Saturday, October 15, 2022

Serbia September 2022

Sitting next to us on the flight to Serbia was a gentleman who lives in Belgrade. Being late when we landed and not having any accommodations planned, he offered to take us to a hotel and make sure we got a nice room. 

Of course, we took Alek up on his offer. He took us to the Zepter Hotel in the city center of Belgrade. This unique boutique hotel was perfect. Each room had a unique design, ours was a large city apartment.
Our plan for the next day was to rent a car and drive the hour to Novi Sad, the second-largest city in Serbia. Alek refused to let us do that and insisted on taking us on a personal tour of Novi Sad. He asked us to be ready by ten the next morning.
Alek first took us to a small monastery about halfway between Belgrade and Novi Sad. This monastery has a huge historical significance to the Serbian people, but after traveling for 36 hours I did not absorb all of what Alek was telling us, and I would not do justice trying to explain what I think I learned.
From the monastery, we stopped by a small village called Sremski Karlovic. This small village hosts the first public school in Serbia, built in the 1700s. The school still operates today.
This area is well known for its wine-making. We took a quick tour of a local winery.
The last stop before reaching Novi Sad was the Fortress, built on the south bank of the Danube River. The location gives a huge strategic advantage as the Danube is narrow. This allows control of shipping from Europe to the Baltic Sea.
The Fortress is known for the drunken clock. There are two reasons the clock is called the drunken clock. The hands are reversed, the minute hand is the shorthand and the hour hand in the long hand. The second reason is the mechanics of the clock are metal. When the temperature is extremely hot or cold, the clock will randomly get off time. Thus, the drunken clock.
Now it was off to Novi Sad. Only 100 kilometers from Belgrade, it has an entirely different feel.

After a nice lunch, Alek offers to buy me ice cream. I am getting the feeling Alek is my brother from a different mother.
Our first stop after the ice cream was the synagogue in Novi Sad. During World War Two this synagogue was used by the Nazis as a staging area to hold the Serbian Jewish people before shipping them off to the death camps.
After visiting the synagogue, we walked back to the main square, which at one end is dominated by the Cathedral. At the other end is the government building.
Novi Sad was worth the visit to see the difference between Novi Sad and Belgrade.

On our way back, Alek dropped us at a bike shop to pick up some bikes for the tour scheduled for the next day.

We said our goodbyes and thanked Alek for a great day.

Today is our second full day in Serbia and our last. We will spend the day in Belgrade.
We hired a guide and rented bikes. This was big screw-up. Our guide, Toby also gives nightlife tours. The nightlife tour is a tour where you visit seven clubs from midnight until 4:00AM. At each club, you do a shot, drink, or beer. To say the least, our guide was a bit hung-over. Lesson learned, do not hire a guide for an early morning bike tour that also gives nightlife tours.
We made the best of it, after about ten kilometers, we got Toby a drink (the hair of the dog) and sent him home. We continued on our own. Riding to Ada. Ada is a man made lake/island along the Sava River. They say the beach resembles the French Rivera… NOT!!!

We took a quick dip in the lake and then explored the island. It is an oasis in Belgrade, giving the citizens a place to swim and enjoy other sporting activities. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, They even have a golf course.

Once back in Belgrade, we returned the bikes, had lunch, and met our new guide for a walking tour of the City Center.
Luckily our guide for the walking tour was not hung over. Here are the highlights of what we saw.

Republic square 
Knez Mihajlova street
Bohemian quarter
Green Market
Silicon Valley
Kalemegdan park
Belgrade Fortress
Oldest Kafana
Oldest Orthodox Church

Unlike Novi Sad, Belgrade has an eclectic collection of buildings. The architecture is influenced by who controlled the area at the time the particular building was built.
One interesting observation is no one mentions the Bosnian-Serbia war. If ask, they refer to “The Conflict” and then change the subject.
Yesterday we learned Alek was a soldier in the Serbian Army during “The Conflict”.

It was a long day, but we saw a lot. Tomorrow mid-afternoon, we leave for Romania.
Today before heading to the airport, we walked the mile to Sava Church. Sava Church is the largest Orthodox Church in the world. Able to hold over 10,000 people.



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