Today was one of our shortest hops on our trip so far as we headed from Belgrade to Novi Sad. A distance of about 75 kilometres leaving us the whole day to explore. After yesterday’s scorcher today’s temperature promised to be even hotter so we hit the road early. Our first stop was to be the Honda shop on the western side of Belgrade but we could not find it.
Western City Gate
I did give us a chance to see Belgrade’s Western City Gate. The Western City Gate or Genex Tower is actually a pair of skyscrapers just off the E-75, which leads from Belgrade to Novi Sad. The two towers are joined by a two storey sky bridge at the top with a domed revolving restaurant at one end which is topped by a spire. The towers were built in 1977 and are Serbia’s second tallest buildings at 30 and 26 storeys. The taller building is an apartment block whist the shorter is home to the Genex company. The Western City Gate is a great example of the simple style of Brutalist architecture. We’d learnt about Brutalist architecture before while in London and since then have seen it pop up all over the place. It is especially common in Communist era construction.
After a few photos we took the ramp back onto the E-75 from Belgrade to Novi Sad and headed west. On the edge of Belgrade the freeway is flanked by forests for a few kilometres before opening up into low rolling hills covered in an amazing patchwork of farmland. Huge fields of corn, potatoes and wheat at different stages of development provide different hues of green and gold. Little towns and villages just off the freeway huddle around wheat silos.
Although we were only traveling 75 km’s from Belgrade to Novi Sad we had to have a coffee stop about 40 km’s out of Belgrade.
After our stop it was only a short run into Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city. With only about 250,000 residents it’s not a huge city, so finding the guesthouse was no problem. When we arrived we were greeted by an excited four year old who was amazed at the motorcycle and an old grandmother who was equally happy. It’s always nice to arrive somewhere people are happy to see you.
The day had really heated up by the time we arrived so we decided to ditch our bike gear for shorts and T-shirts. The city centre was only 3 km’s away so not far at all. We’d also read that Novi Sad has a beach area, called The Strand, so we packed our togs on the bike just in case.
Getting into the city centre wasn’t as easy as we thought with a network of one way streets that only a Brisbane City Councillor would find pleasing. Eventually we parked up near the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral on the edge of the large pedestrian area in the heart of the city. The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St George, was completed in 1905 and is designed in Austrian style like many of the buildings throughout the central area. Inside it’s quite beautiful with a large iconostasis with over thirty icons and paintings on the walls. It’s quite interesting visiting the different churches just to see how things change from country to country.
Walking down the main pedestrian area of Novi Sad we were quite surprised how beautiful it was. Novi Sad really has a great vibe about it. Along the main pedestrian area the streets are lined with bars, cafes and shops housed in renovated 19th century buildings. Many have large umbrella covered al fresco dining areas spilling onto the streets. In the streets which surround the main areas little alleys lead to courtyards filled with cafe’s and bars. It really is one of those places where you can just explore and find something quite amazing.
Being a university city there are lots of young people which give it a real energy. It’s hard to explain but with young people there are more buskers, live music venues and bars. There are also a good variety of places to eat to suit all budgets. . We found a funky little cafe in one of the alleys and enjoyed a burger. With trees surrounding us we could’ve been eating at one of the quirky places on Fremantle.
After lunch we visited the Danuv Park before picking up a map at the Tourist Information Centre. We wandered around the pedestrian area , stopping again for coffee in a converted warehouse.
Late in the day we headed to “city beach”, a beach area on the Danube River not far from the city centre. To our surprise it was quite a large area. After paying the entry of 100 RSD ($1.27 Aus)we entered the “beach” area. To our surprise we discovered that it was just like a real beach, including changing boxes, volleyball courts, cafe’s and a games areas. Along the sandy beach, which bordered the river, hundreds of sun lounges were filled with locals sunning themselves in the late afternoon sun. Lifesavers watched the water from their tower and along the river a row of buoys demarcated the swimming zone.
The water was cool and refreshing, however the slimy river bottom squeezing between my toes wasn’t a very nice feeling. Every now and then the lifeguards would emerge from their box, blow their whistle at people venturing outside the row of buoys. I took a swim outside the buoys and discovered that not far out the current was quite strong, if someone is not a strong swimmer could be quite dangerous. The lifeguards were doing a great job watching the people venturing into the water.
Reclining in our sun lounges with a coffee after a swim was just the perfect way to cool down after a day in the city.
Just before dark we headed back to the guesthouse. Tomorrow we meet up with a Greeters Host,Djordje for a Greeters Tour of Novi Sad.