We met up on the quayside as arranged and set off with Patricia and Michael the Austrian couple we met. With our skipper Sasha, assisted by Boban.
Several weeks ago we had been recommended to take a boat trip through the Iron Gates gorge, as you get a different view from the river than from the road. We were not disappointed; the magnitude of the rocks rising from the river and the water being squeezed into the gorge 120 metres wide at the narrowest point was very dramatic.
We saw the depth monitor go from around 30 metres, to 80 metres. The deepest point being 90 metres.
Our skipper took us past the Festbild Decebal, a carving in the rock face 40 metres high. Carved between 1994 and 2004, it is the likeness of Decebal an opponent of the Roman ruler Traiana.
Then to the Tabula Traiana, a Roman tablet of stone, carved to commemorate the completion of a road through the Iron Gates made some 2000 years ago. There were 6 similar tablets, but only 1 was moved up 40 metres when the valley was flooded for the hydro electric dam.
Then the boat glided back through the gorge and we could soak up the magnificence of this natural wonder.
If you travel through here a boat trip really is worth while, you see so much more than from the road. Boban and Sasha certainly provide a truly memorable experience with their boat trip.
The relaxing part of the day over we returned to our ‘pension’ and loaded the tandem. It was about 4.30 before we set off to ride through the gorge and we had seen how the road went up the side of the gorge, so knew there were some climbs to do today!
The views of the gorge from the road are often obscured by trees, again we were glad to have done the boat trip. We also were heading into rain and a thunderstorm, but considered it better to be cycling on these climbs in the rain than in baking hot sun.
We had two long slow climbs up and the roads passed through several tunnels. As previously, some you could see the end of; some that curved and were much longer, about 340 metres being the longest.
The long climbs upwards were managed with a few stops to catch our breath, but no pushing the tandem!
Climbs up mean long hills down; we rolled without the need to pedal for 2.5 miles.
This bought us into a little town called Tekija where there was a campsite we had planned to use. But by then we were so wet and it was still raining heavily, we didn’t fancy putting a tent up in the rain, so looked for a room. We stopped at a place near the beginning of the town that advertised rooms, but when we enquired we were told no and to look in the centre of the town. As we cycled away we looked back and noticed the upper floors of the building had no windows. It seems quite common here to start using an incomplete building.
We continued along the road and soon found ourselves at the end of the town without seeing any signs for accommodation. So turned back and went off the main road. As we walked the almost deserted streets, we met three people and asked about rooms. They didn’t understand us, then thankfully Simon remembered the word for rooms ‘sobra’ about the only Serbian word we know!
Another man joined the discussion and we were soon being taken off down the road to someone’s accommodation, we had no idea who. It was a house with the upstairs rooms all set up with beds made for guests. We were very glad to be able to change into dry clothes, have a bed to sleep in and be able to dry out dome of our things.
Donji Milanovac to Tekija: 38 miles
Distance travelled so far: 2196 miles