1 September 2012
Jenelle (with extra Bruce comments)
Today we visited the Vojvodina region west of Belgrade. We were collected by our tour guide Zlatan from Tours2Serbia about nine o’clock. Zlatan was not only a very informative tour guide, but more importantly a good navigator and driver as well. Serbia has a complicated history of invasions and takeovers for thousands of years.
After some high speed (120 kph) roads down to narrow potholed single lanes we reached our first stop at the Krusedol monastery on Fruska Gora mountain. It seems even there you can’t avoid the tourist buses. Small but beautiful Orthodox Christian chapel(built ~1726) and tower, but unfortunately no photos inside and definitely no climbing of the tower was permitted. Apparently the Austrian Hungarians let the Serbs live here unhindered, on the condition they would be the first line of defence when the Turks attacked.
From here we headed to the Petrovaradin Fortress on the outskirts of Novi Sad. An amazing construction with 16 km of tunnels in 4 levels. Another feature of the fortress was the Drunken Clock, fast in summer and slow in summer. There was a museum of artefacts from bronze, iron age right up to early 20th century. A display of beautiful furniture from late 19th to early 20th century was upstairs, and included musical instruments and porcelain (of interest to some of the group). The moats and escarpments surrounding the fortress have to be seen to be believed. Just huge.
Bruce: Each year in June the Karlovci (Pertovardin) Fortress has it’s own Big Day Out style, 14 stage music festival called the Exit festival http://www.exitfest.org. I’d heard of it before, but didn’t connect it with Serbia.
Next stop was Novi Sad, where we bought some fruit at the market, and to be ecumenical we visited the Jewish Synagogue. This was quite plain but also quite elegant inside. From here we took leisurely stroll past municipal offices, a statue of another important citizen and then through the main pedestrian area down to a lake and gardens – a good place to end our walking tour. We spent some time enjoying the coolness. On return to Belgrade there was a little time to attend to some housekeeping issues, before heading out to dinner.
Dinner was at Belgrade’s oldest restaurant, called “?”. Why “?” ? When the restaurant changed owner’s early 20th century it was given the name “Cathedral Café”. The priest at the nearby church complained that it reflected poorly on the church and requested a name change. Not knowing what to call the place the owner put up a “?”. The temporary name stuck, but only through a couple centuries so far. Appetiser of beans, several varieties of cheeses and sliced meat, tomato and cucumber salad and a platter of barbeque meats with bread, wine and beer as well. All in good supply. We said goodbye to Zlatan and yet again found the scenic route back to the hotel.
Bruce: Bumped in Tyson again (!) just outside our hotel as he was heading to the railway station opposite with backpack and we were about to head out to dinner, on his way back to Switzerland. There has to be something weird going on here with the laws of chance !
Bruce: Note the picture of the emply block in New-Belgrade. Why take this picture ? Well, here used to stand the Chinese embassy, till last year. It was demolished because it was bombed in the 1990’s war by NATO. It is still not clear why US decided to bomb the Chinese embassy as one of their selective targets. They claim they got the address wrong. This was taken on a bike tour we took around Belgrade today (more details to follow later).