Friday 7th September 2012
Cool, clear breezy morning and no sign of yesterday’s misty rain. The trip to the museum was declined in preference to a walk / ride around Valjevo, while Danny went to have the van washed. It was eventually 11am before set off for the trip across central Serbia to Smederevo. This area reminded me of the “patchwork quilt” farmlands around the Darling Downs (QLD) and the Southern Highlands of NSW, except the blocks are much smaller. (I know this description is not much use to the Victorians on the post list.)
The windy roads seemed to take quite some time to navigate and this necessitated the purchase of emergency rations (ice cream) to sustain us until we reached Smedervo. The anticipated trip to the Roman wall and little town did not disappoint. We spent some time here exploring and climbed to the top of one of the towers for a spectacular view of the Danube and the surrounding area. To add to the occasion there was a special festival for the town. Not unlike a country show, with people sporting big wads of fairy floss and something that resembled battered sausages on sticks (I’m told that’s a QLD thing too!). There were also many stalls with pigs being roasted on the spit, with every conceivable vegetable to build your own tortilla or roll. Bruce and Ewen opted for the fish soup and I discovered some rather tasty baked treats. There seemed a certain fascination with vegetables used as decoration, with a cauliflower sporting a red capsicum slit several times and placed on top as a hat. The displays of supersized vegetables caught my eye, as well as the handwork. Live music and girls in traditional dress added to the festivities. We gave side-show alley a miss.
From here we headed for Viminacium, a Roman city and Military Camp. This dated back to the 1st and 2nd century AD. (It seems the Romans were quite widespread in their travels) While waiting for the guide I spied the perfect outdoor setting for the vine covered gazebo (see previous blog). We actually got to walk around the excavated mausoleum with genuine skeletons exposed and then down darkened corridors to the frescos dating back to these earlier times. The scenes were still visible, but the glass protecting them needed a good dust. (No photos allowed here) Other parts of the dig included the porta (entrance) and the therme (heated bath house). As you can imagine there was some discussion about how everything went together.
Still more driving, and finally at about 7.30 we reached our destination of Veliko Gradiste on the banks of the Silver Lake and the Danube River. The accommodation is excellent and dinner at a water side restaurant was most relaxing.
Bruce: Shortly after the van overheating episode a couple of days ago, the brakes did seem to be doing a bit of squealing, but since it didn’t appear to have much relationship to the use of the brakes, so I relegated it to a background concern. Then later the right front wheel started to make grounching noises. I muttered stuff darkly about brake pads, but Danny didn’t seem to want to be concerned. Peter C may recall a trip back from Jindabyne with the brakes on my Subaru making noises hauntingly similar to those I was now hearing. Yesterday the noises got worse. I explained my possible diagnosis a bit more emphatically to Danny, and later, once we got to the Hotel, I put together my headtorch to have a look. Yes, the outside of the RHS disc was badly scored. Therefore, whilst Danny had to go off this morning in search of a mechanic, I went for a ride around the lake. It was supposed to be 13km around, but perhaps I took the scenic route right beside the lake, as after 10km I got to a small village, Kisiljevo, still on the East side of the lake I’d started on ! The track had gradually degraded from a pavement, to a nice track, to a grotty black sandy corn field thing that made the gears grind, so though I was glad to get somewhere, the 13km wasn’t looking likely. 5km after tjhe village I gave up when the ashfelt road turned to dust again and decided to retrace my ride back. As it was, Danny had only just got back after my 27km “brief” ride, so I was able to have a quick shower before checking out. New pre-loved brake pads fitted, but no disc machining possible, so it’s a sacrificial pad pretty much to last just the next few days.
Saturday 8 September 2012
Weather Report: Fine, sunny, no cloud, winds light to variable and some haze.
Last night’s accommodation at Villa Dincic was very good, the rooms were large, cool and extremely quiet making for good sleeping conditions. Breakfast was just a short drive away. I a slowly getting used to the idea that yoghurt comes under the drink option at breakfast, making it a bit difficult to add fruit to the cup.
The van needed more attention this morning, new brake pads on the front passenger side. This gave Ewen and I the chance of a walk along the lake, while Bruce attempted to circumnavigate it. Stall holders were already setting up their wares, and one fellow was roasting capsicums, given the pile we saw last night, he had a fair job ahead of him. We were joined on our walk by a small companion who followed us for quite some time and took on anything with 4 legs.
This was the obvious place for a weekender, some under various stages of construction. There must be some highly artistic plumbers here, (perhaps you could try this Eddie), There were also private jetties on the bank and gardens (Apart from the roses and geraniums, this pompom bush was also familiar), On the other side of the lake there was a training lane for rowers. No bike path for the coach, just a speed boat instead. (Special note for Phil Ainsworth).
Danny returned with the van and we left about 11am to travel the road alongside the Danube to see the Iron Gates. First stop was the Fortress at Golubac. It is hard to believe something so old is still standing; nobody knows who build the original and when, but additions were made in 15th century. The archways were only small and large trucks only have centimetres to spare as they passed through. There was a set of stone steps up one side but from here the path disappeared. Further up the road we visited a museum showing relics from 5500 to 7000 bce. This archaeological dig commenced in the 1965, and from this discovered the floor plan was approximately based on isosceles triangle with one vertex cut off. In the centre of the floor was fire pit with a stone surround. A replica of this type of building was outside the covered complex. Original early 20th century Serbian houses were also on the site.
A quick lunch today at 3pm of soup and bread , an empty soup bowl on a large plate topped with linen napkin and spoon appeared first, there was a high degree of anticipation as we waited for the food trolley to appear with steel jugs of hot soup. All 3 varieties of soup received our mark of approval. We left here about 4pm and the road travelled along the Danube past an amazingly steep narrow gorge, which I suspect is what is referred to as the Iron Gates. It was difficult to stop in places so we let Bruce out to run back down the road to get a photo, just like a foxhunt. We had a quick look at the Iron Gates Dam and ship lock. No photos allowed here either.
At 7pm we were still heading to our evening stop at Zajecar and light was fading.
Bruce:It happened yet again, Murray. Over dinner, any mentioning of my hotel room for tonight, with an extra seperate longeroom, complete with (live) potplants and longe chairs, was not to be tolerated. I heard dark mutterings about cat swinging and individual beds. I also just noticed the spa bath…