'We just installed another gate to my little piece of land here to enter it from the road. Since there's the new cycling path, we're not allowed to drive on there with our cars anymore', told me Milan.
He and his buddies shared their food with me and even offered me something to drink. After we were done eating, they put a few bottles of homemade Rakja (Serbia's national alcoholic drink) on the table. It was filled up into 0.5 liter Fanta bottles. Of course I accepted to have one drink with them because I didn't want to be rude. And of course we didn't have only one. As refreshment drinks on the side we had beer. :D
They cracked lots of jokes and later they told me stories about the wars in Serbia in the 90's and that they feel that since then their country has a very bad image in the world. 'But this is not who we are', they said. 'We're not wild men with knifes between our teeth. We're good people and we would love to show it to the world'. I can tell, these guys were everything else than a herd of wild men. These were just some harmless elderly men chilling, drinking and enjoying their retirement.
The temperatures went above 40 degrees Celsius the day I left Novi Sad. I took the direct road to Belgrade. I pedaled up a pretty steep section just outside of Novi Sad. My t-shirt was soaked from my own sweat. Another elderly man flagged me down and also shouted: 'Hellooo'. So I stopped again to also say hi. He and his brother offered me some coffee and a bucket of water as a shower. It was a great shower! Exactly what I needed in this moment. And again, those guys were no wild men.
From Nis I headed in direction Kosovo. The ride to there wasn't only a challenge, I even experienced the worst night of my journey so far. It was a night full of frustrations and doubts about this trip. But I'll tell this story another time. ;)
One last thing about the wild men of Serbia. I cycled across the entire country and I got the chance to meet quite some Serbians. Everyone who I talked to or spent time with was super friendly and welcoming to me. For me, there are no wild Serbians with knifes between their teeth. I'd visit this country any time again. Without any doubts!
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