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Published: July 21st 2013
July 9, 2013
Initially I, of course, had great plans for a comprehensive Balkan trip, including the best places (mostly Unesco World Heritage Sites) in Serbia, Macedonia, Kotor, and Albania. The trip gradually boiled down to Serbia (Exit Festival in Novi Sad) and Kotor, with possible excursions to Dubrovnik in Croatia and Shkoder in Albania. Unlike the previous year, we’d not take the exhausting bus from Beograd to Montenegrin coast along the serpentine, but simply fly from Beograd to Kotor and back.
Our (my and Vasily’s) second trip to Serbia and Montenegro was arranged somewhere in the end of March or beginning of April; we bought air tickets for a modest price and waited patiently. Alexey (my schoolmate) decided to join us later and would only stay with us in Serbia. This time we stayed one day in Beograd (for no particular reason), five days in Novi Sad (actually a day could be omitted, and we could come on the 11th
instead of the 9th
and even book direct transfer from Beograd Airport to Novi Sad), and 4 days (with the first and fourth days being a little harassed because of arrival and departure) in Kotor.
I have decided to visit Fruska Gora National Park during the stay in Novi Sad, with particular emphasis on Sremski Karlovci (100% success) and monasteries (1/16th of them was seen).
In St. Petersburg, we took the early morning taxi to the airport though it was possible to get there by public transportation, while bearing a certain risk of lateness. In Moscow Sheremetyevo, we met our third comrade, Alexey, and soon arrived in Beograd. Generally speaking, my comrades rather kept me company than went to Serbia driven by the love of loud electronic music as myself, because they knew almost no one of the artists except Prodigy and Snoop Dogg. Vasily was keener on Montenegro. This trip turned out a hot discussion of one’s likes and dislikes, principles, stupidities, and whatever else one can think of. One may also wonder why I go to the same place for the third year running, instead of spending the same money on a new country, I will simply reply that I like Exit Festival.
The day was sunny and hot; I booked a twin hostel room because I did not want any company; Alexey, having decided
to join us a bit late, had a single room. Me and Vasily stayed in a room with a nearby kitchen, a sort of living room with TV and armchairs, and a terrace overlooking the street, feeling sort of home within home, with nobody to bother you or shout.
We walked past Hram Sv. Save and then entered a cafe near Knez Mihailova Street, buying a pizza and tomato soup with the interesting payment by electronic guest cards given to each of us by the waitress at the entrance. We had some difficulties with ordering because we didn’t quite understand the principle at once, but did it notwithstanding. We paid after the meal while exiting and walked Kalemegdan and Beograd fortress, taking rather a lot of photos and enjoying the scenery. Just for fun, me and Vasily jumped while Alexey tried to take our photo (the common sort one often sees, when legs are bent in the knees).
I remember that Vasily bought a Serbian-Russian phrasebook which I found for him at a bookshop; later he'd pester us with Serbian words and phrases, sometimes translating what we said between ourselves. I'm realizing now that
life is too short and I have to hurry up with my language learning (I have immense plans to study every language for which a textbook is available). Foreign tourists seem to be wanting every country to speak English, without themselves taking any pains in linguistics, just coming to a person and firing English straight ahead; it is a passing and most likely incorrect assertion.
We spent the evening sitting on the terrace drinking beer and apple cider; there were stars above our heads.
In the morning, we took a bus to Novi Sad and checked in at the Campus Hostel with which Alexey was not altogether satisfied because he booked a single room but there was a guy in his room, what the fuck, but the thing was corrected at once – it was the receptionist’s mistake. I forgot there were cockroaches in the hostel on my previous visit there, otherwise I might have booked a different one; but the price was so cheap – and no wifi, which was a source of Alexey’s constant irritation, while Vasily affirmed internet wasn't needed on a trip, and he also switched off
his telephone for the whole stay.
At about two o'clock we took a bus to Sremski Karlovci. I (it was I who arranged all expeditions during this trip) first wanted to see Beocin Monastery in Fruska Gora but the bus timetable showed Sr. Karlovci was a more prudent solution for that day, with more frequent departures. We’d go to Beocin on the following day. It is cheaper to buy the ticket from the driver than at the bus station by at least 50 Dinars, and one can also board the bus not at the station but at the stops within the city. Sremski Karlovci is very close to Novi Sad, on the bank of Danube River, and boasts a number of attractions adding up to the pleasures of your stay in Novi Sad: Karlovci gymnasium, Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Clerical High School of Saint Arsenije, City Hall, Four Lions Fountain, Kapela Mira (Peace Chapel). The town is charmingly small and cosy.
Crossing the town, we gradually ascended to a viewpoint showing the town, the roundabouts, the Danube River, and tree-covered hills far away. It looked like a village, not a town at all.
There was a water well, and a small column nearby where I pressed on the lever to pump the water for face washing. We came to a chapel near a cemetery and then descended to where we began the promenade. On a tombstone there was the name of a deceased person and a still living person, meaning he just got the ground ready for himself.
On the hill, Vasily suggested going to the river for a swim, but I thought there would be no beach, only brushwood, willows. We crossed the railway tracks but certainly there was no yellow sand or gravel strip, only trees and bushes, and I suggested having a swim at the Novi Sad beach. We caught the bus in about twenty minutes. Approaching the beach, Alexey was agitatedly complaining about his having no proper swimming trunks, but simple underpants, and he worried about what others would think about his ‘moral principles’, we said damn the ‘moral principles’, nobody would care about him. Anyway, water was very cold, the current swift, and swimming as such proved no major enjoyment.
