Well, after the hour was up everyone else in my group got kicked out of their machines. But mine is still going, and the girl who works here (who is hilarious in the way she just smiles and shrugs or points when anyone speaks English to her but who makes up for it with a spectacularly cute nose) doesnt seem to have noticed at all, even though we all paid together.
So, todays stories continue.
I have become known in the group for my history knowledge on this part of the world. I feel pressure to perform now esp when we get to Bosnia!! It has been nice though, at first I felt strange because everyone was so experienced at travelling and more worldly. So it has been good that Im good at something and can help out other people in the group with info 🙂
Anyway, Novi Sad is so beautiful. NATO bombed quite a lot of this place at the end of the nineties, including the bridges over the Danube which have now been rebuilt.
We went up to Petrovaradin Fortress which is the main tourist attraction in Serbia. Best thing was, unlike the tourist attractions you would find in London or Paris, there was barely anyone else there at all. We probably saw about half a dozen people the whole time. It was really fascinating seeing this huge fortress totally unspoilt (apart from the graffiti left by some bored Serb kids). It was also completely spared any damage from the war.
I had some bacon/eggs for lunch ; the portions here are so enormous!! I will return a fat bastard for sure. Again I reiterated my Novi Sad / bacon claim to much derision 🙂 The bacon is lovely, so if its not really world famous for it, it should be.
Ive been adventurous with my drinks too. No tequila yet. Had some local wines and beers instead. And today I introduced my group to Bamboos! My friend Dragana told me about this and when I saw it on the menu I had to share it with my group. Its red wine and coke. *Sounds* disgusting but actually very nice. Now I am known in the group as the man to talk to about bacon, Yugoslav history, and alcohol.
Only one other person in the group here really smokes so I have so far only had one cigarette. I had been smoking more in the last month at home and wanted to just stop before I started, but it made no sense to stop before coming to smoky Yugoslavia. Not as smoky here as we thought though, but maybe that’s just Novi Sad.
After the Fortress we came down and wandered around. We saw this amazing contraption on the pavement on a side street. The back half was a bike but the front had been taken off and replaced with a trailer. And the bike steering had been wired up to steer this trailer. It was amazing it looked like something from the early 1900s when you see those wacky flying machines. The owner saw us and came out and invited us (he spoke no English) to have our picture taken riding it. He was so sweet. We did just that and we saw he was a fruit merchant so we all bought nice fruit for our trip back cos he was so nice.
The people here really are so lovely. Hard to imagine that things were so horrible just 10 to 15 years ago.
We had another lunch when we got back to the main cafe/restaurant area and just sat and watched the locals go by for a bit. There was a small child begging which became the topic of conversation for a while. Then it was overtaken by speculation over whether the beautiful blonde wearing very revealing clothes on the table near us was actually a prostitute. We never found out.
Then we went to tour some of the amazing churches here. Orthodox and Catholic churches are almost next to one another here just by where we are staying and theyre both beautiful.
I have got my group all excited about visiting Sarajevo, mainly because I won’t stop talking about it. That is going to be the highlight for me, although even what I’ve seen so far in Serbia has been really cool.
Tonight were going to see a folk dance group rehearse. That might not sound like much but apparently it is spectacular, and very rare to be allowed to watch them rehearse. We depart tomorrow at 9 for the Serbian capital Belgrade.