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Saturday August 13: Golubac Serbia

Monday August 15: Osijek Croatia

Sunday August 14: Belgrade Serbia

By Foot and By Bike

Fortunately, Amy seems much better today than she did last night. We are thinking that it is most likely not Covid. She isn't great, but she is much better than yesterday.

This morning, we woke up in Belgrade. I think of Serbians as the "bad guys" from their civil war, with ethnic cleansing and so forth, but apparently it is like it is in most places. The majority of the people are peaceful friendly people, and it is the combination of leaders and a small number of radical people that cause the problems.

Artwork on Step Risers

This morning, Amy and I went on the "panoramic tour" of Belgrade. This means that we were bussed to one area, and then spent about an hour walking around a fortification/museum. Then we had about a half hour of free time. Amy visited a nearby church, which she absolutely loved, while I zoomed back to the fortification/park to look at a collection of tanks and artillery. it was strange to see a large number of WW-I and WW-II military pieces, and among them one SAM battery.

WW-I Heavy Mortar

After that, we visited a large Orthodox church. It is very large and ornate, but the best part was that I wasn't concerned with taking pictures, because it was still under construction, as it wasn't yet finished. There were still people praying there, but it wasn't doing liturgies yet.

Large Orthodox Church
Main Dome of Church
Side Semi-Dome
Interesting Stonework
Intricate Stone Grating
Main Dome

It was very interesting to hear the Serbian guide's point of view of Serbian history. I'm used to thinking of myself as American, and as America being a dominant world power, but he was talking about Serbia as being a little country without a big military, and as being dependent historically on the European great powers (e.g. England, France, Germany, Russia) for support and protection.

I noticed that most of the street signs were written twice, differently. It was explained to us that Serbia uses both alphabets: the Latin one and the Cyrillic one. So most of the signs are written twice, once with each alphabet.

I was concerned about the weather today, as it was solid overcast this morning, and when I checked after breakfast, it was spitting rain. But the rain, stopped by the time we left, and it warmed up. I had to take off my rain jacket halfway through, and i think I will lose my long sleeve tee for this afternoon's biking.

Amy is going to have a mellower afternoon, and just walk along the riverbank. There is a bike path along there that is nicely landscaped, although I don't think this is where we are going to be biking.

 - -

The afternoon turned warm and sunny, which was nice. It turns out that I *was* going to be biking starting from right outside the ship, along the river. The trip was described as going around Ada lake on the Sava River, but it turns out that the lake was formed by putting a few dams from the shore to a long thin island in the middle of the river, and thus making two lakes: the nearer one is for recreation, and the further one is a reservoir.

The biking itself was the bicycle equivalent of a stroll. Rather than struggling to keep up, it was hard to bike that slowly. The bike had a twist shifter (as opposed to up/down levers), and for some reason, my intuitive sense was backwards. If I thought about it, I would shift appropriately, but if I was rushed, I tended to do the opposite of what I intended.

Jim the Biker

There was an interesting wire driven gizmo at the end of the lake for doing water skiing and such without a boat. One guy was showing off for us by doing flips right in front of us.

Water Skiing Gizmo on Lake
Doing a Flip

There was one place on the way back where there was a short but somewhat steep section. I sped up to hit the uphill with speed, but the person ahead of me slowed way down, so I had to immediately shift into low gear. Of course, I ended up shifting into the highest gear, which on a steep uphill with almost no speed proved a bit challenging. Fortunately, I only had to continue for another five seconds or so, and then I reached the level part after the rise.

Amy just wandered along the river on a combination bike path and pedestrian way.

Note to self: next time we are scheduling a river cruise, don't do it during the biggest drought / driest summer in years. They are having to adjust things and/or skip things because of the low water.

After I got back from biking, I had a little time, so I hiked up the hill to look for that church that Amy had found. I found it, but something big was going on there. There were police directing traffic away from that street, and a guy with a big flag waving it back and forth in the middle of the street. There was a large crowd filling the street in front of the church, and someone talking through a PA system. At first I thought it might have been some sort of protest, but I think it was some sort of religious event. I think I heard a "Cristos" at one point. There was a long line (barely moving) to get into the church. Since I had no idea what was going on, I didn't have that much time, and I didn't want to stand in a line with random people without a mask, I just turned around and returned to the boat.

Church on Hillside
Church Steeple from Riverside

 - -

Tomorrow should be interesting. At the evening briefing as to what was going on tomorrow, the program director mentioned a few activities, but he didn't mention the bike tour that I was going on. I thought that a little odd, but I didn't think too much about it.

After dinner, when we returned to our room, we found the tickets for tomorrow's activity. I noticed that Amy and I were both scheduled to leave at the same time, on the same bus, even though we were going on different activities. I was told that there was no mistake--I was leaving on the same bus as Amy. The reason was...because I was the *only* person going on the bike ride! So I get to have my own private tour.

I'm not exactly sure why there is no one else on tomorrow's bike tour. It might be because there was a bike tour today. It might also be that the bike tour was supposed to be a combination of bike tour and something else, but because of low water the something else was canceled. They gave me the choice of skipping the bike tour and joining Amy's tour, but I decided to stick with the bike. Perhaps all of the other bikers decided to switch? I don't know.

I'm amazed that on this trip we're hanging with a totally different crowd than I am used to, in the following ways. Many of them are retired, and whereas back home I'm an old geezer, here I am relatively young. More significantly, however, as I'm talking with people, they talk about the time they were traveling in Spain, or taking a cruise on the Rhine, or doing this and that in this and that country. This is really the "jet set" or world traveler crowd, which is not the sort of people that I've known back home.

On the other hand, I've traveled in my share of countries, so I am not unusual in this respect.

Fortunately, Amy is still doing relatively well, and much better than yesterday.

Up to Danube/Alps: Sabbatical Trip, 2022 main page

Saturday August 13: Golubac Serbia

Monday August 15: Osijek Croatia