Today was a simple day but nonetheless a day that each of you would have enjoyed.
When I entered Serbia I remember I felt overwhelmed and intimated by the size and busyness of the metropolis I had just stepped foot upon. If you recall, I had spent much of the last week enjoying the beautiful and quiet Romanian countryside so by contrast, Belgrade was the exact opposite.
I’m happy to be able to say at the end of my Serbian adventures, the relative calm and charm of Novi Sad will be what I remember most fondly about this misunderstood country.
Today started by me checking out of that hostel in favour of one down the road that I’d read up on. Immediately it felt like a hostel should. I dumped my bags and spoke a little with the owner. Do you recall me saying I had next to no tourist information provided to me in that last hostel? I kid you not that within fifteen minutes of entering this new place the guy had suggested I take a bicycle and tour the city. How interesting. In fact, he even gave me his own bike card and explained how entering it into the machine and paying 100 dinars (60 pence!) meant I’d have the bike for the whole day! So that’s what I did folks and it proved to my favourite few hours I’ve had in Novi Sad.
And here is my trusty companion. I didn’t name her but I should have, as you do. Also, here is a well known route that super hardcore cyclists have endured over the years. I know some extreme cyclists back home so I hope they catch this post so they can consider planning their next mission – following the mighty Danube which crosses SIX European countries!
Why was this my favourite few hours? Well, everything was perfect. The suns rays were strong and bright but not enough to noticeably burn my skin. I set off having remembered how to ride a bike (it’s true what they say y’know) and equally importantly I had my favourite tunes pumping out. The terrain is seriously flat out here and so the council people have complimented this over years by providing dedicated cycle paths almost everywhere. There was also a light breeze blowing through my hair so all in all you can imagine I had a pretty decently sized smile attached to my face as I ventured back towards the fortress. Granted, it was a much quicker journey this time by bicycle!
Now, in addition to the impressive fortress and the extremely popular EXIT festival I spoke of the other day, there is one other surprising thing in Novi Sad…
It kinda has a beach! No, really. The area is called The Strand. For those of you that haven’t looked up on the map where Serbia actually is, it’s a landlocked country so no coastline here folks but there is a big river! This therefore means there will be other beaches along this vast river but this one has gained recognition over the years so it’s good to be here.
I was surprised to see a proper little setup going on down here. When I previously looked up The Strand I saw a bit of sand but not much else. Being here in the flesh I see there is a really nice park and a reasonably large sized area for where you can hire ‘huts’ for want of a better description. I saw people in deckchairs bathing, I saw kids playing in the green-land and I saw families chillaxing with pre-prepared food and drink. All very lovely I have to admit.
I got back to the hostel late afternoon, took a shower and then chilled in the nice communal area with the laptop. Life was good. The only thing left to do was eat and so I asked for a recommendation from the owner. I did this because it dawned on me earlier than I hadn’t had much Serbian food as I’m on a backpacker menu remember. Admittedly the food here is similar to Romania in the sense that it heavily meat orientated and mostly influenced by Mediterranean food, typically Greek but also Hungarian, Turkish and Austrian cuisines. Still, I am pleased to report back that I did have a lovely last supper in a nice, quaint Serbian restaurant consisting of: Veal soup, a really large warmed bread roll, a minced meat based dish with feta salad (see what I mean with the Greek influence). Oh and a pint of course. Back home in the UK you’d easily pay in the high teens/low 20s yet over here I paid £7.50. Staggering.
You can see the dishes I ate from my ‘Food along the way’ page HERE.
And then you have it folks, a really great day. I’m looking forward to my bed this evening (have an entire 4 bed dorm completely to myself again….#nocomplaints) before I make a quick return to Belgrade tomorrow afternoon to catch a flight to….BEEP 🙂