After dragging myself away from Beograd, I headed for Novi Sad – arriving just before darkness fell at around 4pm and navigating the public buses to get to the hostel. I was pleasantly surprised shortly after arrival when there was a knock on the door of the room – it was the hostel owner’s mother and she had made me some crepes with delicious home-made jam.
I didn’t venture into town the first night; instead, I visited the supermarket around the corner and made myself an unhealthy fry-up of eggs, tomatoes, capsicums [peppers], onions and salami which I ate with some cheese on toast. I followed this a few hours later with pancakes. The crepes earlier had made me think of pancakes, and there was nothing I could do to put them out of my mind. I also had them for breakfast the next two days, dripping in lemon juice and sugar. It was such a nice change from cereal and toast.
I spent the next day walking around Novi Sad, exploring the old part of town before heading over to the fortress. The old town is quite small, but boasts a delightful pedestrian street that was draped with fairy lights for Christmas, as well as a sprawling square, complete with statues and a towering church. Like most main squares in Eastern Europe, there’s also a McDonald’s on the main square. That seems unavoidable, but as I was craving a bacon and egg muffin – and they had hash browns, the first time I’d seen these since leaving home – I couldn’t resist. Sometimes something familiar is exactly what you need, and I found myself greedily gulping down a second breakfast, worrying that perhaps I was turning into a hobbit.
It was a Saturday, and the cafes lining the pedestrian street were absolutely packed with people. Parents pushed prams as slightly older children ran around like crazy; young couples tied themselves in knots on the benches around the square; old men hunched over tables drinking tiny cups of espresso. Someone was selling helium balloons, and a woman in the square had little child-size cars for kids to scoot around in. I sat for a while just watching all the people going past, enjoying being invisible and admiring the architecture surrounding me.
I found some great street art as I was wandering around. Laze Teleckog has some beautiful murals and is quite colourful. The start of the main street also bears a house-sized painting that I just loved.
In the early afternoon I headed over to the fortress – more accurately called Petrovardin Citadel, but I thought of it as just ‘the fortress’. The views from the bridge were beautiful – I found this view to be far superior to visiting the fortress itself in my mind. It looked far more impressive from the outside, but then they usually do. It didn’t hurt that it was reflected in the river below, or that the colours of the sky were perfect either. Sometimes it seems that all the elements just come together for you – it might have been cloudy and grey earlier, but then the clouds part and the sky turns blue and the difference is astounding. It would be even more beautiful in summer – although I’m not sure how beautiful it would look during the Exit Festival. I think it would be one hell of a lot of fun though!
It turns out that I took the long way up to the citadel. I took a path to the left of an old church rather than to the right, and the path wove back and forth up the hill whereas the path on the other side was a simple staircase and much more direct. Still, I enjoyed looking over the old, partly derelict houses as I ascended to the fortress.
The best part of the citadel for me was the clock tower, with its backwards hands. The ‘hour’ hand on this clock is longer than the ‘minute’ hand – the opposite of normal clocks. Apparently this was so that sailors on the Danube could read the time from a greater distance. It certainly makes sense. The tower, painted white, has a black clock face and a dark metal roof on top and is on the corner of the citadel closest to the bridge and overlooking the old town of Novi Sad. It looked incredible against the vivid hues of the sky.
I walked along the walls of the main part of the citadel, taking it slowly, munching on an apple and catching up on some reading on a little wooden bench.
There was a collection of old military equipment – a few old cannons and machine gun wagons – out near the entrance, so I took myself a picture with one of them.
I returned to the centre as it became dark, wanting to take some pictures of Novi Sad at night.