Donji Milanovac to Kladovo, 67km, Friday 15th June. Tolkien’s inspiration perhaps…

A small but one of the greatest pleasures in life must be sitting comfortably in the dry and the warm while looking outside at the rain pummeling water and land. We had already taken breakfast at 8am and were ready to go but there was no point or pleasure in going out in that. It looked to be the tail end of a thunderstorm that should clear up in no time. I took advantage and was able to observe all via the terrace from the comfort of bed. It was close to 11am before it we decided to chance it.

It was a freewheel down into the town and flat south around a long bay which served as the mouth of a tributary to the Danube. The road soon brought us north and back to where the road was hemmed in between the mountain on the left and the Danube on the right. The storms had caused plenty of mini land slides and rock falls on the road. We were very impressed because the local authorities had the clean up job well under way by the time we got there. Workers were either alone or in twos digging debris from the gullies on the roadside. Twice there was a team with a mini digger and lorry taking the worst worries away. The road creeped up the edge of the mountain through more and longer tunnels. The river stayed where it was below. Eddying and hurrying as the canyon narrowed. The only traffic were large trucks for carrying loose rock and stone. These were only very occasional interruptions to our reverie. The one time it happened in a tunnel though cast us into a nightmare. Was that a cave troll having a bad acid trip struggling to catch us up from behind? The noisy roars reverberated through the tunnel and there was no escape from its noisome noxious respirations in the tunnel. Thankfully the cave troll, being virtually blind and its sense of smell and hearing being overwhelmed by its own discharges, passed us by and left us unharmed.






I was glad to be on this side however as the traffic on the Romanian side was more varied and frequent – trucks, cars and tourist buses. There were zero tourists on our side of the river thankfully. This is possibly because there are only a few places where a car or bus can stop safely and disgorge passengers to risk their lives taking selfies on the edge…

Only one thing really bothered us being on this side however. Would we be able to see the great sculpture of Decebalus, the last king of Dacia? The sculpture is carved into the cliffs of the Romanian side and may have inspired the sculptures of Mount Rushmore. Decebalus fought and beat the Romans for most of his reign from 87 to 106AD.

According to Roman commentator Dio Cassisus: “This man was shrewd in his understanding of warfare and shrewd also in the waging of war; he judged well when to attack and chose the right moment to retreat; he was an expert in ambuscades and a master in pitched battles; and he knew not only how to follow up a victory well, but also how to manage well a defeat. Hence he showed himself a worthy antagonist of the Romans for a long time

He suffered a setback in 102 AD and Dacia became a vassal state of Rome but Decebalus continued to fight until a Roman force outnumbered him in 105 AD and Trajan came and finished the job by exterpating the then Dacian capital of Sarmizegetusa “a la Carthage” but he didn’t get around to sowing salt and ruining the land thankfully. More on Trajan later. Interestingly our family car for the last 2.5 years has been a Dacia and a very useful car it is indeed.






You would look pissed off too if you had to figure out how to fight the then world’s superpower on a yearly basis during your reign….
As the road is so hemmed in along this section of the river there is no space for any settlements. Thus there were no cafes and restaurants and it was well into the afternoon by the time we made it around the next bend in the river where the mountains fell back and we descended to restaurant “Panorama” near a town which had no discernable name. Initially we were the only customers in this restaurant which was so new the outside walls had yet to be plastered. Soup, salad and bread was our preference in the heat of the day. A carload of other guests pitched up shortly before we left – two guys and three young botoxed ladies who spent the interval between ordering and eating taking selfies and pictures of each other.

Onwards we went around the next bend until we were heading southeastwards past the Iron Gates hydroelectric dam number one. Stored downriver from the dam beside the road in the open were what I assume were blades for the electric turbines of the dam. Of stainless steel they are what recyclists must dream of. Being the size of a bus however, it would take some serious rag and bone man ingeniuty to shift them down to the recyling centre unnoticed.

The remainder of our day was over the flat into a town called Kladovo where we had decided to stop for the night. It was only 17h00 but yesterday’s efforts, particularly the mud cycling, had taken its toll. So after a quick coffee we started operation accomodation. A fine spot showed up on the one of our apps less than 300 metres from our location. On closer examination it turned out to be a former residence of Tito and was currently used only for “protocol” purposes. Other apps showed accommodation which was completely booked out and the local hotel had a room apparently but at an absurd price for the quality on offer. Another thunderstorm was building in the distance and we did not want to be camping in it. We walked with our bikes on the riverside promenade. I decided to go old fashioned and just ask somebody. Outside what looked like a closed restaurant was a man and his son in law. It turned out that Steva was the owner of the restaurant and was also a former tourism manager in the local district. Not only did he speak German but perfect English too. He immediately offered to let us pitch our tents on the lawn beside his restaurant but as he followed our gaze to the black clouds gathering in the east we did not need to respond in words. He bid us sit down and have coffee while he sent an emissary (his daughter) to investigate the possibility of rooms for the night. He explained that due to the rock concert scheduled that night, accommodation was scarce. His daughter came back in 10 mins to ask us to follow her to what turned out to be her grandparents place. They were both over 90 years of age but fit and healthy. The grandmother was Croat from the Plitvice region in Croatia but had lived in Kladovo for almost 70 years. She showed us our rooms and the showers and we agreed the very reasonable price immediately. Her sole concern was that on crossing the border, if we were asked where we stayed that night, officially we slept in tents. It seems that there are still laws from Yugoslav times which require non-family members overnighting to be registered at the local police station. Her concern was reiterated several times before we departed and we reassured her several times that we would faithfully play our part in this deception of the authorities. Hence why I post no surnames in this part. We had reassured Steva that we would return to check out dining possibilities. It turned out that he desparately wanted us to be his guests and soon we were supping fish soup and double portions of Zander with all the trimmings. This despite the fact that Norman is normally not a fish eater. Hunger is good sauce!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s