay when you leave, if you never leave, you never pay. Hostels eh. Chillaxing music plays, the massive Turkish coffee is greatly received and I tie my bike up on the terrace outside. I'm dripping wet in my sandals and waterproof socks. The woman in the hostel says they are very popular with the cyclists when it's raining, being the only hostel on the river. I bet they are. The rain is furious until 7 in the evening and I just cuddle up in my room, dry things out, decide what I'm going to do tomorrow and generally faff about. I could be at home. I have no food that I can eat without cooking and there are no cooking facilties and they don't do food. The nearest shops are a ten minute walk away but I still can't face the rain. I try to get the woman on duty to order me a takeaway. She is hungry too so we decide to go halves on a chinese. I can't read what it says, and she doesn't know what the food is anyway. We randomly pick some things out and give it a go. They don't deliver to this part of town. AHH! Then the receptionist informs me I could use a POTRCKO. These guys, for a fee of about 3 to 4 euros will go out and do your errands for you on a motorbike. Just like a taxi service or a courier service you give them a shopping list or tell them where to go to buy your favourite takeaway and they will deliver it to you. You can use them for collecting you and your car as well, when you have a few too many pivos and they put the little bike in the boot and drive you home. I've heard of this in England but I get the impression you can just have them running around all day for you for all sort of odd jobs. Portcko translates as : a man who runs around helping you. In the end I decide I need cash as well as food and I haven't spent this long in doors for nearly 2 months so I get my swimming shorts on and borrow an umbrella and get amongst the miserable Serbian rain. As I leave the rain stops! I'm directed to a shopping mall. I haven't been in one of these for a long time either and my senses are overloaded. It's horrible. Bright lights, shiny shiny and lots of people chasing the dream of labels, brands, the latest trends and celebrity lifestyle.
Whilst it is not my place to tell people what to spend their money on, its very interesting to see in Serbia particularly, the amount of places you can buy alloy wheels for your car. The selection is staggering. I havent seen a horse and cart with alloys yet but I won't be surprised if I do.