Day 31 - Skopje to Vranje: One month wiser - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

February 15, 2015

Day 31 - Skopje to Vranje: One month wiser

The morning was cool, sunny, and hazy. Overall, a good day to get back on the bike.

Getting out of Skopje was surprisingly easy. I took every back street I could find to delay getting onto the motorway, and it worked pretty well, passing back streets and shanties and a Sunday morning auto parts market. Except for one time I carefully looked at my GPS app--which is a map, but doesn't give directions--and promptly took a wrong turn, I made to the motorway without incident.

Being a Macedonian motorway, there was no shoulder, so I was glad the distance passed quickly. The border crossing was fine except that I got burned changing my leftover Macedonian money to Serbian dinars on the Serbian side. Unavoidable, really, when you're trying to change a currency nobody wants.

Uneventful ride to Vranje. The road was in good condition with a shoulder much of the way--what a luxury. A truck stopped to offer me a lift on that sunny, warm, non-hilly afternoon, which confused me as much as I confused the trucker by declining. Hazy hills behind bland towns, but what a warm welcome from the people. Lots of passing traffic honked and waved, people on tractors, other cyclists. It was like being greeted by old friends.

I took a hotel in Vranje to get my registration card. Foreigners have to register within 24 hours and this may or may not be checked, so I figured it was best to play it safe and at least get this first registration. I thought I was finished with these really restrictive countries, and if I had known Serbia is potentially almost as bad as Uzbekistan, I would've taken a different route (my travel research has clearly been non-existent lately). I'm tired of visas and registration rules: I want to be free!

Vranje, from my balcony. Because I felt obligated to take at least one photo.
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And so concludes my first month on the bike. Here are a few things I've learned along the way:

1. I am not safe if dogs merely watch as I go past. They will probably start chasing me anyway.
2. A bend in the road is not a source of hope. It will almost certainly reveal that the hill keeps going up, and probably steeper than before.
3. Cobbled streets aren't picturesque. They are evil.

Today's ride: 99 km (61 miles)
Total: 1,382 km (858 miles)

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