Two Balkan beauties make for a Happy New Year!

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January 9th 2022
Published: January 9th 2022
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Novi Sad – does the very sound of this Serbian city resonate with anyone out there in the ether…? A select few, I would suspect, but Serbia’s second city leans towards the arts, and scores the main bulk of its points for being precisely what it is, and not what it is attempting to be – in other words, a second city with a few touches of class destined to catch the casual tourist off-guard and make them realize that indeed some of travel’s best-kept secrets are just there to take you by pleasant surprise. Arriving in the early evening on New Year’s Eve was a strategy, as it felt like the city was warming up to play host to a buzz of activity as the evening unfolded. All the city’s main cluster of architectural gems around the main square in the city centre, ranging from the city hall to the cathedral were flanked by illuminated displays of creations of a festive nature, ranging from a huge santa, to a reindeer-drawn sled, and a few marvels of artistic merit in between. It might well be the nation’s capital city Belgrade which is the region’s biggest draw card for nightlife, but with a scene of its own, Novi Sad didn’t appear to be too bereft of those ‘letting the good times’ roll evening options. The following day revealed a few edges to the city which the previous evening had not highlighted, and the seasonal ice rink in Dunavski Park coupled with attached circuit and footbridges for elevated platform viewing brought out revellers of all ages, each one keen to enjoy the fruit of all that a like-minded attraction can bring. A walk across Varadin Bridge led the pedestrian towards the fortress, where an atmosphere of a different nature could be enjoyed, along with further evidence that Serbia’s second city packed a punch which made it well worth weaving into the travel tapestry.

Despite having spent around 3 days there back in 2008, a return visit to Belgrade, if only for one full day, was clearly too much to be able to resist, and this is a prime example of a city which weathered the storm of the 90s Balkan conflict and emerged from the ashes with a determination to prove that it is a European gem of undeniable proportions, if a little overlooked when it comes to being considered prime city break material. Belgrade of today proudly sports its appeal in terms of not only attractions, but also in terms of the buzz it generates, aided in no small measure by a cracking nightlife scene. Among the landmarks of note are Saint Sava church, Kalemegdan fortress, Knez Mihailova street, Ada Ciganlija lake, and plenty more besides, but in the tradition of wanting to discover newer faces of familiar cities, a visit to the museum of illusions provided an insight into the more recent developments and aspects of the city which recent years have added to its cannon. Another refreshingly popular recent addition to Belgrade was the riverside restaurant-cum-bar strip of development known as the promenade, and its popularity was clear in terms of the al fresco diners and the overall hubbub surrounding the area as the casual pedestrian brushed past it. Before I even came to my senses, the Belgrade experiences was in the process of wrapping up the entire trip, and bidding a fond farewell to Serbia was indeed an indication of the sheer power and durability of a lifestyle on the road, in which indelible memories and character-shaping experiences resonate with the kind of traveller who is receptive to all that the travel experience constitutes. Welcome back into my repertoire, you reliable lifelong companion of mine!


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