Category: Serbia

Crossing Borders

Camping Fusina – where we did not stay

We headed west from Bulgaria via Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia towards Italy. We were pleasantly surprised how smoothly we were able to travel from one country to the next. At each border our passports were checked once on leaving the country and again on entering the next. Vehicle documents were examined and a customs officer often came on board to physically check the inside of the truck. No mention was made of Covid. Usually the whole procedure took no more than half an hour. We stopped overnight at fuel stations, restaurants were open but only serving coffee and snacks – we catered in the truck.

When we reached Slovenia we needed to stop for a day or two to relax and do the laundry. It looked such a beautiful country, it reminded us of Austria, clean and well-ordered with rolling green hills and prosperous looking farming communities. We looked for a camp site but it seemed nothing was open during the winter months.

We also had a problem with Slovenian road tolls. We were travelling in an elderly truck with no modern emission controls, thus contravening EU regulations. On entering Slovenia we had to purchase (€10) a digital toll responder and load it with €45 of credit. Every few miles the responder gave a single beep showing our credit was still good. An hour or so into our journey the responder started giving a double beep indicating our credit was being used up. The cost of one day’s drive had now reached €65 and the annoying double beep still persisted. We felt pressured to leave Slovenia before our bank balance was further plundered.

When we reached the border with Italy all vehicles were able to drive straight through without any checks at all. We planned to stay a few days at our regular camp site at Fusina, opposite Venice. We arrived just as it was getting dark but were refused entry to the camp site because we didn’t have a negative Covid test certificate. The huge site was almost empty of visitors but there was no offer to let us stay segregated from the other visitors in a quarantined area – nor did they have any information as to where we might get a Covid test. Camping Fusina had committed the ultimate sin of turning away a traveller just as it was getting dark.

We eventually found a deserted fuel station on a busy roundabout and spent a comfortable and undisturbed night there.

Driving into Fusina we had noticed a woman sitting in an old camper van parked under a bridge. On our way back when we were searching for somewhere to stop overnight we passed the van again and noticed this time there was a car parked next to the van. It was much later when we realised she was probably a working prostitute. Imagine our red faces if we had tried to park up beside her – would she have taken us for customers or the competition?

From Serbia Through Macedonia To Greece

We left Serbia with some reluctance but we had the strong urge to get to the coast where we hoped the heat would be less oppressive.  On entering Macedonia we passed through vehicle and passport checks and had to cough up  €50 for motor insurance.The local currency was the Macedonian denar but everywhere accepted and welcomed the €.  Huge stretches of motorway were new or under construction with lots of big signs declaring that the projects were provided by the EU.  The roads were not at all busy and some new looking fuel stations were derelict and empty.  Every hundred miles or so there were toll booths that collected between €2 to €3 from us and we began to feel we were paying quite a lot to traverse the country.

The countryside was initially mountainous and green and we enjoyed the drive, stopping for lunch at one of the many roadside restaurants.  Then the landscape became flatter and drier and, after several hours of relaxed motoring, we arrived at the Greek border and we were back in the EU.  Immediately the state of the roads deteriorated!

The Aegean Sea

Serbia Smiles Better!

We Were The Blue Dot

We continued driving south and stopped overnight at Vranje not far from Serbia’s border with Macedonia.

Once again we were charmed at the warm welcome we received at the camp site.  You might think that campsite receptions would always be polite and welcoming but throughout our travels we were regularly greeted with total indifference by folk that seemed too bored to bother to be nice.  We found that it was possible to judge how pleasant or otherwise our stay would be depending on the quality of the initial greeting.  In Serbia folk seemed to go out their way to be friendly – even the staff in the motorway service areas were smiling. helpful and polite.  

Marco, son of the camp site owner rushed over to greet us with outstretched hand and quickly found us a place to park.  Later I asked him what time the restaurant closed.  “When I go home”, he told me.  “What time do you go home?” I asked.  “When the restaurant is empty and everyone has eaten” was his laughing reply.

Nico Getting The Pool Ready

Later we found out that the grandfather had owned the land and had grown rice and maize.  Twelve years ago, when he got too old to farm, he gave the land to his son who developed the small camp site with swimming pool and restaurant, surrounded by fields of maize and rice.  Now the old grandfather sat outside in the shade, his son pottered around watering the gardens and the two grandsons, Marco and Nico ran the site.  They were such a sweet family that we forgave them the fact that the showers were cold, there was only one toilet and the swimming pool was not yet ready for the season.

Camping Enigma, Vranje

We stayed two nights, drank wine and beer and had two evening meals and the cost was just over £100.  We felt it was excellent value.

The currency in Serbia was the (RSD) dinar.  There were no coins, just paper money; £1 was equal to 134 dinar.  When we stopped for fuel the forecourt attendant served us with diesel while he expertly cleaned the sticky bugs off our windscreen.  He then helped us to move the van to top up our gas bottles.  Tony paid by credit card and gave the man a tip of 100 RSD note.  As we drove away we realised we had given the man just 74p – which he accepted with a polite thank you.

Bećevac, Serbia

We left Budapest and drove south towards Belgrade in Serbia.  Once out of the city, the countryside was mainly agricultural, with small fields and rolling green hills.  It was early June and we could see the distant combine harvesters raising dust clouds as they processed the corn crop.  There was little change in the landscape as we passed from Hungary and out of the EU.  There may have been a bit more roadside litter and the surroundings may have been slightly scruffier.  The Serbian people went out of their way to be welcoming and friendly and most of them could speak some English.

Zornica Kuka Camping

We Even Found An Old Fiat 600

Rustic Restaurant Building Under The Trees

The Restaurant Kitchen

We passed by Belgrade and stopped at the village of Barajevo, at  a rustic campsite called Zornica Kuka Eco House Farm, which was a family run business with a motel and a restaurant and a small animal zoo.  The owner greeted us with a warm handshake, his name sounded like Dragon.  The site was on a hill overlooking the valley and had all the facilities we needed.  The restaurant meal was cooked on an open fire and of excellent quality  – although the steak was over cooked for our taste.