Belgrade, August 20th
On Monday morning was the time for checking-in to Serbia in Apatin, where we had to call an agent help us through the steps: showing documents to the harbormaster, going to a bank for payment, back to the harbormaster to sign lots of papers and then to the police. I was concerned that there would be trouble as my ”driving licence” (förarbevis och kanalintyg) as captain on the boat was lost. The Swedish authority in charge of those certificates had just the same day opened after their summer vacation and I had them send a pdf-file of my certificate, which arrived just a moment before we were meeting the harbormaster. My worries were over – and were all the same unfounded as they after all never asked for my certificate!
We, Johan and I, had then a comfortable three day´s journey on the Danube to Belgrade, anchoring one night and the next night staying at a marina in Novi Sad, the second largest serbian city by the Donau.
Castle in Novi Sad
The Donau was very wide most of the way and it felt more like going on a huge lake than on a river:
But still there was a good current enhancing our speed. Oddly enough there was not much traffic, we had the wide Donau to ourselves most of the time, encountering just 3-4 ships (barges or cruising ships) a day. Further into Serbia there were hills and mountains, making the landscape more varied and beautiful.
Cows grazing on the Donau beach
In Belgrade we tied up by restaurant Vodenica, were we were well received by our host with a shot of Serbian Slibovic (their aquavit made of plums). Outside the restaurant there is a floating dock, where Joy was tied up, rocking violently now and then with the surges of passing boats and loud music from a nearby beer festival and passing party-ships. But there were several advantages, nice and service-minded hosts, good WiFi and close to what turned out to be the best sight of Belgrade, their huge castle Kalmegdan, which is turned into a vast area for for walking and amusements and a great view of the rivers Sava (a big tributary) and Donau, especially spectacular at sunset:
Illuminated castle Kalmegdan
Lovely chapel at Kalmegdan with mosaics
Last night we had an unpleasant adventure. Anders, (who together with Ann who had already arrived will be my new crew the coming weeks), arrived late in the evening and we had a late and good dinner at the fancy restaurant at the castle. It was almost midnight before we were back to our boat. But alas, the restaurant was dark, closed and locked, no-one answering the phone. Our boat had to be reached through the restaurant and we were locked out. I hadn´t gotten any warning that this might happen and was facing a considerable problem: a crew of three tired persons with nowhere to sleep. I then approached a neighboring party-boat for help, where they had a big party going on. Eventually I managed to get the attention of a nice westindian-looking guy who tried to help me get hold of the people of our restaurant. When he didn´t manage I saw that they had some small boats tied up by their big party boat and wondered if they could take us in one of them over to our boat. Eventually they agreed and we had the solution of our problem. The four of us, Anders´ still with his suitcase, was shown through the ongoing party to a small open boat. It had an outboard engine, which didn´t work so the driver took the only oar and paddled us slowly over to our own dock, making jokes that this was almost like Venice. The troubled crew was happy again and we could crawl into our beds in the middle of the night, accompanied by the violent music from party-boats around us. There are some unexpected challenges with this kind of trip. But all´s well that ens well.
Happy crew on rescue boat at 1 a.m.
Today it was time to say good-bye to Johan after another of the many good adventures we have had on my boat. Thanks, Johan, for two good weeks and a great job by the rudder!
Johan leaving, here outside our restaurant Vodenica