At first glance, our trip was a failure. We failed to complete our aim of travelling from Belgrade, Serbia, to Severin, Romania by SUP.
This was not the outcome we had expected or hoped for but equally, in reality, our exped was no less of an adventure than we'd dreamed of. In fact, I'd go as far as to say we learnt more from our 'failure' than we might have done if we'd continued without issue.
Advice the next day from our UK medical team, Dr Chris Press of Wilderness Medical Services, was sound but disappointing; Alex's shoulder was certainly not going to improve with more paddling but was likely to worsen. Confirmation of this by a local Serbian doctor made our decision for us: being less than half way through the trip and about to enter a much wilder and more remote area, the only safe option was to stop here.
Obviously frustrated and exhausted, we spent a day licking our wounds and considering options. It was clear we needed to stop and get Alex examined by a physio asap, but that didn't mean the adventures had to end here. Within a few hours, we were back in Belgrade for a proper look around - more Serbian beers, pie and yoghurt drink, mmm - before boarding a sleeper train bound for Budapest.The train ride was an adventure in itself; watching the lights of Belgrade fade into darkness as we sped away into a rocking sleep, only then to be woken many times in the night for never ending passport controls, and finally creeping into Budapest early the next morning before most of the city was awake to enjoy it. The adventures continued exploring Budapest and a couple of days later on the Isle of Wight, where we retreated to for cycling, fish and chips, chilly swims and sleep. It was so disappointing and frustrating to stop our original plan after months of preparation, but we managed to find so many silver linings.
While our Danube expedition met an early end, we enjoyed every minute of travelling through Serbia (apart from 20 minutes of being mosquito food). Even after calling it quits, we stumbled upon other adventures that we would not otherwise have enjoyed. This might be the end for now, but we'll be back, and when we do we'll be better prepared than ever.