Belgrade and Topola

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July 10th 2017
Published: July 12th 2017
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Belgrade to Topola and back

July 10 Monday

Tossed and turned all night due to the warmth of my room. My little USB port fan it's just not working. I called at 5:30 in the morning down to front desk to see if someone could come up and take a look at it. And that's just what he did, he looked at it and said it's normal. And they wouldn't change my room either. So I have got to find a fan. Breakfast was buffet with a huge amount of selections. But then again I'm so used of my American meals so I didn't eat too much again. They did have some sort of flaky pastry cheese cake that I liked a lot.

We went past a few former homes of wealthy people from before Communist rule. Now they are office buildings and consulate offices for foreign countries. We visited the building of Cathedral of Saint Sava which began in the 1930s was stopped during WWII and began again in 1980s. There wasn't much to see but it's going to be a beautiful Cathedral when it's done. After using the restrooms at the Cathedral we then headed toward Belgrade's Fortress. We passed a couple government buildings and then we were shown a building that was bombed 20 years ago by Tomahawk war missiles. Apparently there some type of city ordinance that states nothing old should be torn down just rebuilt. Apparently the building that was bombed is considered old so it cannot be torn down even though totally damaged. We were dropped off at the city park which they called the city field with our local tour guide, Milos. You pronounce his name "milosh". The city field holds the old fortress from about 400 years ago. It was also used during recent previous wars. After the hour tour of the area we were given an hour and a half to walk through the shopping downtown area. While most of the people headed for restaurants that were shaded because of the high temperature, I was told I could probably find fans somewhere in this area. For the next 45 minutes I walked very quickly up-and-down Prince Michael Square to find this van. Was redirected twice to a store that had one fan, but it was a high standing fan which would not fit in my suitcase. So, I headed back toward the bus and stopped for some ice cream and then a slice of pizza and some water. I did notice that there were lots of bookstores in the marketplace.

We passed the mall that I was told by the front desk that would also probably have plans. It was only a 10 minute walk from the hotel. So after everyone else went upstairs to rest for the next 2 1/2 hours I was once again on the lookout for a fan. It was about 90° outside but with a small window that helped somewhat. I got to the mall and was directed to go to the third-floor (4th floor in America) to a home center. The first person I asked on the right side of the store (because there were two entrances) didn't understand English. So I made a circular motion with my finger and blew air out of my mouth. She laughed and got the idea or so I thought. She then directed me to the hairdryers. I then told her no and did it again and then I said ac. She brought up a picture on the computer and they call fans ventilators. She said they had none. I couldn't believe in the home store that you would not have fans. Luckily I was persistent and I went to the other side and asked the gentleman at the front and he directed me to a large display of fans. They were a little bigger than I wanted but by that time I didn't care. I paid 2,640 dinars (about $10). I took a cab back to the hotel for 650 dinars. I put the fan together and enjoyed sitting in front of it for about 15 minutes before getting ready for our next excursion.

We left the hotel at 2:30 for a 50 mile trip into the countryside. We passed a Syrian refuge area that actually looks like a neighborhood. The refugees were given building materials and made nice neighborhoods for themselves. We also passed an IKEA which will be opening next month. We traveled through hilly terrain which were covered in trees, wheat and corn fields.

Topola is a town and municipality located in the Šumadija District of the central Serbia. It was the place where Karađorđe, a Serbian revolutionary, was chosen as the leader of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1804. The local St. George Church is the burial place of the Ducal and Royal Family of Serbia and Yugoslavia (the Karađorđevićes). The name Topola means poplar. Topola is famous for its yearly Oplenac vintage festival, attended by several thousand visitors each year.

St George's Church also known as Oplenac, is the mausoleum of the Serbian and Yugoslav royal house of Karađorđević located on top of the Oplenac Hill in the town of Topola, Serbia. The church of Oplenac was founded by King Peter I of Yugoslavia. The entire mosaic has 725 painted compositions (513 in the temple and 212 in the crypt), on which there are 1500 figures. The entire area of the mosaic is 3,500 square metres (38,000 sq ft); with 40 million various coloured pieces of glass which have 15 thousand different varieties of colour, making vivid artistic impression.

We arrived to St. George Church up on the hillside in the small town of Topola. It was a 5 minute hike up some stairs and then a steep incline to get to the church at the very top of the hill. The church itself is of Byzantine design but it's the mosaic artwork that makes this trip worthwhile. I'm not really into attending church but I can appreciate the artistry of the buildings. This church by far has the best tile work I've ever seen. The pictures don't do it justice. We also visited the crypts where former rulers of Yugoslavia are buried. We then visited 2 small museums that relate the the local history or Serbian history for the area. I was at the end of the group listening to our tour guide when an old man with a violin came up to me and Linda wanting money for him to play. I gave him 20 dinars just to be nice. He took it and wiped his forehead with it. In other words the amount wasn't worth anything. I walked away. The museum director came out and told him to leave the premises. We then headed across the street and ate a wonderful dinner at Knezev han. Cameron and Charne and Anne (who's husband Chris didn't make this excursion) were my table partners. We had a nice conversation throughout the whole meal. We had a Serbian schnapps brandy shot to begin with. Really nice flavor. 40% proof. We then were served a plate of various cheese and meats(pepperoni, ham, thinly sliced beef, and shaved drizzle pork. I then had another shot of Serbian brandy. This was followed with a red cabbage salad that was too bland. The main course was a ham wrapped chicken breast covered with mushroom sauce. Although I dislike mushrooms the dish was delicious after I took out the large pieces of mushrooms. We also had a pork schnitzel deep fried but I didn't care for it. I then had my last shot of Serbian brandy. A little light headed but I'm not driving. The desert was a Napoleon cake with strawberry syrup. Very yummy! We left for the hour trip back to Belgrade. I'm going to sleep well tonight: full tummy, plenty of brandy in me, and a fan to keep me cool! Yeah!

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