Saturday, 24 July 2010

Novi Sad: Fruška Gora

There is no airport in Novi Sad so I flew into Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport which is about 80 kilometres from Novi Sad.  Maja’s friend Dado has a taxi and he met me at the airport.  I immediately knew we were going to get along nicely when he was holding a “Welcome Mandy” sign.  One of the first things he did was to laugh at my English pronunciation of “Belgrade”.  I realised that it is pronounced much closer to the Serbian spelling which is “Beograd” and I have to say it is perhaps the most pointless Anglicisation of a city name ever (considering that “Beograd” means white city and, well, “Belgrade” doesn’t).

We’d already agreed on the €40 fee so I was pretty delighted when he said “highway or scenic route?”  And so it was that we took a route through the tiniest little villages and past field after field of the greenest corn.  Corn prefers slightly less rain than they have received in the region this year and is usually brown so this was quite a sight to see!

My impressions driving through the villages were of vastly differing levels of wealth.  There were several Orthodox churches in pristine condition, a tiny number of sprawling and well kept houses but on the whole, the houses were modest and often in desperate need of repair. 

We soon arrived in the region of the Fruška Gora and drove up the road of the Fruška Gora National Park.  The Fruška Gora is a massive mountain that runs about 80km from east to west.  It is one of the most fertile, beautiful and peaceful places I have ever seen and one of the strongest drawing points for me to return to Serbia.  Dado suggested we roll down our windows and I wish it was possible to capture and record that smell for you.

Fruska Gora 01

The scent coming through the windows was subtle and for a moment, I had to filter out all of the scents from inside the car.  It was warm and slightly sweet, like honeysuckle.  It smelled like life, purity and nature and was absolutely incredible.  It made me feel quite light headed and dizzy in the most amazing, life affirming way.

Fruska Gora 02

The Most Awesome Taxi Driver in the World Ever™ noticed me trying to take photos from the moving car and pulled off to the side to let me take photos.  I took this quick snap but was really keen to see Maja and so we did not stay long.


I did not see Dado again until it was time to go home on the Monday.  Once again, he asked “highway or scenic route” with the biggest smile because he knew which route we would take.  Once again, we wound down the windows as we drove through Fruška Gora.  I was severely sleep deprived and quite exhausted on that Monday morning and it had been quite a hectic weekend but driving through those mountains again certainly perked me up. 

Fruska Gora 03

I’m not sure what it is about forests and mountains that appeal to me so much.  Perhaps it was the fact that I was a Brownie and we learnt all about the woodlands folklore including owls, pixies, sprites, imps, toadstools and all kind of magic.  Whatever my motivation might be, I will certainly be returning to the wonderful city of Novi Sad and I’ll be sure to take a proper walk in the mountains next time.

Fruska Gora 05 

The Most Awesome Taxi Driver in the World Ever™ stopped again in the same place and insisted that I get out of the car to take some photos.  I am so used to my friends and family shouting at me for stopping to take photos that it was quite a surprise to be encouraged so much to do so!

Fruska Gora 08 Fruska Gora 07Fruska Gora 10

Of course, with that little detour and subsequently getting stuck behind a truck, we found that we were running slightly late and that meant that Dado had to drive at 140 km/h up the highway when we finally made it there.  The one similarity between South Africa and Serbia (which is certainly not present in England) is the absolutely crazy driving.  As we overtook five or more cars at a time on narrow mountain passes, I thought that if I were to die then at least I would have been able to breathe in the fresh mountain air of the Fruška Gora.  Gosh, I seem to fall in love with places and cities really easily! The Husband should count his lucky stars that I am not that way with people!!


Whenever I can, I fly out of London via London City Airport (LCY).  Apart from being really close to my house, LCY is just a short train and Docklands Light Railway ride away from our house.  LCY itself is the easiest airport on the planet to go through as there are hardly any queues and more polite businessmen than families and children. 

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8 comments

  1. I think a lot of people are still a little apprehensive about Serbia after the Balkans War and all that went on, it's good to hear positive feedback from you. Looks spectacular and I'm glad to hear you got home safe after your formula 1 taxi trip.

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  2. Your taxi driver was a gem, he his most certainly a rare breed.

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  3. Hi Emm, great place to visit and what a gem of a taxi driver.
    The Balkans has never been on my travel radar but it looks great. I guess there is more to come on this one?

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  4. If my memory serves me right your a fan of the Dungeon. I have a competition on my blog at the moment to win a Merlin Annual pass, there are only a few blogs that are offering the competition so the odds of winning are reasonable good compared to many competitions...

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  5. You did have an awesome cab driver! For the same price, definitely the scenic route! :D

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  6. @ Ryan: Being the strangeling I am, it was precisely the fact that there was a war there that began the process of me going there to visit. I have a long standing interest in the ex-Yugoslavia war. I want to visit again and next time I hope to travel to Sarajevo and Zagreb too.

    @ William: Indeed! You woulnd't find a driver like that in London. then again, he was a friend of Maja's so perhaps that helped! And thanks! I entered the competition - looks good! I tweeted about your last competition but unfortunately couldn't attend that day.

    @ Mike: There is certainly a little bit more to come. I did less touring than I usually do because I was mostly visiting with my friend and attending the festival but I did manage a couple of photos!

    @ AVCr8teur: I know! There was no decision to be made but I do wonder how the cosmos conspired to make our paths cross!

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  7. Hi Emm, I was born in Novi Sad and Fruska Gora remains in some of my earliest memories. My parents still have summer cottage there (this is called "vikendica" in serbian).  One thing about the mountain, which I never recognized before but later on came to appreciate, after seeing many more mountains everywhere, is how mild it's climate, it's flora and the landscape are. No other mountains in Balkans are quite like it. If you visit Bosnia, Southeaster Serbia (some real gems there) or further down Montenegro, The mountains will be beautiful, pristine and awe inspiring, but they will be a lot less welcoming, definitely wilder and nowhere near as fertile. Like many others, you crossed the mountain north to south, on it's narrower side. What is truly remarkable is  following a route of its long crest, which would often get you into some sleepy village where you can still buy home made wine from some local proprietor, or indulge in some incredibly tasty fruit that could be found in it's many orchards. If I was to ever return to live there, "vikendica" (derived from the word weekend, probably in sixties) would be a must.

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  8. Hi Anonymous! Your parents are very lucky to have a cottage! I loved the area so much that I want to go back this summer. The Fruška Gora is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life, I would love to hire a car and explore the area.

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