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What was different about Slovenia? It was difficult to say for the two travellers. The local people take care of their nice little houses just the way Germans and Austrians do. Everyone here was polite, friendly and the people obviously enjoyed giving good advice to the Germans. Jutta and Gerhard felt under pressure somehow. They neither had much time nor did they have the chance to get to know the countries the way they would like to. The plan said to ride 90 kilometres a day. They were at the Slovenian-Croatian border already – about to enter another new country. And the further the two cyclists got south the more attention they attracted.
     Cycling slowly enough they also noticed the damages the war had left on the Balkans. But most cities were being built up again; you see lots of new houses, even though the impacts of missiles in some of the walls were still visible. Some of the houses had suffered impacts in every single wall; the strikes must have hit the buildings out of every direction. Gerhard somehow felt reminded of the Second World War. He was born in 1928. Today Croatians and Serbs insist on getting along with each other. At least that is what Gerhard and Jutta heard when they asked. “We do not have any problems”, they said.
Not only therefore Gerhard and Jutta were curious about Serbia. The people on the street were obviously excited about the two strangers with bikes. Especially little children seemed to be astonished at the bikes and their owners.
     When they reached Belgrade, they were surprised by the town’s vitality that had returned after long years of war. People hope for their country to become part of the European Union one day.
The Germans got slowly used to their bikes and the facts that the weight wouldn’t allow high speeds. And Jutta caught up with Gerhard concerning fitness and staying power.
     Along the Donau (Danube river), Gerhard and his wife approached the borders of Bulgaria. Crime rate is said to be very high in this country, friends had warned them not to cross Bulgaria by bike. Gerhard and Jutta were nervous. But just the first contact with locals made their prejudices disappear. They spent their first night in a Bavarian style hotel named “Werner”. The hotel owner, a woman, had been married to a German and lived in Germany for a couple of years.
     Bulgaria has been going through a big change for almost ten years now. But democracy has not reached every corner yet. Some Bulgarians even claim, young people don’t want to work. Most of them are just yearning for money and wealth. Corruption is rampant. But new motorways like the E 79, which was built in Bulgaria and Turkey with the financial support of the European Union, bring globalisation and trade to Bulgaria as well.

you will find pictures at the end of each report