We hired a private guide named Milan to take us to Novi Sad. We were out in front of our apartment waiting for him. A car pulled up. Rob started for the car. Let’s wait and make sure. The man walked toward us then down the street. Safety Note: Make sure that they approach you and say your name before you get in the car.
Shortly after, Milan arrived. He spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable about his country. His father has been a tour guide for 40 years. His grandfather was instrumental in ensuring a clean water supply in Yugoslavia. There are numerous constant flow drinking water fountains for public use, and travelers are safe to drink the water. Thank you, Grandpa!!
Milan had many quotable quotes:
“Our whole country is one big construction site.”
“Our city may not be pretty, but it is sexy. Everybody brought something and left a mark on the city.”
“It is like Tom and Jerry. We (Serbia) are Jerry. We are much smaller, but we try to be smarter than the big guys. We will outsmart Tom.”
“Free cheese only comes in a mousetrap.”
“When two elephants fight, the grass suffers. We are trying to not to be the grass.” The big powers settle disputes on lands other than their own.
“We could focus on one time period in Serbia and spend a lifetime discusing it.”
“There is always a way, if there is a will.”
“We are almost on the clear coast.”
On smoking: “I didn’t want to see my money burn in front of me. Now I am happy and healthy.”
North Serbia is flat fertile farmland. It is illegal to produce GMO foods. Their largest crops are corn, wheat, sunflower (oil), and tobacco. Meat production is big as they consume 100lbs of pork/person/year.
They have no natural disasters but they are a natural crossroads for Rome, Berlin, and Istanbul.
In 1456 the Battle of Belgrade was able to stop the Ottomans. Turks pulled back and Serbia declared victory. During the battle the pope directed Notre Dame to ring the church bells at noon to remind people to pray for the battle taking place in Belgrade. Other churches in Christandom joined. (Call to prayer?)
After victory, the bell rang to celebrate that the land would remain Christian. Now church bells ring at noon to this day to commemorate the victory. Now you know.
In 1690 there was forced migration of Serbians by the Ottomans. Those that were fast enough moved to the north. The Ottomans killed all Serbians that they came across.
In 1721 the Turks lost at Novi Sad. Over 50,000 Turkish troops were killed. They were angry and pillaged and plundered as they retreated. The treasury of the monastery was lost forever.
Russians adapted their language from the 9,000 year old Serbian Cyrillic language.
Albanians were paid warriors. Pale natives were employed by Romans. Albanians had no roots. No opposition. Turks eradicated people that caused trouble. All Albanians converted to Islam and were the best and most reliable to the Turks.
Europe is stuck with traditions. Americans are united. USA had time and opportunity. We are separated by oceans to be left alone to unite. Americans don’t need to remain loyal to an ethnic group because it is not important. They love who they are now-American. Strength comes in unity. Yugoslavia (Slavs of the South) didn’t have the necessary time to unite after World War II ended.
There is a hill, not quite tall enough to be a mountain (less than 1,640′ or 500 meters), but it used to be an island.
Serbia has 16 monasteries on that hill. Serbia has the most religious/ethnic groups in Europe at 27. Serbs have full rights as a secular country.
This 16th century Greek Orthodox Church is located in the monastery. The last medieval prince is buried here. He had no sons. The Ottomans like to eliminate anyone with an inheritance claim.
Serbia was occupied for 350 years by a foreign power, more than the USA has been in existence.
People were prevented from worship and not allowed to ring bells. The church made boards from spruce wood that they would hit with a hammer instead. It is the best wood to create sound.
When an Orthodox exits the church building, he turns around because you never want to turn your back on God. Upon entering, they cross themselves three times with three fingers to acknowledge the Trinity.
This monastery is self-sufficient. Those who live here have devoted their lives to God. Important Serbians are buried here in the church.
In 1690 Serbians were used to wars and knew how to fight. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had forced Serb migration to the front lines. They fought hard for their nearby families, not for the empire.
Maria Theresa, the Queen of Hungary, brought Lutheranism to Serbia. She used religion to protect flat farm land by settling Serbians along the front line. Keeping stability in your own house is good for the country.
Maria Theresa declared the town as spiritual, economic, and historical. She encouraged Serbians to preserve their national identity.
Three things are needed to preserve a culture and these are present in the town of Sremski Karlovci.
1) Faith – churches and a school for priests.
Every village has a gathering church in order to disseminate information.
2) Language – high school for education and knowledge. When you are not educated and live in the dark, you will listen and obey.
3) History – archives
(In WWII, Germany burned the Serbian library destroying 95% of the books. If you destroy history, then you can rewrite history.)
An attempt to eliminate religion forced families to select a family saint in order to preserve the story of that saint. (It reminded me of Fahrenheit 457 where everyone selected a book to memorize.) This historical act is perserved as Slava, celebration of family saint patron’s day in Serbia. I learned of a new UNESCO distinction called UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
On the way, we stopped to take a picture of this Russian Orthodox church. A lady started to get in the car. She thought that we stopped to give her a ride.
Milan pointed out the plant called glog. It has edible fruits and its wood is used for the vampire stake. They would dig up the dead and kill him again. Vampires were accused more of stealing shoes than drinking blood.
Vampire is a Serbian word and means to molest the living. Six Serbian words have made it to the English language and this is the only one that I recognize.
We stopped at a winery called Proteus. They produce 15,000 to 17,000 bottles/year. The conditions for growing grapes here are ideal and they get sweeter grapes due to the water reflection from the Danube River. (The Danube runs through six countries and is the longest in Serbia.) There are over 30 wineries along this “wine” line. Here is their charming underground tasting room.
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius planted grapes here in the 1st century AD. When Roman soldiers were not at war, they had to work in the wineries Soldiers didn’t like this hard work.
Built in 1699 this peace chapel commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Karlovci between Muslims of Turkey and Christians of Poland, Austria, Venice and Russia. It reshaped the future of Europe. In reality, it prolonged issues that were settled in WWI.
Near the Peace Chapel was the biggest sycamore tree that I have ever seen. One barely notices the church behind it.
Gibraltar of the Danube
The Petrovaradin Fortress is a huge complex and is often referred to as an ant hill.
It has a natural border of the Danube River and four massive walls with extensive buffer zones. It is one of the largest fortresses in the world. The Ottomans made their last attempt westward here, but this fortress could not be breeched. It was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman empire.
We had lunch overlooking the river and Novi Sad. This city sprang up in the 17th century to house those people that were building the fortress. It took them 80 years to build it.
We crossed the Danube and had a pleasant walk through Novi Sad. Several of the buildings have roofs made of ceramic tiles. In 1778 they discovered that the tiles are temperature resistant and could be used on the exterior as well.
Zsolnay is the ceramic company and is still in business today. Very few roof tiles have needed to replaced. Note the yellow brick that was popular in the neogothic style.
Einstein and Tesla
Einstein’s wife Mileva is from Novi Sad. He was a womanizer. She was likely as smart or smarter.
Tesla was a Serbian inventor whose inventions have only recently been realized such as alternating current, batteries, and remote controls.
At the end of the day, Milan dropped us off to get our train tickets. If you need any help with train tickets throughout the world, seat61.com is an extremely helpful website. Rob was told to buy the tickets by email from Mr. Popovic, and the tickets will be waiting for us at the Western Union window at the old nonworking train station. This is different than the new train station where we will catch the train in a few days.
We felt that we were in a spy movie. The Western Union window was hard to find but we arrived and said,”Popovic”, and the lady gave us an envelope marked Robert Street. We have the important papers!!