In the evening we went to Petrovaradin fortress, under drizzle, where Vasily
and Alexey bought tickets for the following day (only I had purchased the 5-day ticket for the Exit festival), and I needed to exchange my voucher for wristband – did it on the following day because of the long queue. Let the party begin!
I have found in the internet several short paragraphs of useful information about interesting places in Fruska Gora and the numbers of buses to reach them. It proved very helpful.
In the morning we went to a self-service restaurant in Mercator shopping mall where great portions are available for a modest price (indeed, they are huge, and we ate there always). From there we proceeded to the bus station and departed to Beocin Selo; actually it was also possible to board the bus on a stop near the hostel.
Fruška Gora is a national park with the highest ‘hill' Crveni Čot,539 m, and also features 16 Orthodox monasteries (others destroyed during Second World War). I planned to see several of them, but we managed to visit only one, Beocin Monastery, some three kilometers further from the village centre, and accessible on foot from the
bus terminus. It was first mentioned in Ottoman Turkish records dated in 1566/1567. Vasily is a baptized person and believes in God, so the place must have been dear to him. I also went inside the cathedral, not my habitude, and even wanted to take a picture of the interior, but they prohibited it. I think if God exists, he’d certainly allow persons to photograph places of worship – for one’s personal enjoyment at home, as I see it.
We found a notice saying НационалниПаркФРУШКАГОРАРАСАДНИКУкрасногДрвечаишибльа (something to do with trees) and followed the path to the woods. Actually our attempt was a failure because we didn’t reach the Crveni Cot mountain (later I read it was just over there in Beocin), but anyhow we had a pleasant ascend-descend sequence. Panoramas were not available, and eventually we (I and Vasily) decided to turn back, while Alexey maintained that we needed to proceed.
What happened next will be imprinted on my memory for long, if not forever. Vasily got lost. On a certain portion of the trail, he lagged behind. There was a steep portion of the path, slippery because of the rain, and as me
an Alexey descended it I called for Vasily, he replied ‘I’m going’, and just as we emerged from the woods to the clearing about ten minutes later and waited for him, he didn’t appear. We called him a stupid asshole and many other pet names, and cursed. Just the day before Alexey and Vasily discussed the need for having a mobile telephone during a walk or a trip, because if you get hurt or get into any trouble, the phone will rescue you, while Vasily asserted he didn’t need the phone on the trip. Somebody’s viewpoint was proved by the occurrence. Growing restless and anxious, we decided to search for him. At first, Alexey went back to find him, calling out loudly, but getting no reply. I soon joined the search, but came across Alexey who said Vasily was nowhere to be found. After a while, we decided to go back once again, and I cried out "Vasia!" at random, and believe it or not, he replied! Indeed, I was glad he came back. He explained he took a different descent path, but to my mind, it was simply impossible to get lost there, or maybe he does not have
a good memory for paths. We scolded him a lot while going back to the bus station. It was a frightening experience, made all the more uncomfortable by the approaching rain.
In the evening, the three of us went to the party, listened to Snoop Dogg, visited several arenas, including Happynovisad and Gaia Experiment Trance stages, and Dance Arena with Fat Boy Slim. I will not detail the festival experience. Everyone was happy and satisfied and probably we’ll return there again (it’ll be my fourth time) next year. We came back from the festival at 5 am and got up at 11 am on July 12. This day was not full of events. We showed Alexey the city centre, after that the boys went to the beach, I stayed indoors to translate and sleep. As I gathered, Alexey at first did not plan to join me, but the mighty Prodigy made their appearance in Petrovaradin Fortress, so he did join. In short, it was terrible fun.
A remarkable day, with an exciting and failed trip to Stari Ledinci village (on the brows of Fruska Gora) to Ledinci Lake. Well, we never
saw or came near it. From the very start, something went wrong – we got off at a wrong bus stop because Vasily asked a man where the centre of village was (stupid because we needed the terminus), but did not warn me. I knew that we needed the terminus. We had to walk along the road to reach the terminus, saw the Orthodox Church, and several high hills providing doubtlessly great views.
Lake of Ledinci (Лединачкојезеро
) is a small artificial lake on the mountain of Fruška Gora; “it was created during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, when pumps in the abandoned trachyte
quarry of Srebro were damaged and stopped pumping the water out of the quarry. The subterranean waters, so as the waters from two creeks, Lukin Svetac
and Srebrni potok began filling the quarry”. After having read this passage prior to departure, I even wanted not go there, because the lake seemed uninspiring. However, another visit to a Fruska Gora locality so close to Novi Sad was worthwhile.
We made three attempts at finding the correct uphill trail, the first two short, and the last a long one where we bored deep
into the forest. Perhaps, the lake was close, but we reversed our feet: the instructions said a 30-minutes’ walk would take you to the lake, but we’ve had wandered enough. The other directions I read before completely evaporated from my mind so I was at a loss. Finally we went back, and there, near the board Лединачко Jезеро, seemed to be another trail. What it leads to we’ll perhaps never know because we were too tired already and had to party in the night.
I went alone to the party, felt sleepy and pestered by cold wind, went to sleep at four, got up at six and at seven we were already driving to Beograd.
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