Never started so late: I hit the road a quarter to ten, planning to leave the busy E-80 road on which all traffic rund to Bulgaria, Turkey and Northern Greece, as soon as possible. Fortunately, my map from the Belgrade Tourist Office (ridiculous scale 1:800,000, no other maps available) revealed a sideroute via a pass of almost 600 metres. What I did not know was that they were building a new ‚autoput‘ (autobahn) through this secluded side-valley. A sign told me there would be no way through to the other side, but I had to try, for the alternative would have been 25 or so kilometres on the VERY busy E-80. For once in my biking life I praised autobahns: after some kilometres, I traded the road for the autoput under full construction. Kilometres of decent rise made progress easier than hoped for. No one stopped me (unthinkable in Germany – controlfreaks!), so I was at the pass at noon. Once over it, I dived into a different world – everything was so much more mediterranean: the vegetation had changed from oak and beech tree forest to macchia bushland and, when I shot around a curve, it smelled of lavender, thyme and rosemary – it might have been as well in French Provence. The clouds lifted and I was in no time in Bela Palanka, where I had an extended lunch consisting of Ćevapčići and tomato salat, my new favourite because easy to order (almost the same word as in Austrian: ‚paradaijz‘). Then off via tha old military road (see foto) across another even higher pass to Pirot and from there – always trying to avoid the busy E-80 – first through various villages roughly following the course of the river Nišava upstream until I, once more, stumbled practically over another construction site of the same ‚autoput‘. I seized this highway, freshly tarmacked and arrived quickly in Dimitrovgrad, the last Serbian town before the Bulgarian border. To my ears Dimitrovgrad sounded somehow glamourous and promising – it was only a small town, not unlike many small towns in the USA and also of the same tristesse. I was still beat from the days before, so I stayed at my hotel and went to bed early.