Two Days in Novi Sad and Two Hours in Belgrade


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Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade
July 9th 2015
Published: July 25th 2015
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It was a most exciting adventure, going on a train from Budapest to Novi Sad. I do not remember why, but I bought a train ticket (from the website of Hungarian Railways) to Novi Sad from Budapest’s Ferencvarosz Station. It was a difficult task to find it; I of course went the right way, but somehow overlooked the station. I expected it to be large and tourists all over, but instead I had to ask two persons for directions. One woman sent me in a wrong direction, and a man explained to me the correct way. I even managed to drive a couple of tram stations for free. Nobody checked my tickets. Ferencvarosz Station is very small; next time I will be cleverer and book tickets from Keleti Station, which is central, and from which my train actually departed.

It was train number 343, car number 422. I had the so-called seat reservation but on embarking the train I found all the seats occupied. It was a very strange and unexpected thing. I certainly tried to ask the attendant for explanations but he did not know anything. I was very angry and frustrated, having to seat in the vestibule on the dirty floor. They seem to sell more tickets than seats in a train, and that’s a violation of passenger’s rights, I believe. Naturally, I wouldn’t mind sitting on the floor for an hour, but I had to seat for SIX damned hours. I even had to STAND, if we dig into this. I was not the only person without a seat.

The book on this journey was Faulkner’s ‘The Sound and the Fury’. It’s not a good or exciting reading for any journey, it has to be read in particular conditions in a particular state of mind with particular attention to the narrator and to each word. I didn’t understand much from the book but even its preface says you’ll have to re-read it a couple of times. I wasn’t quite able to catch the plot at the first attempt. The first part, told through the eyes of an idiot, was the most interesting and unusual for me.

The train was full of young people who, I guess, were going to Exit Festival, or maybe simply to Belgrade. The train arrived 40 minutes late, which isn’t bad, and I was periodically disturbed by persons who came to the vestibule for a smoke. Even girls smoked, which is hateful.

I was superexecited to return to Novi Sad and to the Exit Festival for the fourth time. It seems actually the most exciting city in Europe where I DO WANT TO RETURN EACH YEAR, notwithstanding the fact that I’m attracted there by the Festival rather than by the city as such.

But, I had a peculiar feeling even walking Novi Sad’s streets. It was like meeting a very old and dear friend. I found the Bela Lada restaurant where my booked room was supposed to be, and had a long discussion with the supervising woman there who made many calls and finally arranged my being driven to another of their accommodations. The waiter in the restaurant offered me a free glass of water which I drank with great pleasure while waiting. The owner, the man who drove me, upon learning that I was from St. Petersburg, called me “our Russian”. That was pleasant.

The hotel room was very small but convenient, free wifi, a small shower, and not far from the center. I left my things and immediately went for a walk, and had a hearty meal at DeGusto Restaurant. I was very glad and happy to be in the city again. I do not experience this in other cities, except for my native town.

I went to the Festival grounds at about 22-00. There were lots of people. I listened to four songs by Clean Bandit on the main stage and then went to my favourite Dance Arena with Octave One, Adam Beyer and Joseph Capriati, Chris Liebing. There were long and fantastic fireworks in the sky above the heads of the thousands of ravers. This time I bought tickets for only two days of the Exist Festival, because I decided to see other cities in the region. Most probably, I’ll come to Novi Sad again next year for two or three days.

On the second day of my stay Novi Sad, I walked to Mercator shopping mall simply for the pleasure of walking and to buy products. As for the festival, I listened to Motorhead (their song ‘The ace of spades’ is now among my favourites), to the whole of their performance. The drumming was incredible. On the Dance Arena I danced to the sounds of Hardwell and returned to the hotel at about 4 in the morning. I slept for forty minutes and then walked to the bus station as I had to be in Belgrade early, at 7.30, to catch the bus to Zagreb. The second bus was at 11.30, but I at first didn’t want to spend any time in Belgrade.

It was a happy coincidence of events that I boarded the very slow bus to Belgrade, which took almost two hours, entering various settlements and towns, and so I arrived in Belgrade just at 7.30. The ticket saleswoman told me the bus to Zagreb was at 11.30, so I bought it and went to McDonalds. I ordered a small breakfast and did my translations for forty minutes. Then I went sightseeing, to Knez Mihailova Street. I was now quite happy to have missed the 7.30 bus and to stay the two hours in Belgrade. It seems to be my favourite European city, or …?

I took immense interest scrutinizing various signboards and advertisements in the Serbian language. I saw the monument to our own Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, who said that ‘…Russia will in no case be indifferent to the fate of Serbia’. I don’t remember whether I’ve seen his monument on my previous visits. I hope the brotherly ties between our nations will persist forever.

In the beginning of Knez Mihailova Street I saw three tall figures of transformers. I reached the Kalemegdan area, but didn’t go to the fortress. Instead, I went to the park on the left of the main entrance. I was immensely glad to spot among the various souvenirs T-shirts with the portrait of Mr. Putin. They do not sell souvenir T-shirts with Obama, Merkel, Hollande in Serbia, or do they? There were also T-shirts with ‘Косово je Србиja/ Крим je Русиja’, Novak Djokovitch (my wife’s favourite tennis player), and ‘Брат за брата Бог на небу Русиja на земльи’ (God’s in Heaven, Russia’s on Earth). I did enjoy seeing those T-shirts.

I rushed back to the bus station, had a quick tea, and boarded the bus to Zagreb. I wanted to sleep very much, but didn’t.


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