Long distance walking is not neccesarilly nice walking. At times it can even be a bit boring, like the walk along the Resava and Morava rivers the past couple of days. Endless dikes overlooking endless flat country. Perhaps the summers’ drought and the heat play a role here as well. Sometimes the path leads through small villages and nice forests where there is more to be seen. But if you are walking to see the sights, then this is not your way.
Istanbul is the end of this journey. The big, grand beautiful city of Istanbul, people say. What a goal! You will be so proud andö happy when you get there. But to me Istanbul is a direction, a purpose to walk, to move. Just as the sultanstrail is a means to give shape to that purpose. Maybe I’ll see it differently once I get there.
I follow the sultanstrail on my GPS. The Serbian map that lies underneath doesn’t, by far, show all the roads and ways which makes me pretty much dependent on the tracks my GPS shows me. At times I only see a dark curly line on an otherwise empty screen. The nice and at the same time difficult thing about it is that the trail follows agricultural ways. But some of these ways have gone out of use. The further away fields are often no longer in use through lack of money and manpower. Rural Serbia is rapidly depopulating and there is no money for large scale agriculture.
Roads become overgrown with bushes or even disappear completely. The results are a pair of bleeding legs from searching a way through the undergrowth. I would have liked to reach Aleksinac today but with these setbacks obviously I didn’t get that far. Just as I was about to start looking to camp in the forest, I found this monastery where I can spend the night. They asked immediately if I wanted a place to sleep where actually I had come to ask for water. I must have looked a bit ruggish I suppose. Out of respect I joined their evening service. It lasted 2,5 hours, I didn’t last that long. Maybe I should have looked up first what an orthodox service really is and does. All heard was hours of quickly muttered and repeated words and sentences. It felt like doing penitence for unknown sins being there.