An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery: Vojvodina

Posted on July 9, 2013

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Back to positive things please. In the last post I mentioned a day out around Vojvodina with Dejan and Singaporeans, so let’s get into that a little. Dejan picked us up at 9am, and off we headed from the big city of Belgrade to the flat farmlands of Vojvodina, and the majestic beauty of the Fruska Gora.

It is bizarre how flat things get once you are a mere 20 minutes outside of Belgrade. The land lies low, and the colour green pervades from every single potential space. One big anomaly in all of this however, is Fruska Gora. Fruska Gora is basically a mountain in Serbia, which is home to (I think) 16 monasteries. There are also a small number of villages dotted throughout, which give it an even more homely feel. It is not exaggeration to say that I could easily spend entire days in the hills, doing nothing other than staring. Beautiful.

The first stop on our tour of the day was one of the aforementioned monasteries, the difficult to pronounce Grgeteg (Gur-get-egg). As to be expected, it was an immensely peaceful place, ran and maintained completely by nuns. Grgeteg was founded by Zmaj Ognjeni Vuk, which literally translates as ‘Dragon Fire Wolf’, which is a band name waiting to happen. We ventured into a couple of the churches there, as well as the souvenir shop with a delightful middle aged nun. I bought a bracelet from them. I have since lost aforementioned bracelet.

From Grgeteg we headed to Krusedol, a similarly peaceful monastery only this time it was multi gender. Krusedol dates back to the early 16th century, and was the legacy of the last despot family of Serbia. I’m pretty sure ‘despot’ is a negative word, but I’ll plead ignorance on this account. Krusedol was a beautiful place though, immensely clean and seemingly ran by flowers. There were also some impressive, impressive beards to be seen as well, the type of which put mine to shame. Which isn’t so difficult I guess. The churches in Krusedol were astounding, with icons so old that you could literally see history dripping off of them.

With the spiritual part of the day done with, we could head on to give our taste buds they attention they were obviously craving. We headed up into the hills, and stopped to refresh at a Salas near the village of Neradin. Nereadin practically translates as ‘I don’t work’, and so it seemed. The Salas, which is a kind of ranch was incredibly relaxing however, as we sat on benches in the sun and tried a number of different soft drinks and fruit. All of which were, obviously, wonderful. The friendliness and hospitality of these people never fails to astound me. If I had the money, I would beg these people to let me stay there for a month or two. Holy crap I would be refreshed.

A little fact about Neradin for you. The guy who invented the hair clipper was from there. Whilst working as a Barbers apprentice, Nikola Bizumic invented the machine that would make life easier for barbers worldwide. He had a bit of a turbulent life though, and left Neradin after growing tired of farming pigs, or whatever it was he did there. He accidentally got the job at the barbers, and the rest is history. Well, Bizumic is history, and his invention didn’t take off in Serbia because nobody really understood what he was on about. He ended up leaving for the States, and everything came together. He ended up being fantastically wealthy, and when he died his money was left for the families still living in Neradin. They never saw the money.

Sremski Karlovci was next, and the promise of rakija and goulash. Is there a better mix going? Not since the first thing in the morning combination of coffee and cigarette have I ever experienced two things that were seemingly made for each other. Okay, camels and Australia, but that’s a whole different thing. Sremski Karlovci is a little town some 10km from Novi Sad, and is best known as being where the Serbian Orthodox Church lived during the Habsburg years. Now, its a pleasant sleepy little town which we actually saw fairly little of, but good lord the goulash was good. We planned to try some rakijas, one before the meal, one during and one after. Obviously, this quickly became all three before, and why not one more during. Oh, and some wine. And some co9gnac! The goulash in Serbia is way meatier than the traditional Hungarian stuff, becoming more of a stew than anything else. So good. After much conversation, much rakija, and much wonder, we headed to Novi Sad to end our evening.

I’ve been to Novi Sad previously, but that was a total 3 years ago, so I remembered nothing. What I did remember though, were the HUGE glasses that welcome you to the fortress. Little did I know my glasses were soon to be gone. Sob, sob, sob. The amount that we could see of the fortress was pretty limited as Exit Festival was being set up, but we were still afforded some lovely views of the city and the river Danube. Father time was creeping in, and we didn’t spend much of his gold in Novi Sad, but enough to check out the fortress and the town square, both of which are wonderful because Serbia. The drive back to Belgrade was uneventful, except for the (obviously) awesome sunset.

There’s a reason Fruska Gora is considered the jewel of Serbia. When I tell people of the stunning countryside that this region has to offer, I am talking specifically about Vojvodina. The very definition of lush, it so easy on the eye that you feel spoilt, relaxed to the point of sedation and loved like love should feel. I say this about 100% of the places I visit, but I could live there, stare out into the luscious green and smile until my lips begin to crack. Well done Serbia.

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