For me, the planning and researching of a bike tour are major parts of the adventure. It is now so much easier and rewarding, due to the vast amount of information that is available for free, on the internet. Perhaps too much as it takes a lot of time to sift thru to find the best, most useful, and most interesting bits. An early find was this leaflet which was then available on line.
Unfortunately the link to open the web site does not now work. But it provided me with route instructions about cycling along the Danube Cycle Trail. These included details for 4 bike rides. The first 2 are west of Belgrade, but 3 and 4 were part of our planned bike ride, heading east towards the Bulgarian border. However I was able to download the very detailed route notes which I still have. These made interesting reading and some often amusing translations from the Slavic language into English. For example, leaving Belgrade it tells us:
“At this point there is a gravel road bending to the right – which you can take to reach restaurant Konoba after 500m. This beautiful restaurant lies on the riverside and has a huge terrace and garden.
This road alongside the bank is made of earth and gravel. The road is fine for cycling on sunny days, it is not at all busy and it runs across magnificent landscape.
During heavy rain you have to take the main road for 11 km to reach Pancevo. Actually, it is a motor way, but since it is the only asphalted road from Belgrade to Pancevo and is considered a city street, bicycle rides are allowed. There is an emergency lane on this road which we can use and the ride is rather undisturbed”.
Undisturbed? I don’t think it would be on the hard shoulder of the M25!
After cycling over 100km from Belgrade, the route notes take us to the Ram ferry where we cross to the south bank of the Danube. It is also the start point of the third bike ride shown in the above leaflet.
Cars and cyclists await the Ram ferry which can be seen approaching in the distance
The mystical note writer explains the crossing over the very wide and scenic River Danube – thus:
“It takes about 25 minutes to cross the Danube and it will remain forever etched in our memory because the river is very wide here and the view is fantastic. On a sunny day, the mere sight of that big and watery mirror will take our breath away. If we open our eyes and listen carefully we can hear the quiet and ceremonious clangour, when the sunrays meet the water. On the ferry we will not feel any vibrations, which could bring us back to reality. The ride to Ram is no seafaring but a flight on a magic carpet”.
And the magic carpet ride takes us back to the times of the Saracens and crusades, when the first fortified settlement of Ram was defending this area around the Danube against any threats. It is open for viewing by interested visitors.
The fortifications at Ram in a commanding position overlooking the Danube
The Ram fortress, built by Turkish invaders in the 15th century as an artillery fort with massive, thick walls, to dominate and control traffic on the Danube. In earlier times it looked like this.
The route notes and information provided was precise and accurate for a many days of cycling along the Danube, and after this first riverside fortress we were to discover several more as we continued on along this important river which throughout history had been the gateway for hordes of invaders in central Europe.