Published: August 7th 2011
July 1st 2011
Is it possible that Serbia have the hottest women in the world? Well no but they are pretty bloody close. Belgrade (no offense) lets them down. They do however have the most athletic legs in the world. Christ! I don’t know how they do it.
I caught the train to the north of Serbia to Novi Sad where you can’t get anymore Serbian. From the 18th-19th century it had the highest population of ethnic Serbs. It was culturally and politically that way as at the time Serbia didn’t have a nation of their own. Nowadays it’s a high student population. I ended up staying at a home stay, which was right next to the cathedral on the main square. I immediately took a liking to the place, again a very strong cafe culture with an alternative vibe with old buildings yet a modern feel at the same time.
A uni student population meant the nightlife was pretty good and a great perve of every variety. I’m not sure if you can understand how much I appreciated perving at different types of women. I now understand why black guys annoy the shit out of white women tourists. (I had just
finished travelling Africa for 10 months for those first time readers)
But the problem was no-one spoke English, well not with confidence anyway. The young crowd do speak English you just need to break the barrier. With no one to go out with I was on my own again to test out the nightlife. I managed to see some Serbian rock, which was not that bad. Novi Sad host the Exit Festival in the fort, which is across the river, which I was a month too early for.
Also across the river about 15 minutes away is Sremski Karlovci, which is home to some important Serbian moments. The 1699 Karlovci Peace Treaty, the oldest high school in Serbia (1791). There is also some important religious sites in the Fruska Gora mountains but as of yet transport is not available bar a taxi outside of Sremski itself. Instead I just walked around the town and headed into St Nicolas Orthodox Cathedral.
Man Orthodox churches when done well are hard to beat for religious viewing. I entered the typical way when I enter a class religious building. I start with my head down, enter slightly inside. Music of the
priest singing on the loud speaker I slowly lift my head up towards the roof than around the walls.
The mosaics are endless and the oil paintings glow with the low-lit lighting. I got so excited I somehow remembered correctly the Orthodox way to do the cross. Up, down, right then left with the index and middle finger connected with the thumb. I have been doing it at every Orthodox Church since.
I realised I have hardly travelled any Orthodox countries in my travels so this added something extra for me travelling Serbia. I don’t know what I felt after doing the cross. I did kind of feel like I was taking the piss a bit. I did laugh weeks later when in Greece. I entered a Santorini church doing the cross in my board shorts, thongs and dirty white shirt. This Greek women looked at me as if, ‘What the hell are you doing? You aren’t meant to be doing that. How do you know that?’ I love killing the stereotypes some Greeks have.
Reality of Serbian life hit when I took the bus because it is suppose to be quicker than the train. I was
going to Nis in the south via Belgrade. It took 4 hours longer than it should have. It was Africa revisited with this bus ride - vehicles driving past you, struggling up the hills, stopping all the time but it had the European luxury of stops at a café and a port a loo sometimes.
When we stopped the first time due to mechanical failure I had the experience to be aware of my surroundings. This could be a long ride and I need some supplies I saw a fruit stand off in the distance and for one euro I got myself 2 peaches and 4 of the best apricots I’ve ever had. Gosh this place is cheap than on top of that the quality of what you are getting.
When I reboarded I noticed the back floor was elevated. Soon the bus was smelling of the fumes from the engine. With no windows to open it definitely had an African feel about all this. The road from Novi Sad to Belgrade I thought was a secondary road and the driver was running some errands. (Because that is what happened in Africa at times.) But no-no it was
the main road. In a lot of cases this is worse than Africa.
Africa’s main arterial roads are funded by China so in 10 years most of south and east Africa will have quality road networks from the major cities. Novi Sad is Serbia’s second largest city and this was almost a country town road in the UK to the capital. When questioned on about the state of that road most Serbs would reply (like with most problems.) “Welcome to Serbia.”
Yet there is no talk to the tourist about bowing out, no mass exodus to another place. Serbians love there country and travelling to Nis provides a chance to understand a bit of their history. One of the oldest cities in the world there is not much left that is old. The place is modern but offers some historic sites that I never knew existed. I actually didn’t know that Nis existed a few days earlier so again I was pleasantly surprised with what I got out of it.
First stop was the Red Cross Concentration Camp. Used more of a prison pre the final destination. It is one of the few fully preserved camps in
Europe and still had rooms in the top floor with barbwire as the bed. In 1942, 147 people escaped, 82 died along the way and with that security increased.
Century and a half before WWII there was a Skull Tower made from the Serbs who died during the Cegar Battle of 1809. It was the first of many uprisings against the Ottoman Turks rule here. Around 400 years of Ottoman rule was repeatedly attacked and when upon the 6th attempt to enter the Serb trenches the Ottomans won.
A few kilometres from the city centre the Turks were ordered to build a Tower from the heads of 952 soldiers. Today 58 remain because relatives tried to give a full burial to the others. Within a generation in 1878 Nis was liberated. The wall is now in a church like dome and the skulls are behind a glass window.
There is a Mediana, which is a protected archaeological site from the 4th century during Constantine the Great era. But there isn’t really much to see since most things are under a layer of soil waiting for more funds. It does allow you to see the scale of Nis’
My last day I headed to Bubanj where I just discovered the three stone structures on top of a hill outside of town are fists. They are there because the remote area was the place where 10000 – 15000 people were shot during WWII. The figure is undetermined because in August 1944 the Germans dug out and burnt numerous bones over 20 days. The fists are representing child, woman and man.
On Tuesday nights during the summer nothing much is on accept inside the fort where the open-air bar kicks on until 6am. There I managed to speak to the ladies, which appreciated the attention? In fact me and this Frenchmen were complimented because we were talking to them and not trying to pick them up by saying, “Hello can I buy you a drink?” One girl even mentioned Lucas Neil and tried to sketch out a Lucas Neil feature on my face for her to work with. Thank you Lucas Neil. I am also a big fan of Hugh Jackman based on this and Russel Crowe has faired me well in the past too. Not that I look like any of them. The word Australian is
good enough to emit some fantasy.
In travel you meet some real characters and in Nis I spent 3 nights with that Frenchman who is considering becoming a pimp for Eastern European woman. He was a character and he was my drinking buddy for my last two nights. When I left he had dry crusted up green vomit on his pillow. It will take a while to get that image out of my head.
I left Serbia after that image or had I? My next intention was to travel to Kosovo but with a possibility I may return to Nis for a Jazz Festival in August I felt it best to leave Serbia the correct way and via Macedonia. I would find out more about Serbia in the weeks to come but from where this trip stood I really enjoyed my time here and wouldn’t be disappointed if I returned.
Side Note -
Don’t travel with Kosmet Travel buses
There are more photos below